Setting up a physical business or an offshore company in Belize offers many advantages, particularly in terms of tax.
The Government of Belize offers many benefits to foreign investors wishing to set up a business in the country. There are fiscal incentives, including the possibility of reductions on import duties. There are also commercial-free zones and export processing zones. Moreover, there are significant tax benefits.
Good to know:
The government’s aim is primarily to encourage foreign business people to contribute to the country’s economic development by offering jobs to Belizeans. Investors who can show they will be creating jobs will be rewarded with more handsome incentives.
How to set up your business
You have to follow a series of procedures to set up a business in Belize.
- Register your company with the Companies Registry in Belmopan. You must have a Belizean partner, unless you are a permanent resident
- If you would like to become a corporation, you will need to incorporate, which will require a lawyer. Articles of incorporation (along with other necessary documents) will be filed by your attorney with the companies registry
- Unless you are in a rural area, you must apply for a trade license from the town council of your district capital. A fee will be assessed based on the rental value of the property you plan to do business on
- Apply for a work permit
- If you will sell alcohol, you must apply for a liquor license, which must also be done in the district capital
- Register with the Income Tax Department for the collection of business tax, which is generally only collected on businesses with revenue above BZD75,000, but all businesses must register, including sole proprietorships and partnerships.
- Anyone engaged in a taxable activity must register with the General Sales Tax Department
- Any business that plans to have employees must register with the Belize Social Security Board
Funding your business
It is recommended that you open a bank account in an international bank in Belize. Each bank requires different information, so be sure to check what they will need from you. Recent changes in US banking regulations have made it a little more challenging for expats from the US to open an account, but it is still possible.
With a bank account, you will be eligible to apply for loans to finance your business. It is preferable to maintain your bank account in your country of origin, as you will also have to prove that your company will use these to pay for goods and services.
Creating an offshore company
The major benefits of an offshore company are no taxes, inexpensive fees, and guaranteed privacy for directors, shareholders, etc. To create an offshore company in Belize, you need only one shareholder and director. Your company’s headquarters must be in Belize, and you must have a local registered agent. Note that shareholders may be physically or legally appointed individuals. There is no restriction on nationality or residence.
The optimum authorised capital for the creation of an offshore company in Belize is US$50,000. Any more than that and the fee goes up substantially. The sum can be divided into shares and expressed in any foreign currency. There are a number of companies that assist with the formation of these companies.
Good to know:
Belize is known for being a tax haven for investors. While new regulations were recently put in place to lessen problems of US tax evasion and money laundering, Belize still remains an attractive option for many people.