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FAQ

Educational Structure & Institutions

The Belizean school system is based on the British educational system and is broken down into three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Belizean children begin their eight years of primary education with two years of “infant” classes (usually at the age of five), followed by six “standards” (the equivalent of US elementary school). Secondary education consists of four “forms”, after which tertiary education begins at “sixth form” or Junior College. Students can also continue on to pursue University studies to earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree.

Presently, there are 56 government funded, 211 government aided, and 30 private or specially assisted primary schools; 17 government funded, 25 government aided and 10 private or specially assisted high schools; 11 Junior Colleges and 3 Universities in Belize.

On August 1st, 2000 the University of Belize (UB) was inaugurated. UB is the National University in Belize with its Central Campus located in the capital City of Belmopan. Its campuses are located in three of the country’s six districts as well as a Marine Research Station at one of its Caye and have a growing student population of over 2500 enrolled in both full and part- time programmes.

Quality teaching, research and extension services are top priorities and the University offers instruction leading to associates and bachelor degrees through its four faculties of Education and Arts, Management and Social Science, Nursing, Allied Health and Social Work, and Science and Technology. The institution constitute of six centers and institutes which include Adult and Continuing Education Center, Early Childhood Foundation Center, Environmental Research Institute, Multi- Cultural Studies Center, Regional Language Center (RLC), and History and Anthropology Center. UB also contributes to and participates in the multinational University of the West Indies (UWI), a regional institution with campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. UWI maintains an extra- mural unit in Belize City.

In May of 2003, Galen University was established in San Ignacio, Cayo. Galen is a private university and offers undergraduate, graduate and professional level in business, arts, science, and education degree programs. The University offers dual degree programs as it has partnership with the University of Indianapolis and with The Watson School of Education at the University of North Carolina (UNCW). Belize is also home for four (4) offshores medical schools. These are the Medical School of the Americas (Belize), St Luke’s University School of Medicine, Central America Health Sciences University (Belize Medical College), and the Inter- America School of Medical Science. The curricular in the schools generally parallel those of medical schools in the United States.

Healthcare: Medical Structures & Facilities

Medical services and health care delivery in Belize are provided by a network of district hospitals, divided into four (4) regions – Northern Regional (Orange Walk and Corozal District); Central Region (Belize District); Western Regional (Cayo District); and Southern Regional Hospital (Stann Creek and Toledo District). The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), located in Belize City, serves as the national referral hospital in Belize, providing secondary and some tertiary care. Belize also has 9 private hospitals, 42 health centres and 35 health posts.

The Government of Belize is the main provider of health services. Central Government, through general revenue, funds government health services including the provision of pharmaceuticals with lower user charges for in-hospital care. Private hospitals can be found in Belize, namely La Loma Luz Hospital in the Cayo District, and Belize Medical Associates and Belize Healthcare Partners Ltd. in Belize City; there are also numerous other private clinics and diagnostic centres throughout the country, but mainly concentrated in Belize City.

Real Estate

Belize has land suitable for agricultural purposes in all six districts with an estimated 15,000 to 16,000 kilometers available. There exists great potential for intensive crop production, permanent tree crops, milpa agriculture, pasture and productive forestry.

The northern and southern lowlands are suitable for agricultural production. Land in the north is more alkaline, supporting growth of crops such as sugar cane and papaya; land in the south is more acidic, supporting the growth of crops as citrus, pineapple, mango, rice, and cashew.

Land in the Belize district is most suitable for ecotourism, pasture and smallholder agriculture, while agricultural land in Cayo district supports cattle rearing, and crops such as papayas, citrus, corn and beans.

Immigration

Permanent Residence

An individual can apply for permanent residence after a legal presence in Belize for a minimum of one (1) year. Application fees range from US$500.00 to US$5,000 depending on the nationality of the applicant and will be paid upon approval. Permanent Residency Status application forms may be purchased at the Angelus Press Ltd., a stationery store with two outlets in Belize City and one in the City of Belmopan.

Nationality/ Citizenship

To acquire citizenship, applicants must be a permanent resident and have been a resident for a minimum of five (5) years, in accordance with the Belize Nationality Act of 1981. There is also  a provision for the registration of minor children along with the applicant Citizenship can also be acquired through descent parents or grandparents of the person applying were Belizeans and if the individual was born before Independence Day, the 21st of September of 1981.

