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Working in Belize

We are looking at moving to Belize but wonder about working there.

Can Canadians work in Belize? I'm a Journeyman welder with management experience. My wife is an executive assistant in health care.

Ride09hd :

We are looking at moving to Belize but wonder about working there.

Can Canadians work in Belize? I'm a Journeyman welder with management experience. My wife is an executive assistant in health care.

Ride09hd;
Welcome to the Belize Forum. Working in Belize is a topic that comes up often. I would recommend entering you questions with the search tool and/or looking through previous threads for a lot of good information on many topics that will come up in the  research process.

To your question...................... The short answer is no, but it is not impossible.

(Edited, copied, and pasted from my comments in previous threads)
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, and trades are not regulated like we are used to. These jobs are often done by locals with an aptitude for plumbing, electrical, welding, etc. 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. A good electrician can make at most BZ$70.00/day (US$35.00). less than I made in an hour in Canada. So even finding a job may not provide the income you would expect or require. That been said it is also important to find a niche that provides a needed service and does not compete with a local business, otherwise 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 takes at least another year to be accepted but can be up to two years or more.  For this option you will require enough savings to sustain you through the residency process (as long as three years) and continue to renew your visitor visa every month as well as follow the 14 day rule until approved. 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.

I hope this helps.

Good luck with your research. Let me know if I can help in the future.

Thanks so much! Your reply was extremely helpful .

Ride09hd :

We are looking at moving to Belize but wonder about working there.

Can Canadians work in Belize? I'm a Journeyman welder with management experience. My wife is an executive assistant in health care.

As always Bill has great information.
If you are interested in starting your own business in Belize, here is an article that might be helpful. I would caution though that it was written in 2013, and regulations may have changed, also I question their optimistic time frame. :/

http://www.belizeadventure.ca/business/

would $10.00 a day work for you?

katzgar :

would $10.00 a day work for you?

Absolutely, PM me your email, and I will send you the address to mail me the monthly check.
Thanks for your generous offer of $10.00/day !

Your comment isn't rational doesn't make sense

I think you just got 'whooshed'

??? must be lets go on the internet lipped day

katzgar :

would $10.00 a day work for you?

Your comment isn't rational doesn't make sense

Katzgar;
We appreciate all perspectives and opinions (the good, the bad, and the ugly) that are helpful. Unfortunately these one line comments with no insight as to who you are talking to, or what you are talking about are not that (helpful, I mean).

I appreciate your opinion and perspective but if you could take the time to let us know what your experience is and how it has inspired your comment that would help new members and indeed all of us to more understand and appreciate your perspective. Without that perspective "Your comment isn't rational doesn't make sense", doesn't promote meaningful conversations, and certainly is not helpful to the forum or the member that has started the thread.

As you know, this forum is to answer questions based on our experiences so that folks can make an informed decision on life in Belize. Yes we often get the same questions repeated, but that is what we do here (answer questions, hopefully in a helpful and positive way). People have to start their research somewhere, I hope I can ask you to join us to show our appreciation for our new members, and our willingness to help by continuing to contribute, but in a meaningful way.

So what you're saying is Will the Smith soliciting money on your website isn't an issue

katzgar :

So what you're saying is Will the Smith soliciting money on your website isn't an issue

Katzgar;
I think the comment was a sarcastic response to a sarcastic comment with no perspective of it's meaning. Soliciting as you know is not allowed but that was obviously not the intention.

What I am saying is that many of us are trying to be helpful and sometimes these comments without perspective undermine our efforts and the efforts of the forum to be seen as a helpful resource. Also, just so you know, it is not my website, I am just an opinionated member the same as you are.

I'm going to assume that the OPer realized I was addressing the OPer and move on

My husband and I are thinking of moving to Belize in 2018 he is retired and I am in the medical field,,would I be able to work there ? Is there a good rental market as I would want to rent for 1 year before we settle in and buy a place

This gets asked frequently go back and read through some of the previous posts

wwilkieson :

My husband and I are thinking of moving to Belize in 2018 he is retired and I am in the medical field,,would I be able to work there ? Is there a good rental market as I would want to rent for 1 year before we settle in and buy a place

wwilkieson;
I have answered this question on employment in the first comment of this thread. Scroll up to the top.

With regards to rentals we have always found something quickly. So I would say yes it is good.

I recently submitted my first application for residency with my husband as the applicant and me as the dependent.  The only question asked was - does my husband have a work permit.  He does not so we were told that my application was rejected and to re-apply just as myself (I do have a work permit).  The requirement for a work permit has, to my knowledge, always been on the checklist but hasn't always been requested.  So coming for a couple of years, then applying for residency to work may not work for you.

What do you guys think about a b&b

I suggest connecting with those who have succeeded. In short, I'd say that if you have sufficient funds to get it up and running and live on while you get established and have good marketing skills, you can do well.

