Immigration to Belize

Living and Working in Belize

The Great Blue Hole, Belize
Great Blue Hole © wikimedia

Belize, officially known as the Republic of Belize, stands as a Central American gem along the eastern coastline. It shares borders with Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Living and working in Belize is a pleasent experience for most of the immigrants and retirees who are settled there. The climate and welcoming people are what attracts large numbers of expats from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. With a diverse population comprising Creole, Garifuna, Maya, Mestizo, and other ethnic groups, Belize holds the distinction of being the sole English-speaking nation in Central America. As of March 2024, its population stands at 414,914.

Belmopan serves as the nation’s capital and a pivotal hub for governmental affairs. Tourism and agriculture, particularly in sugar, citrus fruits, and bananas, form the backbone of Belize’s economy. Belize offers a cost of living lower than that of many Western nations. Its stable economic and political landscape further enhances its appeal. Belize stands as a magnet for immigrants seeking a harmonious blend of natural splendor, laid-back living, and cultural diversity. Citizens from the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and various Caribbean nations have made Belize their home. Getting a visa and residency is also pretty straightforward. Belize presents an enticing prospect for immigration, promising a distinctive fusion of natural wonders, leisurely lifestyle, and rich cultural heritage for those contemplating life and work within its borders.

How to travel to Belize

Flag of Belize
Flag of Belize

Belize is currently open for tourists and vacationers. Starting July 12,2002, the Belize Tourism Board announces that the Belize government will no longer require any health measuresd for people entering Belize by land or Sea. The Board also recommends foreign tourists visiting Belize to buy Belize Travel Insurance when travelling to Belize. The plan not only provides financial protection, but covers medical treatment if needed. Best way to reach Belize is by flight from all over the world. The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City connects to most of the countries. Belize is a small and easy to navigate nation so you don’t need plenty of time to visit.

The following carriers have direct non-stop flights to Belize:

  • American Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines

 The following carriers have direct seasonal non-stop flights to Belize:

  • Air Canada
  • WestJet
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Jet Blue
  • Frontier Airlines

Tropic Air operates two daily flights from Cancun to Belize International Airport, providing convenient connecting options for travellers. The direct flights to Belize are available from the following destinations:

  • Denver, LA, Toronto, Calgary, Miami, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York.
  • London, UK
  • Cancun, Mexico

Book safe and reliable flights from your destination to Belize on uemigrate.com

Several transports are available to get around Belize like car, water taxi, and plane. Rental cars and taxis are more hassle free rides around the Belize City. Cabs are also one of the modes of transport to get to and from the Belize City’s Municipal Airport (TZA) just outside the city centre.

Types of Visas for Belize 

To enter the beautiful country Belize, you require a Belize entry visa, which will allow you to remain legally here for maximum 30 days from the date you enter Belize. The “Belize Visitors Permit Extension” can be procured from the Immigration office, if you desire to stay more than 30 days.  Other visa types allow you to stay for 60,90 or 180 days. For information  on  visa for Belize and other immigration details, please visit: immigration.gov.bz

Belize Entry visit visa is exempted for the following citizens:

  • Permanent Residence Card holders or valid multiple entry visa from the USA
  • Valid multiple entry Schengen visa holders
  • Permanent Residence Card holders or valid multiple entry visa from Canada

There are 3 (three) types of visas for Belize:

  • Tourist Visa
  • Employment Visa
  • Student Visa

Belize a good place for Retirees. In 2024, the Belize government has made it very easy for eligible individuals to permanently live and retire in Belize under the Qualified Retirement Program (QRP). Watch the Video to get the detailed information about the QRP.

