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Endlessadventure, sun-drenched beaches and full of history, welcome to Belize. Today, more than ever, businesses and vacation travellers alike are discovering the wealth of economic and ecological wonders that Belize has to offer. So, choose Belize as your offshore paradise for banking and e-commerce business, and experience the best of both worlds. Belize is located on the east coast of Central America in the Western Caribbean just below Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Its pristine landmass, in addition to mainland rainforest and savannah, includes over 200 islands sprinkled along a spectacular barrier reef (the largest in the western hemisphere). Having been a product of the British Colonial System, Belize enjoys a democratic and stable parliamentary style of Government. Belize remains a member of the English Commonwealth.


Banking and Financial Services in Belize
Belize has five commercial banks, not including offshore banks. Three are based in Belize – Alliance Bank, Belize Bank and Atlantic Bank — and two, First Caribbean Bank(formerly Barclays) and ScotiaBank, are large multinational banks with branches in Belize. The local banks are small, about the size of a small-town local bank or savings and loan in the U.S. Belize also has several credit unions and small mortgage lending institutions.

Most expats find that banking is a little different in Belize. In most cases, you can’t just sashay in to your local bank office and open an account. You usually will be asked for references, including a letter from your former bank. There is no standard format for this reference letter, but it should state something along these lines: “Mr. Jones is currently a customer of our bank and has maintained a satisfactory banking relationship here since 1985. His savings, time and demand deposit accounts with us current total about US$150,000.” The letter should be on the institution’s letterhead and signed by an officer.

Commercial banks in most cases also require that you have official residency status of some sort before you can open banks (the offshore banks in Belize are just the opposite – you can’t be a citizen or resident and bank there.)

Banking hours are shorter in Belize, typically only until 1 or 2 p.m. most days, and in other cases banks close for lunch. Many bank offices have modern conveniences such as ATM machines, but they may be out of order as often as they are working, and nearly all (Barclays/First Caribbean is the current exception) accept only ATM cards issued in Belize. At present, some expats living in Northern Belize cross over into Mexico where they can use their American-issued ATM cards, though they get funds in pesos. This situation with ATMs may be changing soon – look for ATM machines in tourist areas that accept foreign ATM cards.

While bank personnel in Belize are usually very friendly – this is Belize, after all – you can’t always say the same about bank policies, especially for loans. Loan interest rates are high. Even as the U.S. prime rate was at 4%, Belize banks were getting 14% to 18% or more on business loans and even higher on some personal loans. And the hidden fees and charges can add several percentage points to the loan interest. Modern consumer protection laws haven’t all made it to Belize yet.

In November 2003, the Belize Central Bank, concerned that the loan to deposit ratio at Belize banks was approaching 98%, told member banks to reduce the number of new loans or to stop making new loans entirely until the ratio improved.

Here are the basic facts, including contact information for the main offices, about each bank in Belize:

Alliance Bank of Belize is the newest of the commercial banks in Belize. It has offices in Belize City, Big Creek and San Pedro. It is associated with Glenn D. Godfrey who also operates Provident Bank, an offshore bank. Main Office: 106 Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City; tel.: 501-223-6783, fax 223-6785. www.alliancebank.bz

Atlantic Bank Ltd. was established in Belize City on August 16th, 1971. Atlantic Bank offers personal and commercial banking services including savings accounts, certificates of deposits, checking accounts, loans, credit cards, point of sales and other financial services. Atlantic Bank has 15 locations country wide with a network of 18 ATMs. Our friendly staff, reliable service and technological advancements make us the leading Bank in Belize.


Visit our offices in Belize City (3), Corozal Town, Commercial Free Zone, Orange Walk Town, International Airport, Ladyville, Caye Caulker, San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Belmopan, San Ignacio and Placencia or contact us at telephone 501-223-4123, fax 223-3907 or visit us at http://www.atlabank.com/ or email us at atlantic@atlabank.com.

