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Immigrate to Belize

Updated on Monday 30th May 2022

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Belize is a welcoming country for foreign nationals as well as investors. The beautiful natural landscapes, the fact that English is the official language and the general quality of life are one of the top reasons why many foreign nationals decide to immigrate to Belize.
 
The choice to relocate is even more popular amongst American citizens, given the official language and the BZD to USD exchange rate. The straightforward Belize company formation process is another reason why investors may choose this location to base their onshore or offshore company.
 
 Quick Facts  
  Entry visa requirement
(from EU)

No

Entry visa requirement
(outside EU) 

 

Yes, with certain exceptions
(USA, Canada, Australia, etc.)

Types of visas available

 Tourist visa
Student visa
Employment visa

Time frame for obtaining work visa (approx.)  

30 days

Validity of temporary residence permit 1 year 
Time frame for obtaining permanent residence (approx.)

One can apply for permanent residence after 1 year. The process can last for approximately 4 months as several steps are involved.

Investor Visa Availability (YES/NO)

Yes, temporary residence status for investments in Belize (subject to conditions)   

Sponsorship requirement (YES/NO) A Sponsor is required for the Student visa 
Time frame for obtaining citizenship Applications for citizenship can be made after 5 years or 1 year in case of those married to a Belizean national 
Citizenship/Residency by investment scheme availability (YES/NO)  Temporary residence for minimum investments valuated at BZ$500,000. Citizenship can be applied for under the conditions for naturalization or descent
Tax benefits for expats  Employees and residents who earn less than BZ$26,000 per year are exempt from Income Tax (under the general income tax regime applicable in Belize)
 

Main steps to immigrate to Belize

 
According to the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, US citizens, those from Mexico, Costa Rica, Austria, EU Member States as well as those from the British Commonwealth (excluding India) do not need a visa to enter Belize. The 30-day visitor visa is mandatory for all other categories of foreign nationals.
 
A special approval is required for those who wish to enter Belize from Colombia, China, Brazil, Afghanistan, India, Peru, and other foreign nationals. The visa approval is issued by the Department of Immigration in this case.
 
For those who wish to move to Belize, a key step will be to apply for permanent residence in the country. However, this is not possible immediately and many foreign nationals will first acquire temporary residence.
 
The conditions for temporary residence are for the applicant to invest in Belize and the value of the investment needs to be of at least 500,000 BZD. The temporary residence permit is issued for one year, and it can be renewed. In a sense, this can be understood as a Belize citizenship by investment, as remaining in the country after investing can lead to citizenship.
 
The temporary employment permit is another route for those who wish to reside in the country and, in time, apply for permanent residence. The following categories are taken into account for temporary employment (with the possibility for extension):
 
  • - Self-employed workers: business owners, directors, corporate oversight officers, those self-employed in the agricultural industry, such as farm managers;
  • - General and technical workers: mechanics, cooks, farm caretakers and assistants, farm hands, seasonal agriculture workers;
  • - Professional workers: those who have a university degree, such as directors, realtors, managers, technical officers, and others.
 
A dependent’s permit is awarded to those persons accompanying a foreign national who resides in Belize temporarily for business or employment purposes. These accompanying individuals can be of retired age (55 and above), disabled individuals or children under the age of five. The applicant is submitted by the temporary resident who will be asked to provide for and offer accommodation for the dependent.
 
Coming to Belize to study for a school year or a semester can also be a route to first hold a temporary residence permit and then apply for permanent residency (provided that the study period is extended, it continues or the foreign national then finds employment in Belize to remain for the minimum number of years that allow for obtaining the permanent resident status). Applicants will first need to be accepted by the Belizean educational institution and then provide a letter of financial support, either provided by their parents or a qualifying sponsor. When a sponsor is used, he or she must provide proof of Belizean citizenship or legal immigration status (either as a permanent resident or a temporary employment permit).

Permanent residence in Belize

 
Individuals who immigrate to Belize and wish to acquire permanent residence need to comply with the following:
 
  1. Minimum time in the country: the applicant needs to have legally resided in the country for 1 year when he or she submits the application;
  2. Duration of stay: it is important to note that, during the 1-year period, the applicant cannot leave the country for more than 14 days, cumulated;
  3. Financial stability: proof of income will be presented to the Immigration Office; the applicant who wishes to relocate to Belize needs to be able to continue to be financially stable to obtain permanent residency;
  4. Criminal record: the applicant must not have been convicted and must not have been liable to imprisonment for the duration of twelve months or more.
 
