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Belize - More on Offshore Jurisdiction


Capital: Belmopan
Population: 270,000 (est. 2003)
Languages: English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole
Area: 22,806 sq. km (land area)
Currency: Belizean dollar (BZD)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Independence status: 21/09/1981 (from U.K.)

BELIZE is located on the eastern Caribbean coast south of Mexico and east of Guatemala, Belizean countryside is replete with beautifully undulating rivers a terrain of mountains and a lush tropical rainforest. Agriculture constitutes the major economic activity based on sugar, citrus and banana exports. However, there is an increasing contribution from tourism and the offshore finance industry. Other significant exports are garment and marine products. Belize also benefits from a number of preferential market access arrangements, especially with the USA, Canada and, through its British links, the Eurpoean Community. The combination of excellent service, modern, corporate and fiscal legislation affords an extremely attractive environment for the global investor.

Legal System
The law of Belize is derived from English Common Law, supplemented by local legislation. The court system is also similar to that of England, and contract and commercial law are based on the English law model.

Local currency is the Belize dollar ("BZD"), which is tied to the US dollar with fixed exchange rate of BZD1 to USD1. Main bankers in Belize includes The Belize Bank Limited and Barclays Bank PLC. Commercial banks are regulated by the Central Bank of Belize.

International Business Company ("IBC") is NOT required to file details of shareholders, directors, or accountants or carry out an audit. The only information made available to the public is the company's Memorandum and Artcles of Association and its Certificate of Incorporation. There is no disclosure of beneficial ownership to the authorities. Bearer share is allowed, but most clients use nominee shareholder approach instead. Belize is not a party to any double taxation treaties, which could obligate the disclosure of information to tax authorities of other countries.

An IBC enjoys exemption from all local taxation including stamp duty.

An IBC, as governed by the International Business Companies Act 1990 and revised 2000, registered in Belize cannot (1) do business inside Belize with persons resident in Belize; (2) own an interest in real property situated in Belize, other than a lease of property for use as an office from which to communicate with members or where books and records of the company are prepared or maintained; (3) carry on a banking business; (4) carry on a business of insurance or reinsurance company; (5) carry on a business of providing a registered office for companies.

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