If you are considering making Belize your permanent home/or sheltering here during the ugly winter months up north, you need to understand the immigration process. If Belize is your full time residence, then there are a couple of options to consider:
There is the “QRP” status – “Qualified Retired Person”
Under this status, you may not work, you must provide, annually, a bank letter reflecting the required monies into your account. ($2000 USD a month, or $24,000 annually). It also allows you to bring personal and household goods into Belize duty free. Go to the link for the Belize Tourism Board for more details.
VISITOR / TOURIST STATUS
When crossing the border into Belize, you will receive a 30 day passport stamp.
- If you are wintering here this will need to be renewed every 30 days at a cost of $50 BZD.
- If you are applying for residency, the same procedure applies, at the end of the 6 month cycle – your renewal rate will jump to $100 BZD.
At the end of 12 months you may apply for Belizean residency. This program has restrictions in that you may NOT travel outside of Belize for more than 14 consecutive days and you will pay the departure tax of $37.50 BZD each time you cross a border – to go to Mexico for instance. Once residency is approved you will enjoy many of the same privileges as any Belizean, but NOT the right to vote in elections. You’ll also still be a foreign national when it comes to certain travel and legal rights.
MOVING / SHIPPING GOODS TO BELIZE
Obviously, there are moving companies that will be responsible for bringing your goods down into the port in Belize City. There are, however, alternatives that may be less expensive. There are a number of freight forwarders located in the States that have the ability to bring your items down.
There are a number of freight forwarders located in the States that have the ability to bring your items down. Typically, these carriers have a monthly departure schedule and the time lapse between leaving the States and arriving in Belize is about 3/4 weeks. They do deliver directly to either an address or you may pick up at their respective locations. For those of us who live here full time, these carriers provide a life line to necessary goods we want or need from the U.S. Many of us order from sites such as Amazon, e-Bay, Wal-Mart, Bed, Bath and Beyond – having these things shipped to the forwarder’s address (often free shipping is offered within the continental U.S.) The going rate is about a $1.50/lb. to cover shipping and duty.
When I made mention of specialty requirements for some pets, you can order their food on line and bring it down. However, I would suggest clearing that food with Belize Animal and Health Administration. (BAHA). If you can provide a prescription or a letter from your vet detailing the particular requirements for your pet it goes a long way in smoothing out the path.
BRINGING PETS TO BELIZE
There is no required quarantine for pets coming into Belize. This of course, is provided you have the necessary paperwork filled out in advance and approved prior to your arrival. You will need all of your pets vaccinations up to date and an International certification completed. Typically, you vet will fill out the forms for you. In some states, additional approvals may be needed. Plan ahead. The International Certification and BAHA application must be submitted to BAHA prior to your arrival (typically 2-3 weeks) for approval for your pet to land in or enter Belize. Follow the link to BAHA here.
BANKING & MONETARY EXCHANGE RATE
The exchange rate for the U.S. Dollar is 1 to 2, or simply $100 USD=$200 BZD. You will want to set up a bank account in Belize and for that you will need a letter of introduction from your present banking institution stating that you are a reliable and trustworthy individual, and it’s always better if you can have a new friend or neighbor (who banks at whatever bank you choose) also write a letter, reiterating that you have all the requirements of a Boy Scout. It’s a little archaic but necessary to set up a savings or checking account here in Belize (and many other foreign countries as well).
New international money laundering statutes have been recently implemented in Belize, largely at the prodding of the U.S. Government in the fight against drug trafficking and international terrorism. Expect routine questioning about any large deposits and money transfers. Provided your answers make sense and seem realistic, you have nothing to worry about.