Belize

Finding a Visa

The web site of the Governemnt of Belize is not the easiest of sites around which to navigate but it is still very comprehensive in scope. The various tourism organisations provide much more information about visas and access to it is easy. The Ambergrise Caye site provides details of tourist, permanent resident and retirement visas.

Tourist visas are easily acquired and can be re-newed for long periods for a small monthly fee. This permits the "golden rule" - visit before settling - to be thoroughly exploited. Any Belizean Consulate can issue a tourist visa as can a British Embassy if there is no Belizean representation in your country. Failing these opportunities a visa can be obtained on arrival at the airport. A generally informative web site not limited to Belize which covers both immigration and lifestyle matters is the RetirePedia web site.

There are two paths to permanent residency in Belize. After a year of residency anyone can apply for permanent resident status. This process is described in the Belize.com web site. After five years as a permanent resident it is possible to apply for full citizenship.

The more recently introduced "Qualified Retired Person" scheme is administered by the Belize Tourism Board and is subject to far fewer delays than are the processes via the Immigration Department. Time spent as a QPR does not count towards residency necessary with respect to an application for permanent residency. There is an income requirement for this visa or a deposit annually of a lump sum. There is also the further limitation that as a QRP it is not possible to be employed in Belize. Deriving income offshore is allowed.

Since applications for residency and citizenship must be made from within the country the current needs with respect to health requirements can be easily ascertained from the relevant authorities. The approved examiners can also be discovered at the same time.

Perhaps it may seem odd to some that a country is willing to, in effect, "sell" its residency or citizenship privileges. It appears to be quite contrary to all notions of nationalism or national pride. However, it is little different in principle to the "£10 Poms". This was an immigration encouragement scheme promoted just after the second World War by the Australian government. It paid the cost of the passage to Australia except for the final £10 of intending migrants from the United Kingdom. Cash for residency or citizenship is not unusual but all such schemes must be carefully evaluated and veriefied as legitimate.

The links provided at the "Resources" tab on this site and the book "How to Retire in Belize" by Les Johns which can be bought directly from this site will prove useful in these contexts.

Getting Help

As usual there are any number of organisations willing to help with applications for, inter alia, visas. All require a fee for their services. Favourites for such work are legal firms. There are even firms who will assist you to find assistance such as Martindale.com and HG Legal Directories.org which are search engines for lawyers. Other organisations provide a multitude of services for many countries of which Visa HQ is one. Some firms provide services over a range of needs including insurance, shipping and finance and are complementary to organisations dealing just with immigration and legal matters. One such provider is expatfinder.com. It is, again, the case that it should be possible to complete formalities and forms without outside assistance. In Belize the national language is English so there should be no difficulty in that respect. It is sometimes a fact that the use of third party assistance is helpful in Third World countries. Caveat Emptor must be the watchword in dealing with such organisations. The usual costs will accrue with to respect medical examinations, birth certificates and police clearance certificates.

The links under the "Resources" tab on this site and the book "How to Retire in Belize" by Les Johns will save intending retirees much research time.