Belize: Country and Foreign Investment
The Philip Goldson International Airport is 2 hours' flying time (daily flights) from Miami, New Orleans or Houston. There are reliable shipping and air cargo services to and from Europe, United States of America, Central America and the Caribbean. The departure tax at the International Airport is USD36 per person plus USD3.25 security tax. There is a Tourist Departure Tax of USD18.75 per person when departing Belize at either of the land border crossings.
There is a favorable business environment, with few regulatory restrictions and minimum of red tape. Government hours are from 8 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 5 pm Monday to Friday. BTL provides telephone communication between Belize and the United States and Canada. Direct dial service is available worldwide. The Belize telephone system is one of the best in the region, with a modern fibre-optics network. Cellular and paging services available. International calls are expensive. Direct Internet access is available from BTL.
Mail service is generally reliable. Letters (at the time of writing USD0.30 for a one-half ounce airmail letter) to the US from Belize City take about a week, longer from more remote areas. Belize is a very informal country, with a casual life-style. Formal attire is seldom necessary.
There are controls on land ownership by foreigners in excess of 0.5 acre in a town or 10 acres in the country. The Minister of Natural Resources issues licenses if a satisfactory development plan is presented or is in existence. If a property is being sub-divided for sale, a subdivision permit must be obtained from the Minister of Natural Resources. Land can be leased from the Government of Belize with an option to buy if the planned development indicated at the time of the application is carried out. Land in general has a (1%) tax on the unimproved value of the land. The cost for transfer of title to real property is 10% of value for Stamp Duty (usually shared between buyer and seller) and a token fee for registration. Attorney fees are additional.
Belize has preferential market access for many products to Europe, Canada, USA and the Caribbean:
- Europe under LOME IV
- CANADA under CARIBCAN
- USA under CBI II
- Caribbean under CARICOM
In August 2004, the government announced plans to establish a new organisation that will be dedicated to facilitating the country's participation in the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME), known as the National Accreditation Council of Belize.
The bill gives effect to Belize's obligations under the Caribbean Community Act to facilitate the movement of skills in the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME), with particular reference to the certification of professional qualifications. The bill was passed in 2005, but six years on the National Accreditation Council has not been set up.
The professional infrastructure is reasonably good. Belize ranks high in terms of efficiency, low cost and lack of legal mumbo-jumbo. The jurisdiction still lags behind the most sophisticated venues, such as the Cayman Islands, in terms of the availability of offshore financial products and in-country support professionals. However, that is rapidly changing.
Although most of the electricity is provided by diesel/generator sets, power is a stable 110 Volts A.C., as in the United States.