Entry Requirements for Belize

Part one: Entry Requirements for Visitors:
Belize welcomes visitors and for this reason every effort is made to keep immigration formality to a minimum. All visitors need passports to enter the country. It should be valid for at least six months beyond the duration of the intended stay in the country. A 30-day visa will be issued on arrival, and extensions (up to six months) may be obtained from any Immigration Office for a fee of BZ$25 for every 30 days. British subjects (Commonwealth citizens) and citizens of the U.S.A., Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway and colonies, Panama, San Marino ,Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela do not need visas.

All other visitors to Belize must be in possession of passports and visas, and should contact the nearest Belizean Consulate or Embassy for details on obtaining visas before travelling. The Immigration & Nationality Department in Belmopan can be contacted at telephone numbers 501-8-22611, and -22423. All visitors are advised to have sufficient funds for the purpose and period of their stay. The sum of U.S. $50.00 is considered sufficient for a daily minimum requirement for one person. This figure would include hotel accommodation, transportation and meals.

The Immigration Officer's Stamp in a visitor's passport (or travel document) should show how long the visitor may stay in the country. This period is usually one month's duration. If the visitor wishes to stay longer he should make a personal application to the Police Head Station if residing in the Districts. Visitors travelling by air must be in possession of return or onward ticket.

A Visitor Permit is required of nationals of China and India. Check with the local Belizean Consulate, Belize Embassy, British Counsel, or contact the Department of Immigration and Nationality, Belmopan, Belize, Central America. Telephone: (501-8-22611).

To apply for an extension contact the Immigration Office Mahogany Street, Belize, Central America Telephone : (501) 2-24620, Fax (501) 2-44483. A moderate fee is charged and applicants must demonstrate sufficient funds for the remainder of their stay, as well as an ongoing ticket.

If crossing into Belize from Mexico by land, visas to enter Belize can be obtained from the Belizean Consulate in Chetumal, Avenida Alvaro Obregon #226A, Chetumal Q.R., Tel: (52)983-22871.

Part two: Entry Requirements for Persons Seeking Employment or Residence

Recent Amendment of Immigration Act
The Ministry of National Security and Immigration has given careful consideration to the existing laws governing immigration and nationality. It is felt that there is an urgent need to further strengthen the Immigration Act to deter the incidence of illegal entry into Belize. There is also a need to modify the immigration rules relating to the fees charged for nationality and residence permits.

The Ministry is guided by the government's vision as expressed by the Manifesto, Set Belize Free —for a state with secure borders respected by its neighbors, where all citizens are assured that their lives and property are safe and their human rights respected, where laws and institutions are honored.

The new immigration and nationality policy is designed to achieve four objectives: protect Belizean workers, control and manage our borders, apprehend and deport those who willfully violate our laws, and improve the services of the Immigration and Nationality Department.

The Ministry further appeals to those who work, visit or live in Belize to respect and comply with our laws, and call on those establishments that currently hire foreign nationals to identify and train Belizean workers.

The Ministry of National Security and Immigration intends to introduce and implement the following new measures starting Friday, February 5th, 1999.

Amendment of the Immigration Act

Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to require employers who employ illegal immigrants to pay the cost of repatriation of such persons, in addition to other penalties already prescribed by law. Similarly, public carriers that bring illegal immigrants to Belize may be liable to a fine of up to $5,000 and in addition, shall be required to pay the cost of repatriation of such persons.

Permanent Residence Fees

All applicants for permanent residence, except nationals of the People's Republic of China, will be charged the following flat fees which will be non-refundable:

  • Central Americans (Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Hondurans) - $525
  • (Guatemalans and Mexicans) - $250
  • Caricom Nationals - $600
  • Other Commonwealth Nationals - $1,000
  • All Other Nationals - $1,250
  • Permanent Residence Card - $125
  • Permanent Residence Replacement Card - $50
  • Nationals of the People's Republic of China will be charged a non-refundable fee of $3,000.
The Permanent Residence fees specified above will be in lieu of deposits currently being charged.

Border Permit Fee

There shall be a flat fee of $20 per annum for a border permit.

