Starting a Business in Belize
Belize has the potential to be a lucrative business option for anyone who is willing to put in the work and effort it takes to open a business tailored to Belize’s unique markets. If you want to know the basics about starting up your own business in Belize, consider this following guide to get you started.
Viable Industries and Businesses in Belize
The most significant industries in modern Belize are agriculture and tourism. Viable agricultural industries include fishing and sugar cane harvesting, while the tourist industry encompasses a vast number of businesses ranging from hotels, boat tours, vacation attractions, beach rentals, restaurants, spas, and essentially any business that can be catered to the tourist market.
What You Need to Know About Legal Requirements
It’s important to know the legal ins-and-outs of starting up in a business in Belize before you begin to think about investments or industries. The most important things you need to know are:
- On average, it will take about 44 days to go from a work permit to being able to begin operations for your business in Belize.
- You need a work permit in order to generate income from within Belize. The cost of a work permit will vary depending on the type of permit you get and what permit you will need in your particular industry.
- If you are not a Belize national, then you must register a business under the Companies Act and/or the Business Name Act.
Business Culture in Belize: 3 Things to Remember
In addition to knowing the legal requirements, you’ll need a decent understanding of Belize business culture in order for your business to thrive there. Some things to remember in regards to Belize business culture are:
- Workers in Belize have a minimum wage of $3.00-$3.50 per hour, with Associate Degree graduates expecting to be paid a minimum of at least $4.44-$6.25 an hour. Keep this in mind when deciding on hiring employees and determining fair wages.
- Belize business culture, like Belize culture overall, is more casual and laid back. Even business runs on “Belize time,” so you may find that things take a little longer to get done than anticipated.
- Business attire is almost always informal; for instance, wearing suits is unusual except for formal occasions due to cultural attitudes and the weather/heat. Keep this in mind when networking and arranging for local business to ensure that you aren’t out of step with local culture.
Step-By-Step Process to Start a Business in Belize
Finally, let’s lay out the very basic step-by-step process you should follow when you want to start up your own business in Belize.
- 1. Scout out an actual location for your business
- Register your company according to the Companies and/or Business Name Acts
- Apply for your business trade license
- Apply for your work permit (Consult a lawyer if necessary)
- Register with Belize Social Security
- Register your business with the GST, or General Sales Tax
- Register for your Business Tax. This will get you a Tax Identification Number, which is essential for doing business in Belize.
And remember: depending on what type of business you are operating, you may need to apply for more specific work and license permits. When in doubt, consult a lawyer to find out all of your obligations.