Table of Contents
Long known as a top spot for Americans to spend their retirement years in paradise on a budget, Belize is also an enticing place to outsource business. Belize is a tax haven that allows individuals and corporations to legally reduce their tax liabilities. Belize has a diverse society that is composed of many cultures and languages that reflect its rich history. It is the only Central American country where English is the official language. The country has breathtaking beaches, beautiful jungles and Mayan ruins.
Belize has a developing free-market economy. They rely heavily on imports for mineral fuels, fossil fuels, and electricity but also, they generate some electricity domestically through the use of fuelwood, firewood, and other biomass products. The Central Bank of Belize oversees the country’s banks and issues the country’s currency, the Belize dollar. Chief trading partners include the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Mexico, Curacao, Panama and certain members of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom)
The Importance of Small and Medium-sized Companies
Small- and medium-size businesses in Belize make up the largest percentage of all local businesses. According to the Belize Trade and Investment Service (BELTRAIDE) SMEs make up 80% of all Belize businesses and the government is eager to nurture them.
BELTRAIDE offers local and foreign investors the services of a one-stop center for the promotion of investment and trade activities.
English is the official language for Belize’s 404,000 citizens although, Creole, Spanish and other European dialects are not uncommon. The average age is around 23 years old, meaning a young workforce with many years to grow and develop. Part of that development began in 2019 when the Belize Ministry of Education launched a digital education program to ensure students are prepared to succeed on the global stage.
While Belize lags behind the U.S. in internet availability and connectivity it still holds excellent business opportunities. Tech sector businesses in Belize include software development, research and development, technological consulting services and engineering.
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
Only a small proportion of Belize’s land is actively used for agriculture, which employs about one-fifth of the population.
Belize’s mineral production includes clays, limestone, marble, sand, and gravel for the construction industry.
Manufacturing (mainly food products, fertilizers, and textiles) accounts for about one-eighth of the gross national product (GNP).
Finance, trade, and services
The Central Bank of Belize oversees the country’s banks and issues the country’s currency, the Belize dollar.
Belize is an English-speaking country with a high literacy rate and an educated workforce. They are an emerging outsource destination. The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry has been singled out as a specialized area and priority industry for Belize’s socio-economic growth in both the public and private sector. To support this, the government provides industry tax incentives.
Belize City is the financial and industrial capital of the country and also its principal port. Most of the major banks, insurance centers, and trade hubs of Belize are located in Belize City. The city is associated with hustle and bustle throughout the day and is an important cultural hub.
Tourism is the most popular industry in San Pedro.
It is the Cayo District’s economic and cultural hub.
Belmopan is one of the newest capital cities in the world.
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) strives to contribute to the sustainable development of Belize. Recognizing the importance of providing businesses with relevant and timely economic information. The Trade and Investment Zone (TIZ) is designed to ensure current and potential entrepreneurs have a virtual one-stop shop for information to help them navigate policies that directly or indirectly affect business operations and trade investment. TIZ is dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with information to guide them through every stage of doing business in Belize, from how to start a business to the steps necessary to expand. The TIZ also provides insights into the various trade agreements to which Belize has become a party or member state.
Facilities for Foreign Investment
In the early 1990s, the government of Belize started the process of becoming a tax haven. Furthermore, incorporating offshore companies is simple in Belize thanks to its International Business Companies Act.
Belize does not share information with international taxing authorities, providing corporations and individuals with the utmost confidentiality. However, U.S. residents must still report earnings to the IRS unless their company does business solely in Belize. The Foreign Income Tax Exclusion shields up to $108,700 of offshore earned income for those who qualify.
Friendly but Formal
Belizeans are warm upfront people but that doesn’t mean proper etiquette should lax. Good manners are very important to show respect and courtesy for others. Upon meeting a handshake and exchange of business cards is where to begin.
Punctuality, ideas of time and schedules are different in Belize compared to the U.S. Any schedule is usually off by at least five minutes… running a bit behind is the norm.
Get to the Point Leisurely
Belizeans enjoy long social conversations. If you try to get right down to business it is frowned upon. The relationships you build by visiting before working leads to more prosperous ventures down the road.
