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Christian Burn of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
To open a bank account in Belize, you need two bank reference letters from wherever your home bank is. You need a deposit generally around US $5,000 but it could be around $2,000 in some banks. Once you have the two reference letters, the next step is the application process, which is very straightforward.
Ryan Wrobel of Wrobel & Co., Attorneys-at-Law – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Central Bank of Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are different types of bank accounts that you can open up here in Belize.
 
Belize has two separate banking regimes. There’s the domestic banks, which transact in the Belizean currency, which is Belize dollars, and there are international banks. The international banks deal with foreign currencies, typically United States dollars, but some of the international banks in Belize offer accounts in Canadian dollars, pound sterling, Japanese yen, and euro.
 
Doing the application for either an international account or for a domestic Belize dollar account involves completion of due diligence documents by the bank. These documents typically consist of copies of identification documents (including passports), a driver’s license, documents that can verify residence (which typically are utility bills, or perhaps, again, a driver’s license or government ID of some sort), and also letters of reference. Different banks have different due diligence requirements.  Some are more extensive than others but typically they would request some sort of personal character references from a professional such as an attorney, a doctor, perhaps an accountant, to vouch for the character of the applicant.  They also request bank references.  What the banks down here are looking for is a reference that tells them how long you have had a relationship with your particular current bank as well as whether your accounts are in good standing. In addition to those requirements, there are probably a few other documents that I’m missing among the significant amount of application documents that need to be completed and submitted to the bank.
 
Opening a bank account in Belize is quite different and a bit more involved than one may be used to in the United States or Canada. If somebody is coming in from the United States, they have to realize that this is a different country. The regulations for banking institutions in this country are different. The banks in Belize are governed by the Central Bank of Belize, which is something similar to the Federal Reserve of the United States. The reason there is more regulation here is to protect the Belizean banks, and to protect Belize as a sound jurisdiction for banking.  Over the years, there has been a problem with money laundering, terrorist financing, and drug money being run through various banks globally. Therefore, the Central Bank of Belize and the banks in Belize go out of their way to try to avoid being involved in anything that would hurt their ability to have a sound banking regime with well-respected banking institutions.
 
My office assists our clients with bank account applications. We typically act as liaisons between the applicant and the bank and work to consolidate the documents used in due diligence, submit those documents to the bank, and push for the bank to process the applications in as efficient a manner as possible.  
 
(Central Bank of Belize, pictured.)
Kate Corrigan  of Georgetown Trust – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
In order to open a bank account in Belize, you need a financial reference letter, a professional reference letter, and a recent copy of a utility bill.  With that, and after completing the application, you can open a bank account.
 
A professional reference letter is a letter written by a friend, colleague, or associate who is in business; a professional person such as a realtor, an attorney, your broker, a doctor, or a friend who owns a company. The letter should be written on letterhead, state that the person writing the letter has known you for more that two years, and that they know you to be of good character, etc. The letter must be the original and contain the contact information of the one writing it.  The person writing the reference letter will usually be from your own jurisdiction.
 
A lot of people in Belize would like to establish an International Bank Account.  Here at Caye Bank you can hold an International account in five different currencies.  Being a compliant bank, with an International Bank account from Caye Bank, you could move money from the US and keep it on an international platform, from which you could filter your money into the domestic / Belize banking system as you need it, for example, to pay bills in Belize dollars.  When you open an International Bank Account, you are keeping your money very separate from the general Belize dollar banking system.  This can be preferable for lots of reasons.
 
In contrast to an International Bank Account, with a domestic Belize dollar account I believe there are certain restrictions in getting the money out of your account. For example, for anything over US $10,000, you have to get an approval, and wire transferring large amounts out of your account to a different country for an investment can sometimes take up to 90 days after getting approval to send it out. This is in contrast to if your account were on an international platform (of which there are five International Banks here in Belize), you would send a wire request to send money where you want it to go, and it would go that day.
 
As an example, and to put it in real terms, here’s what I did.  When I made the decision I was going to move to Belize four and a half years ago, I rented out my property back at home and decided “I'm going to do this, but I don't know whether it's going work out for me,” so I needed to make sure I ”covered my bets,” or "hedged my bets," as we say in England.
                       
So I rented out my properties in the UK, and had everything running through my UK accounts.  I had my UK ATM card that I could use over here in Belize as Visa debit card, which meant that I was still using my usual accounts over in England. Doing it that way, however, was not cost effective, because the exchange rate and fees on the card were pretty high.  So, after I established myself here, I went about finding a way to more cost effectively get money here to Belize that I could use to pay bills, make local payments, those sorts of things. To do that, I moved a large amount of money into an International Bank Account whilst I established myself, found a place to live, etc., enabling me to get the utility bill I needed in order to set up a local domestic Belize dollar account in my personal name.  So, for the first few months (before I could open a domestic Belize dollar account), I just filtered money from my international account and then, with my Belize dollar account to pay all my local bills was established, I moved chunks of money as I needed it to live into that account.
 
By opening up an International Bank Account first before opening a domestic Belize dollar account, if I would have changed my mind when I just had the domestic Belize dollar account, and said, "You know what, Belize isn't for me, I don't like running around on golf carts here on the island of Ambergris Caye, I don't like looking out to that awful, awful Caribbean Sea (which is absolutely divine),” if I decided it wasn't for me, I could just pack a bag, get on a plane, send a request for my International Bank Account to send the money back to England.  If I had opened up a Belize bank account, and put all my money in Belizean dollars and then decided to leave Belize, it would take a while to get my money back. I've never had large amounts of money in a Belize dollar account for that very reason. Belize is one of the safest financial jurisdiction in the world, so it's absolutely not the financial climate that I am worried about; it just the laws sometimes locally are a little different.

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