People of Belize

Citizens of the Belize are called Belizeans. Belize is a multiethnic nation with people from Amerindian, African European and Asian descent or combination of these groups. Population of this nation is about 53% of Mestizo, 25% of Creole, 11% of Maya, 6% of Garifuna and 5% of East Indian. People here are diverse, engaging and vibrant. Belizeans have different ancestors, Americans, Europeans, Spanish, Indians, Africans, Indigenous and German as a result there is diversity in their culture. These people are generally polite, courteous and charming. Even in casual meet, they address each other with love and respect. To greet a person, shaking hands, a squeeze of arm and a hug is common. Families are closely knitted and at difficult times they stand with each other. 

There are different ethnic groups in Belize such as Mestizo Belizean, White Belizean, Mennonites Belizean, Spanish Belizean, Maya Belizean, Afro Belizean, Asian Belizean, and Chinese Belizean. Skin color ranges here from white to black and most people are of mixed race. A person of Indian or Spanish descent is called Mestizo. These people live in towns and villages, in central Belize. 

how to get a job in Belize

If you want to work in Belize, first you need to get a Temporary Employment Permit, then you must reside in this nation. The application submission can be done at any Labor Department Office. After the application is approved you need to visit the nearest immigration office to the Labor Department, where you have submitted the application. Belize is one of the tourist’s attractions in the world. It is one of the most visited countries for tourism and jobs. There are many jobs available in the tourism industry. English in high demand, so you can get jobs accordingly. English teachers require a university degree and ac certificate from TEFL or TESOL. If you have skills in other profession, there are also many opportunities in other fields as well. Jobs in this country will also help you to expand your network and develop your skills.

Jobs in demand are Teaching English, Resort Manager or other staff, Public health and Medicine, advertising, marketing, Accounting, Software engineer, Environmental Scientists, NGO worker, marketing manager, Security officer, Community Service, transportation, distribution, manufacturing and production industry, etc.  Health Professionals earn a high salary in Belize 

How to get a job offer in Belize: 

  • Search online
  • Apply after finding a suitable company
  • Give interview online or in person
  • Sign a contract offered by the School or Company
  • Submit your documents in order to get a job

For more information please visit: immigration.gov.bz

Education system in Belize

Primary education in Belize is provided free of cost till the age of fourteen years. There are community colleges and junior colleges in Belize. Community colleges are Corozal Community College, the Toledo Community college, Sacred Heart College, these are higher level institutions having connections with high schools. Junior colleges are St. John’s Junior Coed College, Corozal Junior College, Muffles College and Wesley Junior College. These colleges offer tertiary, post high school programs, and many of them are patterned after the “sixth form” in Britain. They offer associate or two-year college degrees. Corozal Junior College and University of Belize also offer evening and extension programs mainly directed to adults. Homeschooling is legal and possible in Belize, providing an alternative for parents who prefer a more personalized approach to education for their children. The Ministry of Education in Belize oversees the homeschooling process, ensuring that certain standards are met to guarantee a well-rounded education for homeschooled students.

The top-ranking universities in Belize are University of Belize, Central America Health Sciences University, Belize Medical College and “Galen University”. Since 2012, the number of international students are increasing every year. 

The foreign students who want to immigrate to Belize for education have different visa requirements. To get information on how to apply for student visa, Fees and documents required, refer to immigration.gov.bz   

Belize Unemployment rate

Belize unemployment rate was 2.800 % in Dec 2023. The figures are based on the declining trend in Belize’s unemployment rate which was 10.2% in the year 2021 and 13.7% in the year 2020. The unemployment rate is decreasing since the pandemic started to cease and the unemployed population getting jobs. At the same time the number of economically active population has risen. On a seasonal basis, the unemployment rate eased to 3.5% in the month of February 2022.

For more information please visit: tradingeconomics.com

Economy of Belize  

Belize’s economy thrives on tourism, agriculture, and services, reflecting its status as a developing nation with a lower middle-income bracket. The advent of the oil industry has brought both potential and challenges. Exports like citrus, sugar, and bananas contribute, but their prices pose trade deficit concerns.

