How To Get Belize Residency
by Cathi Bray
The prospect of packing up and moving to a tropical location has many people dreaming of Belize.
But figuring out how to make the move work for you will be the key. There are several available options, but up and moving to Belize and finding a job is not one of them.
The law does not allow a non-Belizean to take a job that a Belizean could do. That’s great for Belizeans, not so good for expats hoping to get a jump on retirement and continue working.
Of course, if you are able to work abroad online, then that is possible. If you need a traditional job, obtaining a work visa will be time-consuming and convoluted, but it is possible.
For those fortunate enough to be able to retire, the Qualified Retirement Program (QRP) is the way to go.
And you don’t have to wait until you are 65 or over to qualify.
The QRP program allows anyone age 45 or older – and their families – to live in Belize without a visa. All you need is a pension or annuity in the amount of at least $2,000 USD per month. Many people are able to do this through their financial portfolio. Under the QRP, you may not become employed in Belize. In other words, you must be somewhat independently “wealthy.”
- Duty exemptions on personal property brought to Belize within the first year after acceptance.
- Exemptions from taxes and duties on out-of-country income, as well as on capital gains and inheritance.
- Not having to get those pesky visa stamps every 30 days as a long-term tourist.
Be advised that the program has seen some administrative changes recently. Many folks who have applied and been accepted are still waiting for their cards, with no clear end in sight.
If the QRP doesn’t fit the bill, permanent residency may work for you. Permanent residency comes by being in Belize for 12 consecutive months, with no more than 14 consecutive days out of the country during that time.
You still have to pay $25USD each month for the first six months, and then $50USD for the remaining months to receive a tourist visa stamp for each of those 12 consecutive months, but permanent residency will save you money long-term.
US citizens will pay a fee of $1,000USD to apply for residency. Citizens of other countries may pay higher fees, but you’ll then be free to come and go as you please. You will be also able to start a business or work for one. You can bring household items into the country, duty-free; and you’ll save money by not having to pay for the visa stamp each month or pay exit fees at the airport.
There are many other requirements and benefits of each program, but don’t expect it to happen on time. There are folks that have been waiting for their residency approval for years. That’s the norm in Belize. But where there’s a will, there’s a way; and there is a way to move to Belize if that is your goal. Belize is a beautiful country with many things to see and do. The official language is English and living here can be a dream. But it takes work, patience, and dedication to make that dream a reality.
Catherine “Cathi” Bray is a travel agent, freelance writer, and firearms instructor who splits her time between Belize and Texas with her husband, Tom and their Great Dane/Mastiff mix, Allen, and Poo-Hua-Hua puppy, Maya.