For North American nationals, especially those from the U.S. accustomed to the right to bear arms, Belize can be very sobering – or incarcerating. Gun ownership is very restrictive; not impossible, but very difficult to navigate.
The country has in place a quagmire of laws aimed at restricting gun ownership. If you are a permanent resident or have acquired citizenship, gun ownership is possible. A thorough background check is conducted and the waiting period can be as long as six months. The maximum calibre allowed in Belize is 9mm. Anything above, for example .38 magnum or .45 is deemed a prohibited firearm. (Image above OutdoorsMan Lounge in Belmopan.)
Belize has strict gun license laws. For example, forgetting to renew your gun permit will not get you a nice reminder letter in the mail as was the practice under British rule. All gun permits must be renewed before a gun owner’s birthday and for up to three years as of 2018 (previously only for one year). Firearm owners that forget to renew their license on time run the risk of being detained by the authorities and incarcerated without recourse to bail for one month.
For immigrants one of the easier ways to obtain a gun license is to be a farmer. Once farmer status is gained, the faster it is for local police to recommend a firearm license. This is essential for a farmer to protect his livestock and also to find food through hunting. A farmer’s gun license is the cheapest by far BZ $5. per anum for citizens, and BZ $25. for non-citizens.
Possession of one bullet in excess of your quota (100 rounds at any one time) or the wrong caliber, or even an empty shell casing on your property (perhaps thrown in by a disgruntled employee or neighbor) is a firearm offense, and also leads to immediate remand to prison without bail for one month.
Applications for bail on firearm offenses must be done at the Supreme Court level. Another issue with the law affirms that no modifications can be made on a firearm. So forget getting custom grips to fit your hands, laser pointers, re-rifling your gun, or worse engraving or silver of gold-plating it. Keep $5K on hand to retain a lawyer to get you bail out of jail. The bail must be obtained at Supreme Court level leading to hiring expensive lawyers.
As of 2018, the cost for a firearm permit for Belize and CARICOM nationals has been increased to BZ $225. per anum. Non Belizeans pay BZ $1.500. per anum. The following are PDF links (will open in new tab) of the BELIZE FIREARMS ACT CHAPTER 143 REVISED EDITION 2000 SHOWING THE LAW AS AT 31ST DECEMBER, 2000.
In 2018, the Belize Firearms Acts was amended: Belize – 2018 Firearms Amendment Bill 2018