Banks in Belize offer several types of accounts including the standard savings, demand deposit accounts and term deposits for both personal and corporate customers. Some banks offer additional types of saving accounts that yield a greater return on investments. The standard minimum balance for opening a demand deposit account is US$1,000.00. This type of account is primarily used as an operational account where many transactions can be done.
A savings account has several opening and minimum balance requirements, offered to clients, in order to yield higher interest. The opening balance requirements range from about US$500.00 to as much as US$25,000.00. Interest rates vary with each bank where you can earn anywhere from 0.5% to 3% depending on the type of account and balance.
Opening An International Bank Account
One of the benefits of opening an international account in Belize is the fact that you never have to step foot on Belizean soil to open and operate your account. All of the banks allow communication and interaction to be done via email or fax.
The first step to opening your account is to research the banks fully and choose the one that best suits your individual needs. Although majority of the services, fees and products are the same, there are differences which could make one more attractive than the other.
All banks have application forms for opening an account available on their website. The normal procedure to open an account is to print out the forms, complete them and send them in with the additional documentations required. Additional documents include a notarized copy or copies of signatories’ passport, two letters of reference and a utility bill or proof of address.
If you are opening an account for a company, you will be required to provide a full set of company documents, including articles and memorandum of association, share register, and a company resolution to open the account. To facilitate the process some banks will allow you to apply for the account with copies of all these documents, rather than originals.
International Bank Services
There are other services that you can apply for while opening your Belize bank account such as online banking. Online Banking is one of the primary tools offered to clients to make banking easier and more accessible. Online Banking has many benefits to both clients and the bank thus it is offered free of cost. This service allows you to check your account balance or request a wire transfer. It also allows you to pay your credit card from your bank account. Other services available to expats include home financing. Check out our guide on Home Finance Options In Belize. Another essential service that the banks offer is credit card services. Some banks offer both Visa and MasterCard but a few offer only MasterCard. Debit Cards are not common therefore it is customary for clients to own a prepaid card linked to their bank accounts. These cards allow you to make withdrawals and purchases using your own funds.
International Banks don’t normally offer check-books to clients; however you can request a bank draft if there is a need to send funds from your account to someone else. International Banking is offered only to non-residents of Belize, therefore only a few of them offer cash withdrawals at the bank itself. However, with a prepaid card or credit card from your international bank, you can do a withdrawal at almost all ATMs in the country that displays the Visa or MasterCard logo.
FATCA and Offshore Banking
FATCA is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act enacted by the U.S. Congress:
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a portion of the 2010 Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act that requires individuals to report their financial accounts held overseas and foreign financial institutions to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about their U.S. clients. FATCA was designed primarily to combat offshore tax avoidance and internationalize the U.S. extra-territorial based tax regime. It adds a new chapter to the Internal Revenue Code (Chapter 4) aimed at addressing perceived tax abuse by U.S. persons through the use of offshore accounts.