Work Permit Fees

  • Professional and Technical workers - a fixed fee of $1,500 per annum.
  • General Workers (except seasonal agricultural workers) - a fixed fee of $200 per annum.
  • Seasonal agricultural workers - $50 per crop.
  • Entertainers performing in groups of two or more but less that six persons - $500 for any period up to one week.
  • In groups of six persons or more - $750 for any period up to one week.
  • Entertainers performing alone - $300 for any period up to one week.
  • Religious, educational and voluntary workers - a fixed fee of $50 per annum.
Categories of Work Permits

Work permits will generally not be issued for waitresses, vendors, domestic and farm hands save in exceptional circumstances.

Student's and Dependent's Permits

There will be no fee for a student's visa provided a letter of admission from an accredited institution is produced. The fee for a Dependant's permit will be $75 per annum.

Visitor's and Tourist's Visa

Up to six months - $250 per month.
After six month's stay - $50 per month.

A work permit will not be issued to a visitor or tourist who resides in Belize for a period of less than six months.

Applications to be made in person

Application to the Immigration and Nationality Departments shall be made in person if the applicant is in Belize. Likewise, applicants themselves, upon proof of identity, must personally claim approved documents.

Time for processing applications

All applications to the Immigration and Nationality Service shall, as far as practicable, be processed and completed within a period of four (4) weeks. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Nationality Fees

The new fees will be as follows:

  • Registration as a citizen of Belize under section 10 and section 11 of the Belize Nationality Act - $300.
  • Inclusion of the name of a minor child under section 12 - $100 per child (no change).
  • Certificate of Citizenship in case of doubt under section 6 - $100.
  • Resumption of citizenship by descent under section 8 - $100 (no change).
Other matters affecting Nationality:

Refugees

The applications of refugees and other displaced persons for nationality will be considered in accordance with the Refugees Act and the U.N. Convention on the Status of Refugees. Refugees will not be treated less favorably than other applicants for granting of nationality. Section 29 (3) of the Constitution.

In considering applications for nationality, regard will be had to section 29 (3) of the Constitution which states that —no person shall be entitled under the provisions of the Chapter to be a citizen of Belize or be granted citizenship of Belize if such person shows any allegiance to or is a citizen of a country which does not recognize the independence, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Belize. Provided that the Minister may, in his discretion, grant Belizean Citizenship to persons falling under this subsection who would otherwise be entitled to such citizenship under the provision of sections 23 and 25 of the Constitution.… Basic Knowledge of Belize Constitution.

All applicants for Belizean nationality will be expected to have or acquire a basic knowledge of the Belize Constitution and the system of government in Belize, starting August 1999.

Pending Applications

In an effort to clear the backlog of pending applications for nationality and permanent residence, applicants are invited to visit the Immigration and Nationality Department and to inquire personally on the status of their application. To assist the Department to locate the relevant files, applicants should take the necessary receipts and any other identifying number given to them by the Department.

New Oath of Allegiance

All persons who are granted Belizean Nationality will be required to subscribe to a new Oath of Allegiance as set out below.

I, _______________do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and will uphold the Constitution and the Law of Belize and that I will faithfully and conscientiously contribute to the development of Belize and discharge my duties and responsibilities as a Belizean citizen.

I will further respect the history and culture of Belize and refrain from any anti-social or criminal activities and devote myself to the service and well-being of the Belizean people. I pledge that I will do everything in my power to promote and strengthen democracy and the rule of law in Belize and will do everything to promote the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize.

So Help Me God.

For more information, contact: The Immigration and Nationality Department
Tel: 501-8-22611 (Belmopan)
Tel: 501-2-24620 (Belize City)

New Economic Citizenship Programme
In January 1995, the Government of Belize introduced a new Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Programme (BECIP).

It is designed to attract foreign investment and entrepreneurial skills to the country. Many countries, both large and small, operate similar programs, including the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.

To qualify for citizenship under this Programme, applications are made through Licensed Immigration Consultants, and presented to the Director of the BECIP unit, within the Ministry of Finance in Belmopan, Belize.

Registration fees for applicants (amended February 1996) are as follows:

  • US$ 25,000 per family, including head of household, spouse and dependents under the age of 18 years.
  • US$ 15,000 for each child over the age of 18 years.
In addition to the registration fee(s), applicants approved for citizenship are required, as a minimum investment in Belize, to invest:
  • US$ 25,000 to be paid into the "Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Fund." (Sums paid into this Investment Fund by successful applicants are non-refundable and attract no interest.) This fund is used to finance reconstruction and development programs around the country, and represents the applicant's commitment to Belize.
Therefore, the total cost/investment for an entire family is US$ 50,000; there are no further obligations or investments required. Successful applicants receive passports and enjoy full citizenship status. It is not necessary to live in Belize, although these new citizens are welcome to do so at any time. Non-resident citizens are not subject to any Belizean taxes, and do not have voting rights.

