Belize: Country and Foreign Investment
Philip Goldson International Airport is approximately 2 hours' flying time (daily flights) from Miami, New Orleans and Houston. There are reliable shipping and air cargo services to and from Europe, the USA, Central America and the Caribbean. The departure tax at the International Airport is US$36 per person plus US$3.25 security tax. There is a Tourist Departure Tax of US$18.75 per person when departing Belize at either of the land border crossings.
The business environment is favourable, with few regulatory restrictions and a minimum of red tape. Government hours are from 8:00 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 5:00, 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-optic network. Cellular and paging services available. International calls are expensive. Direct Internet access is available from BTL.
The postal service is generally reliable. Letters (at the time of writing US$0.30 for a 15g (half-ounce) airmail letter) to the US from Belize City take about a week, and longer from more remote areas. Belize is a very informal country, with a casual lifestyle. Formal attire is seldom necessary.
There are controls on land ownership by foreigners in excess of 0.5 acres 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 subdivided for sale, a subdivision permit must be obtained from the Minister of Natural Resources. Land can be leased from the Belizean government 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. Lawyers’ 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
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 AC, as in the USA.