Investments, production, and distribution drive the economy of Belize, with garment production, food processing, construction, and oil being key industries. Belize significantly exports sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish, and crude oil. Energy and infrastructure are focal points, although electricity costs are high. The ambitious rural electrification project, a collaboration between the government and Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), seeks to address accessibility issues.  Belize imports machinery, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and food. As Belize navigates growth, bolstering these sectors remains central to its economy. To get the latest information on the economic indicators, reports, and data that can give you a comprehensive overview of Belize’s economic landscape, including information on GDP, inflation, trade, and more, please visit: sib.org.bz

How to Rent a property in Belize 

If you are planning to move to Belize then Cayo and Corozal are the reasonable places to rent for less than $600 per month. Renting an apartment or a house is cheaper in Belize than many other countries in North America and Europe, such as United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Germany. The most expensive city in this county is the capital, the Belmopan. The amount of rent may vary from city to city as it depends on the neighborhood, market, size of the property, city centre. Prices in the major cities are comparatively higher than the rural areas. Major cities like Belize City, Hopkins, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Palencia, etc are also expensive. You can search for an accommodation online or hire a broker. They will help you to find a reliable and comfortable accommodation. Both the furnished and unfurnished flats are available. The term ‘unfurnished’ means you will not get any sitting or sleeping arrangement, fridge or the other things as you get in some other countries, this point should be taken care of. Some owners or the agencies can ask you for a deposit but others may require a credit check or someone to sign the lease. One solution for this is to ask your employer to represent you, if they can.

Documents required for renting property in Belize

  • Passport
  • Identity Card
  • Documents issued by the Belizean Government
  • Work permit/Bank Statement

How to Buy a property in Belize

Owning a property in Belize is possible for foreigners. The good thing is there are same rules and regulation for foreigners as well as the local citizens if they want to buy a property. Many think or buying a property in Belize due to the attractive property prices. Property prices may vary due to various aspects. For instance, the property is in the city centre or is in outskirts, its size, near the coastline or in the middle of the country, etc. Apart from the house price you will also need to pay the agency/brokers fees, notary and lawyer’s fee, acquisition fee, registration fee and the title insurance, payments for water and electricity. You must pay the property tax. You can apply for a Permanent Residence Visa and for the citizenship, apply when five years are over as a Permanent Resident.

Documents required for buying property in Belize

  • Passport
  • Identity Card
  • Mortgage papers
  • Promissory Agreement with the payment
  • Purchase or Sale Agreement
  • Title transfer papers
  • Correspondence Taxes Slips

For more information please visit: expatexchange.com and buy-belize.com

what is the best time to visit Belize

The climate in Belize is a humid tropical climate with rainy and dry seasons along with temperature fluctuation but slight different than other Caribbean Countries. The terrain is low and flat at the coastal areas and in some of the northern regions of Belize while in centre and south there are low mountains. Most of the year’s rainfall can be seen during the month of June to November. Except the southern region, rainfall varies from year to year. The average temperature all over the country throughout the year is between 10˚C to 35˚C. This is the reason why the northern part of Belize has cool temperature during winters while southern region has constant temperatures year round. Belize’s terrain is varied, just like the weather. There are regional variations in Belize’s weather. On the coastal areas some months are rainy and some are dry & mild all year round. Features produce on the rainfall are tropical waves, hurricanes and storms from June to November. Tropical waves can be active during June and July and Storms and hurricanes peak during September and October. There are two main seasons in Belize – the rainy and the dry season.

Rainy Season: This season starts from the month of May till the month of September or first week of October. 

Dry Season: This season starts from the month of November till the month of April. This is the cooler time of the year and the best time to visit Belize.

