Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

Belizean Nationality Act 1981

Publisher National Legislative Bodies / National Authorities
Publication Date 28 November 1981
Reference BLZ-130
Cite as Belizean Nationality Act 1981 [Belize],  28 November 1981, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b50ac.html [accessed 22 December 2014]
Comments This is the official text. The Act, No. 1 of 1981, dated 23 November 1981, was published in the Gazette dated 28 November 1981.
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

AN ACT to make provision for citizenship of Belize and for matters connected therewith.

BE IT ENACTED by and with the advice and consent of the House of Representatives and the Senate of Belize, and by the authority of the same as follows:-

1. Short Title

This Act may be cited as the Belizean Nationality Act 1981.

PART I CITIZENSHIP OF BELIZE

2. Status.

(1)With effect from the appointed date, there shall be a status to be known as "citizen of Belize".

(2)A person shall be or become entitled to the status of a citizen of Belize in one of the following ways only:

(a)by right of descent as provided by this Act

(b)by virtue of registration as provided by this Act.

(3)In any context in which a distinction is drawn according as that status is based on descent or registration, a citizen of Belize is referred to as "citizen by descent" or "citizen by registration"; and the status of such citizen is in the like context referred to as "citizenship by descent" or "citizenship by registration".

3. Citizenship and Nationality.

A citizen of Belize may, for any purpose in Belize, describe his nationality by the use of the expression "Citizen of Belize".

PART II CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT

4. Citizenship by descent in the case of persons born before the appointed date.

(1)Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person who, having been born in Belize before the appointed date, is at that date a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies shall have the status of a citizen of Belize.

(2)Every person who, immediately before Independence Day, is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies-

(a)having become such a citizen under the British Nationality Act 1948 by virtue of his having been naturalised in Belize as a British subject before that Act came into force; or

(b)having while resident in Belize become such a citizen by virtue of his having been naturalised or registered under that Act,

shall become a citizen of Belize on Independence Day.

(3)Every person who, having been born outside Belize, is immediately before Independence Day a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies shall, if his father or mother becomes or would but for his death or tile renunciation of his citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies have become, a citizen of Belize by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) of this section, become a citizen of Belize on Independence Day.

(4)Every person who, having been born outside Belize, is immediately before Independence Day a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (but not also a citizen of any Other country) shall, if one of his grandparents becomes, or Would but for his death or the renunciation of his citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies have become, a citizen of Belize, by virtue of Subsection (1) or (2) of this section, become a citizen of Belize on Independence Day.

(5)Every woman who, having been married to a person who becomes, or but for his death or the renunciation of his citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies Would have become, a citizen of Belize by virtue of subsection (1), (2), (3) or (4) of this section, is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies immediately before Independence Day shall become a Citizen of Belize on Independence Day.

5. Citizenship by descent in the case of persons born on or after the appointed date.

(1)Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person born in Belize on or after tile appointed date shall have the status of a citizen of Belize by descent.

(2)Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person born outside Belize on or after the appointed date shall have the status of a citizen of Belize by descent if at the time of his birth his father or mother is a citizen of Belize otherwise than by virtue or this section or subsection (3) or (4) of section 4.

(3)The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any person if at the time of his birth-

(a)neither of his parents is a citizen of Belize and his father or mother possesses such immunity from suit and legal process as is accorded to the envoy of a foreign sovereign power accredited to Belize; or

(b)his father or mother is a citizen of a country with which Belize is at war and the birth occurs in a place then under occupation by that country;

6. Certificate of citizenship of Belize in case of doubt.

(1)The Minister may in such cases as he thinks fit, on application made by or on behalf of any person with respect to whose citizenship of Belize a doubt exists, whether on a question of fact or law, certify that that person is a citizen of Belize.

(2)A certificate issued under this section shall, unless it is proved that it was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact, be conclusive evidence that that person was such a citizen on the date thereof, but without prejudice to any evidence that he was such a citizen at any earlier date.

7. Foundlings.

Every person first found in Belize as a newly born deserted infant of unknown and unascertainable parentage shall, until the contrary is proved, be deemed to have the status of a citizen of Belize by descent.

8. Resumption of citizenship by descent.

(1)Any person who ceases under section 17 or section 18 to be a citizen of Belize by descent may at any time thereafter make application to the Minister for a declaration that such person has resumed the status of a citizen of Belize by descent; and the Minister may make the declaration for which the application is made-

(a)if that person renounces citizenship of any other country of which he is a citizen, in accordance with the law in force in that behalf in that other country; and

(b)if that person is, and intends to continue to be, ordinarily resident in Belize.

