The official currency used in Belize is the Belize Dollar (BZD; symbol BZ$). The Belize Dollar has a fixed exchange rate of 2:1 with USD ($2 Belize = $1 US Dollar). The Belize currency at an exchange rate of $2 BZD to $1 USD can be exchanged at most banks and hotels in Belize. There are not as many ATMs in Belize as people are used to at home. The ATMs in Belize generally accept most foreign cards (Canada & US). It is also important to note that when you are in Belize that the majority of businesses accept Credit Cards (MasterCard, Visa, and some AMEX). US dollars are also universally accepted in Belize at a rate of $1 US to $2 BZ, MasterCard. Tourism is the number one industry in Belize and most of our tourists are from America. Because of this, almost every business accepts USD, and having a pegged currency makes it easy. If you are traveling to Belize, you are able to use your US cash everywhere and there are ATM machines available that dispense in Belize Dollars.
The Central Bank of Belize was first established in 1982, by the Central Bank of Belize Act No. 15 (Chapter 262 of the Laws of Belize).
The first notes issued under its name were dated 1ST JULY 1983.
Just like the US dollar, the Belize dollar is divided into 100 cents. Currency Bills & Bank Notes in Belize come in $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations. Belizean coins are one cent, five cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, and a $1 coin. Belize currency and Bank notes are the latest-generation currency with distinctive security features including watermarks this makes it very difficult to counterfeit Belize currency.
One thing that is important to note is that it can be very difficult to exchange Belizean dollars for other currencies once you leave Belize.
- Symbols: BZ$ or BZD
- Exchange Rate of 2:1 with USD
- Bills: $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
- Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 cents and $1
History of Belize Currency
- Belize was originally British Honduras and until its independence, the Spanish Dollar was in circulation.
- In 1894, the government (of British Honduras) issued banknotes in denominations of 100, 50, 10, 5, 2, and 1 Dollar.
- In 1973, British Honduras has renamed Belize.
- The first 100 Dollar banknote was introduced in 1974.
- In 1976, the printing of banknotes was taken over by the Monetary Authority of Belize.
- In 1981, Belize became an independent country.
- The Central Bank of Belize was established in 1982. It produced banknotes in 1983.
What Currency is Used for Belize Real Estate?
When you look up Belize real estate and property online, the prices are almost always in US Dollars. This is because the majority of real estate transactions and property purchases in Belize are done in USD. Most of the Belize vacation homes, Belize property, and Belize real estate are made using U.S. dollars. The Belizean local currency is used for local transactions while USD is used more frequently for real estate transactions.
Since almost all real estate transactions in Belize are done in USD, a US intermediary bank is needed. This is why almost every Escrow Agent or Escrow account for closings uses a US bank account (even for Belize real estate transactions). All payments (down payment and payment processing on financing) are generally made in the US.
Since Belize real estate is largely done in USD and people are paying in USD the bank and payment processing have to go through an American intermediary. From anywhere in the world, to use US dollars you need a corresponding bank in the US. The escrow accounts we use at RE/MAX Belize are typically in the US. This is also helpful for the purchaser as it is often a domestic wire, since the majority of buyers/clients are Americans or Canadians, and it is safer and cheaper for both the sending and receiving parties using US dollars and a US bank. Doesn’t matter where you are conducting business in the world, a US-based intermediary bank would be required if a transfer is done in US dollars.
The Escrow Agent is a US bank account. Since almost all of the real estate transactions, we do at RE/MAX Belize are in US dollars and either a US bank or US intermediary bank is needed when doing any transaction in USD. This makes it easier for the transaction but also protects the purchaser as well with a domestic bank transfer.
Because payments are being sent and received in the US and in USD the escrow agent and account are in the US. This is for the safety and security of the purchaser and the seller.
Belize has currency controls in place (which is why we have a pegged 2:1 currency) this prevents corruption from the government and rapid inflation in an emerging country. Because of the currency controls, real estate transactions are done in US dollars, which as mentioned above requires a US account or US intermediary bank.
If you are looking at buying Belize real estate and want to learn more about the process, contact us!