Types of offshore companies in Belize

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In Belize there are several types of offshore companies, such as the offshore companies IBC and the Belizean trusts. The Belizean laws allow the following forms of registration of offshore companies:

  • Private company
  • Limited Liability Company (LTD)
  • Limited Life Company
  • Joint Ventures and Cooperative Companies
  • Associations
  • Single-Member Company
  • Public Investment Companies
  • International Business Companies
  • Trust Fund

However, almost all offshore and foreign businesses use the International Commercial Companies or International Trust Companies. 

International Business Companies (IBC) in Belize

An International Business Company (IBC) is incorporated under the International Business Company Act 1990 and established by registering the Memorandum and Articles of Incorporation together with the necessary fees. 

The main characteristics of an IBC are:

  • There is no minimum paid up capital requirement, and capital may be issued in foreign currency.
  • Bearer shares may be issued without nominal value. Then they must be kept in custody of a designated local representative.
  • Subscribers may include an individual, a corporation and a trust.
  • A company may own nominee shareholders through a local designated representative.
  • Only one administrator is required and it can be a legal entity
  • A secretary is not required (although he or she may be useful)                    
  • All companies must have a registered agent with the license.
  • There are no requirements for an IBC to file details related to shareholders or directors. 
  • Submission of audits or accounting reports is not required.
  • Meetings of directors or members are not required and can take place anywhere in the world.
  • There are no exchange controls on IBCs.
  • The foreign companies may continue as Belizean IBCs (re-domicile), and vice versa.
  • IBC companies can be involved in almost all types of legal businesses.  

Companies formed under the IBC act are prohibited from:

  • Conducting businesses with residents of Belize.
  • Holding shares in real property located in Belize. Except leased assets for office use.
  • Conducting banking business.
  • Conducting insurance and reassurance activities.
  • Providing registered agents or registered office for companies. 

The registers and accounts of IBC are exempt from corporation taxes, capital or financial transactions. Any IBC can carry out its activities in any foreign currency free of the restrictions set by the government of Belize.

Main uses of an IBC registered in Belize:

  • To establish values of trading accounts in the Unites States, Canada and Europe, or directly through Belizean intermediaries;
  • To maintain property in other jurisdictions;
  • To charge commissions, dividends, or to re-invoice commercial transactions;
  • Trusts registered under Belizean law often incorporate an IBC in Belize, which serves as an asset holding for the Trust. This provides an isolation, which allows the Trust to hide certain details of its existence and to third-party beneficiaries, such as banks or brokers related to the IBC.

The legislation of Belize provides a simple and rapid incorporation, since its modern and technologically efficient IBC registration system is able to incorporate a company in one hour. 

Trusts in Belize

The Belizean Trusts are governed by the Trusts Act of 1992, which was designed to incorporate modern and flexible provisions for assets protection. An appropriate configuration of a Belizean Trust cannot be ignored on the basis of the claims of creditors in another jurisdiction, or judicial order of a foreign court for divorce, bankruptcy etc.

The law foresees the creation of a Trust by means of an oral declaration, a written document (including a will), or in any other way. However, an investment fund can only be created by means of a written document. A land Trust located in Belize is not applicable, unless it is written down.

The registration of a trust is optional. Both, the Trustor and the Trustee can request it from the registrar. If registered, a certified copy of the instrument that creates the Trust (if there is one) must be submitted. The registration record is not open to inspection, unless the fiduciary authorizes (in writing) a third part individual to inspect the entry of that Trust in the registry. The maximum duration of a Trust under the law of Belize is 120 years from the date of its creation. The income from the Trust can be accumulated during a period that does not exceed the maximum duration of the Trust.