(2)Where a declaration is made in relation to any person under subsection (I) , that person shall, with effect from such date as may be specified in the declaration, again have the status of a citizen of Belize by descent.

(3)Any person who makes or has made in application under subsection (I)may, in his application or by subsequent letter, make a request for the grant to any minor child of that person of the status of a citizen of Belize by descent; and if in any such case a declaration under subsection (I)is made in relation to that person, each minor child specified in the declaration shall have the status of a citizen of Belize by descent.

(4)The Minister may refuse to make a declaration under subsection (1) in relation to any person on grounds of public policy; and such refusal shall be final but Without prejudice to the power of the Minister subsequently to make such a declaration in relation to that person.

9. Posthumous persons

Any reference in this Part to the national status of the father of a person at the time of that person's birth shall, in relation to a person born after the death of his father, be construed as a reference to the national status of the father at the time of the father's death; and where that death occured before the 21st of September 1981, and the birth occured on or after that date, the national status that the father would have had if he had died on that date shall be deemed to be his natural status at the time of his death.

PART III CITIZENSHIP BY REGISTRATION

10. Persons entitled to registration as citizens.

(1)This section shall apply to any applicant for registration as a citizen of Belize who has the following qualifications:-

(a)that the applicant is of full age and of sound mind;

(b)that the applicant is a person who is ordinarily resident in Belize and has been so resident for a period of five years immediately preceding the date of the application, and

(c)that the applicant is, and intends to continue to be, ordinarily resident in Belize

(2)Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person to whom this section applies may if he has the qualification set out in subsection (1) of this section, be registered as a citizen of Belize on his making application in that behalf to the Minister in the prescribed manner.

(3)Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2) of this section the Minister may refuse to register as a citizen of Belize any person referred to in that subsection if he is satisfied that the applicant-

(a)is not of good character; or

(b)has been convicted by a competent court in any country of a criminal offence for which he was sentenced to death or has been detained under a sentence of imprisonment of twelve months or more imposed on him on his conviction of a criminal offence by such a court, and in either case, has not received a free pardon in respect of the offence; or

(c)has engaged in activities, whether within or outside of Belize, which, in the opinion of the Minister, are prejudicial to safety of Belize or to the maintenance of law and public order in Belize; or

(d)has been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in any country and has not been discharged; or

(e)not being the dependant of a citizen of Belize, has not sufficient means to maintain himself and is likely to become a public charge.

(4)The Minister's refusal, under subsection (3) of this section, to allow the application of any person for registration as a citizen of Belize shall be final.

11. Registration of spouse, widow or widower of citizen of Belize.

(1)Subject to the other provisions of this Part, no person who is the spouse, or the widow or widower, of a citizen of Belize by descent or registration, shall. be registered as a citizen of Belize under this Act, except in accordance with the succeeding provision of this section.

(2)A person who desires to be registered as a citizen of Belize under this section shall send an application in the prescribed form and manner to the prescribed officer.

(3)After the receipt of the application under subsection (2), the prescribed officer shall send the application to the Minister, if he is satisfied that the applicant has the following qualifications:-

(a)that the applicant has the qualifications specified in paragraph. (a) and (c) of subsection (1) of section 10;

(b)that the applicant has been resident in Belize throughout a period of one year immediately preceding the date of the application of such applicant; and

(c)that the application is the spouse, or the widow or widower, of a citizen of Belize by descent or registration.

(4)The Minister may, in his discretion, refuse an application sent to him under subsection (3) oil any of the grounds specified in subsection (3) (a), (h) or (c) of section 10.

(5)Where the Minister grants an application for registration made under this section by any person, Such person shall be registered as a citizen of Belize.

(6)The Minister's refusal under Subsection (4) of this section to allow tile application of any person for registration as a Citizen of Belize shall be final.

12. Minor children of applicants for registration as citizens of Belize.

(1)Where ail applicant for registration as a citizen of Belize has any minor child, he may In his application or by Subsequent letter make a request for the inclusion of the name of that child in the certificate of registration which may be granted to him under this Part.

(2)Where a request as aforesaid is made by an applicant under section 10 or section 11, he Minister may, subject to the other provisions of this Part, comply with the request if the applicant is registered as a citizen of Belize.