For more information on the climate of Belize,  please visit: nms.gov.bz

Languages are spoken in Belize

The official language of Belize is English, Spoken by 62.9% of the population.  English is the primary language of public education. It is also used in government offices. Other than English, people can also speak Spanish.  Some 50% of the population speak English in Belize. Many people are multilingual, can speak and understand these languages and are fluent in it. Spanish is taught in primary and secondary school as well. Spanish is the most used language in Cayo, Orange Walk and Corozal. Creole is mostly spoken in Stann Creek. Mayan people do speak some indigenous languages like Yucatec, Kekchi and Mopan. These languages are mostly spoken in the southernmost area of Toledo. Approximately 16,000 people speak another indigenous language called Arawakan-based Garifuna language.

There are also few people who speak immigrant languages like German. German is spoken in Mennonite colonies and villages. Vast majority of Mennonites in Belize speak Plautdietsch in everyday life. Minority of less than 10% people speak Pennsylvania German. However English language is very much used at the popular tourist destinations in Belize and near the border of the Mexico. Sign languages are also used by the deaf people in Belize. To greet someone you can say “HOLA” means ‘hello’ in Spanish and other words like “Buenos dias” ‘Good Morning’; Buenas Noches” ‘Good evening/Night’; “Como estas” ‘How are you’ will surely help you to start a conversation. 

For more information on the languages of Belize,  please visit: en.wikipedia.org

Traffic rules in Belize

Expats can drive in Belize without an international driving license.  Driver’s license from the home country and passport is acceptable.  Roads are dirty with gravel in some parts of the islands, forests or rural areas, especially in Island like Caye Caulker and Ambergis caye. City like San Ignacio have typical narrow streets. To drive on these roads you need a sturdy two-wheeler or four-wheeler vehicle. Highway and motorways are well maintained. Most of the roads are paved and are in good condition. Traffic runs on the right hand side of the road, like many other countries in the world. Road signs are written in English. Seat belts are mandatory for both, the driver and the passenger.

Traffic rule for drinking and driving is not followed very strictly in Belize,  hence people drive on the roads after drinking.  It is suggested not come on road after 10 pm to midnight, if its not important. Driving here is rough and lot of cars try to change the lane without indication. There are many roundabouts, speed bumps, where you must reduce the speed of your vehicle.

The speed limits given by the Belizean government are:

  • 40 km/h (25 mph) in towns
  • 89 km/h (55 mph) on highways

Documents required for driving in Belize

  • Passport or green card
  • Driving license
  • Vehicle Registration Proof
  • Temporary vehicle importation permit

For more information on driving in Belize, please visit: belize.com

Currency of Belize

The currency is printed by the Central Bank of Belize and the paper currency is available in six denominations, which are $2, $5, $10, $20, $ Belize’s official currency is Belize Dollar (BZD). The sign for the US Dollar and Belize Dollar (BZ$) is same as they have the Spanish dollar as their common origin. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $ or specifically BZ$ to distinguished it from other currencies using the dollar sign. The Belize Dollar is divided into 100 cents. The official value of the Belizean currency is BZ$2 = US$1. 

The currency is printed by the Central Bank of Belize and are availabke as below:

  • The paper currency is available in six denominations: $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100. 
  • The Belize Dollar in Coins are available in cents of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and $1.

Payment Transactions used in Belize

There are various payment transactions  used in Belize. Payments are made here through online, cash or cards, cheques, RTGS or by digital wallets, Master Card, Visa, American Express, etc. Cash is the original and the oldest payment method, used by more than 90% Belizian population.  Bank transfers are also used by most of the expats as well as locals.  Belize has one of the fastest growing mobile driven e-commerce markets in the Central America.  Non cash payment methods currently used  in Belize are cheques, debit cards, credit cards, etc. Nowadays, POS or ATM’s are the most used electronic payment methods used by the locals and foreigners to facilitate payments by credit or debit cards; direct credit facilities to make bulk payments like pensions and salaries and online bill payment.

Payment Methods used in Belize

  • Cash: Cash is accepted all over the country. Shoppers and vendors who do not have a bank account or a digital wallet accept cash payments.
  • Credit Cards: Electronic payment method, accepted all over Belize, mostly in shops and Hotels.
  • Cheques: Convenient payment method, accepted and given almost at all business/shops n Belize.
  • RTGS: Electronic payment method, accepted and given all over in Belize.
  • Digital Wallets: Online payment method, transfers money directly to the account.
  • Bank Transfers: Online payment method, transfers money directly to the account.

