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How To Register Company In Belize?

Belize is a relatively small country in Central America, located south of Mexico. It borders Honduras to the west (until 1973, it was called British Honduras) and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

For a long time, Belize was a British colony. Even after the Declaration of Independence was signed, this country became a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the English monarch is still its official head of state. The colonial past has an impact on the legal regulations in the region, which are very similar to the business-friendly regulations in Great Britain.

Until recently Belize was a typical offshore for thousands of foreign companies. Moreover, Europe and the U.S. even included it in the so-called “grey lists” which significantly complicated businessmen dealing with large international banks.

The government of Belize was not happy with such an image of their country. So, to improve the reputation of the country, several laws were adopted to toughen the requirements for offshore companies. But even under the new conditions, Belize remains an extremely attractive place to register an international business.

Eight Benefits Of Company Registration In Belize 

1. Setting up a company in Belize is relatively simple and inexpensive.

The process of business registration usually takes one business day. The documents can be notarised in 1-2 days and couriered to you in a week max. The total cost of the “turnkey” registration of a Belize company is much lower than in other popular offshore jurisdictions.

2. Lack of complicated requirements for founders and shareholders.

To open an international company in Belize, you will need at least one founder and one director, both can be the same person. The founder can be a Belize resident, a foreign national, or a foreign company. The country’s corporate legislation does not require international companies to hire directors from locals.

3. Full confidentiality for offshore companies.

Personal data of the company’s management and shareholders stored in the register of Belize companies is 100% confidential. There is also a special service available for those who are not satisfied with the government guarantees.

4. Remote business registration.

Thanks to the use of the British legal system, as mentioned above, foreign businessmen have a chance to open a company in Belize from the comfort of their home. Moreover, they do not need to attend meetings of directors and shareholders after the business is registered.

5. Simplified Corporate Reporting.

The Belizean government has consciously minimised corporate red tape, so the number of accounting, financial and tax reports for registered companies is cut to an absolute minimum. In some cases, you do not need to submit them at all or conduct an audit.

Another important advantage is the reduction of paperwork. It is not mandatory for Belizean entrepreneurs to hire a company or an individual to the role of a corporate secretary to take care of internal company documentation and liaise with representatives of the regulatory authorities.

6. The size of authorised capital is not specified.

The recommended share capital for the creation of an offshore company in Belize is US$50,000. However, this recommendation is not mandatory; you can register a company with any share capital starting from $1 or with no share capital at all.

Besides, you do not need to pay part or all of the authorised share capital into a pre-opened special account in a local bank.

7. Duty-free trade.

It is an important advantage for those who are going to register a trading company in Belize. Under international agreements, this country has significant trade preferences within the Caribbean region and in the United States. Some exports to Canada from Belize are duty-free.

8. Favourable Tax Regime.

Belize has an extremely low corporation tax rate of only 1.79% for certain commercial activities. Moreover, the country does not have some of the standard European taxes, for example, there is no capital gains tax.

Which Companies Benefit from Registering a Company in Belize?

Belize is well suited for certain activities such as:

  1. Online retail
  2. International trade
  3. Holding structures
  4. Inheritance, movable and immovable property
  5. Intellectual property management.

The main thing to consider when registering a company in Belize is that some activities require an economic presence of the business in the country.

Relevant and Irrelevant Commercial Activities

In Belize, business activities are usually divided into relevant and irrelevant. The companies carrying out relevant business must meet the economic substance requirement.

A substantial economic presence of a business is identified by the Economic Substance Act enacted in Belize in 2019. What are the Economic Substance criteria for a company?

  1. The company has purchased or leases a physical office in Belize and maintains its operations.
  2. The company permanently employs a certain number of Belizeans. The exact number of local employees depends on the size of your business.
  3. The main business activities are carried out, managed and controlled in the jurisdiction of Belize.

By law, the following business activities are considered relevant:

  1. Banking
  2. Insurance
  3. Fund Management
  4. Financing and leasing
  5. Headquarters
  6. Shipping
  7. Holding companies.

The above types of commercial activities predominantly had entailed economic substance of the company in Belize before the Economic Substance Act was entered into force, as they had received a licence from the state.

For violation of this requirement, the company is fined $100,000-$350,000. Repeat violators are excluded from the official register of companies.

What Form of Incorporation to Choose in Belize?

As in any other developed country in the world, a foreign entrepreneur in Belize can incorporate any form of business such as:

  • Sole Trader
  • Limited Partnership or General Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Public Limited Company
  • Trust or fund.
  • Subsidiary or branch of a foreign company.

However, an IBC (International Business Company) is the most common incorporation form to register a business in Belize. It is perfect for setting up an offshore company. Why?

  1. There is no minimum share capital to be paid to register an IBC.
  2. IBCs are exempt from holding annual shareholders’ meetings.
  3. According to the Belizean law, there is no requirement to have at least one resident director in Belize.
  4. All information about the founders and management of IBCs is strictly confidential.
  5. IBCs do not pay corporation tax in Belize if:
    • The activities of the company are not relevant and do not require an economic substance in the country.
    • All business activities of the company are conducted abroad.

On the one hand, the amendments of the corporate legislation of 2019 changed the status of some IBCs, because they were given tax liabilities and thus lost the status of offshore companies.

