Banking in Belize
If you’ll be moving to Belize in the near future, whether it’s for business or retirement or something in between, then you’ll need to know the ins-and-outs of the banking system; this will ensure that your financials are properly taken care of when you move to a new country. The following is an essential guide to banking in Belize, including the typical banking regulations to the types of banks you’ll find in the country.
Banks in Belize
Currently, Belize has a few different commercial banks, though investors have the option to use offshore banks. Caye International Bank is the only international bank with its head office on the island of Ambergris Caye. The 3 commercial banks (Alliance Bank, Atlantic Bank, Belize Bank) provide day to day banking services. First Caribbean Bank and Scotiabank, are multinational banks that have branches operating in Belize. There are also some credit union options in Belize proper as well.
Unlike in the USA, banks in Belize are not open very late. Almost all banks close around 1-2 PM in the afternoon, so you will need to keep this in mind when you move. Some banks that stay open later may close for lunch hours, so there will be a period in the afternoon where they are not operational. While most banks do have ATM machines, ATM machines in Belize are notorious for being out of order and they only accept Belize-issued cards, so don’t rely on them.
Opening a Bank Account in Belize
One thing to note is that banking in Belize is different than banking in the USA or even in the United Kingdom. For instance, most people will not be able to simply walk into a Belize bank and open an account. You will need to have multiple references, including a letter from your former bank that is notarized by a bank officer. Most Belize banks will also require anyone opening an account to have residency status in Belize, so remember to get all of that done before you try to open an account.
Although they are not incredibly common, there are offshore banks available in Belize; they typically label themselves ‘international banks’ to avoid negative connotations. Offshore banks in Belize legally cannot have any clients who are legal residents or citizens of Belize, so keep this in mind when considering an offshore bank for your financials.
There are two types of Belize offshore banks currently in operation: A Class/Unrestricted and B Class/Restricted. A Class offshore banks require account holders to operate a business office in Belize and can transact banking business in Belize without restrictions. B Class offshore banks are limited to only transacting through an offshore banking business specified in a license, hence the label “restricted.”
Banking in Belize
It’s important to learn all about the banking institution you will be using when moving to Belize, whether you plan on retiring there, moving there to open a business, or using Belize as your choice for establishing an offshore bank holding account. Whatever option you decide to choose, make sure that you know all of the regulations and restrictions to avoid any headaches down the line.