For more information visit: centralbank.org.bz

Cost of living in Belize 

According to a survey the cost of living in Belize is higher than  40% of cities in the US and cost of living in Belmopan is expensive than 65% of cities in the World. Average cost of living in Belize depends upon the lifestyle and the current situation, the place you live and the size of the family.   The average monthly expense for a single person is approximately BZ$3,800 and with a family of 4, its approximately BZ$7,800. 

Monthly rent is high in urban areas or in the coastal areas than in rural areas. Food is reasonable in many areas,  Local markets and grocery stores are excellent options for affordable fresh produce, grains, and staples. Municipal markets, such as the one in Belize City, offer a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and local products at reasonable prices. You can explore small neighborhood shops and vendors, where you’ll often find locally sourced goods at budget-friendly rates. For more cost-effective options, consider purchasing seasonal fruits and vegetables, as they are often priced lower than imported items.

Here are some products mentioned below, so that you will get a clear idea of the cost of living: 

Product

Quantity

Amount in Belize Dollar (BZ$)

Whole Fat Milk

1 lit

4.35

Eggs

12 (a dozen)

8.00

Tomatoes

1 Kg (2 lb.)

5.90

Chicken

500 grams (1 lb)

8.00

Dining (Lunch)

Full meal

20.00

Fast food meal

Combo

15.00

Bread

2 loaf

2.50

Internet

8 mbps (1 month)

76.00

Cleaning help

Hourly

50.00

Gas for vehicle

1 lit

3.50

Doctor

Short visit

100.00

Movie Tickets

For 2

30.00

To find out the current cost of living in Belize, please visit: expatistan.com

Apartment in Belize

The popular place for immigrants or expats to live are Ambergris Caye, an beautiful island. It’s expensive than other places but an ideal place adventurous people and retirees. You will find many foreigners in Ambergris Caye. If you prefer a quiet place, close to nature with just local people around than Cayo District is best. San Ignacio is one of the cities in Cayo District where expats prefer to live and the cost of living is also low. San Pedro and Caye Caulker are other good places for immigrants to live. The housing cost in Belize will depend on location, size of the property, ownership status and build of the property. The most cost-efficient is the basic Belizean-style wood home, however there are almost all types of choices available.  Search Homes, Condos, Apartment, Office spaces for rent, visit: belizerealestate.bz

Taxes in belize

Belize amongst one of the few countries which are considered as a tax heaven as this allows its individuals and companies or corporations to legally reduce their liabilities. Foreigners do not have to pay tax here on non-Belize income. Tax system is based on the indirect taxation through three main sources of income mentioned below: 

  • Trade related taxes
  • Tax on sales
  • And Rates

Furthermore, it has direct taxation through the Income and Business Tax. Tax policy is managed by the Ministry of Finances. Belize’s tax system is divided into two parts: state and local tax system. In local authorities the main source of financing is Property tax, liquor trade license and motor vehicle license, and from sub and transferences on part of the central government.  Income taxes imposed on the citizens which  is generally twenty-five percent. Deduction of some amount is applied to all taxpayers after the application of the tax rate. The last date for the tax year is March 31st. There are many different types of taxes like, consumption tax, corporate tax, stamp duty, environmental tax, etc. imposed by the government. 

