When retiring in Belize the first important decision an expat must address is whether to become a resident or a Qualified Retirement Person (QRP). There are major differences between these two residence options. The QRP program is certainly the more flexible program for expat retirees. An immediate benefit is that once you submit the QRP paperwork the process can be completed quickly. Recent expats have reported obtaining their QRP status within a few months of submittal.
In contrast, expats aspiring to become long-term residents of Belize must spend a period of 50 out of 52 weeks in Belize during a full year. They can then complete and submit their residence application. After that it still typically takes at least a year to obtain Belizean residence.
A big plus of the QRP option is that anyone over 45 is eligible to apply. No need to wait until you’re 65, as is required in the U.S. And you can include your spouse and kids in the QRP program as well, for an additional fee.
Once you obtain your QRP card you can come and go at will across Belize’s borders. You’ll probably want to do so often, as QRPs need only spend one month per year in Belize to maintain your QRP residence status.
You’ll also save big, up front, as a QRP when you move to Belize. During your first year as a QRP you can import all of your personal effects into Belize without being charged import duties or taxes. You can also import a personal car, boat, and plane duty-free and tax-free during your first year in Belize.
QRPs are not taxed on their international income or on capital gains. Unlike Belize residents, they are allowed to maintain an international bank account in Belize, and an offshore international business corporation.
The QRP program isn’t for all retirees, though. It is a “retirement” program. That means that as a QRP you won’t be able to work for a company with offices in Belize. But you can still work online, doing work for offshore clients located in countries other than Belize.
The Belize Tourism Board manages the QRP Program. They are currently re-evaluating the program, considering how to improve it and provide more benefits to QRPs. There has been discussion about eventually offering a path that would allow QRPs to directly transition to becoming a resident or citizen.
Note that QRPs are required to deposit $24,000 a year into a Belize bank account, to either live on, or invest in Belize. Each year QRPs must provide proof that they met this financial obligation and transferred the required U.S. dollars into Belize during the year.
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