Applicant by virtue of Belize descent are required to fill out section 4 and 5 of the application form. Applicant with a Belizean spouse are required to fill out Form G application form. Application forms may be purchased at the Angelus Press.

Applications for Permanent Residence or Citizenship are to be accompanied by:

1. Complete Application Form

2. Proof of Identification and Nationality of applicant (translated as required)

a)    Birth Certificate

b)    Cedula or

c)    Passport

3. Three passport size photographs of self

Police Record Form

a)    Country of Origin

b)    Belize

4. Certificate of Health including HIV and VDRL tests for applicant

5. Evidence of period of continuous legal residence for one/five years

6. Police record and identification of reference (i.e. passport, Birth Certificate, Voter’s ID)

7. Inclusion of spouse: Item 2-7 are to be submitted in support if included in application

8. In case applicant is married to a  Belizean

a)    Marriage Certificate

b)    Wife’s/ Husband’s birth certificate

c)    Spouse’s certificate of Nationality (as applicant)

9. Temporary Employment permit if applicant wishes to engage in gainful employment

10. Renunciation Form (as applicable)

Work Permit

The Director of immigration recommends the approval if a work permit after a review period of approximately three- four weeks. The completed Temporary Employment Permit application form is to be submitted along with:

Working Permit Requirements:

1. Valid Passport / Copy of Bio date and all stamped pages.

2. Appplication form (Angelus Press or Local Book store) (All applicable section must be completed)

3. Three recent passport size photographs.

4. Police Record

5. Treasury receipt of BZ$25.00 administration fee, BZ$20.00 worth of postage stamps (Post office or Treasury Receipt)

6. Three job advertisement clippings from local newspaper (Not applicable for self- employment)

7. Bank Statement (For self- Employment)

8. Trade License (Issues by Town Council or City Council)

9. Letter of intent to employ from employer

10.Registration certificate (Companies- organizations), land title (farming)

11.Qualifications- Diplomas, certificated, Etc. (Must be certified by the labour officer)

12.Recommendation letter/ Letter of support (From relevant Ministry or Lcoal Organization concerned with category of employment involved, Eg. Ministry of Tourism or Ministry of Education, Village Council, Relevant Association, Religious Denomination, Applications in respect to Companies Documentary Evidence of Incorporation and Old Company Tract Record, BELTRAIDE and EPZ committee Etc.)

Application Fee are follows:

  • Professional workers BZ$2,000.00 (US$1,000.00) Per Year

Labour Force

The2010 Population and Housing census revealed that the population was at 312,698, up from 204,204 in 2000. Even with this increase in population, Belize remains one of the least densely populated countries in America.

Of the Country’s total labour force (130,717), 100,537 are employed, with 32.47% of workers in the Belize District (42, 443). The following table, give a clearer picture of the country’s labour force. See statistics for further break down or visit the website of the statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) atwww.statisticbelize.com

Tax   

Income Tax

Income tax is payable at a rate of 25% on taxable income for all employed person resident in Belize earning over BZ$26,000 (US$13,000) per annum; persons earnings less than this are exempted from the tax. The basic allowance is BZ$25,600 (US$12,800)

Business Tax

Businesses, Companies and self- employed persons earning in excess of BZ$75,000 per annum must be pay business tax. The rate varies according to business classification, as demonstrated by the table below. Business tax is paid monthly to the income Tax Department.

Business Tax  
Trade or Business 1.75%
Professional Services 6.0%
Commission and Royalties 5.0% & 15.0%
Rental Income 3.0%
Radio, On- air TV, and Newspaper Revenue 0.75%
Domestic Airline Revenue 1.75%
Insurance Institutions General Revenues 1.75%
Telecommunication Revenue 19.0%
Fuel/ Lubricant Revenue 0.75%
Casino and Gaming Revenues 4.0%
Real Estate Business 15.0%
Tour Operator & Travel Agents 6.0%

 

General Sales Tax 

The General Sales Tax (GST) is a consumer tax applied at a rate of 12.5% on goods and services in Belize; some basic good =s and services however, are zero rated while others are exempt. The tax is imposed on the mark- up value goods and services, and is payable monthly to the Department of GST.

