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Belize Residency
pros & cons

Belize can be a great place to retire or live in but it may not be for everyone. Take a look at Ten Reasons To Live Or Retire In Belize. Here we outline some of the pros and cons of achieving residency in Belize.

Belize Tourist Card

Pros: No commitment, no financial requirement, flexibility, little red tape.

Cons: No tax advantages, no official status, inconvenience of having to renew periodically, monthly fee of US$25 to $50 per person to extend, possibility rules may change, can’t work for pay in Belize.

Belize Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program

Pros: Quick approval, application through the Belize Tourism Board rather than Immigration Department, some residency rights (except voting), tax-free entry of household effects, car, boat and airplane, only have to live in country for one month a year.

Cons: Must deposit US$24,000 a year in a Belize bank, somewhat costly application process, can’t work for pay in Belize, must be 45 or over, still have to pay tourist exit taxes when leaving the country.

Does not earn points if you want to achieve permanent residency later. Most Belize experts dismiss the Belize Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program as a convoluted money-making scheme for the Belize government and bureaucrats. Other countries such as Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua offer offer much better terms.

Forget about financial privacy. The government requires that all Belize Qualified Retired Persons submit a yearly bank statement showing compliance with the financial requirements of the program. Most retirement experts regard this as intrusive. The program is so lucrative in generating fees that the government of Belize has launched a slick website operated by the Belize Tourism Board in an effort to net prospective retirees into its program.

Belize Official Permanent Residency

Pros: Full residency rights (except voting in national elections – but you can vote in municipal elections), can work, open to anyone regardless of age, one-time tax-free entry of household effects.

Cons: Year-long residency before applying, more red tape, costly application process, and some people are turned down for minor details; you can bring in household goods but NOT a car, boat or airplane free of duty.

In addition to these programs, full citizenship in Belize is a possibility for those living in Belize over a long period. To acquire citizenship, applicants must have been a resident or have permanent residency status for a minimum of five years. Applicants for citizenship need to provide essentially the same supporting documentation as those applying for permanent residency. Applicants also must demonstrate a knowledge of Belizean history.

Living As An Expat in Belize

If you’re looking for a place to live or to retire that’s just like back home, only better, for a United States or a Canada on the cheap, for Florida with ruins, reefs and rum, you may get a rude awakening when you move to Belize. Because Belize isn’t just like the U.S. or Canada. It does have world-class rum at economical prices, awe-inspiring ruins, the beautiful Caribbean sea and much more. But the rules are different. The people who make and enforce the rules are different. Sometimes there are no rules. Sometimes there is a set of rules for you, and a different one for everyone else. Just about every expat resident of Belize has some story to tell about problems he or she faced in adjusting to life in Belize –or, in not adjusting. Let’s look at some of the differences, and what they mean to you as a potential resident or retiree.

First, Belize is a country with a population hardly bigger than a small city in the U.S. Even including recent illegal and uncounted immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the population of the entire country is only about 320,000.

Most expats seeking retirement or residency in Belize are middle-class North Americans, from a society still run by white middle-class North Americans. Belize, on the other hand, is a truly multi-cultural society, with Latinos, Creoles, Mestizos, Maya, Garifuna, Asians, and what in the rest of Latin America would be called Gringos, living together in complex and changing relationships, living together in probably more harmony than anyone has a right to expect. In several areas, Creoles dominate – especially in the bureaucracy and security services; increasingly, in other areas Latino Belizeans and immigrants dominate. One thing is for certain, though: In this mix, North Americans and Europeans have very limited power. Money talks in Belize, of course, as it does everywhere. Most of Belize’s tourism industry is owned by foreign interests. Much of its industry and agriculture is controlled by multinational companies or by a few wealthy, well-connected Belizean families.

In Belize, culture shock is sometimes masked by the surface familiarity. Most Belizeans speak English, albeit a different English. They watch American television. They drive big American or Japanese cars. They even accept U.S. currency. But, underneath the surface sameness, Belize is different, a collection of differences. Cases in point: The ancient Mayan view of time, cyclical and recurring, and even the Mayan view today, are grossly different from the linear way urban North Americans view time.

The emerging Hispanic majority in Belize has social, religious and political views that are quite different from the views of the average North American, or, even of the typical Belizean Creole. In many cases, family connections and relationships are more important in Belize than they are in the U.S. or Canada. Time is less important. Not wanting to disappoint, Belizeans may say “maybe” when “no” would be more accurate. Otherwise honest men may take money under the table for getting things moving. Values North Americans take for granted, such as “work hard and get ahead,” do not apply in Belize in the same way. Physical labor, especially agricultural work and service work, because of the heritage of slavery and colonialism, is sometimes viewed as demeaning among some Belize groups. – Source Lan Sluder

Insider Tip: Full Residency / Citizenship in Belize

Like most countries, full and almost Free Citizenship in Belize is available to those who marry a Belize citizen. While this is not possible for those already marred, for the single person this can be an attractive option.

To wed a Belizean, an ex pat must obtain a marriage license from the Ministry of the Attorney General. This is a relatively simple process and costs but U.S. $25.00 Belize has many eligible women (and men) who may be interested in marrying an ex pat. After one year of marriage, the ex pat can apply for Citizenship Via Marriage. If there is an issue from the marriage (child) the process is cemented and guaranteed

For more information about Belize and Belize Real Estate, please contact:

Caribbean Property Consultants
P.O. Box 149 Dangriga Stann Creek, Belize, Central America

In North America 1-250-592-1277
North American calls to Belize Office 011-501-672-9000
Europe 00-501-672-9000
Patrick Doyle 011-501-670-9933
Lea Snyder 011-501-669-9000
Dan Dunbar 011-501-671-9500
Michael Young 011-501-666-7000
Frank Gagliano 011-501-628-1250
Danie Oosthuizen 011-501-666-0426
* 011 is required for all international calls from North America - From Europe use 00 - Belize's Area Code is 501
Email: to send email, please use: info (then the @ symbol)


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