You want to retire in Belize, but you don’t want to go through the year long residency requirement and the bureaucratic red tape of applying for residency? There is another option. It’s called the QRP, Qualified Retired Persons Program. It’s a simple way to get yourself and your stuff into the country with little expense and hassle.
First off lets talk age. Unlike retirement programs in many of the world’s countries, Belize figures you’re going to want to quit working and kick back at a much earlier age than 65. In fact, you only need to be 45 to qualify for the QRP program and you can bring the spouse and kids even though they’re much younger.
Unlike the residency program, getting approved and set up in the QRP program is a quick process. Most people who apply receive approval within three months of submitting their application. Once you’re approved you can stop having to go and get your tourist visa renewed every 30 days in order to stay in the country. QRP means you’re in like flint.
Once you’re on the program you can bring in your stuff. And this is the best benefit of the QRP. For the first year you’re living in Belize on QRP status, you can import your household goods and even expensive things you own like a car, boat or plane, completely duty free. It almost makes you want to go out and actually buy a plane and import it just because you can.
Now lets talk money. You can’t work in Belize on the QRP. However, you can work remotely for income derived outside Belize. Any foreign income you make is totally exempt from taxes.
But whether you work or not, you do have to bring some money into the country. The program requires that you deposit $2000 a month into your Belize bank account. You can either do this on a monthly basis or you can do all in one fell swoop by depositing $24,000 for the year.
Banking rules are also simple on the QRP. In terms of opening an account as someone in the program, you will be viewed as a non-resident and can set up a U.S. dollar bank account. This makes it easy to protect your money from conversion fees and just turn it into Belizean currency as the need arises.
Overall the QRP is a quick, easy option for establishing yourself in the country, but it does have some drawbacks. Recently, there have been some issues with the program, with people who’ve qualified not being able to get a hold of their actual QRP card. The point of having the card is to make getting in and out of the country a breeze since you’re supposed to be able to swipe it at immigration and not have to go through the usual immigration rigamarole. The excuse the government gave for not issuing the cards, was that they ran out of printer ink. Hopefully they’ve resolved that issue by now. But if they haven’t you can just wait for them to take a trip to Office Depot in Belopan and get those cards printing while practicing that new stress free attitude of patience that only Belize can help you cultivate.
Brett Renee Stone is a managing partner and director of communications for Palm Reef Resort