Belize: Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes
Employment and Residence
Any individual can apply for permanent residence after one year of legal residence in Belize on a continuous basis. At the time of writing, the permanent residence fee is BZD200 and a deposit is needed which can range from USD100 to USD2,000 depending on the nationality of the applicant. This deposit may be refunded three years after residency is granted.
To acquire nationality status an applicant should have permanent residence or have resided legally in Belize for at least 5 years.
The Retired Persons Incentive Act passed by the Belize legislature in early 1999 is now in force and being implemented by the Belize Tourism Board. The program, which resembles the formerly popular but now defunct pensionado program in Costa Rica, is designed to attract more retirees to Belize. Qualified retirees are able to live full time tax-free in Belize and bank there, under a 'permanent' tourist visa.
Application forms for work permits are available at any Labour Department Office free of cost. There are two types of forms- one for self employment, the other for hiring a foreign worker.
The application process takes approximately three (3) weeks. Although the Ministry of Labour processes and approves the issuing of work permits, the permit is issued by the Immigration Department - the fee can range anywhere from BZD100 to BZD1,000 (at the time of writing) depending on the level of skill. Two recent passport size pictures endorsed by the applicant must accompany the application.
In the case of an investor he must present his passport, have three passport size pictures, substantive proof of his ability to sustain himself without infringing on the country's limited economic resources. Bank statements or other proof of financial independence are also required. The 'life' of a work permit ranges from three months to one year and is subject to renewal.