Belize Gastronomy: regional and traditional cuisines
The most common recipes in Belize will likely include some combination of rice, beans and chicken, pork, beef or seafood. Johnny cakes, or journey cakes, are flour and coconut milk baked bread. It can be the basis for beans and cheese for breakfast, or with added pieces of stewed chicken or beef for a fast food lunch. Tamales, an exotic chicken soup called Escabeche and freshly made ceviche are also delicious Belizean dishes.
|Num. States/Provinces||6 Districts|
|Principal Cities||Belize City, San Ignacio, Belmopan, Orange Walk Town and San Pedro|
|Local Currency||Belize Dollar (BZD)|
|Thousands Separator Format||999,999,999.99|
|Country Dial Code||+1-141|
|Time Zone||AST (UTC -4)|
|Border Countries||Guatemala to the west and south, Mexico to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the east|
|Continental surface||22 965 km²|
|Fiscal Year||1 January to 31 December|
|VAT %||There is no VAT however, there is a standard GST rate is 12.50%|
|Minimum Wage||Minimum hourly wage in Belize is 3.30 BZD (approximately $1.62 USD)|
|Taxpayer Identification Number Name in the country||TIN|
|Current President||Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is the Constitutional Head of State. Governor General of Belize Froyla Tzalam |
Prime Minister Juan Antonio Briceño
What you need to know about employing personnel in Belize:
Laws and Agencies that regulate labor relationships
|Belize||The Constitution of Belize is the supreme law of the nation of Belize. It was signed in September 1981 with effect from that date. Belize’s government is based on the British parliamentary system. This means it provides for a bicameral National Assembly composed of an elected House of Representatives and an appointed Senate.|
|Labor Code||Belize Labour Act|
|Tax Code||Belize Tax Code|
|Social Security coverage||Sickness benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity benefit, retirement benefit, funeral grant, survivors’ benefit, injury benefit, disablement benefit, death benefit, and funeral grant|
Key Tax and Labor Authorities
|Belize Ministry of Finance||This co-ordinates economic and fiscal policies, plus the generation and allocation of financial resources.|
|Belize Social Security Board (SSB)||Administers the country’s social security fund.|
|National Health Insurance Scheme||This allows for healthcare to be free for citizens.|
|Contracts||Every contract shall contain in clear and unambiguous terms all that may be necessary to define the rights and obligations of the parties.|
|Labor Organization||Belize is an original member (1995) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The pact involves the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) subgroup of the Group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific states (ACP).|
|Work Hours||In Belize, the standard working hours per week consists of a maximum of 45 hours, 9 hours per day, and all employees are entitled to at least one day of rest per week|
Contracts must contain:
(a) the name of the employer or group of employers and, where practicable, of the undertaking and the place of employment;
(b) the name of the worker, the place of engagement and the place of origin of the worker, and any other particulars necessary
for his identification;
(c) where possible the name and addresses of the next of kin of the worker;
(d) the nature of the employment;
(e) the duration of the employment and the method of calculating this duration;
(f) the appropriate period of notice to be given by the party wishing to terminate the contract, due regard being had to the provisions of section 57 and to the fact that such provisions refer to an equitable settlement of monetary and other questions;
(g) the rates of wages and method of calculation thereof, the manner and periodicity of payment of wages, the advances of
wages, if any, and the manner of repayment of any such advances;
(h) the measures to be taken to provide for the welfare of the worker and any dependent who may accompany him under the terms of the contract;
(i) the conditions of repatriation where applicable
(j) any special conditions of the contract
Legal Benefits in Belize
|Minimum Wage||3.30 BZD|
|Wages||The median salary is 3,840 BZD per month (approximately $1,888 USD).[Salto de ajuste de texto]|
|Overtime||Overtime is due for any time worked over 9 hours in a day and is generally paid at time and a half.[Salto de ajuste de texto][Salto de ajuste de texto]When required to work on Christmas Day, Good Friday, or Easter Monday the employer must pay the rate of double the usual salary.|
|Vacations or PTO||Two (2) working weeks of paid leave per year.|
|Leaves of Absence Employees have the right to paid absences for the following things:||Sick days:[Salto de ajuste de texto]Once an employee has worked for a company for a minimum of 60 days within the last 12 months, they are entitled to 16 days paid sick leave at their basic rate of pay. [Salto de ajuste de texto]All sick leave must be validated with a medical certificate from a medical professional within 48 hours of the start of the sick period.[Salto de ajuste de texto][Salto de ajuste de texto]Maternity Leave:[Salto de ajuste de texto]Up to 14 weeks (Art. 11)|
Employers Contribution or Labor Cost[Salto de ajuste de texto][Salto de ajuste de texto]Annual Taxable Income
|Over this amount||Tax % on Excess|
|$14,500||Both residents and non- residents||25%|
Corporate Tax Rates
Belize has the Income and Business Tax Act Chapter 55 of the Laws of Belize, this act outlines the laws surrounding corporate tax. Business tax is imposed on all gross receipts of persons. The rates are according to the source of income, they can range from 0.75% on the sale of fuel and lubricants, to 25% withholding tax for non-residents.
