Belize Business Environment
Belize might be called a newcomer in international financial services. Its offshore business services were launched in 1989 with the enactment of the Registration of Merchant Ships Act which served to constitute an open ship registry and give birth to the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE). Nowadays, more than 3 000 vessels hoist the Belizean flag and IMMARBE offices are located all over the world. Most of the International Maritime Organisation Safety Conventions have been ratified by Belize.
Internal Belizean taxes are moderate. A turnover-based tax is small, corporation tax is 25%. On income and social contributions employees pay up to 45% tax. There are many offshore schemes that include a modern trusts law, IBC legislation and an array of free zones and investment incentive schemes. International pressure to make Belize moderate its offshore regime in exchange for debt relief seemed to have weakened in 2003.
There are four commercial banks in Belize that are regulated by the Central Bank of Belize according to the provisions of the Banking Act. These are:
- The Belize Bank Ltd,
- Barclays Bank PLC,
- Bank of Nova Scotia,
- Atlantic Bank Ltd.
Government working hours:
8:00 am - Noon, 1:00 pm - 5:00pm (4:30 on Fridays)
Monday to Thursday 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Major International Airport is Phillip S. W. Goldson International, situated 8 miles WNW of Belize City.
Air and sea communications are good as well as telecommunications, which, however, are too expensive as the telecommunications monopoly is holding back development. The telephone system in Belize is among the best in the region, with a modern fibre-optics network.
Major Ports in the country are Belize City, Big Creek and Dangriga.