Offshore, kayakers paddle among sandy, palm-dotted islets. Snorkelers explore the second-largest coral reef in the world.
A kaleidoscope of tropical fish, dolphins, turtles and manatees all share this Caribbean coast, which boasts some of the best deep-sea diving in the world. Hidden in pristine forests, jaguars, monkeys and 566 species of birds live among ancient Mayan cities.
In Belize, more than 40% of the country is protected as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and marine reserves. But this lush ecological paradise is not just a haven for wildlife.
Belize encourages offshore business and welcomes foreigners as local residents, too. In fact, if you’re looking into your residency options, Belize should be high on your list.
The only English-speaking nation in Central America, its offshore laws ensure maximum financial privacy. These laws allow asset-protection trusts, maritime registration and encourage international business and banking.
There are no local income taxes, either personal or corporate, and no currency exchange controls.
It’s a place where you can arrange your affairs so you gain residency—but pay no taxes locally.
I’ve been to Belize (formerly British Honduras) twice. The people are friendly, oceanfront real estate is still relatively cheap, and Belize’s parliament, courts and government are pro-offshore.
Designed to attract foreigners as residents, Belize’s “qualified retired persons” (QRP) program resembles Panama’s popular pensionado program.
The QRP offers significant tax incentives to those who become permanent residents of Belize, but not full citizens.
When you qualify, you’re exempted from all taxes on income from sources outside Belize.
QRPs pay no import duties on personal effects, household goods or on a motor vehicle or other transport, such as an airplane or boat.
You must be 45 years of age or older to qualify and be able to prove personal financial ability to support yourself and any dependents. The minimum financial requirements include an annual income of at least $24,000 from a pension, annuity or other sources outside Belize.
Editor’s note: For more information about Belize’s banking privacy and asset protection laws see Escape Plan 2012: Safe Haven Strategies to Reduce Your Taxes, Preserve Your Privacy, and Reclaim Your Freedom Overseas. It’s a free report that you can pick up here.