belize offshore banking caye

Securing a Belize Bank Account for Foreigners

As an offshore banking jurisdiction goes, Belize has a reputation of stringent requirements since FATCA disclosures were implemented. In fact, the Belize Central Bank now approves all new foreign account openings. Regardless, it’s still quite easy to secure a Belize Bank Account for Foreigners even in today’s regulatory environment.
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As an offshore banking jurisdiction goes, Belize has a reputation of stringent requirements since FATCA disclosures were implemented. In fact, the Belize Central Bank now approves all new foreign account openings. Regardless, it’s still quite easy to secure a Belize Bank Account for Foreigners even in today’s regulatory environment.

Can You Open a Belize Bank Account for Foreigners

Yes. Foreigners absolutely can open a bank account in Belize and the process is almost the same as most other offshore banks. In fact, even U.S. citizens are welcome to apply for accounts with most of the Belize-based banks.

Who Can Open a Bank Account in Belize

Belize Bank Account for Foreigners
Foreigners Can Open a Belize Bank Account Remotely

Belizean banks are effectively open to everyone, with a few exceptions, and even welcome U.S. citizens to apply for offshore accounts. Which, given the additional FATCA requirements, is surprising in 2022.

Presently, the exception is really Russian-based, or connected individuals, given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Informally, the financial system has largely closed to Russia, and, in this way, Belize is no different.

For everyone else, Belize is exceedingly willing to do business with you. The Central American nation is not typically high up the list of prestigious offshore jurisdictions, and this is why they maintain a very open door to those looking to bank offshore.

In fact, one of the upsides to the above is the fact that deposit minimums are relatively low. You really do not need very much money to secure an account in Belize and many deposits are as low as US$1,000.

What are the Benefits of a Belize Bank Account for Foreigners

Banking in Belize brings with it a few surprising benefits that you might not get elsewhere.

English Language

You might not think that accessing an English-speaking jurisdiction is important. However, the reality is that it can be very frustrating communicating with offshore relationship managers where the first language is not English. It leads to plenty of miscommunications which is something best avoided when banking.

In fact, I can remember years ago banking with a well-known Latvian institution, and they were great to deal with, but the lack of good English really hampered my experience.

Subsequently, Belize benefits from English being their first language and this makes the banking experience significantly easier and more enjoyable.

Belize Banking Liquidity

I’m sure you are all aware of what a house of cards the western, and particularly the U.S., banking system actually is. Fractional reserve banking has increased risks across the board for account holders and the reality is that many major banks have very little liquidity to ride out a market disruption.

Unfortunately, we are now entering a period of economic turmoil and banks are going to need to, effectively, be cashed up to deal with the potential runs that may occur. Thankfully, Belize has taken notice and increased liquidity levels.

In fact, Belize is one of the few jurisdictions that maintains the required reserve ratios at around 24%. Globally, this is a very high level for a bank to operate with and means that the financial institutions are well placed to deal with the coming economic turmoil.

Dollarization

Belize is actually relatively stable and the primary reason for this is that their economy is, effectively, dollarized. This means that the US dollar is the primary currency in that nation and that government is not in a position to run the printing presses (leave that to the Fed!).

Subsequently, you are unlikely to see rampant inflation running in Belize which impacts their banks and your purchasing parity.

Ease of Banking

Increased regulation aside, the Belizean banks remain open to new business primarily because they are less desirable as an offshore jurisdiction. This means that you can expect a better level of personal service than what you might get from banking within somewhere like Panama.

Generally, almost anyone can open an account and the institutions are very happy to entertain a discussion over their specific services. In fact, they will even accept offshore companies from almost anywhere including the Marshall Islands.