 Hotel Tax

Business operating in the hotel industry, are also required to levy on additional hotel tax of 9%. The tax is charged daily, and paid monthly to the Belize Tourism Board (BTB)

Environmental Tax

Environmental Tax is charged on the C.I.F. (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) value of goods imported into Belize at a rate of 2%. Certain medicines and medicinal supplies for human use along with basic foodstuffs, such as rice, beans, potatoes, coffee, tea, butter, and butter substitutes, cheese, margarine, cooking oil, shortening, lard and lard substitutes, milk (in powder form), condensed milk, baby formula, sardines, meat of swine salted or in brine, corned beef, and salt are exempt. Goods made available from funds provided through grant agreements with external donor agencies, or funds borrowed from external financial institutions by the Government of Belize, or through a Government guarantee are also exempt from paying this tax. The tax is payable at the time of importation and is the liability of the importer.

Social Security Contributions

Social Security provides benefits for employed persons in cases or sickness, maternity, injury, or disability. These payments are to be filed and paid monthly to the Belize Social Security Board. Each Employer must ensure that employees are in possession of a valid social security card prior to hiring. The table below illustrates details values for each district.

Land Tax      

This tax is collected by the Department of Lands, and is assessed at a rate of 1% of the unimproved value of the land. The table below details values for each district.

Stamp Duty/ Transfer Tax

Stamp duty, also collected transfer tax, is payable on any transaction involving taxable land. Nationals and foreign Investors alike are required to pay 5% of the value

Property Tax

Property Tax is levied and controlled by City Councils and Town Boards in each district. Within the City of Belmopan the rate of property tax is set at 2% of the assessed value; the Belize City Council Utilizes the rate of 2.5% of the assessed value.

Excise Tax    

The Excise Tax is collected on locally manufactured alcohol, beer, cigarettes and soft drinks.

Import Duty & Revenue Replacement Duty

The Belize Customs Tariff is modeled from the Harmonized Description and Coding System (HS). The rates are based on the customs Value (Cost, Insurance, and Freight – CIF). Import   Duties are levied at the point of importation, and is the liability of the importer. The Belize Customs & Excise Department is responsible for the collection of import duties. Rates range from 0 to 45% with the majority of commodities attracting a rate of 20%

There are some items that attract a Revenue Replacement Duty (RRD) ranging from 5%- 40% based on the aggregate of the customs Value and the Import Duties. For the complete list of commodities attracting RRD visit the Belize Customs & Excise Department’s website –

http:/www.customs.gov.bz/duty03.html

Under the CARICOM agreement, all imported products entering Belize from a CARICOM member state are exempt from import duties. In order to receive an exemption, importers must produce a Customs brokerage services are necessary when importing goods.

LAND ACQUISITION

National Land

Acquiring national land is initiated by applying to the commissioner of lands, specifying the location and acreage being sought. Applications for land in excess of 25 acres (0.10 km2), must also submit a development plan to the Minster of Natural Resources and the Environmental; this should include the specific location, acre- age, benefits to Belizeans, and financing available (minimum of three years) to develop the land/ property. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required for ventures entailing more than 500 acres (2.02 km2). The Minister has the ultimate authority to approve applications.

Although all mineral rights are vested in the Government, mineral exploration licenses and mining leases obtainable through the Geology and Petroleum Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources an the Environment. All artifacts, whether found on private or public property, must be declared t and registered with the Archaeology Department.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Roads and Highways

Presently, the major highways in Belize comprise of: Philip Goldson Highway (Belize City to Corozal border with Mexico), the George Price Highway (Belize City to the Benque Viejo Del Carmen border with Guatemala), the Hummingbird Highway (Belmopan to Stann Creek District), and the Southern Highway (Stann Creek to the Toledo District.

Driving in Belize is conducted on the right- lane of the roads; speed limits are 55 mph (88kmph) on the high- ways, and 25 mph (40kmph) on most other roads. Buses and private vehicles are the main mode of transportation in Belize; no trains operate on Country. Seatbelts are mandatory.

