Retirement in Belize - Frequently Asked Questions

Exploring retirement in Belize is an exciting topic. Please click the question below to read more.

What Are the Advantages of Belize Retirement?

Belize has become one of the most popular countries for retirement for a number of reasons, and foreigners continue to discover them at a rapid rate.

Retirement in Belize is inexpensive.  English is the official language.  The climate is subtropical.  The laws are familiar.  The political system is democratic and stable.  The economy is flourishing.  The country is small yet home to diverse locations, so whether you want to be surrounded by other expats or surrounded by the local culture, you can get what you want.

Above all, perhaps, Belize encourages retirees to choose the country by creating a welcoming environment and creating incentives like the Belize Qualified Retirement Program.

What is the Belize Qualified Retirement Program (QRP)?

The Belize Qualified Retirement Program just might be your ticket to the life you’ve always wanted.

The QRP is the most efficient path to foreign residency anywhere in the Americas and one of the primary reasons Belize is known as one of the best places to retire in the Caribbean and, indeed, one of the best place to retire in the world.

For more information, please click here.

Is it Easy for a Foreigner to Buy a Home and Land in Belize?

Yes.  It is exceedingly easy to buy a home and/or land in Belize contrasted to elsewhere.

A foreigner has the same rights as a Belizean citizen to property ownership.  If you are researching this and come across a reference to an “alien land holding license” or the Alien Landholding Act, please note that the Act was abolished in 2001.  And now foreigners have equal property ownership rights.  If you’ve done research on other jurisdictions, you know that this is quite rare in much of the Western Hemisphere, and rarer still in developing nations.

To learn more about buying a home and/or land in Belize, please visit our Belize Real Estate page.

What Kinds of Things Are There to do in Belize?

If you poll the expat community, the top answer you’ll receive is: relax! People choose to retire in Belize for the famous laid back lifestyle in our country.

But of course there’s so much more. Tropical weather, delicious fresh cuisine, and a variety of renowned attractions call to people who choose to make Belize their home.

Adventure sports – both on land and especially in the water – are extremely popular in Belize. Beach going, fishing, snorkelling, and scuba diving along the Great Barrier Reef (the largest in the hemisphere) are only a few. Mayan ruins such as Xunantunich and Altun Ha can be found in differents parts of the country, and exotic wildlife waiting around every corner.

Belize nightlife includes noisy nightclubs filled with young people and the more relaxed atmosphere of lounges. Many fine restaurants catering to expats are clustered throughout Belize.

How Large is the Expat Community in Belize?

The expat community in Belize is sizable and grows every year.  Many North Americans and Europeans of all stripes move here for retirement and investment opportunities.

A few places particularly populous with expats include the Cayo District, the Cayes, Corozal, and Placencia.

What are Expats like in Belize?

The expats in Belize are a lively mix of various nationalities from all over the world—former big business, former small business people, pensioners who worked years at blue collar or white collar jobs; all different kinds of people from all over the world.  They are here to take advantage of all that Belize has to offer, as well as the Qualified Retirement Program, affordable real estate, or offshore services.

Belize itself is a cosmopolitan country—various ethnicities, races, all mixed up and all getting along. The expat community in Belize reflect that as well. The people here in Belize are European, Canadian, American, African, South American; name a country and I’m sure you could find someone in Belize from that country. Everybody tends to get along and it’s a happy mix.

The commonality among expats is that they have moved to a developing country, so they tend to be adventurous. Expats who live in Belize realize that they are not going to be going to a Broadway show or a McDonald’s or other types of activity that are available in the biggest cities in the world. Expats here are looking for a place with a little bit slower pace as far as life is concerned and also a high quality of life; people who enjoy nature and a natural life. Belize is not a fast paced country. On the contrary, it is very slow paced. What most expats in Belize have in common is a desire to slow things down and live lives with less stress and worry.

Are There Decent Medical Facilities in Belize?

Belize has modern private and public medical care facilities. Eight public hospitals and numerous clinics can be found throughout Belize, and anybody can receive treatment at these places.

Two main private hospitals are located in Belize City: Belize Medical Associates and Belize Healthcare Partners. Considered the best in Belize, they offer Pharmacy, Radiology, Laboratory and Operating Theatre, Pediatrics, Neurology, Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics, Gastroenterology and Urology services. The cost for a consultation at private facilities is inexpensive, and the cost for a consultation at a public facilities is either free or very inexpensive.

Having medical insurance is not mandatory for Belizeans or expats.

What is the Education System Like in Belize?

Belize has various private and public educational systems.

The Belize school system is based on the British model, with three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Children enter the educational system at age five for eight years of primary education. They then spend four years in secondary school (high school). Tertiary education includes a two-year course, in which students earn an Associates Degree in a variety of majors. Following completion of tertiary education, students can choose to attend university (the University of Belize or Galen University in Belize).

As is typically the case, private school education in Belize is more expensive than public schooling, which are free. But compared to private education elsewhere, rates are extremely reasonable.

What is the Immigration Process Like in Belize?

The immigration process is one of the most common topics our Belize retirement attorneys receive inquires about.

The Belize Qualified Retirement Program offers tremendous advantages to retirees.  To learn more, visit our Belize QRP page.  For more general information, visit our main Retirement page.

