New to group

Hello group,

Im a 34 year old American looking to make the move to Belize, any information would be greatly appreciated especially in regards to a work permit. I visited Belize last year and fell in love with the country and will coming back the middle of June for a month long stay.

Belize is a small, generally poor country with high unemployment. The government does protect is industries and jobs for it's own people. It is generally impossible to just move here and get a work permit for any job that can be done by a Belizean. If you have a rare skill or one not common in Belize then it becomes easier. The main two options expats tend to exercise are firstly to open their own business or to work online and make a living from a business outside of Belize.

Belize welcomes expats that open businesses and then hire locals (you will still require permits to work in the business). Sometimes this is the way to go and the cheap labor here often makes it feasible. That been said it is important to find a niche that provides a needed service and does not compete with a local business or growing a business may be difficult.

The other option is to become a resident of Belize. This is the option I have chosen. This can be a long process that can take between two and three years. In order to qualify for Permanent Residency you must live in Belize for one full year and not leave for more than 14 days total in that year. After that time you may apply to become a Permanent Resident and then it will usually take another year to be accepted but can be up to two years.  For this option you will require enough savings to sustain you through the residency process (as long as three years). Once you have acquired residency you have all of the same rights as a Belizean except for the right to vote (unless you are from a commonwealth county) and would not be considered a citizen, but you would be entitled to work any job you like. So again depending on your reality this may also be an option.

Belize is not a country that makes processes easy for expats (or for locals for that matter), but it is not impossible either as long as you have time and patience.

We found that most things in Belize including jobs, rentals, etc. are not generally advertised but are spread by word of mouth, so having that down time required to obtain residency has allowed us to get to know people, explore the country, and put us in a better position to hear about opportunities as they come up.

Hope this helps.
Regards Bill

absolutely well said Bill

Wow If that was compulsory reading before joining the forum it would reduce the repeated 'question' and  give people  a real understanding of the situation.
really well put.

What can you tell me about volunteering? I'm willing to give months to a cause but really want to know that its not depriving a local from having a job. Its been my experience that some businesses there ask for volunteers to avoid hiring and paying a local. I REALLY hate that kind of mentality. Though I understand that it is important that true nonprofits have a way to function without a lot of expenses in order to help.  Here's my question- How does a volunteer find a place that truly needs the help and isn't just trying to avoid the costs associated with hiring? Any suggestions as to places near you that may need volunteers would also be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

I know volunteers are well intentioned but anytime assets from up north go into belize they displace something local.  Often people want to take paper/notebooks or sporting goods down but they do displace local business.  I'm not saying dont do it but just be careful what you bring.  You might ask at the US embassy facebook page.


Volunteers have to have a permit to work in Belize they don't allow a volunteer to do a job even for the non profits if the Government decides it is suited to a local person and the non profit should pay a wage to a local person. Also the volunteer can only do any work for a charity for a given time specified on the permit (which of course has a fee attached)
As to people giving items such as school and sport supplies somehow depriving the local businesses, If the school has no money to buy them from the local supplier, he has not lost a sale. Please visit Belize and see the local economy in action. It is true most things you need are available in Belize but not everything you want, so the things that are wants not needs will be priced accordingly. A cheap basketball in the US is readily available for $15 or less the cheapest  (usually same brands) Basketball on sale in Belize is around the $50 mark or nearly two days wages for un unskilled worker. A school cannot afford more than 1 or 2  for their sports class. The parents of the kids at school have to already buy all the NEEDS for school, like books writing implements and school uniform. More than days pay for a basketball is unlikely to happen. Do you  really think an expat bringing a couple  of cheap basket balls into Belize is still hurting the economy. Yes there are better off families and schools that will be able to buy the stuff kids WANT but they are not likely to be the schools receiving the free basket balls.

I have been to Belize a number of times and I'm very familiar with the economy your arrogance is not necessary.  In an absolute sense anything we bring from the US or Canada is going to displace something that could have been sold in Belize.  Tourists often like to bring notebooks for students and they like to bring sports equipment which is fine but they can buy any of that locally in Belize and help the local businesses and give it to the kids. Anyone wishing to bring stuff for donation to Belize are best off contacting US Embassy about the best way how to do it

Stuff being brought down is not usually taking the place of would be purchased items. I wouldn't  need to contact the American embassy I am not American.  There are several embassies in Belize. It seems not all expats in Belize are American.
You  have advocated several times that  people coming to live in Belize should not bring their own things but to buy from leaving expats. Not telling them to buy from the local stores. How does that help the Belize economy.  To date I have taken  vey little down and purchased on  the local economy all  I need to equip and furnish a 3 bed house Built by Belizean contractor.
As to arrogance a little pot calling kettle there i think. As you started off with opining that volunteers were stealing jobs. I just put forward some of the checks in place to make sure that isn't the case.

Actually I didn't say volunteers are stealing job you are making that up and twisting facts

Welcome to the expat forum 😂

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