Welcome. ~ Belize is a Beautiful and exciting country that attracts quite a lot of Expats. To answer your question NO you cannot work in Belize unless you are a citizen or permanent resident which makes sense just like any other country. When you go to immigration to get your monthly 30 day extension the stamp specifically states and I am Paraphrasing "Permitted to remain on condition that the holder does not enter into employment paid or unpaid etc...!" I am a Belize citizen so I am somewhat familiar with Belize and its way of doing things. Hope that helps. ~ Good Luck! 😃

Finally someone who stated working conditions correctly!  It may not apply to internet business though - the government would have to go into every home and check each computer.  Right or wrong?

I think you are correct on internet business. You can probably be a digital nomad from just about anywhere in the world but You may want to do more research on that subject!

ferriswhitfield :

Finally someone who stated working conditions correctly!  It may not apply to internet business though - the government would have to go into every home and check each computer.  Right or wrong?

Please don't be so quick to condemn the other contributors here and accept an incomplete answer.

One has to get very specific about all the details before assuming you have the full picture of anything in Belize and even then there is likely to be another gatcha or two that pops up at the last moment.  :o

yayalaw asked about opening a B&B which is a business. I know several expats that are still in  the long process of obtaining residency, but have successfully and legally obtained a work permit so they can OWN and manage their current Belize business. Belize requires them to have that work permit even though they can't work in that business (or anywhere else), they have to hire at least one Belize citizen to do the work.

This topic has been covered several times in this forum, a quick search with the magnifying glass at the top of the page should bring up those threads.

Travelgirl777 :

I think you are correct on internet business. You can probably be a digital nomad from just about anywhere in the world but You may want to do more research on that subject!

Correct, income from outside of Belize is not taxed by Belize.

In regards to working in Belize I understand you cannot get a job and take away from a Belizean. I was told I cannot volunteer either? That is my main purpose in going there! I am really sure this person is wrong. Please reassure me. Bill?

Monkey Town brew :

I suggest connecting with those who have succeeded. In short, I'd say that if you have sufficient funds to get it up and running and live on while you get established and have good marketing skills, you can do well.

I would agree with this comment from Monkey Town brew. It will be work and require not just a desire but also some special skills.

Travelgirl777 :

Welcome. ~ Belize is a Beautiful and exciting country that attracts quite a lot of Expats. To answer your question NO you cannot work in Belize unless you are a citizen or permanent resident which makes sense just like any other country. When you go to immigration to get your monthly 30 day extension the stamp specifically states and I am Paraphrasing "Permitted to remain on condition that the holder does not enter into employment paid or unpaid etc...!" I am a Belize citizen so I am somewhat familiar with Belize and its way of doing things. Hope that helps. ~ Good Luck! 😃

While generally true, this is the very short answer to a long and involved question which will have different answers depending on individual situations. I will go into that more at the end of this post.

ferriswhitfield :

Finally someone who stated working conditions correctly!  It may not apply to internet business though - the government would have to go into every home and check each computer.  Right or wrong?

Folks let's speak about our individual experiences to provide folks with facts rather than our understanding of the facts or hearsay. Here is what the visitor visa actually says and what has been omitted after "etc". in the second quote is the important part;

Permitted to remain on condition that the holder does not enter into employment paid or unpaid, does not engage in any business or profession without the consent of the Director of Immigration and does not remain in Belize longer than the hand written date 30 days later

The director gives her consent via work permits for those that qualify.


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. Even working online is not always acceptable. For example if I offer consulting to clients in the US and am paid outside of Belize then I am probably good. However, if I sell tours of Belize online, receive payments to my Canadian account and then displace a Belizean tour guide by doing my own tours without a work permit when visitors arrive, then I am probably not good so much.

Belize welcomes expats that open businesses and then hire locals (you will still require work permits to operate the business). Sometimes this is the way to go and the low cost of 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. It is often said "the way to make a small fortune in Belize is, to start with a large one".

Another option is to become a resident of Belize. This is the option I have chosen. This can be a long process that can take several 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 two years minimum to be accepted but I also know some that have been waiting almost three.  For this option you will require enough savings to sustain you through the residency process. 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. Here is my article on the residency options in Belize and how they will affect your ability to work.

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.

I have 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 has put us in a better position to hear about opportunities as they come up.

Here is a link to my article on finding employment in Belize. Working in Belize ~ What you need to know

margewest :

In regards to working in Belize I understand you cannot get a job and take away from a Belizean. I was told I cannot volunteer either? That is my main purpose in going there! I am really sure this person is wrong. Please reassure me. Bill?

Marge nothing is cut and dry in Belize. In general what you have been told is true including often requiring a work permit to volunteer. It is important to understand that there is a big difference between volunteering to walk dogs at CAWS or SAGA where as non-profits they do not have budgets to hire locals and without the volunteers for this task,  it would not get done, and volunteering at a pet grooming service that charges for their service and is only looking to save a buck by having a volunteer rather than hiring a local employee for what should be a permanent job of their business.

I am sure if your heart is in the right place (as I know it is) you will find plenty of opportunities to do good without needing a work permit. But always best to double check.

I hope this helps.

Makes it very clear. Total  common sense. Thanks. Our the volunteer plans are for non for profit. Thanks for your time. 
We will be moving to ambergris caye.  Any plans e I can learn more pertaining  to that particular  area?

I am done working!  I have no intention of doing anything but enjoying life in Belize and allowing the locals to teach me a thing or two!

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