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Exploring Business Prospects for Foreign Entrepreneurs in Belize: Sanctions, Corporate Regulations, and Economic Landscape

In the backdrop of a global crisis, sanctions, shifts in corporate regulations, transparency concerns in banking, and a clampdown on offshore activities, the economic landscapes of almost all countries have seen major transformations. This has prompted a significant migration of companies and private investors, all in pursuit of the optimal route for tax efficiency and business advancement.

Business in Belize

Nestled in the heart of the Caribbean in Central America, Belize has introduced a series of innovative corporate measures tailored to international business companies (IBCs). At the same time, the jurisdiction did its best to preserve avenues for tax optimization for limited liability companies (LLCs). Presently, this Caribbean nation has gracefully transitioned from its former offshore status to an onshore jurisdiction. Notably, it has ascended from the ranks of non-cooperative jurisdictions to secure a coveted spot on the OECD’s white list, all the while retaining its magnetic appeal for foreign entrepreneurs and offshore entities.

Within this context, let’s find out what makes so many people believe that Belize is still a friendly and advantageous destination for offshore enterprises. 

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Corporate and investment policies in Belize: navigating the terrain for offshore enterprises

Between 2022 and 2023, Belize underwent significant transformations in its corporate policies. These alterations had a distinct impact on IBC owners. In 2023, a fresh set of guidelines was introduced for international companies:

  • The requirement to establish an office and have a registered agent in Belize.
  • Companies must now store their financial records and documents, making them available when requested by regulators.
  • Businesses are currently required to register or re-incorporate as either limited or unlimited liability companies. The term international business company has been completely removed from the legislation of Belize. There’s also the option to create Private Trust Companies (PTCs) or Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs). 
  • You are now allowed to hold general shareholder meetings via various electronic communication platforms.

FYI: Belize has initiated a unified business register to consolidate data about local enterprises and foreign entrepreneurs.

These changes have been prompted by global trends aimed at preventing harmful tax practices, as well as curbing the misuse of offshore companies for money laundering and income concealment.

Following the implementation of these new regulations, Belize still grants tax exemptions to Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). These LLCs can be fully owned by offshore entities and are only required to pay taxes on the income generated within Belize, i.e., the country where the legal entity is registered.

For more information about company incorporation please refer to Incorporate a Company in Madeira’s Free Trade Zone IBCM.

Advantages of Belize for global investors and immigrants

Here’s what Belize has to offer as an alternative to the newly introduced changes to demonstrate its positive approach to both foreign entrepreneurs and local business communities:

  • Economic stability:
    • strong democratic values
    • independent legal system 
    • stable local currency with a fixed exchange rate.
  • High profit potential due to the following:
    • flexible tax system
    • commercial free zones (CFZs) and export processing zones (EPZs) 
    • profit and dividend repatriation
    • no capital gains tax, and more.
  • Belize’s robust banking system, where options include:
    • opening accounts for offshore companies
    • registering private accounts for non-residents
    • asset management
    • setting up multi-currency accounts
    • capital protection through high liquidity (over 24%).
  • Comfortable living and relocation environment:
    • subtropical climate and magnificent nature
    • vast beaches
    • affordable housing with investment opportunities for short-term residency (STR)
    • no language barriers for English-speaking foreigners
    • friendly environment enjoyed by both entrepreneurs and foreign residents.
  • Belize has made trade agreements with developed countries to provide foreign entrepreneurs with the following:
    • concessionary market access to the Caribbean region (CARICOM)
    • preferential treatment from the US under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI)
    • duty-free access to the European Community for specific goods like bananas and sugar (Fourth Lomé Convention)
    • duty-free entry of certain goods into Canada (CARIBCAN).

Belize boasts a strategic location neighboring Mexico, the US, and other well-developed regions. With its rich natural resources and advanced infrastructure, Belize is a great place to relocate to and invest in. Admittedly, optimal investment decisions that foreigners can make in Belize depend on their individual goals and financial potential.

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We encourage you to explore the most in-demand International Wealth products in Belize and benefit from our expert assistance in corporate, banking, and investment matters.

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International business-friendly nations: a comparative outlook

It is not only in Belize that you can find favorable business environments for company setup. Several other countries are great to incorporate a company. Apart from the Caribbean states, they include jurisdictions in Asia, the Americas, and Europe. To decide what place is best to establish a company, lower business taxes, set up a trading company, or register a trust you should carefully consider multiple factors.

Take a look at the examples below:

  • Setting up a trust can be a strategic move for affluent individuals and serious investors. Not only will it help to reduce taxes but also offer a means to manage inheritance, safeguard capital against sanctions and creditors, and distribute company profits across generations, all while maintaining protection from offshore legal systems. Here are the countries where trusts have shown great success:
    • Belize
    • Nevis
    • Vanuatu
    • Cook Islands, among others.
  • Incorporating an offshore company as an IBC or LLC is a feasible option across continents. To choose the right jurisdiction, be sure to take into account the industry’s nature, tax regulations, and requirements for company founders.
    • Countries like Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and Denmark are well-suited for establishing trading companies engaged in import and export.
    • The IT sector has thrived in offshore destinations like Panama, the Dominican Republic, the USA, Malta, Cyprus, Lithuania, and the Marshall Islands.
    • Investing in real estate through business strategies, funds, and private avenues yields substantial capital growth in the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Belize, EU member states, and the coastal areas of many warm-climate nations.
    • It is relatively easy and safe to obtain licenses for Forex trading or financial and brokerage activities in offshore havens like the Caribbean (including Belize), Dominica, Vanuatu, Puerto Rico, Panama, Andorra, and Luxembourg.
  • Under multiple circumstances, you might be required to open an offshore bank account. The choice of a financial institution depends on initial information about the company, shareholders, private investors, and the industry. It’s important to be mindful of blacklists. Remember that Belize and other offshore jurisdictions have their own ones. Although it might be challenging to open an account for residents of such jurisdictions, it’s still possible if you adhere to specific requirements.

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Belize’s allure as a hospitable offshore hub: a final note

Belize is unique in the sense that it has embraced nearly all the requirements set by global regulators. At the same time, the country maintains a welcoming environment for business establishment and growth. Alongside its accommodating corporate regulations, the government of Belize offers an array of incentives designed to lure even the most cautious of investors:

  • Full foreign ownership rights extending to both land and company assets.
  • Promotion of partnerships with local entities.
  • Supportive legislation that includes incentives tailored for the pension industry.
  • Adaptable taxation system, with some of the tax benefits unique to Belize. If you efficiently work with your tax consultant, some taxes can even be reduced down to zero.
  • Free trade and export processing zones.
  • Growing international financial services sector.

NB: The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) offers substantial assistance to international and local investors in establishing and growing their businesses in Belize.

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Should your interest lie in Belize as a potential investment and business expansion hub, do not hesitate to contact International Wealth experts. They are here to offer you their services and free consultations on any related topics.

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