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.