On the other hand, IBCs have new opportunities in the country. Indeed, now international companies in Belize are free to purchase local properties, work with suppliers and customers from Belize, buy shares of local companies, open accounts in Belizean banks and make investments.

Taxation of Offshore Companies

For a long time, Belize was considered a reliable tax haven where you could inexpensively register an offshore company. Often these structures were short-lived and used by European or American business people to avoid taxation.

Due to its poor reputation, this jurisdiction was forced by international organisations to make changes to its tax and corporate legislation. It is not uncommon to hear the opinion that Belize is “no longer the same” and no longer has all the advantages of an offshore zone.

However, is that actually true?  It depends on how you look at it.

  1. Although the government now requires all companies registered in Belize to pay corporation tax, those offshore companies that are not physically present and do not trade in the country are still exempt from paying it.
  2. Information on the management, founders and beneficiaries of international companies remains classified as before.
  3. IBCs have no obligation to keep complex financial reporting.

In a word, if an international company registered in Belize is not physically present in the country and can prove to the tax authorities that it generates profit abroad, no corporation tax will be levied.

Those international businesses that are not tax residents of Belize are also exempt from paying a Value Added Tax (VAT).

Even after the government of this country tightened the laws, a traditional offshore IBC only pays an annual fee, the amount of which depends on the size of its share capital.


Taxation of Resident Companies in Belize

Corporation taxCondition ($)
0%For business revenue for the period less than 37,500
3%For business revenue of up to 1,500,000
1.79%For business revenue of more than 1,500,000
Up to 19%For certain commercial activities

This jurisdiction has some zero tax rates for resident companies:

  1. Capital gain tax.
  2. Royalty tax, dividend tax, and interest on securities, if they are paid through IBC to non-residents of Belize.
  3. Licence payments, if the recipient is not a tax resident of the country.

Registering a Company in Belize: Incorporation Procedure

The standard procedure for starting a business in Belize involves five relatively simple steps.

1. Finding a reliable incorporation agent

As a rule, foreign entrepreneurs seek help from a law firm or local incorporation agent. A qualified specialist will save you time and money, which you will inevitably lose because you do not know all the nuances and requirements.

2. Choosing the name for the future company and getting it approved

In Belize, you need to first select and register a suitable name for your company before proceeding with its registration. As in many other countries, the name you like should not repeat the names of existing businesses already operating in the country.

3. Finding a registered address

Constituent documents must include a registered address in Belize. As a rule, incorporation agents and corporate lawyers recommend to their clients where they can get such an address.

4. Preparing and approving statutory documents

The standard package of incorporation documents for registering a company in Belize includes a Memorandum of Incorporation and Articles of Association. But for your business to be successfully registered, the Articles of Association and the Memorandum should be accompanied by additional documents which include: copies of ID documents of the founders, a completed registration form and a well-drafted business plan.

5. Belize company registration

Based on the documents listed above, the authorities will register your constituent documents, make an entry about your company in the commercial register and issue a Certificate of Incorporation.

For successful operation, you will need to open a bank account in one of the financial institutions of Belize or an international bank.

London office of Imperial & Legal has a team of experienced advisors who have delivered many successful cases of immigration to the UK, Europe and other countries. They have also helped launch a few promising business ventures abroad.

With the support from our consultants, you will not only register your company in Belize in no time but also will be able to use all the benefits of the favourable tax laws of the country.

FAQs about Company Registration in Belize

How much in US dollars is the annual fee for offshore companies in Belize?

The amount of the fee directly depends on the amount of the authorised share capital of an offshore company.

  1. $100 (if the authorised capital is less than $50,000).
  2. $1,000 (if the stated value of the share capital is $50,000 or more).
  3. $350 (if the offshore company has no stated value of authorised capital).

What are the financial reporting deadlines for resident companies in Belize?

You will be required to prepare and file annual accounts within nine months of the end of the accounting period. Interestingly, the authorities of Belize divide all registered businesses into three categories.

  1. Companies registered before 16 October 2017.
  2. Companies registered between 16 October 2017 and 01 January 2020.
  3. Companies registered after 01 January 2020.

For the first and second categories, the reporting period begins on 30 April and ends on 29 April of the following year. For the last category, the countdown starts from the moment of registration, and, accordingly, the first time they should report no later than 21 months after the registration of the company.

What is a Tax Exemption Certificate? Why does an offshore company need it?

A Tax Exemption Certificate is a document provided by the tax authorities of Belize, according to which an offshore company can count on a zero corporation tax rate and other tax benefits. To be eligible, an offshore company needs to prove that it:

  1. Runs business outside the country of registration.
  2. Has no office, no production, no warehouses and no employees in Belize.

Tax preferences are not granted to IBCs by default, but with the help of the Tax Exemption Certificate, an international company can use all the benefits of the offshore zone.

Has Belize signed agreements with other countries to avoid double taxation?

As of early 2022, Belize has signed 14 Double Taxation Treaties with other jurisdictions, including Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria and countries that are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

There is also a Tax Information Exchange Agreement between the UK and Belize, which in turn simplifies interaction with tax authorities.

For how long can I reserve the unique name for my company in Belize?

The future founder can reserve the approved company name for 90 days. To make the reserved company name yours forever, you must register the relevant company within the specified period.

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