Investment Regime

Belize has an open policy to attract both Foreign Direct Investments and local investment. The country offers an extensive programme through incentive schemes tailored for international and export-oriented activities.

Right of Establishment

The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy Article 33 mandates CARICOM Member States including Belize to remove restrictions on the right of establishment of nationals of other Member States. The restrictions referred to in the treaty relates to setting up of agencies, branches or subsidiaries in the host countries without any restrictions.

Export Promotion Requirements

The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) is a quasi-governmental agency that is charged with the responsibility for export promotion, capacity building, and a one-stop shop for export/import procedures. It is also the main focal point that manages the investment incentive regime in Belize.

Types of Business Ownership

The Laws of Belize allows for various categories of business ownership. The relevant legislation can be found at http://www.belizelaw.org.

  • Private company- Chapter 250, Companies Act
  • Joint venture and cooperative- Chapter 313, Co-operative Societies Act
  • Partnership- Chapter 258, Limited Liability Partnership Act
  • Sole Proprietor- Chapter 247, Business Names Act
  • International Business Company- Chapter 270, International Business Companies Act
  • Trust Fund- Chapter 200, Trust Corporations Act

Trade Licenses

If a business owner intends to operate in any municipality, whether Belize City or Belmopan, an application for a trade license is necessary. Trade licenses are obtained from the local city or town council.They general criteria for application are outlined below:

  • Submit copy of Business Names Registration
  • Submission of application form
  • Interview with applicant
  • Must be developing in adesignated “commercial area” of the city
  • Fees are calculated based on annual rental value of the property and are divided by sectors. Specifically, the rate of 3.5% is charged for supermarkets, grocery stores, furniture shops, and repair shops.The rate of 5% is charged for hardware stores, gas stations, and dentistry offices.The maximum rate charged is 25% for business in gaming or engaged in monopolies.

Tax Regime

Business and Income Tax is governed by the Income and Business Tax Act, Chapter 55 of the Laws of Belize. According to the Income Tax Department, ‘receipts’ means all revenue, whether in cash or in kind whether received or accrued, of a person or entity carrying on trade or business or practicing has or its profession or vocation in Belize without any deduction.

Belize has Double Taxation Treaties with the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark and members of CARICOM.

Labour Force

Minimum Wage Rates

The minimum wage rates should be adjusted according to the following table:

Year Manual/
Agricultural
% Increase Shop Assistants/
Domestic (US$m)
% Increase
2006 $2.00 $2.25
2007 $2.50 25% $3.00 33%
2008 $2.75 10% $3.00  
2009 $2.75   $3.00  
2010 $3.00 9% $3.00  

The minimum wage rate for Belize is BZ $ 3.30 per hour for all category of workers. The new minimum wage rate became effective on 26th May 2012.

Immigration Procedures

Visa Requirements

Foreign Travelers must have a valid passport and an onward plane ticket for a 30-day Visitor’s Visa to be issued by Belize.  Prior to expiration, an application for an extension of a Visitor’s Visa can be made at any of the Immigration Office in the districts of Belize.

Citizens from the, U.S.A., British Commonwealth (except India), Mexico, CARICOM, Costa Rica, Austria, or nationals of a member state of the European Union do not require a visa.  All other countries require a visa to visit Belize.

Any Belizean Consulate or Embassy can issue a visa at the cost of U.S. $25.00. In cases in which there is not a resident Belizean Consulate or Embassy in your country, a visa can be obtained through the nearest British Embassy.

Citizens of Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, China, Angola, Brazil, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Cuba, India, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa and nationals of the former USSR require prior approval for a visa from the Department of Immigration in Belize.

Social Security

Social Security is described as a social insurance not a charitable institution.The Social Security Board (SSB) is an organization that provides financial services to insured persons residing in Belize. As long a person is working, contributions are collected from the employer.

According to Social Security (Collection of Contributions) Regulations, 1980, the word ‘earnings’ means gross earnings, which includes:

  • Overtime payments
  • Cost of living bonus
  • Allowance or payment in respect of dependents
  • Long service or efficiency payments
  • Production or incentive pay and service charges
  • Commission on profits or sales
  • Gratuities other that those paid once year
  • Payments in respect of dirty or dangerous work
  • Payments in respect of shift or night work

Public Utilities

Electricity

With its corporate headquarters located in Belize City, the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) is the dominant provider of electricity in the country of Belize. Belize, like the United States uses 110 Volts A.C.

Services provided:

  • Premise Inspection
  • New Connections to premise
  • Relocation of Service
  • Premise Disconnection – closing of account – refund of deposit
  • Disconnection – nonpayment of arrears – reconnection
  • Temporary Connection (T/C)
  • Temporary Power supply
  • Temporary Lighting – streamers, outlets, etc
  • Compensation for claims of damaged goods, equipment, appliances
  • Special Rereading of Meter – Customer Benefit
  • Meter Changes – customer request
  • Relocation of Meter
  • Cost estimate – rural premises
  • Service Upgrade
  • Tree-trimming (if power lines are affected)
  • Work services – Installation of HV, LV lines
  • Installation of Transformer Accessories
  • Utility Trouble Service Maintenance

Telecommunications

Background

Belize’s telecommunications sector is regulated in accordance with the Telecoms Act 2002, the act enacted in August of 2002, liberalizes telecommunications market in Belize and gives responsibility for regulating to the Public Utilities Commission which was established in 2000.

Current providers in the market are Belize Telemedia Limited the incumbent and full service provider and Speednet, who was duly licensed as a full service provider in August of 2003. The entities operate under various interconnection agreements which allow uninterrupted services to customers of both companies.In August of 2009, the Government of Belize nationalized Belize Telemedia Limited, and the government owed entity now competes directly with Speednet. As a result of the nationalization process, the interconnection agreements are again subject to negotiations.

Both BTL and Speednet boast a full range of products and services including basic telephone services, national andinternational calls, prepaid services, cellular servicesvia GSM 1900 megahertz (Mhz) and 3G Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) 2000 respectively), international cellular roaming, fixed wireless, dial-up and internet, high-speed DSL, internet service, and national and international data networks.

Water

The Belize Water Services is Belize’s water and sewage utility that serves approximately 44,000 customers with a total average water demand of roughly 150 million US gallons per month.

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