Yesterday was Commonwealth Day, a national holiday in Belize. Not being from a Commonwealth country myself (the U.S.), this holiday is one that I wasn’t familiar with at all when I first moved here. I remember researching it last year, but frankly, forgot everything I learned.
Back in the day, it was first introduced in 1898 as Empire Day and was celebrated on the last school day before Queen Victoria’s birthday of May 24. It involved a multi-faith service, speeches, and much fan fare. However, around 1973, Canada suggested it should be celebrated by all commonwealth countries on the same day, and so in 1975, the second Monday in March was selected.
However, it appears as if Belize didn’t get the memo, because they continue to celebrate it on or about May 24 – the date it was originally celebrated when it was called Empire Day. Leave it to Belize to be a rebel about this whole issue.
So, since nothing was open, and it poured rain off and on all day, we did pretty much nothing yesterday except for some computer work, reading, watching some movies, and cooking. Lazy days are always welcome in my book.
On another note, lately, via several different communications I’ve had with clients or seen on forums, I’ve come across what appears to be a wide-spread misconception about how one portion of the QRP (Qualified Retirement Program) works. It seems that a lot of you are under the impression that you must deposit the required $2000 USD monthly income into a Belize bank. Some of you actually think this must be a lump sum deposit for the entire first year, prior to applying for the program.
I just want you to know that this is absolutely false! If you know the rules and regulations of the QRP (which I do, since not only am I in it, but as part of my Expat Relocation Consulting, I deal with advising others on it all the time), it makes perfect since why this is not a requirement.
As a QRP member, you only have to live in Belize one month out of the year – that’s it! So how could they convince potential applicants to deposit that much money in a Belizean bank if they don’t have to live here year around? In order to qualify, all you have to do is provide your bank statement proving the $2000 a month income stream, or proof that you’re in a pension program of some kind, and the monetary value meets the program’s requirements. In some instances, they may even accept lump sum bank statements if the amount is large enough to prove that you can take care of yourself while in Belize.
The misunderstanding of this rule is right up there with the one where people think you can’t buy or start a business in Belize and then work in it (see items 10 & 11 on the Belize Tourism Board’s website). After all, the minimum age for entry into the program is 45 – who do you know that’s ready to retire at 45 (I wish!)? That’s why I’ve always said they should rename the program to the Qualified Relocation Program, but they probably never will.
Do you worry that you have been given other misinformation about Belize?