Are you considering offshore Belize residency? Belize makes immigration and residency easy for investors, expats, and retirees looking to obtain Belize residency (for personal or investment).
Belize has been gaining increased popularity among foreigners, retirees, investors, and digital nomads. The Belize residency programs provide enhanced investment and travel opportunities.
In Belize, English is the primary language, and Belize’s legal system is based on British Common Law (a member of the British Commonwealth). Because of the British Common Law and British Parliamentary Democracy, Belize has a stable, democratic government and a stable and dynamic economy (also stable currency pegged 2:1 with USD).
For expats and investors, obtaining Belize residency is not prohibitive like in other countries. Residency in Belize is relatively straightforward, with a few routes available. For expats or retirees, Belize has the Qualified Retired Persons Program and the new Retire & Invest Program. These are great incentives for individuals looking to call Belize home and looking for long-term residency in Belize.
Belize also has investment residency programs that appeal to potential property owners and investors. In Belize, foreigners purchasing land or property are afforded the same rights as Belize citizens regarding property ownership.
Belize has full foreign ownership, and foreign investors can own Belize property outright with a fee-simple title. Belize is also a low-tax jurisdiction, with no capital gains or inheritance taxes (estate tax) in Belize.
The location of Belize (close proximity to the US & Canada), its warm Caribbean climate, low taxes, and welcoming culture make it an attractive place to invest, work, retire, and reside. The Belize residency programs also provide opportunities to travel, start a business, and optimize taxation.
This post provides information on obtaining Belize residency as well as the different residency programs Belize offers and the requirements.
Types of Belize Residency
Belize offers two distinct types of Residency status for foreigners:
- Permanent Residency: Permanent Residency would be suited for someone looking at being a resident in Belize. Permanent residency in Belize is for a person (or persons) who want to make Belize their home and will be staying in Belize for an extended period of time.
- Temporary Residency: Temporary Residency is for a person (or persons) who have made or are in the process of making a substantial investment in Belize (often in Belize real estate) but, due to commitments outside Belize, cannot meet ordinary Permanent Residence requirements.
For persons applying for Permanent Residency in Belize, you are required to:
- Have been legally residing in Belize for at least one year from submitting a residency application.
- During the one-year period, you have not left Belize for more than 14 days (2 weeks).
- Show proof to the Belize Immigration Office that you have been, and you will be able to continue financial stability and independence.
- Have not been convicted by a competent court in any country of a criminal offense for which you may have been liable to a sentence of imprisonment of twelve months or more and have not received a free pardon for the crime.
Documents Required for Permanent Residency
- Medical Certificate and Tests
- Police Record
- Proof of Financial Stability
- Spouse and Child’s Documentation
A Temporary Residence (Temporary Residency) status can be given for one (1) year at a time. The temporary residency must be renewed every year. The temporary residency status becomes renewable at the end of that given period.
For persons applying for Temporary Residency, you are required to:
- Apply for temporary residency (temporary investment residency).
- Show evidence of investments in Belize valued at not less than Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand US Dollars – US $250,000 (five hundred thousand Belize Dollar – BZ$500,000).
Learn more from Belize Immigration.
Documents Required for Temporary Residency
- Police Record
- Letter to Director
- Evidence of Residence in Belize
- Evidence of Investment in Belize
Belize Residency Options
Here is a general overview of residency options in Belize:
- Tourist Visa: Most visitors to Belize can enter the country as tourists without a visa and stay for up to 30 days. Extensions for up to 90 days are possible, but they come with associated fees. This is not a long-term residency option.
- Permanent Residency: Belize offers several pathways to permanent residency:
- Retired Persons Program: This program is designed for retirees. To qualify, you must be at least 45 years old, provide proof of a consistent income, and meet certain financial requirements.
- QRP (Qualified Retirement Program): The QRP is an attractive option for retirees. It provides tax benefits and allows for permanent residency. To qualify, you should be at least 45 years old, have a consistent income, and meet the financial requirements.
- Self-Employed Program: If you plan to start a business in Belize, you can apply for permanent residency under this program. You’ll need to invest a certain amount of money in your business and meet other requirements.
- Naturalization Residency: The typical way people achieve Belizean residency is through the naturalized residency program. To obtain naturalized residency in Belize, you have to show you have been in Belize for a year (48 out of 50 weeks).
- Work Permits: If you plan to work in Belize, you will need a work permit. These permits are generally tied to employment, and your employer will often need to sponsor your application.
- Investor Residency: Belize offers opportunities for investors to obtain residency by making substantial investments in the country. The specifics of this program can vary, and it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney for details.
- Dependent Residency: If you have close family members who are legal residents or citizens of Belize, you may be eligible for dependent residency. This typically applies to spouses, children, or parents of Belizean citizens or residents.
Keep in mind that the process for obtaining residency in Belize can vary from person to person. People have different processes, which may involve various documentation, fees, and specific requirements. It’s advisable to work with someone who specializes in Belizean immigration to guide you through the process and ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements.
Belize Tourist Visa
You do not need to have residency to live or invest in Belize. Residency is not required to own a property (foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals/nationals). Residency is also not needed to be in Belize or visit Belize. If you are visiting Belize (as an American or Canadian), you do not require a travel visa.