Sea Sports

Belize Port Authority Act (Chapter 233s) 2003

Belize has two (2) sea ports, namely:

  • Port of Belized Limited- Containerized and Break Bulk cargo
  • Big Creek Port- Banana, Citrus, Petroleum

Port of Belize Limited, Belize City

The main port (Port of Belize Ltd) is located in Belize City, the economic hub of the country. The port of Belize Limited owns and manages the Belize City port facilities. It was established in 1978 md privatized in 2002.

Port Facilities:

The Port of Belize Limited facilities include a domestic port (low berth) that services the local islands with two (2) break water facilities, 500ft. (150 meters) finger pier, a draft of 6ft. (2 meters) and 4000 sq. ft. (1.212 sq. meters) of warehouse space. The access channel tot eh port is 2.86 miles (4600 meters) long and 393 ft. (120 meters) wide with a total land mass of 308 acres, inclusive of existing port and future expansion.

Services:

The Port provides services such as pilotage, cargo handling and storage, container handling, loading and un- loading of vessels, stevedoring services, reefer and security among other. The Belize City port handles various types of cargo, but priority is given tp containerized vessels.

Service Fees:

Port of Big Creek, Stann Creek District

The port of Big Creel was established in October 1990 to facilitate the exportation of bananas. The Big Creek Port is the first privately owned port in Belize where vessels are docked alongside the mainland. The port has ‘International Code for the Security of Ships and of Port Facilities (ISPS) Certification and adheres to ISPS Codes for the handling of cargo and the security of vessels. It facilitates the export of three of Belize’s major export earners: Petroleum, Citrus and Bananas.

The port is comprised of a buoyed and dredged channel 0.9 mile (1.5 km) long, leading into the creek and a quay of 550 ft. (167 meters) with a depth of 22 ft. (6.7 m). The channel has been dredged to a depth of 23ft. (7 meters) for the first 0.9 mile (1.5 km), and 22ft. (6.7 meters) thereafter. A channel with a width of 207 ft. (63 m) has been created to permit only one- way ship movements. The port currently occupies 5 acres of Land; however, there are over 600 acres of land available for expansion.

The port provides services such as unloading and loading of fresh fruits, containers, and general cargo, and has available warehouse facilities and equipment (forklift and cranes) for hire. The port is currently serviced by two (2) shipping lines: Fyffe’s from the United Kingdom and NCW shipping from Mobile, Alabama.

Airports

Belize’s only international airport is the Philip Goldson S.W International located 10 miles (16km) north of Belize City. The airport has recently completed an extension of its runway totaling its length to 10,155ft. the airport is now fully capable of accommodating vessels like Boeing 747 and Airbus 340.

The international airlines currently serving Belize are: American Airlines, Continental Airlines and Delta Airlines form the United States; and Grupo Taca from El Salvador.

In the domestic arena, Belize also has two major local airlines- Tropic Air and Maya Island Air. Both airlines offer local anf international charter flights, and daily scheduled flights around the country. Two other domestic airlines- Cari Bee Air Service and Javier’s Flying Service Limited offer local and international charters.

Departure Tax for passengers leaving Belize from the International Airport is US$39.25 per person for Non- Belizeans.

Supply of Electricity

The energy sector is fully privatized and is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC issues licenses for the generation, while the Belize Electricity Ltd. (BEL) has exclusivity for transmission and distribution.

The national grid utilizes an 115kv transmission line extending from Corozal to Belize City, and onward to San Ignacio. The largest Island, Ambergris Caye, is connected to mainland via a 34.5kv submarine cable. Power supply is distributed at 110V or optional 220V. The five main sources of electricity are:

  • Belize Electricity Company Ltd (BECOL), which operates the Chalilo, Mollejon and Vaca Hydroelectric Facilities in Western Belize
  • Hydro Maya Limited located in Southern Belize
  • Comision Federal de Electricitad (CFE), the Mexican state- owned electricity company
  • Belize Cogeneration Energy Limited (Belcogen)
  • BEL’s gas turbine unit & diesel fired generators

When applying for connection of electricity, the customer must visit a branch of the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) in person, and bring along his/ her social security card, or valid photo identification. The application fee for new connection is BZ$200.00 (US$100). Installation of the connection will take place within 5 working days.

Water & Sewage Services

All cities, towns and major villages are connected to water storage and distribution systems. Five areas of the country utilize underground aquifers namely Benque Viejo Town, San Ignacio/ Santa Elena Town, Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town and Punta Gordo Town. Three systems- Belize City and surrounds, Belmopan, and Dangriga Town- Utilize surface water (rivers), and one system in San Pedro purchases water from a water purveyor.