13. Persons who are not to be granted citizenship by registration.

(1)Save as provided in section 10, a person who has ceased to be a citizen of Belize shall not be granted citizenship by registration.

(2)A person who is a citizen of my country other than Belize under any law In force In that country shall. not be granted citizenship by registration unless he renounces citizenship of that country in accordance with that law.

14. Register.

There shall be kept and maintained, in the prescribed form, a register of persons who are granted citizenship by registration.

15. Certificates of registration.

The Minister shall grant, in he prescribed form, a certificate of registration as a citizen of Belize to every person who is registered under section 10 section 11 and where he decides to comply with a request made by that person under section 12, shall include in the certificate the name of every minor child to whom the request relates.

16. Effect of certificates of registration.

(1)A person to whom a certificate of registration as a citizen of Belize is granted shall, on subscribing the prescribed oath of affirmation of allegiance have the status of a citizen of Belize by registration as from the date of that certificate.

(2)A minor Child whose name is Included in a certificate of registration as a citizen of Belize shall have the status of a citizen of Belize by registration as from the date of that certificate.

PART IV LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP

17. Renunciation of citizenship of Belize.

If a citizen of Belize of full age and of sound mind makes a declaration of renunciation of citizenship of Belize in the prescribed manner, the Minister shall cause the declaration to be registered; and, upon registration thereof, the declarant. shall cease to be a citizen of Belize:

Provided however that the Minister may withhold registration of such declaration if it is made during the continuance of any war in which Belize is engaged by a person who is or who intends to become a national of a foreign country.

18. Restrictions against dual citizenship of citizens by descent.

(1)Where a person born before the appointed date is a citizen of Belize by descent and is also on that date a citizen of any other country, that person shall-

(a)On the 31st day of December 1983, or

(b)On the day on which he attains the age or nineteen years,

whichever day is in his case the latest, cease to be a citizen of Belize, unless before that day he renounces citizenship of that other country in accordance with the law therein in force in that behalf and notifies such renunciation to a prescribed officer.

(2)Where a person is a citizen of Belize by descent and that person, by operation of law, is at the time of his birth or becomes thereafter, also a citizen of any other country, that person shall-

(a)on the 31st day of December 1983, or

(b)on the day immediately succeeding the date of the expiration of a period or twelve months from the date on which he so becomes a citizen of that other country, or

(c)on the day on which he attains the age or nineteen years,

whichever day is in his case the latest, cease to be a citizen of Belize, unless before that day he renounces citizenship or that other country in accordance with the law therein in force in on that behalf and notifies such renunciation to a prescribed officer.

(3)A person who, under subsection (2) of section 5, is a citizen of Belize by descent but whose father is or was a citizen of Belize by registration, shall, on the day on which he attains the age of nineteen years, cease to be a citizen of Belize, unless before that day he transmits to the Minister in the prescribed manner and form a declaration of citizenship of Belize.

(4)In the case of any person to whom the provisions of any of the preceding subsections apply, the Minister may in his discretion direct that those provisions shall apply in that case subject to the modification that the reference therein to the age of nineteen years shall be construed as a reference to such higher age as may be specified in the direction.

(5)A person who is a citizen of Belize by descent shall cease to be a citizen of Belize If he voluntarily becomes a citizen of any other country.

19. Restrictions against dual citizenship of persons who are citizens by registration.

(I) A person who is a citizen of Belize by registration shall cease to be a citizen of Belize if he voluntarily becomes a citizen of any other country.

(2)Where a person who is registered as a citizen of Belize thereafter becomes, by operation of law, also a citizen any other country, that person shall-

(a)on the day immediately succeeding the date of the expiration of a period or three months (or such longer period as the Minister may for good cause allow) from the date on which he so becomes a citizen of that other country, or

b)on the day on which he attains the age of nineteen years,

whichever day is in his case the later, cease to be a citizen of Belize, unless before that day he renounces citizenship of that other country in accordance with the law therein, in force in that behalf and notifies such renunciation to a prescribed officer.

20. Cases of invalid or ineffective renunciations of foreign citizenship.

In any case where any person purports to renounce citizenship of any country for the purpose of acquiring, retaining or resuming, under any provisions of this Act, the status of a citizen of Belize, and it is found at any time that the renunciation was not in accordance with or not effective under the law in force in that behalf in such other country, that person shall be deemed never to have acquired, retained or resumed the Minister makes a declaration to that effect in any such case, the declaration shall be final.

