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Christian Burn of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Like anywhere else, before you start a business in Belize, you should have a good idea and a good plan. You have to do a market research and from there you have to process your name search and registration and any licensing that you would need. It is a very straightforward process. The process is very similar when setting up a business in Canada.
 
(Please see my other answers in this section for hiring and regulations.)
Virginia Krohn of Villa Cayo Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Logo for BELTRADE, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe first thing to do is register your business name and if you are in a village or town check to see if you will need a trade licenses and owe city taxes.  Also register with income tax and social security if you will have employees. You will also need a work permit and as soon as you can apply for residency.  
 
You don't have to do anything if your business is located in the US or on the Internet.
 
If you want help with your business idea there is a government company called BELTRAIDE (Belize Trade and Investment Development Services) that will advise you on your business idea.   
 
You will also want to open a checking account and you will need your business registration to do that 
 
If you are coming to Belize under the QRP (Qualified Retirement Program) you will not be allowed to have a business or donate your time because you are not allowed to work.   
 
(Logo for BELTRADE, Belize, pictured.)
Phil Hahn of Carmelita Gardens – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
BELTRADE Made in Belize catalogue cover – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn order to start a business in Belize, the first step is to establish a local company, which is fairly easy and inexpensive. Keep in mind that certain businesses in certain municipalities also require a trade license. Most businesses establish local bank accounts, some set up offshore bank accounts, and others have both, it all depends upon the nature of the business and its customer base. Finally, the business may be required to register for General Sales Tax (GST), depending upon its annual revenue.
 
If you intend to work as an employee in the business and draw a wage, then you will need a work permit. If it is the type of work that a Belizean can do, you may have difficulty getting a work permit. Belize naturally protects the limited jobs they have, however the Government of Belize (GOB) does encourage foreign investment. The GOB would prefer foreigners to establish businesses and employ Belizeans rather than allow them to take jobs.
 
In an effort to stimulate foreign investment, business formation, and local employment the GOB has established a quasi-governmental agency called BELTRAIDE. BELTRAIDE administers the government’s fiscal incentives program that works with small businesses to establish themselves in Belize. BELTRAIDE offers tax holidays, import concessions, employee training, and continuing education n workshops. 

Prior to establishing a business I encourage every bright-eyed entrepreneur to do thorough due diligence on their chosen industry. Talk to others in the industry and learn from their successes and failures. Visit government agencies, banks, and BELTRAIDE and meet the people in person. If you are convinced at that point that you have the right business idea, acumen, and temperament, then take the aforementioned steps, hang your shingle, and enjoy the experience and relationships you will undoubtedly have.
 
BELTRADE Made in Belize catalogue cover, pictured.)
Wayne Robbins of The Placencia – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
If you want to start a business in Belize, my suggestion is that you first speak with a Belize lawyer. Let your lawyer walk you through the steps. Once he walks you through the steps, you can then decide which steps you can do on your own and which ones you might need legal or accounting help.
 
Getting a permit in Belmopan (the capital of Belize) would be the next step. Establishing residency would be part of owning the business as well.
 
Starting a business is a process that I would first start by doing my own research online because once you start dealing with an attorney, you also start dealing with costs as well. Once you have the idea on how to start the business, I suggest consulting with an attorney because that way, you would be “crossing your t’s and dotting your I’s” since you would not want to be doing something that is not right.
 
Any country has its own protocol and rules that they want you to follow in opening up a business and they are not all the same. It is not difficult to start a business in Belize but at the same time, there is a process. My best recommendation is do your homework, and speak to an attorney you know or look for an attorney in Belize. Attorneys will generally give you an initial consultation for free before they start charging you. There are some very nice lawyers in Belize for you to work with.
Frik De Meyere of Boris Mannsfeld & Associates – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Beltraide magazine cover 2014 Invest Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBusiness opportunities are really diverse here in Belize and the government realizes that. What they did is the whole country is privately driven and operated. Even the international airport in Belize is private. The road was built by the private sector.  Most businesses are operated by the private sector because they have more money than the government.
 
In order to start a business, they have an association in Belize called BELTRAIDE, (Belize Trade and Investment Association). They are very supportive to help people who are starting businesses here. It’s free and they will help you with everything you need to get started. BELTRAIDE is really focused on the financial markets and offshore businesses, including infrastructure for call centers because the people here are well educated. Everyone can read and write, school is mandatory until 16 years old, everybody speaks English, and it is closer to the US than India. As a result, having centers, for example, is a real business opportunity for the country.
 
This is what the government has been trying to find out for the last 5 to 6 years. They are trying to find out the fuse of those niches on which they can focus. They promote big investments and eco reserves. About 60% to 70% of the whole country is protected area, so they want to exploit that a little bit by staying as a green and undeveloped country. The target is high-end luxury eco traveling. There is definitely a lot of room.
 
The rest of the business opportunities in Belize are basic things, things you would find in the Yellow Pages in the US; you just walk around here and you will come home with 550 business ideas. In Placencia, for example, we don’t have a flower shop, we don’t have a car mechanic shop yet, and we don’t have a fancy hair salon yet. There’s no bike store. Belize is a new area and all the basic stuff still needs to be done.
 
Starting a business is pretty straightforward because the government encourages it. All you need to show is a bank statement. It’s not a joke. All you have to show is a proof of your financial capacity, and you are welcome.  You will get your residency and work permit if you show a business plan and show that you are going to contribute to the economy; that is the only question that they will ask you. If you are going to come to Belize to retire or work, they will ask you what you are going to take and what you are going to give.

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