Starting a business in Belize is more popular than ever with expatriates or those who plan to expatriate. Even many retirees elect to open and run a small business here as a form of supplemental income or simply as a way of staying occupied or working on their life passions.
The broad range of opportunities available for businesses to capitalize on in Belize is important to the development of this Small Island Developing State. Belize is uniquely situated for overland trade with Central American its neighbors, and membership in a number of official development strategies and trade agreements among Caribbean nations, including CSME, or the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy, and The ACS, Association of Caribbean States.
90% of all businesses in Belize are small or micro businesses. This can be a retail shop, bar, or restaurant, which are common choices for retired couples or even much younger expatriates who simply wish to immerse themselves in the laid back Caribbean culture.
There are also plenty of opportunities for business investments of a larger scope. Agriculture is a major industry in Belize, and with vast areas of completely undeveloped landscape, it is also expanding. Business Process Outsourcing, or BPO, is a growing industry that is popular in Belize because of English being the official language.
The ongoing development of Belize means there are opportunities for businesses of every kind. With a low minimum wage and competition between native Belizeans for local jobs, just about anywhere in Belize will be receptive to a business that employs locals.
There are five local banks in Belize, and five Class “A” international banks.
Belize is an established, reputable offshore banking jurisdiction, though any company that conducts domestic business must be subject to local taxes and other fees. However, your business can be legally structured to derive benefits from two or more jurisdictions – one or more of which can be an offshore entity.
Operations may begin when a business receives a Tax ID Number.
Obtaining tax ID is just one important step to establishing your business. Determining a location for your business is a common starting point. Non-Belizeans intending to purchase more than one half acre within city limits or ten acres elsewhere, must first acquire a license from the Ministry of Natural Resources, and must submit a development plan prior to approval, unless the property is already developed.
Before a business name can be registered, whether for a new domestic business or an existing overseas business, a name search must be conducted at the Companies registry. Non-nationals are not permitted to own a business that is not registered under the Companies Act, and/or the Business Name Act
Other key steps for getting your business started include: applying for a trade license and registering the business for social security, general sales tax, and business tax. Business owners will need to visit the capital in Belmopan to complete these required steps.
Additionally, any person who intends to generate income in Belize must obtain some type of work permit. All work permit applications must be presented in person at the Labour Department.
Beltraide, or the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service, is an excellent resource to consult throughout the process of starting a business in Belize. Beltraide was established with the purpose of being an informational hub for local and foreign investors to access technical information important for the successful implementation of their business. Check out the list of Steps to Business Establishment on their site by clicking here.
If you are planning to start or business in Belize or move or retire here, you should absolutely consider attending one of ECI Development’s conference events, where you can not only receive the best up-to-date knowledge from professionals, but also do your due diligence and experience Belize for yourself. No amount of research or business advice can beat a visit to Belize to see firsthand why these sunny shores are the best place to start an offshore business.
For info on how to attend an event, click here.