Belize Bank traces its history back to 1902 when it was founded as the Bank of British Honduras. It is owned by Carlisle Holdings Ltd., (NASDAQ: CLHL, London: CLH), an billion dollar-plus (revenue) outsourcing company with cleaning and support operations in Britain and the U.S. Carlisle also held a majority interest in Belize Telecommunications, Ltd. which in late 2003 it announced it would sell to a company based in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Carlisle is 75%-owned by chairman Lord Michael Ashcroft, a British billionaire and Conservative party officer who holds dual citizenship in the UK and Belize. Belize Bank bills itself as the largest commercial bank in Belize, with a 46% share of deposits and 48% share of loans in Belize. It has 12 offices around the country — in Corozal Town, the Corozal Free Zone, Orange Walk Town, International Airport, Belize City (2), Belmopan, San Ignacio, San Pedro, Dangriga, Big Creek and Punta Gorda. Belize Bank has assets of more than US$250 million and had operating income of nearly US$25 million in fiscal 2003. Main office: 60 Market Square, Belize City; tel. 501-227-7132, fax 227-2712; www.belizebank.com. Belize Bank also has an international banking division.

First Caribbean International Bank (formerly Barclays) was formed in 2003 by the merger of the Caribbean operations of Barclays, the giant U.K-based financial service firm, and those of another large bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). Operations in 15 Caribbean countries including Belize are being rebranded as First Caribbean International Bank. First Caribbean has assets of around US$10 billion. In Belize, First Caribbean has 5 offices, in Belmopan, Belize City (3) and Dangriga. Main office in Belize: Albert Street, Belize City; tel. 501-227-7129, fax 227-8572; www.firstcaribbean.com

ScotiaBank, formerly Bank of Nova Scotia, is a large Canadian bank with operations in the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia and with assets of more than US$300 billion. In Belize, it has offices in Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town, Belize City (2) and Dangriga. Main Belize office: Albert Street, Belize City, tel. 501-227-7027, fax 227-7416; www.scotiabank.com.

Belize Bank has twelve offices in Belize; Atlantic, eight; ScotiaBank, six; First Caribbean, four; Alliance Bank, three. Bank offices typically are open 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.

Banks in Belize have ATMs at many of their branches. However, as of this writing only Belize Bank ATMs -- of which there are 10 around the country -- accept ATM cards issued outside Belize -- they must be on the PLUS or CIRRUS networks. First Caribbean ATMs also (usually) accept ATM cards issued outside of Belize. Even if you find a bank ATM that takes your card, your PIN number may not work. You can also usually get a cash advance on your Visa or MasterCard bank card by swiping it at the ATMs of any of the banks in Belize.

Offshore Banks
In addition to commercial banks in Belize serving local customers, Belize has developed a small but growing community of offshore (or international banks as they like to be called.) banks. These offshore banks were authorized by the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1995, and the introduction of the Offshore Banking Act, 1996, and the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act, 1996. By law they cannot serve customers who are citizens of or legal residents of Belize. The 1995 legislation defines an offshore banking as “receiving, borrowing or taking up foreign money exclusively from non-residents at interest or otherwise on current account, savings account, term deposit or other similar account and which according and subject to arrangement is repayable on the check, draft, order, authority or similar instrument of the customer, and investing the foreign money so received by lending, giving credit or otherwise exclusively to non-residents; or carrying on exclusively with non-residents such other activities as are customarily related or ancillary to offshore banking.”

There are two categories of Belize offshore banks: “A” Class - Unrestricted and “B” Class - Restricted.

“A” Class – Unrestricted
The holder of an “A” Class offshore banking license needs to establish, maintain, and operate a business office in Belize. It is permitted to transact offshore banking business through its business office in Belize without restrictions on that business. Annual license fee: US$20,000. Authorized and paid up capital of at least US$3 million must be maintained if the license is for a local company, or US$25 million in the case of a foreign bank.

“B” Class - Restricted
A holder of a “B” Class offshore banking license also needs to establish, maintain, and operate a business office in Belize, but it is limited to transacting only such offshore banking business as is specified in its license. “B” Class offshore banks cannot solicit or accept deposits from the general public, and cannot provide any current deposits or checking accounts to depositors. Annual license fee: US$15,000. Authorized and paid up capital of not less than US $1,000,000 must be maintained if the license is for a local company, or US $15,000,000 in the case of a foreign bank.

