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Belize Banking System

The Central Bank of Belize was established pursuant to the Central Bank Act 1982. The Central Bank has a statutory obligation under the Bank Act to foster monetary stability and promote credit and exchange conditions conducive to economic growth within the context of the government's economic policy.

The Bank Act provides the Central Bank with the statutory authority for regulating the activities of the Belizean banking system. Besides the Central Bank of Belize, in 2003 there were five commercial banks; eight offshore banks; seventeen domestic and one offshore insurance company, fifteen credit unions, three building societies, one government-owned development bank, one government-owned savings bank, one government-owned small farmers and business bank and eleven casas de cambio.

There are two categories of Belize Offshore Banks currently available. “A” Class licence gives possibility to carrying on banking activities without restrictions. The banks that have obtained “B” Class licence are restricted to carrying on such business as specified in the licence.

Both types of bank need to have local offices, but a “B” Class bank is not allowed to solicit deposits from local residents.

The annual license fee for a Class A (Unrestricted) Banking License - 20 000 USD.

The annual license fee for a Class B (Restricted) Banking License - 15 000 USD.

There is no stamp duty on Bills of Exchange or promissory notes or any other document or certificate executed by or in connection with offshore banking business.

The major Belize banks offer a wide range of international banking services including bank accounts for IBC's, trustees and individuals, foreign currency savings, checking accounts  operated for the purpose of non-resident exchange control, credit card services.

Any Belize Offshore Bank is exempt from all forms of taxation on its profits or gains, on any interest or dividends earned in respect of banking business carried on from within Belize.

Further details of the licensing regime for banks can be read in the Legislation chapter;

Offshore Legal and Tax Regime includes details of the tax treatment and licensing fees for offshore banks.