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Banking in Belize

22 July, 2010

Banking hours are shorter in Belize, typically only until 2pm most days, and in some cases banks close for lunch.

The official currency is the Belize dollar. The Belize Dollar is officially tied to the U.S. Dollar. One U.S. Dollar = Two Belize Dollars. The Belize dollar is difficult to exchange anywhere outside of Belize (except at border areas of Guatemala and Mexico). Belize paper-money denominations are 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Dollar bills. Belize coins are 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 Belizean Cents and a 1 Dollar coin, with the 25-Cent piece called a Shilling. 

Foreign exchange accounts are allowed but permission must be obtained from the Central Bank of Belize. Non-residents are best advised to open an offshore bank account and keep the bulk of liquid assets out of Belize.
 
While it will be necessary to open a checking account in Belize to have easy access to spending money and for handling routine local transactions, it will be advantageous to maintain a banking relationship in the U.S. or similar country, with the bulk of your demand and deposit cash accounts there, transferring funds by wire or other means to your account in Belize, as required.
 
Residents and non-residents need permission to buy foreign currency for whatever purpose. The commercial banks are authorized dealers and are allowed to sell foreign currency up to US$2,500 for private travel and up to US$10,000 for business travel per calendar year.
 
With 5 commercial banks licensed to operate in Belize, banking is much like that of countries across the world, with the exception that there is no insurance (deposits in Belize banks are not protected by deposit insurance, as they are in the U.S. under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and in many other countries. All your deposits are at risk should the bank fail.) However, the Central Bank holds a tight oversight over the banking industry; this applies to both domestic and offshore banks that must retain suitable liquidity and assets rations in respect of loans.
  • Atlantic Bank Limited - Freetown Road, Belize City.
  • Bank of Nova Scotia - Albert Street, Belize City
  • First Caribbean Bank - Albert Street, Belize City.
  • Heritage Bank of Belize - Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City
  • The Belize Bank, Limited - Market Square, Belize City
All 5 banks have correspondent relationships with banks in North America and Europe, along with facilities such as:
  • Automated Teller Machines
  • Cashier's cheques
  • Cheque cashing
  • Loan consolidation
  • Mortgages as well as letters of credit
  • Overdraft facilities
  • Personal and business loans
  • Travellers cheques
  • VISA and MasterCard credit cards
Belize has a healthy system of credit unions, some catering to particular sectors. However the larger credit unions are utilised by most sectors of society including small business.
 
The main services offered by all the banks include savings accounts, consumer education and residential loans. The credit unions that are registered in Belize are:
  • Belize Credit Union League Ltd.
  • Blue Creek Credit Union Ltd.
  • Citrus Growers & Workers Credit Union Ltd.
  • Civil Service Credit Union Ltd.
  • Evangel Credit Union Ltd.
  • Holy Redeemer Credit Union Ltd
  • La Inmaculada Credit Union Ltd.
  • Mount Carmel Credit Union Ltd.
  • Police Credit Union Ltd.
  • St. Francis Xavier Credit Union Ltd.
  • St. John’s Credit Union Ltd.
  • St. Martins Credit Union Ltd.
  • Toledo Teachers Credit Union Ltd.
  • Wesley Credit Union Ltd.
For information, read our article on Belize Offshore Banking.