Earning In Belize

Well this is a tricky one... the rules say that you must be in Belize for a minimum of 6 months to be eligible for a business permit and 12 months for a work permit. I have not found this to be the case in reality. I was welcomed into the Labor Office and provided with a list of items I should return with in order to obtain a business/work permit. (below) Now, I should say that the list of items isn't particularly difficult to get but indeed it has proven to be very frustrating. For example, the trade license is something that gave me a particularly unbearable headache! I visited the Town Council office (located on the second story of the sea green building next to SpinDrift) and was told that I needed to have a business permit first in order to obtain a trade license. You can see where this is going... After several visits to various government offices where I was greeted with the same nod of agreement and shoulder shrug when I explained my confusion I finally found a compassionate soul who let me in on the big secret. I needed to return to the Town Council office and ask for a provisional trade license to use for the purpose of getting the business license at which point I could return to the same office and apply for the actual trade license. (no comment!)

As well I was given three choices when applying for my police record.
1) visit Belmopan and have it the same day (timing is important on this one because you must reach the police station in Belmopan by 10 am in order to have it back by 4 pm the same day. So from San Pedro your best bet would be to fly over on Tropic Air or risk having to spend the night in Belmopan)
2) request it through the police station in San Pedro at a cost of $12 BZ and have it back in 4 weeks
3) request it through the Minister's office (located on the main floor of the Town Council bldg) at a cost of $24 BZ but have it in 1 week

I opted for #3 since it was reasonably priced, saved me a much dreaded flight on a puddle-jumper and seemed quick enough. So, let's see, that was back at the end of January and we are now past mid-March. No police records have arrived from Belmopan yet! Mind you there were federal and municipal elections held on the 7th of March which interrupted a lot of government business but really?

If my experience doesn't appeal to you, one can have a local resident with connections facilitate and speed up the process of obtaining a work/business permit for a fee of $1,500 - $2,500 US saving you the legwork of running around to get all of the items on the list. Average turnaround time on this is 3-5 days and it is my understanding that just your passport is required. This alternative option was explained to me by a reliable source who tells me it is perfectly legal. His advice was just to beware of who you are giving your money to... make sure it is someone well-known and reputable. I think that as deep as I am now into this process I'll save my $2,000 and be grateful that I have a Canadian consulting business which provides me with the required income to stay in Belize as a tourist for now.

 **Here is the list of required items for obtaining a work/business permit in Belize. The process for both are the same with a few minor exceptions. It was also explained to me that the application is processed through both the labour office and the immigration office. Although the official list states the 6 month requirement the nice young man who helped me explained (as he stressed that it was "mandatory" and pointed to the same on the paper) that it is merely a suggestion! I had to laugh at that one. So the bottom line is that you can go ahead and apply whenever you like; they just like to see some proof of permanency from the applicant.


1)   Valid Passport

2)   Application Form (A&R)

3)   Three recent photographs (passport size)

4)   Police Record

5)   Treasury Receipt of $25 admin fee, $20 worth of postage stamps (Post Office or Treasury receipt)

6)   Three job advertisement clippings from local newspaper (not applicable for self-employment applicant)

7)   Bank statement (Self-employed)

8)   Trade License (Issued by Town Council OR City Council)

9)   Recommendation letter from the Village Council / letter of recommendation from employer / church (missionary work)

10)                  Registration certificate (Companies – Organizations)

11)                  Qualifications – Diplomas, certificates etc.

12)                  Recommendation letter of support – from relevant Ministry or Local or Ministry of Education, Village Council, Relevant Association, Religious Denomination, Applications in respect to Companies Documentary Evidence of Incorporation and Old Company Tract Record, BELTRAIDE and EPZ Committee etc.


1)   GROUNDS ON LONGEVITY – Documentary evidence of legal entry.

2)   GROUNDS ON FAMILY RELATIONS – Marriage certificate and/or a declaration witnessed by a commissioner of the Supreme Court for any person of Common Law relationship, Birth Certificate proof of Citizenship of Spouse (permanent residence / Nationality)

3)   GROUNDS ON SPECIAL OR UNIQUE QUALIFICATIONS – Documentary evidence of training and training proposal and for training Belizean counterparts.




*The approval process can also be expedited by incorporating your business which entails a visit to Belmopan, approximately $700 US and some involvement of a local lawyer (approximately $400 US) This also allows you to set up a corporate bank account in Belize which provides you with more privacy regarding transactions etc.


To avoid having to deal with this altogether, any home-based business is going to be your ticket to paradise. It doesn't have to earn you a mint either. If you're going to barely "get by" in your home country, why not just "get by" in the tropics? Trust me, it'll be the best decision you ever make!

I've done a bit of research and made a short list of what seems to be the most realistic businesses that could potentially be packed up and taken anywhere.

Best Mobile Business Options
  • consulting (of any kind)
  • writing (copywriting, editing, ghostwriting, blogging, travel writing etc.)
  • travel photography
  • virtual assistant

You likely will have to combine a few of the above to earn enough to live on unless you become very successful with one but still a great way to live in paradise!

**Internet service in Belize is slower than it is in the U.S. or more developed countries. It is also more costly. Please see "Cost of Living" for more information on the internet in Belize.

Local Business

You will always find a bar or hotel for sale here in San Pedro but heed the warnings and give it some time before you commit to a local business. If hospitality is not really your thing, I hear from several sources that (good) contractors are always needed here.

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3 Responses
  1. strangeluck65@verizon.net Says:

    thanks for the "heads up", i've been trying to gather info on starting a busines in belize for some time now. what you have posted here is of great help. i'm targeting the san ignasio area because property costs are lower than the coast. besides, i live and grew up in the tampa bay area - so i've had my fill of the water scene. i think a change in elevation and scenery would be nice.

  2. Anonymous Says:

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  3. Anonymous Says:

    This is wonderful information - thank you! I have a home-based business where I make hand-painted linens, table linens, cushions, etc. and sell them on-line. Would this be classed as a home-based business?

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