Several offshore Class A banks are in operation in Belize. These banks are regulated by the Belize Central Bank, have physical offices in Belize and offer various services including international bankcards and demand, savings and time deposit accounts. Accounts maintained with these banks are not subject to local taxes or exchange control restrictions. International banks tout their privacy for their customers, although if the Belize courts find that funds in the banks are proceeds of crime the banks are required to release the identity of the account owner. Funds are transferred into and out of Belize in foreign currencies with no conversion to Belize dollars taking place. However, these banks are prohibited from doing business with Belize citizens or official residents. Here’s information on the larger offshore banks in Belize:

Atlantic International Bank: This bank offers demand deposit accounts with a minimum of US$1,000, personal savings accounts paying around 2% interest, time deposits with a minimum of US$20,000, credit cards and investment/brokerage accounts. Other services include offshore trust services, establishing International Business Companies (IBCs). Main Office: 4792 Coney Drive, Belize City; tel. +501-223-3152, fax 223-3528; e-mail info@atlanticibl.com www.atlanticibl.com

Provident Bank and Trust: This bank, with an office in Belize City, is associated with Glenn D. Godfrey, a prominent and powerful attorney in Belize, and his companies. Established in 1998, it says it the largest international (offshore) bank in Belize, with assets of US$93 million in 2001 and claims that it controls 80% of the international banking business in Belize. Demand deposits may be opened with a minimum of U$1,000, savings accounts with US$5,000 and time deposits with a minimum of US$25,000. The bank also offers on-line banking, credit cards (interest rate of 1.5% per month on balances) and other services. Main Office: 35 Barrack Road, Belize City; tel. 501-223-5698, fax 223-0368; e-mail: services@providentbank.bz www.providentbelize.com.

Further information on Belizean Banks and Financial Services



Atlantic Bank: Atlantic Bank Ltd. was established in Belize City on August 16th, 1971. Atlantic Bank offers a wide range of personal and commercial banking and financial services. Atlantic Bank has 15 locations country wide with a network of 18 ATMs. Our friendly staff, reliable service and technological advancements make us the leading Bank in Belize.

We Offer:

  • Savings Accounts
  • Checking Accounts.
  • Consumer Loans
  • Commercial Loans
  • Credit Card Services
  • Online Banking
  • Money Transfers
  • Safety Deposit Boxes
  • Point of Sale Solutions
  • 24 hr. ATM Network
Visit our offices in Belize City (3), Corozal Town, Commercial Free Zone, Orange Walk Town, International Airport, Ladyville, Caye Caulker, San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Belmopan, San Ignacio and Placencia or contact us at telephone 501-223-4123, fax 223-3907 or visit us at http://www.atlabank.com/ or email us at atlantic@atlabank.com.


Atlantic International Bank, Ltd
Atlantic International Bank Ltd. is Belize’s leading International Bank, providing stability and accessibility to a full range of global products and services. Customers choose us for our financing options and our expertise in real estate development projects in Belize. Our international clients are comfortable managing their accounts even when they are not in Belize due to our convenient and secure online banking services.


We Offer:

We Offer:
  • Corporate USD Demand Deposits
  • Personal USD Savings and Super Savings Accounts
  • USD Time Deposits
  • USD Loans
  • USD Lines of Credit
  • International Credit Cards
  • World Wide Wire Transfers
  • Free Online Banking – Real Time
Our Services:
  • Incorporation of IBCs
  • Securities Trading Facilitation
  • Retirement Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Estate/Inheritance Planning
  • Investment Planning in Belize
At AIBL we recognize your need for confidential, efficient and quality services. Our promise is to ensure that we ‘Add Value to Your Success’ by providing a lifetime commitment to serve you with incomparable international financial services. We guarantee that you will enjoy the ease and convenience of our International Banking services as we assist in maximizing returns on your assets with our International Banking and other Offshore Services.