There are two (2) tertiary treatment facilities in Belize City and San Pedro (facultative lagoons plus maturation systems), and one (1) primary treatment facilities (settling tank and sludge drying beds) in the City of Belmopan.

Water and sewage services are primarily provided by the national company, Belize Water Services limited (BWSL). BWSL provides water for both residential and commercial use to the urban and surrounding areas of Belize. BWSL is also regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.

If a water distribution pipe is available within 30 ft. (9 m) of the property boundary, BWSL will connect a customer within 7 days following the completion of the application process and the payment of the deposit and connection fee. If permission is needed to carry out the works from the municipal authority, the seven days commences immediately upon receipt of the required permission. Where a water distribution line is not available within thirty feet of the property, and the property is located within BWSL authorizes service areas, the customer, after completing the application process and payment of application fees, will be notified within seven days as to when the required works will be completed.

If the property to be connected is outside of BWSL’s authorizes service area, the connection will be subject to the planned and budgeted expansion included in the company’s five year business plan. The customer will be required to pay to pay the application deposit and connection fee, as well as an infrastructure charge.

 

Telecommunication        

Belize, whose country dialing code is 501, has two telecommunication companies- Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and Speednet Telecommunication Limited. Both provide comprehensive service using the latest technology available, and likewise, feature an inter-connection agreement.

There is a full range of products and services including basic telephone service, national and international calls, prepaid services, cellular services (GSM 1900 Mhz & 3G  CDMA 2000), international cellular roaming, fixed wireless, dial- up and dedicated internet, high speed DSL internet service, and national and international data networks.

BTL operates a direct dialing telephone network linking the most populous areas, using Global System Mobile Communication (GSM) 1900 megahertz; it is also connected to both Maya and Acros- 1 fibre- optic submarine cables. For more information on the products and services BTL has to offer please visit www.belizetelemedia.netl

Speednet offers advanced wireless telecommunications based on code Division Multiple Access (3G CDMA 2000) technology. Speednet introduced its Fixed Wireless Service aimed at providing customers with a superior service targeting business and home owners. For more information on the products and services Speednet has to offer pleases visit www.speednet-wireless.com

Fiscal Incentive Program

The Fiscal Incentive Program aims to encourage genuine investment in Belize for both existing and prospective investors through the granting of Customs duty exemptions. The program provides a legal and fiscal framework to stimulate productive economic activities that will ultimately contribute to the overall development of Belize.

APPLICATION FORMAT

A project proposal must be bounded and submitted in 4 copies to BELTRAIDE. Supporting documents* include but are not limited to the following:

  • Formal letter of Application to the Executive Director
  • Copy of Article of Association and Memorandum of Association
  • Excel Listing of Items requested for Duty Exemption
  • Economic Benefits, Financial Statements, Environmental Checklist, Local Banker’s reference/ Statement, Phases of Development, etc.

Contact BELTRAIDE for a comprehensive Application Protocols Sheet.

 

DURATION OF APPLICATION PROCESS:

Approximately 60 working days, upon full compliance of the stipulated Application Format.

 

Custom Duty Exemption

Eligible Categories Ineligible Items
Building Materials and Supplies Ammunition and firearms
Specialized tools Articles of Woods
Plant, machinery & equipment Forest derivatives
Fixtures & fittings Expendables & consumables (vary)
Office equipment & appliance Management vehicles
Utility & transport vehicles Salvaged vehicles
Agriculture machinery & supplies
Raw Materials & packaging material
Marine crafts
Aircrafts & spare engines
Spare parts for qualified sectors

WHO QUALIFIES?

1. Company must be registered in Belize
2. Business activities must provide benefits to the economy of Belize
3. Government endorsed economic activities include the following:
Tourism related activities
Agricultures, Agro- processing, Forestry
Arts, Crafts, Culture
Health Care
Computer, Information Technology
Manufacturing
Handicraft, woodcarving, jewelry Production
Auto Rental 

 

WHO DISQUALIFIES?

1. Security Companies

2. Condominium development

3. Casinos

Time Shares/ Fractional

Wholesalers/ Retailers