Ben Todd | Jun 3, 2017 | 2
How To Open An Offshore Bank Account In Belize
Why open a bank account in Belize? After all, it is not exactly known for its international banking prowess.
Well, there are plenty of legitimate reasons, especially since all official Belize banks are tax compliant and open with international tax inspectors.
Here’s the number 1 reason why you should: The most common reason is to …dodge… civil creditors. Keep your Belize bank account a secret from your domestic creditors, and they will not be able to sue for or seize your assets unless they are part of a government agency.
Now, it’s also possible to stash your money in a Belize bank account and NOT pay taxes while in Belize (Belize won’t tax any money that comes in from outside of Belize). This is not really a tax haven though — Belize won’t hide your assets from the IRS if they come looking. But, if you need to put money in a tax-free account outside of the US, well Belize is a good place to do it. This sort of account is particularly useful for people who generate all their money online (such as bloggers, internet marketers, and such).
Keep in mind, this is our opinion and we don’t claim to be certified accounts, and we are not giving you legal advice — so please due your DUE diligence — we don’t want you to find yourself on the wrong end of a tax audit.
Why Create an Offshore Account in Belize over Switzerland, Ireland, the Caymans?
Many of those other countries are under serious pressure from Europe and the US because they have a history of being a tax haven. Switzerland is no longer a ‘safe’ place to stash your money as they have agreements to give up privacy information (there have been some recent scandals about this if you read the news). If you have a Cayman account, you are pretty much announcing to the world you are hiding from tax money.
Belize is a much more low key, not-on-the-radar country when it comes to offshore banking. Again, the purpose here is not to find a tax haven (because as stated, Belize is not safe for that sort of thing), but there are still reasons you might want to open a bank account.
Another factor you need to consider is the stability of a country, the various banking laws and regulations. Belize is very friendly towards offshore banking and the country is stable, financially. There has never been a bank failure or any runs on the banks — so it’s stable and secure as offshore bank locations go.
Here Is How You Open A Bank Account In Belize
You do not need an introduction, nor do you need to use an OSP. If you decide to use an OSP (which is a company that does most of the legwork for you), then pick a legitimate one that your friends and business partners have used because there are a lot of scammers out there that are looking to steal your identity.
Pick your type of account. If you are not a citizen in Belize, you will have to pick a savings account. Non-citizens may choose between an account that pays out annually, and an account that pays out quarterly. The annual accounts tend to require amounts in excess of $25,000 to be saved for a whole year in order to earn the interest. The accounts that pay quarterly require more than $500 to be stored in order to receive interest.
Find their website and/or phone number. Use their website or call centre to require an application form. They will either provide you with a link where your may apply online, or (far more likely), they will send you an email with an application pack. It is possible to do it via snail mail, and some people prefer it since you will probably have to send notarized documents via airmail too.
They will start by asking you for scans of your documents that you send over the Internet. You will need to scan an image of your passport and send it over. You will need to send bank statements for the last three to six months, and you may need to send over a reference letter.
They may ask you to send some documents by mail. They may ask that you send your paperwork by printing it off, filling it out, and posting it off. Or, they may accept an electronic signature. They may ask that you send original documents over, but most will accept notarized copies of your documents. If you are sending a photocopy of your photo ID, you should send it as a color copy.
The bank may require proof of certain things. They may need proof of when your account was opened, if it has been open for more than 18 months, and the average account balance you have had. They may wish to know what types of accounts you have had open, such as savings accounts, checking accounts, etc.
They may ask for references from your bank, which may be tricky and problematic. Most banks will give a reference, but they keep their reference on record. This means that if they are chasing you for money, they may be able to find your assets in Belize. They may also give such information away under subpoena, which means domestic creditors may be able to pursue your Belize bank balance.
You may be asked for character references. If so, the bank will also need to know how long you have known that person, why that person should be trusted, in what capacity that person knows you, and any other relevant information. For example, it may be your employer, who may also be able to confirm how much you earn.
You can be a little flexible with regards to what you give the Belize bank. They have to do a certain amount of due diligence work before approving your account. For example, if you do not get a reference from your bank, but you can prove your account balance
Now you wait for approval, and open up the account by sending over whatever opening deposit they require. Your opening deposit it an amount of money that you must send over in order to activate your account. The money is still your money and may be withdrawn at a later date.
Should I Send Original Documents Via Airmail?
Some people do it, but we suggest that you do not. Firstly, the bank is going to ask for scanned copies of your documents. If you are lucky, that will be all they require. They may then ask that you send over the original documents for them to check. You can do this (and some people do) but it is better to send notarized photocopies. Your passport is often required as proof of where you live, so make sure it is up to date, and be sure to send a color copy of it.
What Are The Benefits Of Having An Account In Belize
As mentioned earlier, you cannot hide your money from government institutions, and there are even some banks that are able to find out if you have an international account. However, there are still plenty of good reasons why you should have a Belize bank account.