21. Residence outside Belize for five consecutive years.

A person who is a citizen by registration shall cease to be a citizen of Belize if that person resides outside Belize for five consecutive years or more, exclusive of any period during which that person

(a)is employed abroad as an officer in the service of the Government of Belize, or

(b)is abroad as a representative of the Government of Belize, or

(c)being the spouse or minor child of a citizen of Belize who is abroad in any of the capacities specified in paragraph (a) and (b) of this section, resides abroad with that citizen, or

(d)resides abroad on a holiday or for reasons of health, or

(e)is a student at an educational institution abroad, or

(f) resides abroad with a spouse who is a citizen of Belize by descent, or

(g)is abroad for any other purpose which may be prescribed by order by the Minister.

22. Declaration by Minister of loss of citizenship in specified circumstances.

(1)Where the Minister is satisfied that a person who is a citizen of Belize by registration-

(a)has been convicted of an offence under this Act, or

(b)has been convicted of any offence under Title XIV of the Criminal Code; or

(c)was registered as a citizen of Belize by means of fraud, false representation, or the concealment of material circumstances or by mistake; or

(d)has, within five years after the date of registration as a citizen of Belize, been sentenced in any court to imprisonment for a term of twelve months or more; or

(e)has, since the date of his becoming a citizen of Belize by registration, been for a period of not less than two years ordinarily resident in a foreign country of which he was a national or citizen at any time prior to that date, and has not maintained a substantial connexion with Belize; or

(f)has taken an oath or affirmation of, or made a declaration of, allegiance to a foreign country; or

(g)has so conducted himself that his continuance as a citizen of Belize is detrimental to the interests of Belize,

the Minister may by order declare that such person shall cease to be such a citizen and thereupon the person in respect of whom the order is made shall cease to be a citizen of Belize by registration.

(2)Before the Minister makes my order in relation to a person to whom paragraph (g ) of subsection (1) of this section applies, he shall refer that person's case for inquiry by one or more persons appointed by him, with such qualification as may be prescribed. The person or persons who have been authorized to make an inquiry under the preceding provisions of this section shall, as soon as the inquiry is completed, make a written report to the Minister. He shall not make any order under subsection (1) of this section without carefully considering such report.

(3)Where a person ceases to be a citizen of Belize under subsection (1) of this section, the Minister may by order direct that all or any of the persons specified in the following paragraphs shall cease to be citizens of Belize, and thereupon they shall cease to be citizens:-

(a)all or any of the minor children of such person who have been included in the certificate of registration issued to him at the time of his registration, and

(b)the spouse, widow or widower of such person, if such spouse, widow or widower was registered under this Act.

PART V MISCELLANEOUS

23. Offence.

Any person who, for the purpose of procuring anything to be done or not to be done under this Act, makes any statement which he knows to be false in a material particular shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months.

24. Fees.

Every person to whom a certificate under this Act is granted shall, in respect of that certificate pay, in the prescribed manner, a fee according to the prescribed rates.

25. Regulations.

(1)The Minister may make all such regulations as may be necessary for giving effect to the provisions of this Act and in particular for prescribing any matter which is stated or required to be prescribed.

(2)Regulations made by the Minister under subsection (1) of this Section shall be subject to negative resolution.

26. Form of Oath.

The form of tile oath of allegiance to be administered for the purposes of this Act shall be as in the Schedule hereto.

27. Interpretation.

(1)In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-

"appointed day" and "Independence Day" mean the 21st September 1981;

"Minister" means the Minister responsible for citizenship;

"minor child" means a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years, and Includes a child born out of wedlock;

"prescribed" means prescribed by regulation made under this Act.

(2)For the purposes of this Act, a person born aboard a registered ship or aircraft, or aboard an unregistered ship or aircraft of the government of any country, shall be deemed to have been born in the place in which the ship or aircraft was registered or, as the case may be, in that country.

SCHEDULE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE

1. I, A. B., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Belize, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe and uphold the Constitution and the laws of Belize and conscientiously fulfil my duties as a citizen of Belize.

So Help Me God !!

AFFIRMATION OF ALLEGIANCE WHERE A PERSON IS PERMITTED BY LAW TO AFFIRM

2. I, A. B., do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Belize, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe an uphold the Constitution and the laws of Belize and conscientiously fulfil my duties as a citizen of Belize.

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