If you are ready to submit the application for permanent residency, an important step in order to immigrate to Belize, you will need to prepare the following documents:
 
  • - proof of having stayed in the country for one year;
  • - police record;
  • - marriage certificate;
  • - income tax statement;
  • - temporary employment permit, if applicable;
  • - proof of having acquired land, if applicable;
  • - health certificate;
  • - recent photographs.
 
Other documents may be required. Proof of payment for the following fees is also provided:
 
  • - 1,000 BZD: the fee for citizens of the CARICOM countries (the Caribbean Community including countries such as Bahamas, Grenada, Jamaica, the Grenadines and others);
  • - 1,500 BZD: applicable to citizens of Mexico, Dominican Republic and those of Central American Countries;
  • - 3,000 BZD: for foreign nationals from the Commonwealth countries; citizens from the European countries are subject to a 6,000 BZD fee;
  • - 4,000 BZD: for citizens of countries other than those mentioned, for example Albania, Argentina, Afghanistan and others.
 
The fee for the temporary residence permit is 1/5 of the value payable for the permanent residence permit according to nationality.
 
Another option to move to Belize applies in case of minors who have entered the country when they were under the age of 16. Certain conditions apply in this case.
 

Relocate to Belize permanently and acquiring citizenship

 
After having resided in Belize for five years as a permanent resident, a foreign national can apply for nationality or citizenship. Apart from the condition for having had a permanent residence permit for at least 5 years, the applicant will also need to show that he or she did not leave Belize (reside outside of the country) for more than 30 consecutive days or more than 3 months in any 12-month period. Nonetheless, the application for citizenship can be taken into account when the individual did spend more than the permitted periods outside of the country because of his or her employment obligations (while being employed in Belize) or for medical or health reasons. If these were the applicable cases, the individual will need to bring forward sufficient proof when making the citizenship application.
 
Citizenship through marriage is possible when the individual has been married to a Belizean national for at least one year. This is possible both in case in which the spouse was born in the country and when he or she acquired citizenship before the date of the marriage. In other words, foreign nationals can also be married to other foreign nationals who had acquired their Belizean citizenship status before the date of the marriage and they will still be eligible for citizenship by marriage, provided that they comply with the minimum marriage duration requirement.
 
For those who wish to immigrate to Belize based on the fact that their descent allows them this option, there are three possible routes to citizenship:
 
  • - they were born outside of Belize and one of the parents is or was a Belizean citizen;
  • - they were born outside or Belize before 21 September 1981 (Independence Day) and one of the grandparents was a Belizean citizen;
  • - the applicant is a woman who married a Belizean husband before Independence Day.
 
The provisions for acquiring citizenship by registration (naturalization) in Belize presented above do not appl to Guatemalan nationals.
 
The fee for the citizenship application is 300 BZD for nationality by registration and 40 BZD for nationality by descent.
 
When an individual loses his or her citizenship by registration certificate, this can be replaced after having notified this and when a police report is available. Moreover, the individual will make a formal statement and will provide a copy of the passport, of the birth certificate (and the translation thereof) as well as two recent photographs. Outdated or destroyed certificates are also replaced by the relevant Belizean authorities.
 
The process of acquiring citizenship can be the final goal for many foreign nationals who initially come to the country for business or employment purposes. If you have been living in Belize for the minimum period of five years and are ready to know more about the process of acquiring citizenship, our team of experts can help you and can guide you throughout the process.
 
Dual citizenship is permitted in Belize, however, foreign nationals will need to know if the laws in their country of origin explicitly allow for this. For example, while the United States does not prohibit dual citizenship (as may be applicable to U.S. nationals who wish to become Belizean citizens), it does not encourage dual citizenship, however, one will not lose the U.S. citizenship unless in certain specific cases.
 
When you immigrate to Belize, some of the issues to take into consideration immediately can include housing, signing different utilities and services agreements, as well as exploring the options for education, should one be traveling with the children.
 
Living in Belize or retiring here is attractive for many reasons, especially because of the splendid beaches. Contact us if you want to know more about the general procedure required to immigrate to Belize.
 

Meet us in Belize

Call us now at  +230 5252 6703 to set up an appointment with our business consultants in Belize. Alternatively you can incorporate your company without traveling to Belize.

As a BridgeWest client, you will take advantage from the joint expertize of local company formation agents and international consultants. Together we will be able to offer you the specialized help you require for your business start-up in Belize.

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