When you enter Belize (as a tourist), you are issued a 30-day tourist visa in your passport. Belize is a very easy country to travel to, and US & Canadian travelers do not require any visas when traveling to Belize. The majority of countries and passports can travel to Belize freely and without a visa for 30 days.
Visitors can continue to renew their tourist visa if they want to stay in Belize without restrictions on length (as long as they get their visa renewed).
Americans & Canadians can travel to Belize and remain in Belize without time constraints. When a visitor arrives in Belize, they are issued a 30-day
Naturalized Residency Belize
Permanent residents in Belize can work without a permit and no longer need to renew their visas every month or year. The naturalized residency (which requires time) is the most common route for Belize residency.
To be eligible for permanent residency in Belize, you need to live continuously in the country for one year without leaving the country for over 14 days. You must apply through the Department of Immigration and Nationality Services.
The typical way people achieve Belizean residency is through the standard residency program. To obtain residency in Belize, you have to show you have resided in Belize for a year, and have been in Belize for 48 weeks of the year. This is a naturalized residency.
Belize Investment Residency
The Belize Investment Residency program is designed for investors and entrepreneurs with investments in Belize valued at a minimum of $250,000 US.
The most common Belize investment for residency is through Belize real estate investment or owning Belize land. You can apply for the investment residency through proof of land or real estate in Belize valued above $250,000 US.
The most common sector is real estate investment, but there is also business investment. There are no restrictions on the business or any fixed sector to invest in. You can invest in tourism, agriculture, etc. This allows you to live, work, and conduct investments and business in Belize.
The investment residency can be done remotely. A person applying for the investment residency does not need to be in Belize to file this application.
The Belize Investment Residency is also called the “Temporary Investment Residency” and allows investors in Belize to obtain residency if they show they have invested over $500,000 BZ ($250,000 US) in Belize. This is most commonly done through real estate. The reason it is called “Temporary” is that you have to show every year that the investment continues in Belize.
Investment Residency is for one (1) year at a time. The temporary investment residency must be renewed every year.
Belize Qualified Retired Person Program (QRP)
If you are over the age of 45, have no intention of working in Belize, and can prove you meet the monthly retirement income requirements, you may qualify for the QRP (Qualified Retired Person) Program. The QRP program grants residency to people who hold status. The QRP is renewable each year, with the only requirement being that you spend a minimum of 30 days of the year in Belize.
Belize Work Permit
If you plan to work in Belize as a foreigner, you may require a “Work Permit.”
If you are planning to work for a company in Belize, the company hiring you will sponsor the work permit on your behalf. Suppose you are self-employed or planning to start a business in Belize (and work at the business). In that case, you likely need to apply for a self-employed foreigner or business registration.
If you do not apply for a residency status and continue to work and live in Belize, the work permit will be renewed annually.
After living in Belize for at least five years as a permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalization. The requirements for naturalization can change, so it’s essential to check the most recent criteria.
Once you’ve been a permanent resident for at least five years, you can apply to become a citizen of Belize. Belize allows dual citizenship, which means you can maintain Belizean and offshore citizenship (and passports). It is attractive for investors as they do not have to relinquish their domestic citizenship when they acquire Belizean Citizenship.
Belize recognizes dual citizenship. The Nationality Department does not require you to renounce citizenship from other countries.
Once you have Belize citizenship, you get the benefits of Belize’s CARICOM membership. With Belizean Citizenship, you can move freely through, live, and work in other Caribbean member countries.
Belize Residency Process
The process for residency varies depending on the person and the program. That said, generally, the residency process goes as follows;
- Step 1: Gather the required documents
- Step 2: Submission of application
- Step 3: Interview with Immigration
- Step 4: Interview with Police Department
- Step 5: Notification by the Immigration Office
- Step 6: Payment and Submission of Security Bond
- Step 7: Delivery of Residence Card
Belize Residency is relatively easy to acquire. You will need to follow the necessary steps. All applications are also subject to a background check or Police Record Check.
Residency in Belize
Belize offers a good range of visa and residency options covering just about any reason for being in Belize. Which option is right for you depends on your purpose for being in Belize:
- Long-term Scouting Trip: If you’re visiting Belize to test if it might be right for you as a new home, the Belize Tourist Visa (with renewals) will be your best choice.
- Snowbird or Wintering in Belize: If you’re escaping the bitter cold of “home” for several months each year or using Belize as a part-time vacation home, the Belize Tourist Visa (with renewals) is also your best option.
- Retiring in Belize: If you plan to retire and move to Belize with no intention of working (or running your own business), you should look at the Qualified Retirement Program. If you plan on opening a business or investing, you may want to look at the new Retire & Invest Program (through QRP and BTB).
- Moving to Belize: If you want to move to Belize but plan to work (or run your own business), a Work Permit may be the right direction. After a year, you can have naturalized Belizean residency.
- Investing in Belize: If you are looking to invest in Belize and have an offshore residency through investment, the Temporary Investment Residency could likely be a great option.
If you seek to obtain offshore residency with ease, with a minimal physical presence in the country, Belize residency may appeal to you. There are a few options and routes someone can take to obtain Belize residency. If you are looking at offshore residency or want to learn more about Belize Residency, contact us!