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Last updated: 14 May 2020

Offshore Banking in Belize

Offshore banking in Belize offers people with a great number of benefits including high ratios of stability, privacy, tax optimization, asset protection and an excellently quickly-done and remote registration. But, the decision is actually still uncertain to some people as they are not sure about how to open a bank account in Belize, what types of banking is in Belize and what might be the challenges for banking in this jurisdiction.

This blog gives you a specific guide to How To Open A Bank Account In Belize with further clarifications for matters in question.

 Typically, there are four main types of banking institution in Belize, namely Domestic commercial banks, Credit Union, Offshore Class A bank, and Offshore Class B bank. Nevertheless, when it comes to offshore banking, the latter two types are the key to mention.

Class A and Class B are two categories of offshore bank as specified in the International Banking Act of Belize. Further details concerning these two classes are described in the given table!

Types of international banking licensesClass AClass B
Key characteristicsUnrestricted licenseRestricted license
Restrictions on transacting international banking businessThe holder of A Class license is allowed to transact international banking business through its business office in Belize without restrictions on that business.The holder of a “B” Class license is limited to transacting only such international banking business as specified in its license.
Minimum capital requirement
  • US$3,000,000 for a local company
  • US$25,000,000 for a foreign bank
  • US$1,000,000 for a local company
  • US$15,000,000 for a foreign bank
Business office requirementBoth “A” Class and “B” Class licences require the holder to establish, maintain and operate a physical presence in Belize

 

It is noted that Class “A” offshore bank is more likely to be a preferred option for nonresidents outside of Belize. Currently, Belize has no presence of Class “B” offshore banks within the country. There are only three offshore class “A” banks in Belize, including Belize Bank International, Caye international bank and Heritage International bank; prominent of which, Belize Bank is the largest one, but is recommended only for Belizean residents.

It appears to be common, also as our suggestion, that Caye International Bank is until now the most open when it comes to offshore bank accounts for foreign investors. The main reason may lie in its regulatory compliance plus leveraged services offered to its international customers.

2. Future challenges to Belize banks and your risk

It is a matter of concern that people tend to feel uncertainty about the choice that they do not get familiar with. So the same case is for making decision to go offshore and banking in Belize.

De-risking is one of the common challenges when it comes to Belize offshore banking. De-risking is simply the situation that global financial institutions carry out implementations to control and restrict possible risks incurred from many illegal activities in their banking systems.

De-risking has recently become a trend to offshore bank, this is mainly due to the fact that tax havens, including Belize are often supposed to be “ideal” places for such risks. While de-risking trend may contribute to enhance transparency and eliminate tax evasion or money laundering, the fact that the US has tighter oversight on such problems has put great pressure on the renewal of correspondent banking relationship.

In particular, de-risking practices by the US often send Belize offshore accounts into freeze, which leads to limited access to other banking services like international money transfer. In addition, this trend also affects Belize offshore banks in the way of causing higher due diligence. The risk is even pushed higher as to the heavy reliance of Belize banks to very few correspondent banks and close proximity of Belize to US.

What may be consequences? It is quite apparent that most depositors and bank account holders raise their concerns about implementation of money transfer and withdrawal as well as quality of other banking services, or even worse, the possibility of abrupt business disruption and ability to recoup their money.

Regarding how the US’s de-risking practices can affect the Belize offshore banks, you can take a look at the case study of the US Federal Trade Commission which sued Belize’s Atlantic International Bank Limited in real estate fraud. >> See case study 

Another challenge worth mentioning is the absence of high-end services to high-net-worth individuals by Belize banks. However, if you do not intend to place a lot of money in your offshore bank account, then you are good to go.

3. Procedure to open a bank account in Belize

The possibility of challenges is actually unavoidable in any offshore banking jurisdictions, and Belize will also not lie beyond this fact. That said, opening offshore bank accounts remotely and a set of other privileges has attracted a large number of businessmen and investors flocking to Belize for offshore banking. Should it be the case that Belize is your best-suited destination to go after long-listed considerations, then you should start to learn what should be done to register your account with the chosen Belizean bank.

Once you have determined an appropriate bank and type of offshore account in Belize, you will need to fulfill minimum requirements for registering your account. Please note that each financial institution may be varied in its requirements for opening a bank account for the non-resident clients. In most cases, however, the following documents are needed to take into account:

  • Bank account application forms
  • Bank statement
  • Bank reference letter
  • Certified copies of passports, address proofs of all directors/shareholders
  • Business plan
  • Business trading proofs (sales/purchase orders, invoice…)
  • Certified copies of Belize company incorporation documents
  • Government certification of company good standing status
  • Other additional documents may be required by the bank

The next step is to proceed to open Belize bank accounts. As the aforementioned, the process of opening a bank account in Belize is fairly simple and straightforward. Unlike many other jurisdictions where depositors must show their presence and sit down with the banker to get an account registered, most Belizean banks relieve your burden with the remote registration. Everything can be done via email.

You just need to fill out an online application form and then go through a couple of back-and-forth emails for submitting the required documents. After waiting for the bank to process your documents and grant an approval, the final result will be sent to your email.

4. Should you choose Belize for offshore banking?

We hope you find out useful details concerning offshore banking in Belize and get the answer to whether Belize is the best choice for you. Despite the fact that going offshore banking in Belize can offer a range of benefits, there are still certain challenges that may require good preparation from account holders.

Our advice for you is that if you plan to put just few thousands to your offshore bank account for the purpose of the transaction, a Belize bank account is worth consideration as the process is simple, can be done online and there is no exchange control. But, if you are looking for an ideal place to harbor your hard-earned assets, then opening a bank account in some financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong will be a much brighter choice.

Feel free to contact us if you are still uncertain about your decision on Belize offshore bank accounts!


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