For more information  on the tax system in Belize, please visit: liveandinvestoverseas.com

Belize Health Insurance  

All visitors intending to travel to Belize are required to obtain the Belizean Travel Health Insurance plan, irrespective of their vaccination status. This plan must be purchased prior to embarking on the trip, upon arrival in Belize, or at the land borders of the country. Healthcare infrastructure in Belize is still in development, offering expats the choice between public and private care, or a combination of both. Notably, the government provides free medical services to both expatriates and residents, though limited funding often leads to extended appointment wait times. Major urban centers such as Belmopan, Belize City, and San Ignacio house hospitals with well-equipped medical facilities compared to rural areas. The Belizean constitution makes sure that all citizens have access to healthcare and medicine. This means the government is responsible for providing healthcare to everyone in the country. They do this is by having a detailed plan for giving medical care to different groups of people.

For immigrants and expats, navigating healthcare services in Belize is a crucial consideration. While the government extends medical services to these groups, additional private health insurance might be advisable to ensure comprehensive coverage. The healthcare landscape is evolving, and expats are encouraged to research and select options that align with their needs and preferences.

To explore for medical insurance options in Belize, please visit “Belize Health” (https://belizehealth.com/). This platform provides information on various health insurance plans tailored for residents, expats, and travelers in Belize. It’s advisable to thoroughly review different plans, coverage details, and pricing to find the medical insurance that best suits your needs and circumstances. It’s a good idea to carefully look at different options for insurance, understand what they cover, and see how much they cost. This way, you can find the insurance that’s right for you and fits your situation.

Important Addresses 

Philip S.W. Golden International Airport
International Airport Road,
Ladyville, Belize
Ph: +501 225 2045
Website: https://www.pgiabelize.com/

Maya Island Air Savannah Airport
GHP6+4VG,
Independence and Mango Creek, Belize
Ph: +501 523-2028
Website: https://www.mayaislandair.com/

Belmopan Bus Terminal
2 Bliss Parade,
Belmopan, Belize
Website: https://www.belmopanonline.com/belize-bus-schedules

Embassy of United States of America
Belmopan, Belize
Ph: +501 822-4011, 764G+MP5,
Email : ACSBelize@state.gov

Mexico Embassy
3 North Ring Road, Belmopan, Belice, Correo
P.O. Box: 388
Belmopan, Belize
Ph:+501-822-0406 / +501-822-2480 / +501-822-0210
Email : embamexbze@btl.net
Website URL : http://embamex.sre.gob.mx/belice

Guatemala Embassy in Belize City
# 8 “A” Stree
P.O. Box 1771
Belize City, Belize
Ph: +501-2-33314 / +501-2-33150
Email : embbelice1@minex.gob.gt

Embassy of El Salvador in Belize
13 Citron Street, Cohune Walk, Belmopán, Belice.
P.O. Box 215
Belmopan, Belize
Ph : +501-822-3404
Email : embasalva@btl.net

Embassy of Republic of China in Belize
#20 North Park Street
Belize City, Belize
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1020, Belize City
Ph: +501 223-8744 / +501-223-1862
Email : embroc@btl.net

India Consulate in Belize City
No. 2, Queen Street, PO Box No.830,
Belize City, Belize
Ph : +501-227-1634 / +501-223-0634
indconsul.belize@yahoo.com

Summary

Belize a beautiful country, famous for its scenic beaches, flora and fauna, dense forests and the Giant Marine sinkhole, The Blue Hole. The great blue hole lies near the centre of the lighthouse reef, near about 70 km away from the Belize City. Belize is one of the most visited countries; as a result, there are plenty of job opportunities in the tourism sector and hotel industries. English is in high demand, so you can get jobs accordingly. Belize is also considered as a tax heaven which is why many people choose this place to settle down and live a relaxed life. Belize is a good destination, but there are still some safety precautions people should take to lessen the risk such as crime, scams and infectious diseases. Many Places are safe and fun to visit, if you have a local guide to direct you where to go and  what areas to avoid. A Latin American Country with breathtaking places, pleasant climate and a fun spot for adventurous people. Belize is culturally accessible and has a rich history, great food, many cultural attractions. People are friendly, fashionable, happy, modern and peace loving. It provides good healthcare system to locals as well as foreigners. Cost of living here is relatively cheap than the countries in the North America.

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