Belize Offshore Banking

Offshore banking in Belize began with the repeal of the outdated 1977 Banking Act and its replacement by the enactment of the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1995, as well as with the introduction of the Offshore Banking Act, 1996, and the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act, 1996. The Offshore Banking Act, 1996, and the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act, 1996, included the best features of offshore banking legislation in Panama, Cayman and the British Virgin Islands.

Within Belize offshore banks can do the following things:

  • open, maintain and operate business office in Belize;
  • transact offshore banking business with a local entity in Belize licenced under the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1995;
  • transact offshore banking business through its business office in Belize without restrictions.

Belize Offshore Banks are not subject to exchange control regulations.

The major Belize banks offer a wide range of international banking services that include accounts offered to IBCs, trustees and individuals. These are foreign currency savings and checking accounts earning tax-free interest and operated for the purpose of exchange control on a non-resident basis. Credit card services are also available in major local banks.

The Central Bank of Belize was established in 1982 in accordance with the Bank Act. Under the Bank Act, it has a statutory obligation to regulate the activities of the Belizean banking system, to foster monetary stability in Belize as well as promote credit and exchange conditions conducive to economic growth within the context of the economic policy of the government.

Apart from the Central Bank of Belize, there were 5 commercial banks, 8 offshore banks, 1 offshore and 17 domestic insurance companies in 2003. Also, there was 1 government-owned development bank (the DFC), 15 credit unions, 1 government-owned savings bank, 3 building societies, 1 government-owned small farmers and business bank, and 11 casas de cambio as of 2002.

Currently, 2 categories of Belize Offshore Banks are available:

  • "A" Class - Unrestricted,
  • "B" Class - Restricted.

"B" Class banks are restricted to carrying on business specified in their license.

Both types need to have local offices.

"B" Class banks are not allowed to solicit deposits from local residents.

The annual license fee for a Class A (Unrestricted) Banking License - 20 000 USD.

The annual license fee for a Class B (Restricted) Banking License - 15 000 USD.

There is no stamp duty on Bills of Exchange or promissory notes or any other document or certificate executed by or in connection with offshore banking business.

Any Belize Offshore Bank is exempt from all forms of taxation on its profits or gains, on any interest or dividends earned in respect of banking business carried on from within Belize.