For further information visit us at http://www.atlanticibl.com www.atlanticibl.com or email us at info@atlanticibl.com.



Atlantic International Corp. Services, a sister company of Atlantic International Bank offers the incorporation of private companies (IBC’s) for clients who prefer to have confidentiality in conducting their business affairs. Listed below are some of the benefits of having an IBC:

  • Offshore banking - Hold offshore bank accounts in an IBC name and bank in complete privacy while utilizing tax-free jurisdictions such as Belize.
  • Hold assets confidentially - Protect what you own. With the ever-increasing chances of litigation being brought against you and your business, you can use an IBC to shield your assets.
  • Hold titles to properties and other physical assets - IBC’s can be used to hold real estate, valuable collections, precious metals, and shares of any offshore company of your choice.
  • Preparing for retirement - Take steps to protect your assets for retirement. Place assets into an IBC where no local taxes are applicable. This allows for your loved ones to gain the full benefit of your estate without large death duties consuming their inheritance.
  • Lease equipment and Real Estate - Equipment and real estate can be held in an IBC’s name and then leased out to foreign companies with income directed to your IBC’s Bank Account.
  • Invest in international markets, commodities, options and bonds. - - Make stock trades through your IBC brokerage account allowing you to trade as an international investor and thus enjoy much lower tax-rates and increase your profits dramatically.
  • Enter into contracts under IBC - If you are entering into a contract with a company but want added confidentiality, you may have your nominee directors sign the contract on behalf of the IBC.
For more information visit http://www.atlanticics.com.

Cititrust International Inc. provides offshore company incorporation and administration along with Registered Agent and Registered Address services, and company management services. Our professional directorship and subsequent nominee shareholding services and secretarial services are full services. Our services includes Registered Agent, provision of the registered address and preparation of corporate and business documentation and general administration services of the Registered Agent. The provision of shareholders services, virtual office and secretarial services, bank account introductions, along with custody of documents and corporate searches, preparation of corporate and business documentation and Trust formation. Along with all the other services mentioned we offer brokerage lincense services, gaming licenses assistance and Foundation formation. Some of the special services we offer is custodial services for bearer shares and documents, mail forwarding, call handling, bank account introductions and administration, corporate searches and filings, assistance with special licensing procedures with offshore mutual funds, offshore banks, offshore insurance companies under the Belize law.



BHI Offshore Financial Services
There are many benefits in banking in an offshore finance centre. BHI Corporation offers international banking services through The Belize Bank Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary. The Belize Bank is the largest commercial banking operation in Belize and offers a full range of services to international customers

The Belize Bank
The Belize Bank is the largest full service commercial banking operation in Belize providing a range of banking and financial services to both domestic and international customers. You will find that the Belize Bank has just the right combination of technology, solid banking expertise, and staff dedication to make a world of difference in providing the outstanding banking relationship you have been looking for.

Provident Bank & Trust
(PBTBL) is an Unrestricted "A" Class Bank licensed by the Government of Belize. Our Bank is regulated and monitored by the Central Bank of Belize who set standards for liquidity requirements and capital adequacy. PBTBL is also fully committed to the prevention of money laundering and fraud. Our license permits us to carry on international banking business with both personal and corporate clients who are non-residents of Belize.



The following is excerpted from Easy Belize! How to Live, Retire Work or Invest in English-Speaking Belize, the Frost-Free Paradise on the Caribbean Coast,By Lan Sluder, www.belizefirst.com. It available for instant download here


Belize’s official currency is the Belize dollar, which for many years has been pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 2 Belize dollars to 1 U.S. dollar. However, moneychangers often give a slightly higher rate than 2 Belize for 1 U.S. dollar, sometimes as much as 2.2 to 1, or even higher, depending on the local demand for American greenbacks.

That brings us to a key fact about Belize and your money: Hard currencies, like the U.S. dollar, Euro and yen, are good. Soft currencies, and the Belize dollar is one of them, are not so good. The Belize dollar is difficult if not impossible to exchange anywhere outside of Belize (except at border areas of Guatemala and Mexico).

