A recent move to renew papers held under the qualified retired persons program has triggered concerns for expats in Belize.
The government withdrew all licences under the scheme granting tax incentives to retired expats at the turn of the year.
Many feared that the qualified retired persons scheme would fold – but the government had decided to reissue residence documents under the program.
“The government is very supportive of the initiative to attract retirees to Belize and has no intention of discontinuing the programme,” said a spokesman for the Belize Tourism Board, which runs the program.
Qualified Retired Persons program
The qualified retired persons program has run for almost two decades. In that time, around 20,000 expats from Britain, the USA and Canada have moved to the tiny Central American country.
Meeting qualification under the scheme is not too difficult for most expats.
They must simply show they are aged over 45 and have a monthly, independent income of $2,000 from a pension or annuity which must be paid into a bank in Belize.
Once a retiree has moved to Belize, the scheme allows them duty free imports of:
- Household goods valued at up to $15,000
- A boat
- A light aircraft
The scheme also allows expats to take up permanent residency in Belize, start a business and to own property to live in or rent out.
Why retire to Belize?
Retiring to the tropical climate of Belize is attractive to many retirees, and as housing and the cost of living is cheap, their pension spending power can go much farther.
Belize was formerly known as British Honduras. The nation has a population of around 390,000 people and sits on a narrow strip fronting the Caribbean Sea at the southern tip of Mexico and running alongside most of the Eastern border of Guatemala.
A border dispute with Guatemala remains unresolved.
The country has been independent of the UK since 1981.
The economy is based on exporting oil, agriculture and tourism.
Due to the former ties with Britain, the government, tax and legal system are based on the UK model. Queen Elizabeth 11 is the head of state.
English is still the official language, with Spanish the second most popular language spoken.