Getting to grips with import and export regulations in Belize is essential for anyone looking to enter the international freight market in this English-speaking Caribbean nation.
Although Belize is not as popular an investment destination as its Central American neighbors, the country offers businesses an unsaturated market that highly encourages foreign investment. Those conditions also make starting a business in Belize an attractive prospect.
Belize is an active member of the World Trade Organization, and its government emphasizes improving commercial ties with large markets such as China, Mexico, and the United States. As a result, import and export is a prosperous sector in Belize, with annual exports in 2018 totaling $354 million (USD), as imports reached $1.05 billion (USD).
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Import and export regulations in Belize: how to start?
To begin import and export operations in Belize, you must officially establish your company in the country. To do this, you must register your company with the Belize International Corporate Affairs Registry (IBC), and obtain a business license, which will allow you to market products or services within the country. Then, you must follow the general steps to start an import and export process in Belize, which are:
- Submit the application form
- Obtain an interview with the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)
- Present a copy of the company’s registration issued by the IBC to the BCCI
Note that the BCCI is in charge of approving trade licenses. Furthermore, the local entity that regulates import and export operations is the Belize Customs & Excise Department (BCED). This public institution enforces the customs and excise laws that ensure safety to the operational processes. It is also responsible for supervising the application of customs duties and commercial conventions, as well as evaluating the collection of customs revenues on goods or services imported into and exported out of Belize.
How to import to Belize?
In order to import goods from Belize, you must present the following documentation before the BCED:
- Bill of exchange
- Purchase order or letter of credit
- Commercial invoice with a packing list
- Certificate of origin of the product
- Import license
- Customs entry document
- Insurance certificate
Importers must be aware that some goods require an import permit issued by the Ministry of Culture in Belize. Such goods include live animals, foodstuffs, plant materials, and veterinary supplies.
Note that the import process ends when the dealer pays the taxes required by the port. After this, an agent will examine the merchandise and grant approval. The success of this process depends on all the required documents complying with local laws.
How to export from Belize?
Once an export license is obtained, you will be allowed to export the following goods from the country:
- Live animals, except pets
- Crustacean fish and mollusks
- Citrus fruit
However, you will also need the following documents to export in Belize:
The information on this document must comply with Belize customs regulations. Note that commercial invoices require a declaration statement, and the cost of the goods must appear separately from the cost of transportation.
Certificate of origin:
This document must show that the product is entitled to preferential tariffs. In some cases, information related to the content of the product must also be included.
Certificate of value:
This is an official declaration of the value of the merchandise. Note that the exporter must confirm that the content of this certificate matches the information on the commercial invoice.
Once the merchandise meets all the necessary requirements to enter the country, the exporter must pay the taxes involved and present the corresponding certificates. In addition, the customs broker will inspect the shipped merchandise to prevent the export of prohibited or restricted merchandise.
Import and export regulations in Belize with CARICOM
The government of Belize promotes imports and exports following the statutes established by the Caribbean Community —CARICOM. The agreement between these Caribbean countries eliminates some restrictions imposed on the establishment of companies, agencies, branches, or subsidiaries. Such measures to eliminate entry barriers to the market attract foreign investment and support economic growth and the development of new commercial relations that benefit the country.
Understand import and export regulations in Belize with the help of a local specialist
Belize’s trade potential looks increasingly promising, bolstered by an investment-friendly administration. However, entering a new and unfamiliar market can be a challenge, so partnering up with a local expert is the surest way to guarantee a smooth entry.
At Biz Latin Hub, our team of multilingual legal specialists have extensive knowledge of Caribean and Latin American import and export regulations and are equipped to help you navigate the Belizean market. Reach out to us now to receive personalized assistance on how to leverage business opportunities in Belize.
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The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.