For years there has been talk of dollarizing the Belize economy, making the U.S. dollar the official currency of Belize, similar to what El Salvador and Ecuador and, to a degree, Guatemala have done, but so far that talk hasn’t translated into action. There are several possible reasons. For one, the Belize government is reluctant to do away with its Central Bank and surrender so much of its financial control to Uncle Sam. That’s understandable. For another, Belize politicians may think that in a tough economic pinch it’s a lot easier to just print money than to actually earn it. That’s also understandable.

Technically, according to Belize law, only the Central Bank of Belize, or in some cases, or authorized moneychangers, are permitted to deal in foreign currencies including the U.S. dollar. But this rule is widely, almost universally, flaunted in Belize, and businesses routinely take U.S. dollars in payment for goods and services and have been doing so for decades.

In any event, U.S. dollars (bills, not coins) are accepted everywhere in Belize, although you often will receive change in Belizean money, or in a mix of Belizean and U.S. money. Paper-money Belize denominations are the 100-, 50-, 20-, 10-, 5- and 2-dollar bills. Belize coins come in 1-dollar, 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 Belizean cent units. The 25-cent piece is called a shilling.

All of which brings us to another key fact about your money and Belize: Keep the bulk of your liquid assets out of Belize. You will probably want to open a checking account in Belize to have easy access to spending money and for handling routine local transactions, such as paying your Belize telephone or electric bill. And if you are in Belize under the Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program (see previous chapter), you are required to deposit money (usually US$24,000 a year) in a Belize bank. But the savvy expat will maintain a banking relationship in the U.S. or similar country, with the bulk of your demand and deposit cash accounts there. You can then transfer funds by wire or other means to your account in Belize, as needed.

The U.S. Embassy in Belize provides this summary of currency regulations in Belize:

Under the Exchange Control Regulations (Chapter 43 of the Laws of Belize - 1980), only the Central Bank of Belize and authorized dealers/depositories (i.e., commercial banks and Casas de Cambio) may deal in foreign currencies. Prospective investors should note that in order to eliminate the black market for U.S. dollars specifically and to remedy the growing foreign exchange shortage generally, the government introduced on April 15, 2002, “Casas de Cambio.” The statutory instrument amending Belize’s Exchange Control Regulations define “Casa de Cambio” as “an enterprise in the course of which a person buys from, or sells to, other persons any foreign currency.”

In order to pay for goods and services procured outside of Belize in a foreign currency, a foreign exchange permit must be obtained from an authorized dealer or directly from the Central Bank of Belize.

The permission of the Central Bank of Belize is also required to secure a loan from outside Belize that involves a foreign currency, and also to service repayment of foreign debt. According to the Belize Investment Guide, “the necessary approvals can be easily secured in the case of genuine, approved enterprises.”

Foreign investors are required to register any investments made in Belize with the Central Bank in order to facilitate the repatriation of profits, dividends, etc. Officially, no person, other than authorized dealers and authorized depositories, may retain any foreign currency in their possession without the consent of the Central Bank of Belize. In practice, however, many local businesses accept payment in U.S. currency.

Foreign exchange controls can be summarized by the following rules and guidelines:

Residents and non-residents need permission to buy foreign currency for whatever purpose;

Authorized dealers (i.e., commercial banks) are allowed to sell foreign currency up to US$2,500 for private travel and up to US$10,000 for business travel per calendar year; requests in excess of these amounts must be approved by the Central Bank of Belize;

Exporters are required to register their exports with the Central Bank, guaranteeing delivery of their foreign exchange earnings;

Authorized dealers may authorize payments for imports, where goods are paid for through letters of credit or bank collection. They may also authorize payments for imports against copies of invoices and customs entries, where the documents show that the goods were obtained on credit;

Belizean residents, who wish to borrow abroad and where debt service will be in hard currencies, must apply to the Central Bank of Belize for permission to do so.



Banking and Financial Services in Belize


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