For more information about how to get a tourist card in Belize or how to establish permanent residency in Belize, visit our Belize News page.

Do I Need a Passport (Citizenship) or a Visa to Live in Belize?

No.  In order to live or retire in Belize, you do not need Belizean citizenship or a Belizean passport.  (In order to obtain a Belizean passport, you would first have to become a Belizean citizen, with the passport being essentially a travel document.)

If you would like to retire to Belize, first of all, you would enter Belize on a tourist visa (also called a tourist card).  If you are an American citizen or a Canadian citizen, you would be granted a tourist visa at the airport and the tourist visa would allow you to reside in Belize for 30 days.  Every 30 days you can apply for an extension or renewal of that visa.  The tourist visa would give you the ability to travel to Belize and to stay, but not permanently.

Typically those 30-day visas are renewed, and there is no problem with renewal unless the visa holder gets in trouble here in Belize.  Other than that possibility, the process is a regular rubber stamp renewal after 30 days.

What Do I Need to Work in Belize?

Please note that you cannot work in Belize under a tourist visa. In order to work in Belize, you would have to apply for a work permit. Once you acquire a work permit then you would have the ability to work for hire here in Belize, or work for a salary. Obviously, if you pursue and are granted Belizean citizenship, then you would obtain all the rights off a Belize citizen, which includes permission to work.

What is Buying Real Estate Like in Belize?

You’re interested in buying Belize property and/or a home in Belize?  Our Belize lawyers have you covered – it’s been our speciality for more than a decade.

Please read our Real Estate FAQ page, discover our Belize Real Estate News page, and review our main Belize Real Estate page.  Too much information?  Simply contact us to get started with a Belize real estate attorney today.

What is it Like to Move to Belize?

The initial stages of moving to Belize can be a big change depending on where you come from and what your previous experiences have been.  It’s always a good idea to spend a substantial amount of time in Belize (or any other place) prior to making a life-changing move.

Certainly, things can be very different in Belize. If you are moving to Belize from North America or Europe, or even a more metropolitan city in the developing world, pace of life will likely be a big transition. Things move slowly in Belize.  If patience is a virtue, you’ll need to be virtuous as you adapt to the culture of Belize and the speed at which the country operates.

Governmental funding is not high in Belize, and the bureaucracy tends to move slowly.  It bears repetition: patience is a virtue.  If you are considering retiring in Belize or buying real estate in Belize, you’ll need patience until you fully adapt to the lifestyle in the country.  Somebody who has a lot of experience with the developing world will have a far easier time adapting than somebody who jumps right into a move to Belize without such experience.

Of course, for most people, the flip side of needing patience for dealing with a slower pace of life is getting to live that slower pace of life.  A slower pace of life translates to a high quality of life for most people.  Read as: less stress.  Read as: more enjoyment.  Read as: good for your body, good for your mind.

What is the One-Time Cost of Moving to Belize?

Every person who chooses to move to Belize has different interests and needs. Some people choose to enter Belize as a tourist and to rent a small apartment, so for them, the cost will be very low. Other people choose to retire to Belize, qualify for the retirement program (Belize QRP) and want to purchase a beachfront home or a luxury condominium. Their cost to move to Belize would be higher than in the first example. If two people get on a plane, fly into Belize, and get their tourist visas at the airport, the cost to move to Belize is close to zero.  There are no legal costs to get the tourist visa, and you simply renew it every 30 days. In contrast, the range in cost for a married couple to qualify for the Qualified Requirement Program, including government costs and legal costs, might fall into the range of US$4,000 to $5,000. Not an insignificant figure, but for those looking to retire in Belize, well worth the high quality of life (and the ultimate savings in taxes and cost of living).

What is the Cost of Living in Belize?

The affordable cost of living is a main reason people choose to retire in Belize.

Overall the cost of living in Belize is much less than in North America and Europe.

The Belize Tourism Board provides useful information on the subject.

Can I bring my pet to Belize?

Yes! Your pet is welcome to join you in beautiful Belize. You will first need to obtain an Import Permit, which can be obtained online and submitted to any Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) office. You will need to contact BAHA again two days prior to your arrival, which ensures a inspector is present when you arrive in the country. Be sure to check specific requirements and restrictions for your airline of choice, as some requirements vary by airline. A visit to a veterinarian is required as well. A little research and preparation will go a long way to ensure your pet’s safe and uneventful arrival in Belize. For more details on bringing your pet to this Central American paradise, check out How to Get Your Pet to Belize .

Does my pet need to be vaccinated before we travel to Belize?

Yes, you and your pet will need to visit a vet before you travel. Specific requirements for your pet’s entry into Belize include a valid rabies certification issued not less than one month or more than one year before your travel date, ticks and tapeworm treatment within 30 days of entering Belize, and a statement that your pet is free from ehrlichiosis (tick-borne diseases).

BAHA requires you have an international veterinary health certificate issued by a USDA accredited veterinarian within 14 days of travel (American Airlines requires health certificate to be issued within 10 days of travel, so again, be sure you’re familiar with your airline’s requirements).

There also exist a number of recommended vaccinations for dogs and cats that will travel internationally. For a full list of vaccinations and more tips on how to bring your pet to Belize, be sure to read How to Get Your Pet to Belize .

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