Situated just south of Mexico on the Caribbean coast of Central America, Belize offers a beautiful island escape for numerous Americans, Canadians and Europeans each year. However, Belize is rapidly becoming more than just a popular vacation spot these days and its appeal is stretching to snow birds and retirees around the globe. As an English-speaking country with a very low cost of living, Belize is one of the world's greatest tax havens for retirees looking to save a few pennies while living beachside surrounded by beautiful scenery
Just as we thought it couldn't get any better, this innovative little paradise has taken it a step further by offering tax and residency incentives to expatriates wanting to call Belize home.
The Qualified Retired Persons Program is a plan that allows you to keep more of your assets while also bypassing hefty import duties and taxes. Better yet, qualifying for this program doesn't require one to be retired or even of retirement age to take advantage of the inducements. A prospective candidate simply must be aged 45 or older, have a monthly income of at least $2,000, and comply with several other minor requirements. Once a retiree is approved, they can also bring along their spouse and any dependents under the age of 18, or children less than 23 years of age if they are attending college. Upon entering Belize, an expat is allowed to bring in any new or used household goods as well as a car, boat and/or light aircraft without paying expensive duties and taxes. This applies whether you already own one of these transports or purchase them in Belize. One of the only limitations imposed by the program is that a retiree is not allowed to work for payment within Belize; however, they are allowed to earn money so long as it is from a source outside Belize--be it freelance work, investments, etc.
To find out if you qualify, simply fill out an application and include the following:
1. Birth certificate
2. Marriage certificate
3. A police record from your most recent place of residence, issued within a month prior to the application and stating that you don't have a criminal record
4. A copy of each page (including blank ones) in your passport. Retain a notary public to certify the copy with his seal and mark how many pages are in the passport, the passport number, and your name
5. Proof of income. This can be in the form of a statement from a pension of Annuity Company or from your bank. The statement must show that your income is at least $2,000 a month or the equivalent of at least $24,000 a year
6. Medical certificate stating that you are in good health and not HIV-positive
7. Color photos–four recent front-view and four side-view passport-size photographs of yourself and any dependents who are applying
8. You must also submit a non-refundable $100 application fee plus a "program fee" of $500 for yourself and $350 for each dependent. If you're accepted into the program, you'll owe an additional $100. Also figure on $2,500 to $5,000 to retain an attorney who can steer you through the application process and, often more importantly, run interference with the bureaucracy.
So, whether you're looking to escape the cold for a few months out of the year or relocate altogether, not only does Belize offer impeccable scenery, beautiful coastlines and a relaxed island atmosphere, it also allows you to hang on to more of that money you worked so hard to earn and take advantage of a few extra perks at the same time.