Belize

Doing Business in Belize

Introduction

Belize (formerly British Honduras) is a scenically beautiful, independent country located on the Caribbean seaboard of Central America. It has an area of approximately 23,026 square kilometres and is bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south.

The administrative capital is Belmopan, but the major commercial centre is Belize City, which is located on the eastern coast close to the major international airport.

Population

The total population of Belize is approximately 331,000 of which some 70,000 live in Belize City. Much of the country’s population is ethnically diverse and includes descendants of the original Mayan culture and people of Caribbean, Caucasian, Chinese, and East Indian descent.

Political Structure

Belize has a long history of peace, stability and democracy. It became a British Crown Colony in 1862 and achieved complete self-rule in 1981. Belize is a member of the British Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. Belize is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, which recognises HM Queen Elizabeth II as head of state represented by a Governor General who must be a Belizean national.   The National Assembly is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives; the Senate has 12 members and the House of Representatives comprises of 29 members, directly elected at intervals of no longer than five years. The prime minister and cabinet have executive power. There are two main political parties; both parties are committed to the economic development of the country and the encouragement of overseas investment.

Infrastructure and Economy

Belize’s unspoiled environment with cays and barrier reef make it a popular destination for eco-tourists, whilst its clear unpolluted waters are excellent for swimming, diving, fishing and other aqua sports. The country also offers a unique mix of unspoiled woodlands, caves, rivers, mountains, waterfalls and jungle, in addition to a wealth of Mayan archaeological sites. There are also forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, marine resort areas and the world’s only jaguar reserve. Major exports are sugar, bananas, citrus products, fishery products, garments and timber and wood products. The offshore finance industry is generating an increasing proportion of national income.

Language

The official and spoken language is English but Spanish is widely spoken.

Currency

The Belize Dollar (BZ$) is the official currency in Belize.

Exchange Control

Offshore activities are exempted from exchange control.

Type of Law

Common Law that is based on English Company Law.

Principal Corporate Legislation

International Business Companies Act 1990, amended 2000.

Company Information

Procedure to Incorporate

Registered Agent delivers the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association to the Registry together with the appropriate fee.

Restrictions on Trading

The company cannot trade within Belize or own real estate there. It also cannot undertake the business of banking, insurance, assurance, reinsurance, company management or registered office facilities for Belizean incorporated companies.

Powers of Company

A Company incorporated in Belize has the same powers as a natural person.

Language of Legislation and Corporate Documents

The legislation and corporate documentation are in English.

Time to Incorporate

It takes one day to incorporate a company in Belize.

Name Restrictions

Names that have already been incorporated, or that are so similar as to cause confusion; or that, in the opinion of the Registrar, are considered undesirable, obscene or offensive; or ones such as royal or imperial or  that suggest the patronage of Belize Government are unacceptable.

Language of Name

A Belize IBC can be incorporated using any language. Chinese language incorporations with Chinese documentation are very popular.

Registered Office Required

Yes, a registered office must be maintained in Belize at the address of a licenced management company.

Names Requiring Consent or a Licence Bank, building society, savings, loans, insurance, assurance, reinsurance, trust, trustees, Chamber of Commerce, university.

Municipal or their foreign language equivalents or any name in English or a foreign language that may suggest association with the banking or insurance industries

Suffixes to Denote Limited Liability

Limited, Corporation, Incorporation, Société Anonyme, Sociedad Anَnima, Aktiengesellschaft or the relevant abbreviations.

Disclosure of Beneficial Ownership

Beneficial ownership is not disclosed to authorities.

Compliance

Authorised and Issued Share Capital

The usual authorised share capital is US$ 50,000 divided in to shares with or without par value. From 15 April 2013 the share capital of IBC’s may be increased up to a maximum of US$10 million without reference to the Registrar General.

However any requests for a higher capital must be submitted to the IBCR with the following information:

  1. Present Share Capital of the Company
  2. Proposed increase
  3. Reasons for the increase
  4. Source of funds
  5. Notarised bank statements showing that the money to pay for the increase is available

The share capital may be expressed in any currency. The minimum issued capital may be one share of no par value or one share of par value.

Classes of Shares Permitted

Registered shares, shares of no par value, preference shares, redeemable shares and shares with or without voting rights are permitted.

Taxation

An International Business Company does not pay any tax on its worldwide profits to Belize authorities.

Double Taxation Agreements

Belize is not a party to any double tax agreements.

Financial Statements Requirements

Whilst there is no requirement to file audited accounts with the authorities, a company is required to keep financial records that reflect the financial position of a company.

Directors

The minimum number of directors is one. Directors may be natural persons or bodies corporate; they may be of any nationality and need not be Belize resident.

Company Secretary

A company secretary is not a requirement under the Act, but a secretary is normally appointed to facilitate signing obligations.

Shareholders

The minimum number of shareholders is one.

Disclaimer
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the details contained herein are correct and up-to-date, it does not constitute legal or other professional advice. IQTESADI does not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for any errors or omission.

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