Whether you plan to spend a few months out of the year in Belize thanks to a beachfront vacation home or you are getting ready to retire there full time, one of the logistical priorities on your to-do list should be establishing a local bank account.
Although U.S. dollars are widely accepted for cash purchases throughout the country and are even tied directly to the local Belizean dollar, those who want to establish full or part time residency may prefer to tie their accounts to the local currency.
If you want to get either a debit card or a credit card in Belize, follow these steps and get started today.
Decide Between a Personal and a Corporate Account
First, it is important to determine whether you are seeking a debit or credit card for personal use or one that is tied to a corporate account.
The rules and regulations surrounding the establishment of bank accounts in Belize are different for individuals and businesses, so be up front about what you require right from the beginning so that you can get the right card that meets your needs.
Pick a Local Bank in Belize
Next, you will need to determine where you want to have a checking account or credit card.
There are several banks in Belize that you can choose from, but make sure that you opt for one of the major banks that has available ATMs, a solid reputation and accounts in the local currency rather than U.S. dollars.
Gather the Necessary Documents
Many people are surprised to learn that in order to open up a bank account and receive a credit or debit card in Belize, you have to supply even more information than in the United States.
This is because Belize works hard to prevent money laundering or financial fraud. By learning as much as possible about account holders early on, they can guarantee to other nations that nothing fraudulent is going on, which will protect your privacy and anonymity in the future.
Some of the documents you may need include a notarized copy of your passport, a utility bill or other proof of your international address and a reference letter from a bank where you have held an account for at least two years.
Apply For a Bank Account or Line of Credit
Once you've picked the right bank in Belize and gathered together all your necessary documents, you can fill out an application form for a checking account and a debit card or a local credit card in Belize dollars.
Keep in mind that you don't have to travel to Belize in order to receive a credit or debit card. You can apply online and mail in documents and even get your cards in the mail.
If you are establishing a line of credit, make sure you understand the interest rates as well as any additional fees. For a bank account, determine how you can transfer money to your account when the balance is low.
Learn Where and How You Can Use Your New Debit or Credit Cards
Once your card arrives, figure out how you can use it. Some debit cards in Belize currency may not work overseas, for example, or they may have fees for currency conversions when making foreign purchases.
If you live or work in Belize, then having a debit card, a credit card or both in the local currency is a smart move. Thankfully, the process is straightforward, and this basic guide can get you started right away.