Here are some compelling reasons:
- The money stays in a US currency, which means it is quicker to access, and it means you do not have to pay conversion fees.
- You may eventually qualification for credit with your bank. You may also receive slightly higher interest rates on your savings when compared with domestic banks.
- You may diversify your assets, so that you are a little safer if the market drop or if your investments go sour.
- Your money is a little more accessible in a Belize account than it is in other foreign accounts. For example, it often takes less time for you to access money in the US from your Belize bank than from your Swiss bank account.
- You may use your money for holidays in Belize without having to worry about extra bank charges and/or poor ATM coverage for your bank.
- Do business in Belize, receive payments, have others make deposits from within the country, or make deposits yourself when you are in the country.
- You often receive many of the online banking perks and convenience functions that you do with a US and/or domestic bank account.
- You may hide your money from people that may wish to exploit you financially. You cannot hide it from government agencies, but you can hide if from citizens and domestic creditors
- Use the online services to deposit and withdraw money to, even when out of the country (useful for taking paypal payments online and other online businesses where you need to access a bank account and link it to online payment services)
What Sort Of References Are Accepted?
It depends on the bank you are applying to. If the rest of your paperwork and proof is acceptable, they may be a little more flexible with regards to references.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][+] Personal References
They may accept a personal reference from a person your have known for over two years. It is not much in the way of proof of your character, but it is better than nothing.
[+] A Bank Reference
If you have had a bank account for over 18 months, then the bank in Belize may accept a reference from your bank.
[+] Character References
If you can get a personal reference from an important person, then that may hold a little weight. A person with a government, military, or law job is preferred.
[+] Personal Referral Recommendations
If you have a friend that has an account at the Belize bank, you could claim that they referred you to the bank and then produce a character reference from them. This is sometimes acceptable to the bank.
[+] Utility Bills And Bank Statements
They need to show your name, your address, and that you are in good standing with those accounts. You may also send very old statements and bills to help prove you have been at the address for a long time.
Best Belize Banks to Create an Offshore Account With
Here are a few banks you can try. Beware of any banks that claim they can hide your money or protect you from the government because they are fraudsters trying to gain access to your money. All of the banks listed below are FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) compliant. All of the banks in Belize that offer international services must be FATCA compliant. You cannot hide your money in these banks and expect to dodge the US government.
Atlantic International Bank, Ltd
This bank has a fairly heavy due diligence requirement, which means it takes longer to open your account. It also means there is a fair amount of hassle involved. Nevertheless, the service itself is very efficient with a reliable wire transfer system and staff that are well trained with regards to international account issues.
Caye International Bank Limited
A very good and reliable investment bank. They are a leader in US compliance, but they are going to charge you account opening fee because of it. The online wire system is pretty poor and online transfers take around two days. You get ten free transactions per month, after which they will begin to charge you. The bank offers very secure investment options, secure offshore lending, and global expertise with international investing.
They have a great many branches located in Belize, which makes them an ideal option for people that take frequent trips and holiday there. They offer accounts in US dollars (as most do), and also in Belizean dollars too. The bank is very focused on local citizens, which means it is a little tougher to get an account if you do not live there at least part time. It doesn’t really offer much in the way of investment, and is mostly for people that are looking to visit Belize more than three times per year (so you can claim part-time residence).
Choice Bank Ltd.
They are mostly concerned with companies, associations and high net worth individuals. Their setup procedures are fairly fast and easy to get through, though it is far easier if you pay them a visit. They have the novel idea of doing some of your due diligence after your account is open. This means that if you are a poor quality customer, they may give you an account and then withdraw it within a few weeks after they have done all their checks. You gain access to their banking solutions for your personal wealth; they have commercial banking, and a prepaid MasterCard that is accepted globally.
One doesn’t like to use the word “cheap” when describing a bank, but… this is the sort of bank you may apply to if you have been turned down by the others. It offers you many of the services that your domestic bank offers. You may easily qualify for their pre-paid card, and if you keep your account in good standing for over 12 months, you may also apply for their credit card. The account is free to maintain if you keep over $3000 in your account, otherwise there is a fee that rises if your account holds less than $1000 and $500. There is also a fee if you want to hold money in currencies other than US dollars.
Market Street Bank Limited
This bank will not allow you to apply online, nor does it sell its services online. You will have to pay them a visit at their only branch. It is tricky getting their information if you live in the US, so here is what we could dig up.
They have a B-Class restricted license. Their website address is this:
Market Street Bank Limited, Marina Towers, Newton Barracks, Belize.
Another listed address is this:
Marina Towers, Suite 402, Newtown Barracks, Belize City, Belize
Another listed address on the central bank of Belize website was:
Market Street Bank Limited, Caye Financial Centre, Corner Coconut Drive & Hurricane Way, San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Belize
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