U.S. Citizens Residing in Belize
Many U.S. citizens reside in Belize, part-time or even as their primary home. The U.S. Embassy is not expert in Belize immigration or residency requirements, and we recommend you call the Department of Immigration and Nationality at 011-501-822-3860/822-0739 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org with specific questions. We provide the following information as general guidelines; ultimately, immigration officers around the country have discretion to determine when a U.S. citizen is no longer a visitor and when they are in fact resident.
Residency in Belize
Belize does not require U.S. citizens to have visas to visit Belize, and U.S. citizens can remain in the country for 1 month for no fee
Immigration authorities can renew your visitor permit for a period of time, usually viewed as a few months
There are various residency programs in Belize, including the Qualified Retirement Program run by the Belize Tourism Board. Each program has slightly different requirements, including requirements to prove specific amounts of monthly income. Please contact Belizean immigration authorities for those requirements.
If you are establishing residency in Belize, you will pay USD$25/mo or BZD$50/mo for residency stamps for the first 6 months and then USD$50 or BZD$100/mo for the following 6 months, after which you can apply for permanent residency
Normally, you must not be outside the country for more than 14 days total in a year. However, the clock will not “start over” if you must remain outside the country for longer than that, for instance to sell a property in the U.S. or to deal with personal issues. The authorities will extend the required in-country residency time by the amount of time you were out of Belize, such as an extra month or so. If you face this situation we advise that you come to the main immigration office in Belmopan
Local immigration authorities have the discretion to determine that you are actually residing in Belize and not just visiting; if, for instance, they see that you have applied for a visitor permit for more than 3 or 4 months in a row, they are likely to require the residency fee
If you lose your U.S. passport and acquire another one, you can take the new passport to the main immigration office for a new residency stamp. Belizean immigration systems are not currently computerized (i.e., the central office does not automatically know when the local offices provide a residency stamp to a foreigner), but systems are slowly being implemented. Meanwhile, if a U.S. citizen who is working towards residency loses a passport with residency stamps they should normally be able to go to the local office for an annotation in a new passport.
Working in Belize
Working in Belize is permitted in certain circumstances; for specific professions, please contact the Belize Labour Department at 011-501-207-4027 or visit their office at #5 Albert Street West, Belize City, Belize. Normally working in high-skilled professions is permitted while working in lower-skilled professions, in competition with Belizean nationals, is not. There are also provisions for establishing a business.
Acquiring Belizean Citizenship
U.S. citizens can become citizens of Belize. The waiting period varies; for those married to a Belizean citizen it is normally 1 year of residency, and for others it is normally 5 years of residency. The government of the United States does not encourage dual citizenship, but it also does not prohibit that status and will not require you to renounce your U.S. citizenship unless you want to take a high government office or become an officer in the Belizean military forces.