“Kathleen, I called the Belize consulate in Los Angeles to ask about getting a passport and opening a bank account. They told me that to get a passport I have to be related to someone in Belize and to open a bank account I have to be a citizen of Belize. How does that square with what you are saying, that it is easy to open a Belize bank account with zero amount of balance and that a passport is also easy to get?
“In addition, I just heard on the radio, from one person living in Belize and another who has visited Belize, that the police there are extremely corrupt. That they shake down foreigners, especially Americans wanting to live there and that everything has to be bought through graft. To build a business that can benefit the locals, you have to bribe the police to get started and God help those who actually build a large business or invent something that the world wants. No end to bribes and physical, violent, shakedowns…”
–Fred J., United States
I don’t know who you spoke with at the Belize consulate, but perhaps they should read up on their laws before answering peoples’ questions on the phone. Look at this page on Belize consulate’s website detailing their citizenship laws:
You can become a naturalized citizen in Belize after five years of legal residency (this is typical for most countries that make it possible to pursue citizenship through residency), and it’s fairly easy to establish residency in Belize. In fact, I’d rate this as one of the easiest countries anywhere for both residency and citizenship through residency.
In Belize, you’ll find two types of banks–local and international. To open an account at a local bank, you must be a resident of the country. To open an account at an international bank, you must be a non-resident. (Remember, citizenship isn’t residency and vice versa.) When we talk about the possibility of opening an account at a bank in Belize with zero initial deposit, it’s an international account at an international bank that we’re referring to.
As for the corruption comments, right…this is a big topic of discussion right now in the midst of McAfee’s exploits in this country. Is Belize too corrupt a place to live peacefully and peaceably or to run a business? No. I know that’s not the case, as I have many friends living there happily and know many people running businesses in this country, as well.
This is not to say there is no corruption in Belize. There is. As there is corruption in every country in the world to some level. Is Belize more corrupt than its Central American neighbors? I don’t think so. But you’d have to go spend time there to decide for yourself.