Belize’s Customs and Excise Department (http://www.customs.gov.bz) oversees the importation and exportation of goods in Belize. The Belize Customs and Excise Duty Act, Customs Regulation Act, Exchange Control Regulation Act, and Produce Export Duty Act are the main laws governing imports and exports in Belize.

Custom Duties and Taxes

Belize’s tariff schedule is based on CARICOM’s Common External Tariff (CET) and based on the Harmonized Commodity and Coding System (HS) 2002. The CET is based on bands of 10%, 15%, 20% and 40% and rates between 0 and 5%.

Import duties are applied upon goods as they enter the country and payable upon time of arrival. Import duties are the liability of the importer. The Comptroller of Customs is responsible for the collection of import duties. Some goods have been recently exempted from import duties by the Revenue Appropriations Bill 2010/2011. (View List).

Customs brokerages are necessary only when the commercial value of the imported good exceeds Bz$200 or US$100.

A General Sales Tax (GST) of 12.5% is chargeable on both imports and domestically produced goods and services. With respect to domestically produced goods and services, the sales tax is applied at the retail stage and not at the manufacturing stage. In the case of imports, the sales tax is levied at the moment of importation and is assessed on the basis of c.i.f. customs value plus the customs duty. The rate is (Import Duty and RRD if applicable).

Some goods are exempted from the payment of General Sales Tax at the time of importation (view list).

The Minister of Finance, through an order, may exempt goods and services from sales tax. A sales tax exemption certificate may be granted by the Commission of Sales tax for local purchases or imports of goods and services deemed “essential” for the production of final goods or the provision of services. (View GST Exempt List).

Customs duties vary from 0% to as high as 70%. Some 53% of tariff lines carry a rate of 5%, some 18%, a rate of 20% and 10% carry azero rate. Tariff rates between 50% to 70% apply to a variety of products, including plywood, pearls, diamonds, and other precious and semi-precious stones, articles of jewelry, watches, clocks and firearms.

An Environmental Tax of 2% is levied on all goods imported to Belize. Basic food items such as medicines and medical supplies for human use, and basic food stuffs, including rice, beans, potatoes, coffee, tea, butter and butter substitutes, cheese, margarine, cooking oil, shortening, lard and lard substitutes, powdered and condensed milk, baby formula, sardines, meat of swine (salted or in brine), corned beef, and salt are exempted. Domestic goods arenot levied any environmental tax.

Belize also applies a Revenue Replacement Duty (RRD). RRD applies to specific goods (view list). The only exception is ice cream, which is exempted from RRD when it originates in another CARICOM country.

Excise Duties: Belize applies excise duties to domestically produced rum, methylated spirits, tobacco products and aerated waters.An excise duty of $1.00 per barrel of locally extreacted crude oil is also applied.

Procedures and Methods affecting Custom Goods

Prior to clearing goods through customs, exporters must obtain a code from the Customs and Excise Department which is issued automatically by the Comptroller of Customs. Exporters are required to present to customs officials the Single Administrative Document (SAD) that can be obtained from printers authorized by the Ministry of Finance (click here for information required for SAD). The SAD must be accompanied by a bill of lading or waybill, a commercial invoice, and if required, an import license (see section above).

Physical examinations of shipments are conducted upon the request of exporters wishing their containers to be sealed by the Customs and Excise Department. Other shipments may also be inspected by the Customs and Excise Department, based on risk analysis.