A Belize International Business Company, by the definition of the law, is not subject to any tax or duty on income or profits, including business tax; In particular, all income of a company incorporated under the Belize IBC Act is not subject.
Public holidays observed in Belize:
|1 January||New Year’s Day|
|8 March||National Heroes and Benefactors Day|
|Friday before Easter Sunday||Good Friday|
|Saturday before Easter Sunday||Holy Saturday|
|Monday after Easter Sunday||Easter Monday|
|1 May||Labour Day|
|24 May||Sovereign’s Day/Commonwealth Day|
|10 September||St. George’s Caye Day|
|21 September||Independence Day|
|11 October||Pan American Day|
|19 November||Garifuna Settlement Day|
|25 December||Christmas Day|
|27 December||Boxing Day|
The termination process is standard in Belize, with notice periods required unless an employer can provide sufficient cause for dismissal without notice due to misconduct, disobedience, lack of skill, neglect of duties, or absence without permission.
|Type of Termination||Brief Description|
|Justified Dismissal||a) When an employee is guilty of misconduct, whether in the performance of his duties or not, inconsistent with the fulfillment of the express or implied terms of his employment contract. b) For willful disobedience to legal orders given by the company. c) Due to lack of ability that the employee expressly or implicitly justifies to possess. d) For habitual or substantial neglect of their duties. e) For absence from work without permission from the company or without other reasonable excuse.|
|Unjustified Dismissal||a) Union membership or participation in union activities outside working hours or, with the company’s consent, within working hours. b) Seek office as, or act or have acted in the capacity of, a representative of the employees. c) The filing of a complaint, petition or participation in proceedings against a company involving an alleged violation of any law, or recourse to the competent administrative authorities. d) race, color, sex, marital status, ethnic origin, family responsibilities, religion, nationality, indigenous population or social origin of the worker. e) political opinion of an employee where that opinion does not interfere with job performance. f) Workers’ physical structure, disability or age; subject to any law or collective bargaining agreement regarding retirement. g) A worker’s pregnancy or a reason related to her pregnancy, or absence from work during maternity leave. h) That he/she was subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace or by the company or another employee of the same company. i) HIV status. j) Temporary absence from work due to illness or injury not caused by the workers’ negligence and certified by a registered physician. k) Compulsory military leave. l) Participation in industrial action. (m) Such other reasons as the Minister may by Order published in the Gazette determine.|
|Voluntary Resignation||42A- (1) An employee is entitled to terminate the employment contract without notice or with less notice than the company is entitled to by any statutory provision or contractual term, where the conduct of the company has made it unreasonable to expect the employee.|
Other forms of compensation upon termination include:
Severance pay is calculated based on the employee continuous employment by any employer for a period of:
|Length of Employment||Severance Amount|
|Five to ten years||If the employer terminates employment, or[Salto de ajuste de texto]the worker retires on or after attaining the age of sixty years or on medical grounds, that worker shall be paid a severance pay of one week’s wages in respect of each complete year of service.|
|More than ten years||If employment is terminated by the employer for reasons, which do not amount to dismissal.[Salto de ajuste de texto][Salto de ajuste de texto]Ended because the worker retires on or after attaining the age of sixty years or on medical grounds. Worker abandons the service of an employer for good and sufficient cause.|
|A worker who resigns after a minimum of 10 years||They are then eligible for a gratuity equal to severance pay. If they are terminated on the expiration of a contract for a definite period, that worker shall be paid a severance pay of two weeks’ wages for each full year of service. Due to changes in legislation, where an employee has completed over ten years of continuous employment, the severance pay shall be calculated as follows: For the period served after 1st May 2011 at the rate of two weeks’ pay for each full year of service. In the case of casual workers, they must work an aggregate of one hundred and eighty (180) days in a year to be entitled to severance pay.|