Belize Offshore Services

Belize’s offshore industry has grown over the years as a result of the progressive legislative measures that were established for regulating the operation and incorporation of different international business companies in Belize. The sector’s growth is also attributable to the development of Belize’s communications facilities, ability to maintain political and economic stability and implementation of the right fiscal incentives such as preferential tax rates and holidays as a means of attracting foreign investors to its shores.

The series of offshore acts established in Belize encompass offshore companies such as International Trusts, International Business Companies (IBCs), Offshore Banks, International Insurances and Internet Gaming Companies. Some of these legislations include the Mutual Funds Act, International Business Companies Act, Protected Cell Companies Act, Retired Persons (Incentives) Act, Limited Liability Partnerships Act and the

International Financial Services Commission Act. All of these ensure that the affairs of Belize offshore companies are treated with the highest degree of confidentiality, making the diffusion of any company’s data an offense under Belizean law; except in the case where such information is requested by order of the Belizean Court. In further seeking to guarantee the privacy of Belize offshore companies, Belize offshore legislation fully enables Belize offshore agents to provide nominee services on behalf of the client.

Offshore companies are endorsed to engage in international matters on intellectual property and conducting international business such as shipping, trading and professional consultancy. For example, a Belize offshore company may transact in profitable trading activities through the purchase and sale of goods from one country to another as the company accumulates financial wealth in an absolutely tax free environment. As a premier tax haven, Belize enables offshore companies that function and are incorporated within its jurisdiction: to benefit from several tax benefits and exemptions, which facilitate financial growth.

The functioning and operation of offshore banks in Belize are regulated by the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act and Banks and Financial Institution Act. The two main types of offshore banking licenses issued to offshore banking institutions are the Unrestricted ‘A’ Class Offshore Banking Licenses, which are only given to offshore banks with a capital equal to and not less than US $500,000 and foreign banks with a capital of no less than US $5,000,000; and the Restricted ‘B’ Class licenses, by which the activities that may be conducted by the bank are limited only to those stated by the license.

Over the years, the formation of International Trusts has increased in Belize. An offshore or international trust is an arrangement whereby real, tangible or intangible property is managed by a person (s) or an organisation (s). A Belize trust may be created so long as the settlors and beneficiaries are not resident in Belize, the trust property only involves property located outside of Belize and the trust activities are undertaken in a country other than Belize.

The Belize Register of International Trusts keeps a Register containing information such as the Trust’s name, the registration date, Trustees’ names, settlement date, protector’s (s) names (if there are any), the trust’s agent’s name and address and any other data that may be required according to the established Trust Regulations.

International Trusts may only be formed in Belize by a locally licensed offshore trust service provider that will be responsible for the documentation of the names and addresses of all the trust’s beneficiaries, additional funds settled, initial funds settled, original trust instrument and any amendments made to t eh trust, the registration date and name of the Trust as well as the names of the settlor and trustee.

Applying to enter an international trust in the Registry must be made within 90 days after having formed the trust. Upon reviewing the application for an international trust in Belize, the registrar may prolong the 90 day period so long as it is satisfied that the trust was not registered within the stipulated time because of an inadvertent member of the trust. Conditions that must be met when applying to register an International Belize Trust include the payment of the fee required for registering the trust and the presentation of an affidavit issued by the Trust Agent confirming that the necessary information pertaining to the Trust is maintained and recorded at the registered agent’s office.

Belize offshore trusts are exempt from estate, inheritance, succession, gift tax or duty including the stipulations of the Income Act and Business Act of Belize, while all instruments concerning the trust’s property or the transactions conducted by the trustee on the trust’s behalf are free from stamp duty.

The formation of Belize offshore companies and trusts has become increasingly popular among persons desiring to expand their businesses, target markets, increase their competitive edge while Belize offshore companies and trusts also provides a secure mechanism for the accumulation of one’s wealth and protection of assets.