The government of Belize gets very involved with things. You have to remember that Belize is still described as a Third World country. I have to consider it as a Two and a Half World. Belize is not quite Third World, because we have all the amenities you could possibly want. You might go to a store and not get bananas one day, but hey, you can buy oranges instead.
If you try to go into business in Belize, then there is a process that you have to go through. The local counsel, the local town board, and the government are involved in new things, so you can't just do just anything you want to do here. There's a process that has to be approved and usually there are comments to be made and approvals to be obtained somewhere along the line for each organization.
It's very easy to start a business here in Belize. I think it's the same as anywhere else, where you see something you like and you go into the process of filling licenses, such as a trade license or a food license. You have to get all the same things as anywhere else, except that the process here is a bit different in Belize in that you just have to stand in line and be... nice.
You find out about the trade licenses under consideration as you're walking down the street and somebody would say "Hey Kate, why weren't you at the licensing board this morning?” It may turn out that everybody was there for the meeting, but I didn’t know about it, because I wasn't watching the news at that moment.
If you were to go to that meeting, it could be about someone trying to open up a business where the community comments on it because you need a trade license for a business that you want to run. So you would apply for it, and you would have to put an advertisement in the newspaper to say that you're applying for it so that anybody who wants to contest it could have an opportunity to say, for example, "No, Kate can't open that store here; she's got dirty fingernails", or "No, Kate can't have that. We don't want her having a business here because of (some other reason)”. The licensing board meeting gives people the opportunity to say "no". Then, once the application for a license has been reviewed by the officials with the responsibility for reviewing those types of licenses you’re seeking, they sit down, they ask you a few questions in the boardroom, they approve your license and they tell you how much you need to pay for the license.
You need a license if you are going to start a hotel or a restaurant and for businesses related to tourism. For a lawyer who wants to set up a firm, I believe you would have to have a trade license.
You would have to have police reports for all those types of things. You can't just set up a business until you have to have a license to do it, just like you have to have a building permit to build a house.