A list of current Licensed Immigration Consultants in good standing, may be obtained from the BECIP Unit by contacting:

Director, BECIP Unit
Ministry of Finance
Belmopan, Belize
Tel: 501-8-22362

Further information can also be obtained from any Belizean embassy or consulate abroad.

Immigration & Permanent Residency Requirements
Special allowances made for investors and retirees
All visitors to Belize, regardless of the purpose of their visit, are issued a 30-day visa upon arrival. This is renewable, for up to six months, at any immigration office in the country (at borders and principal cities/towns) by paying US$12.50 per month. You must be prepared to present proof of sustenance for the period in question. If you intend to stay more than six months, you have to apply for a work permit.

Normally, any individual seeking permanent residency must have legally resided here continuously for one year. This requirement is waived for retirees and investors, who can apply immediately upon arrival for a permanent residency card. This application can be made only at Immigration headquarters in Belmopan, and usually takes two to three months to process. During this time, you will need to renew your visa as detailed above, AND obtain a "Temporary Self-Employment" work permit. Proof of financial independence or pension income is required.

Any individual who will be working on projects within Belize, or conducting business of any kind, whether or not they are generating an income here, must have a "Temporary Self-Employment" work permit. Once permanent residency status is granted, a work permit is no longer required, and residents are permitted to move freely in and out of the country. All work permits are valid for one year; the cost ranges from US$5 (for missionary workers) to US$300 (for investors).

Belizean nationality may be acquired following a minimum of five years' permanent residency. Currently, there is no requirement for permanent residents to spend a specific amount of time in the country during this five years. However, it has been suggested that this should be taken into consideration when application for citizenship is being made; therefore, residents should keep themselves abreast of changes in the laws to avoid future problems.

RETIRED PERSONS ACT FINALLY IMPLEMENTED

The Retired Persons Act, which gives tax and residency breaks to those retiring in Belize, passed by the Belize legislature earlier this year, has at last been implemented. Key features of the act include:

  • Open to anyone aged 45 or older who is a citizen of the U.S., the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada or Belize; a person who qualifies can include his or her dependents in the program, including children under 18 (up to age 23 if enrolled in college).
  • Applications for the program must be made to the Belize Tourist Board and include the following:
    • Copy of birth certificate for applicant and each dependent
    • Marriage certificate (if applicant is also applying for a spouse)
    • Notarized copy of complete passport of applicant and all dependents
    • Copy of police record from last place of residence (completed within one month of application)
    • Copy of medical exam including AIDS testing
    • An official statement from a bank or financial institution certifying that the applicant is the recipient of a pension or annuity of a minimum of US$1,000 per month or that the applicantČs investments will generate a minimum of US$2,000 per month
    • Four front and four side-view photos of applicant and each dependent.
  • Funds from pension or investments must be deposited monthly in a bank in Belize.
  • Persons applying for residency are subject to a background check by the Belize Ministry of National Security.
  • Persons residing in Belize under the program cannot work for pay in Belize.
  • Persons retiring in Belize under the program are exempt from the payment of all Belize taxes on all income or receipts from a source outside of Belize whether that income is generated from work performed or from an investment.
  • Persons retiring in Belize under the program can qualify for duty and tax exemptions not exceeding US $15,000 on new and used personal and household effects. A list of all items with corresponding values that will be imported must be submitted with the application.
  • A personal vehicle, boat or light aircraft can be imported duty free under the law, or such transport can be purchased in Belize.
  • Fees for the program total US$705 including a non-refundable application fee of US$100 to be submitted with the application, a BZE$10 stamp to be attached to the application, a US$500 fee to the Belize Tourist Board when the application is accepted, and a US$100 fee to the Immigration Department to issue a Qualified Retired Persons Status.

    For further information and an application for the program, contact Anthony Mahler of the Belize Tourist Board, e-mail anthony@travelbelize.org.

    Please remember... Residency cannot be applied for from outside the country; you must be legally in Belize to make these applications. For information contact the Immigration and Nationality Department: 501-8-22611.

    Director
    Immigration & Nationality Service
    Belmopan, Belize

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