How to Open a Belize Bank Account for Foreigners Remotely

offshore banking belize
Account Opening Requires the Typical Offshore Suite of Documents and ID

The documentary requirements for opening a bank account typically depend on whether you are applying as a company or an individual. In the case of an individual, the application procedure is fairly simple and the following documents are, normally, required:

  • Notarized copy of your passport
  • Notarized Proof of Address issued within the last 90 days (normally a utility bill)
  • Proof of Funds Evidence and Declaration
  • Potentially, a Bank or Professional reference

Typically, company accounts require significantly more information than the above and you can be expected to have to provide the following additional documents:

  • Incorporation Certificate
  • Articles of Association
  • Utility Bill for the Company
  • Identity and proof of address for all directors and shareholders
  • Certificate of Good Standing (notarized for companies over 12 months old)
  • A signed banking mandate
  • Potentially, a letter of undertaking

In short, the bank needs to identify the ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) of the company and ensure that they have achieved a full KYC review. Subsequently, you can expect everyone to be run through the various sanctions and identity checks.

Finally, you will need to explain exactly to the Belizean bank as to why you wish to bank there and what your specific business case is. You will want to have a good business connection to the America’s or some other acceptable reason because, as it will become clear soon, the bank will not be the only ones approving your account.

The Role of the Belize Central Bank

belize central bank account approval
The Belizean Central Bank Remains Part of the Interconnected Financial System Which is Why They Protect Their Reputation Strongly

Unfortunately, Belize has had somewhat of a lawless reputation in the past and this has complicated their financial relationships with other banks. Subsequently, the country has taken great steps to clean up their image recently regarding anti money laundering.

This move to improve their image has meant that the central bank is now exercising significant control over who is allowed to bank in Belize. Subsequently, your bank will initially approve your application and then, they will package up all of your provided information, and forward it to the central bank for final approval.

Subsequently, it is actually the central bank of Belize that is the final arbiter on who can bank within the Central American nation. Therefore, it pays to have a really good reason as to WHY you wish to bank there.

Which Banks to Apply to in Belize

There are actually quite a few offshore banks chartered in the nation, but you need to make sure that you pick one that actually supports foreigners. It would be terrible to get stuck banking with an offshore bank or credit union that really isn’t setup for remote access. And trust me…there are a few in Belize that are like this.

Belize has a range of banking license classes including onshore and offshore A and B charters. However, you really want to make sure you are dealing with an Offshore Class A bank to ensure you are getting the best possible service.

Belize Bank Account for Foreigners – Top 2 Options

Belize Bank

(www.belizebank.com)

Belize Bank is a full-service commercial bank, and probably the largest financial institution in the country. They service both domestic and offshore clients and actually have a range of individual branches to choose from.

However, it should be noted that their focus is really on domestic clients and, as such, you might find it difficult sourcing an account there initially. But persistence will pay off as they have the widest correspondent banking facilities, for international payments, of any bank in Belize.

Caye International Bank

(https://www.cayebank.bz/)

Caye International Bank is probably my favorite of all the banks in Belize given their very diverse service offering. Additionally, they are specific setup for those looking to bank remotely, and offshore, and they possess great investment services. In fact, they are probably one of only a handful of financial institutions that will allow gold custody and account funding via precious metals.

Therefore, Caye International is a great option for those seeking to bank remotely in Belize whilst also retaining some of the trimmings of genuine investment services.

I should note though that I wouldn’t recommend them for a full “trading” account where you have large business transactions flowing through their accounts monthly. This is not the market that Caye International really services.

Should I Bank Offshore in Belize?

belizean offshore banking requirements
Offshore Banking in Belize isn’t for Everyone

Belize certainly faces some challenges and headwinds in the coming years with the OECD’s continual crackdown on offshore jurisdictions. However, it should be noted that the nation has really come through the worst of it and is now relatively stable as far as AML/KYC treatment.

However, whether you should bank in Belize, as a foreigner, is really down to your personal circumstances. In most cases, the only people actively considering Belize is U.S. based individuals due to the ease of access. Belize is a stable jurisdiction, but it really only makes sense for those based in the Americas.

For those in the Southern hemisphere, or Europe, there are better options that include full-service investment services and have easier access.

Ultimately, there may be better options available for those seeking “generalized” offshore banking or investment services. I would suggest that you don’t rush into a single place before you spend some time reading through the various posts on this site, or in fact, talking to us about your needs so that we can give you a strategy to move forward.

Additional Offshore Banking Articles

Belize IBC Taxation

How to Open Belize Bank Account Online

What is the Minimum Deposit for an Offshore Bank Account

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