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Legal Paths to Citizenship of Belize

If you are looking for adventures and you are possessed by an entrepreneurial spirit, you can consider moving to Belize in Central America. Even though it is a small country, Belize is a well-known financial center in the region and it offers business opportunities typical of offshore jurisdictions. A large number of offshore companies are registered in Belize; however, they do not belong to Belizeans but to foreign nationals instead. This Central American country is perfect for re-domiciling your business company from another jurisdiction or launching a startup.

How can you legalize your prolonged stay in Belize?

If somebody tells you that Belize offers citizenship-by-investment opportunities, please do not believe them. The country used to have a citizenship-by-investment program but not anymore. Therefore, you cannot ‘buy’ a passport of Belize at the current moment.

If you would like to acquire second citizenship in a fast manner, you can look at some other Caribbean countries. St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St Lucia administer citizenship-by-investment programs. Thus, if you are prepared to invest a couple thousand dollars into second citizenship, you can obtain it fast. Not instantly because the process will extend over several months but fast. You don’t have to live in any of the five countries mentioned for any time to qualify for their citizenship: just pay the money and there you go.  

As far as Belize is concerned, the procedure of citizenship acquisition is more conservative in the country. A foreign national can become a citizen of Belize by naturalization only. This means that you have to physically reside on the territory of the country for some time before you can apply for citizenship. Needless to say, you have to legally reside in Belize. Besides, you have to pass a language test and a history test to qualify for citizenship of Belize, which is not the case with the countries that have citizenship-by-investment programs.

How can you obtain a permanent residence permit in Belize?

You can apply for a permanent residence permit after legally residing in Belize for 1 year. The application has to be filed to the immigration department located in the city of Belmopan, the capital of the country. You can be absent from Belize for not more than two weeks within the year. Candidates for permanent residence also have to pass medical examinations. Besides, you have to supply a police clearance. Finally, you have to bring letters of recommendation from two Belizeans who have known you for at least one year. Normally, attorneys or medical workers write such letters for applicants for Belizean residence.  

You have to pay a fee when filing an application for a permanent residence permit. The amount of the fee varies between 250 and 5,000 US dollars and it largely depends on the nationality of the applicant. The application processing time also varies. In some cases, it lasts for a few months, in some other cases, it may last for a year or even more.

When your application has been approved and a residence permit has been issued to you, you have much more freedom in Belize. Now you can find employment in the country without having to obtain any work permit. Besides, you can start a business company in Belize. Please follow this link to find out about various business opportunities that you can find in Belize. Finally, you are now free to spend as much time away from Belize as you wish.

How can you legalize your stay in Belize for the first year?

This task can be solved with the help of a Tourist Card. This is a document that is issued to you when you cross the Belizean border and it is valid for 1 month. After 30 days, the Card can be extended for another month for 25 dollars. After six months, the price is going to double. A Tourist Card allows you to freely travel across Belize and buy or rent residential property. However, the document does not allow you to find employment in Belize.  

You should not be late to extend your Tourist Card. If you are, the immigration authorities will have a legal reason to deport you. In the best scenario, you will have to go into long explanations why you could not extend your Tourist Card in due time. As a rule, Tourist Card holders apply for temporary residence permits after a few months.

There is also a Qualified Retired Persons program in Belize. It is targeted at wealthy pensioners from foreign countries. A foreign retiree can obtain a legal residence permit and also import his or her belongings (including large ones) without paying any duties. Persons above the age of 45 can qualify for the program. In addition, the retiree’s spouse and underage children (as well as older children attending universities) are eligible for residence permits. The QRP program has an important drawback, however. The time spent in Belize on a retiree residence permit does not count towards the mandatory residence period required to qualify for citizenship of the country.

Citizenship of Belize by marriage

You can also become a citizen of Belize in a fast way if you marry a local person. A foreigner has to apply for permission to marry a Belizean person to the Office of the Attorney General and pay a fee. This is not going to be a great problem because the Attorney General is sympathetic with lovers and the fee is only 25 dollars.

You cannot obtain a Belizean passport right after the wedding ceremony is over. You have to live in marriage for 1 year before you can apply for citizenship. Things may be sped up a little bit if you have a baby.

Citizenship of Belize by naturalization

After legally residing in Belize for 5 years, a foreign national is entitled to apply for citizenship of the country by naturalization. You would not have to renounce your original citizenship because dual citizenship is allowed in Belize. (However, you have to check with your home country’s authorities to find out if dual citizenship is allowed in your home country). The application document package is not too large but you will have to pass a test in Belizean history and an English language test. Yes, Belize is in Latin America but English is the official language there. At the same time, Spanish is often spoken in the streets while English is the business language in Belize. It follows that you had better speak both of these languages to feel at home in Belize.

Lifestyle in Belize

You have to realize that Belize is not among the richest countries of the world and the level of economic development is not very high there. However, nature is wild and beautiful in the country and the Caribbean Sea is certainly one of the pearls of the world. The population density is extremely low in Belize and you will often find yourself on your own if you travel around the country. Overall, Belize is a big countryside with all the pluses and minuses of any countryside.

The people are friendly and relaxed in Belize. They have inherited some British traits of character and some Spanish traits of character too. For example, Belizeans are more punctual in comparison to Panamanians, for example, but it is a ‘mañana’ culture anyway. We suggest that you spend a couple of months on a Tourist Card in Belize before you decide to relocate there for good. It is an extremely beautiful country but it is rather wild. Some amenities readily available in Western Europe or in North America are lacking in Belize. 

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