Belize corporate bank accounts in 2021

Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC helps multi-national Clients open multi-currency corporate bank accounts in Belize for both local and overseas companies.

Without bank signatory travel, our team will project manage the multi-currency corporate bank account opening process, including preparing a quality business plan for our Client’s business.

We recommend our multi-national Clients read this web page to avoid bank surprises later!

  • Belize banking problems and solutions

    NoBelize banking problemSolution
    1.

    Bank refuses to onboard a foreign company which does not have a physical office in Belize, or Belize customers or suppliers.

    Bank insists that the bank signatory travel to Belize for a one-hour bank interview.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC will register a local Belize entity to secure Belize corporate bank account numbers.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC has a guaranteed corporate bank account approval policy.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC Client travel policy will apply (click link). Our staff will organise the bank meeting in our Belize affiliates’ office and assist our Client during the bank interview(s).

    2.

    Global banks continue to tighten corporate bank account opening procedures, their internal compliance departments completing more thorough due diligence of Clients. Consequently, our Clients should expect Belize bank account approval to take up to two months.

    Like most international banks, it is common for Belize banks to close corporate bank accounts without giving an open, transparent reason to their customers. To close a customer bank account without giving the bank signatory an opportunity to explain ‘unusual transactions activity in the corporate bank account’ is an unfair, unreasonable action which places our multi-national Clients’ businesses under stress.

    As we advance deeper into a global depression, it will become more common for banks to experience financial difficulties. Consequently, multi-national Clients should expect i) small banks to go bankrupt and ii) small to medium-sized banks to be bought over by top tier banks. The number of banks operating in each country will get smaller, exposing our multi-national Clients to financial risk.

    If our Client requires a bank account at short notice, we recommend an immediate Belize solution plus already-approved international corporate bank account).

    We recommend our multi-national Clients open multiple multi-currency corporate bank accounts for their entity. It is unwise to open one corporate bank account and have your business be dependent on one bank.

    For each of their entities, we recommend our multi-national Clients open multiple multi-currency corporate bank accounts across multiple countries. Spread your funds across multiple corporate bank accounts in multiple top-tier banks in multiple different countries. Avoid small banks including PSPs FSPs and digital banks. Ensure each bank offers customer deposit insurance.

  • The Belize banking sector

    Healy Consultants Group PLC summary view

    • Healy Consultants Group PLC recommends multinational Clients minimise funds held with Belize banks, and spread risk across multiple jurisdictions because:
      • We believe the Belize banking system is fragile, exposing multi-national Clients’ funds to country risk.
      • The Belize economy, especially tourism, is being hit hard by COVID-19. In 2020 i) incomes fell by the largest year-on-year figure since 1992 ii) unemployment tripled iii) one in three Belizeans were out of work iv) government revenues plunged 30%, leading the government to borrow (at 134.1%, Belize has the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the Caribbean and Central America). In 2021 more local businesses will go bankrupt, loan defaults will cause local banks to go bankrupt, and unemployment will soar.
      • Consequently, there will be a liquidation of the financial securities owned by non-resident investors.
      • The country’s long-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit rating was recently lowered to CC and it was put on CreditWatch. In practical terms this means Belize is at elevated risk of entering into a distressed debt exchange, raising the threat of bank failures.
    • Despite imposing new Economic Substance Regulations Belize is still viewed as an offshore jurisdiction. Therefore, a Belize bank account may not portray a good image to Clients and suppliers, and your international business contacts may not feel comfortable receiving or sending funds to a Belize bank account.
    • In November 2020, the country’s two biggest banks merged. As of December 2019, the two banks held almost 50% of all commercial bank loans in the country, around half of all banking assets, almost half of all deposits, 57% of overall bank profits and 60% of equity. They also held around half of all deposits more than US$100,000.
    • Positively, since January 2020, Belize bank deposits are insured up to the value of BZ$20,000 in the event of a bank failure, giving confidence to depositors and avoiding a run on any bank.
  • Key information on the Belize banking sector

    • The Central Bank of Belize is responsible for the stability of the banking sector and local currency. The Belize dollar is pegged to the US dollar (BZ$2 = US$1). The bank regulates a small banking industry, the total value of assets of which was just US$3.2 billion in 2018.
    • The central bank licences i) five domestic banks and ii) three A-Class unrestricted international banks. Since its merger with Belize Bank, Scotiabank is the main internationally recognised banking group in the country. Healy Consultants Group PLC recommends our Clients open a corporate bank account with this bank. However, the bank operates on purely a referral basis, and so opening an account can be challenging, especially if our Client does not already bank with an overseas branch of the bank.
    • It is not necessary for our Client to visit Belize to open the bank account. Our agents will courier all documents to our Client for signature. In most cases, and depending on our Client’s business activity, our team will secure account numbers within four business weeks, with online banking and international funds transfer capabilities following two weeks later.
    • There is no minimum deposit required for corporate bank account opening in Belize. However, it is advisable to maintain at least US$5,000 in the account.
    • Resident and non-resident entities and individuals can open foreign currency accounts with licensed banks in Belize. There are no restrictions on the source of foreign currency funds to be credited in foreign currency accounts maintained with licensed banks in Belize.
    • To open a personal account in Belize, most banks require a reference from a bank with which the individual has had a relationship of at least two years, along with other Identity and residence documents.
    • Most bank branch staff in Belize speak English, and correspondence and online banking etc in all banks is in English if required.
    • There are ATMs across Belize, which only dispense local currency. Belize remains a heavily cash-based society, and it is unwise to rely on making payments by debit and credit card for everyday purchases. It is possible to make contactless payments across Belize.
    • Local retail banks offer better currency exchange rates than money changers. If you open a foreign currency account along with a Belize dollar account, transfers can easily be made between the two.
    • Belize is a part of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) global information exchange system, as well as FATCA reporting protocol. Belize banks therefore share account information with other banks and governments around the world.
    • Most Belize banks offer credit instruments. Healy Consultants Group PLC’s team can refer our Client to Belize banks and prepare a quality application to secure i) advanced credit instruments ii) business card overdraft iii) syndicated and revolving loans. To achieve a successful outcome, our Clients will probably be asked to supply the bank with i) recent referral letter from a qualifying body ii) feasibility and financial analysis study and iii) recent financial statements (audited).
  • Foreign exchange controls and obligations in Belize

    • The Central Bank imposes some exchange control regulations.
    • Although both resident companies and individuals can open bank accounts and hold funds and deposits in multiple foreign currencies, including €, US$ and £, foreign currency transactions are reserved only for international payments.
    • That said, Belize International Business Companies (IBCs) do not fall under foreign exchange control regulations and can make international transfers in multiple currencies.
    • All transactions involving inflow and outflow of foreign currency to and from Belize must be supported by corresponding due diligence, verified by the bank and, in some cases, by the Central Bank.

Conclusion

Belize multi-currency corporate bank account opening is easy if you know how. Contact Healy Consultants Group PLC if your Firm needs assistance navigating through the different banking solutions.

Contact us

For additional information on our banking services in Belize, please contact our in-house country expert, Mr. Petar Chakarov, directly:
client relationship officer - Petar
  • Mr. Petar Chakarov
  • Client Engagements Manager
  • Contact me!
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