What Is the Belize Dollar (BZD)?

BZD is the currency abbreviation for the Belize dollar, which is the currency for Belize. It is often presented locally with the symbol BZ$. The abbreviation BZD is used in the foreign exchange market, which is where currencies from different countries are bought, sold and exchanged.

Denominations of the BZD include banknotes and coins. BZD banknotes come in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100; coins include 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents, as well as BZ$ 1 coins. As of August 2020, 1 BZD is equal to US $0.50, where it is pegged.

Key Takeaways

  • The Belize Dollar (BZD) is the official currency of Belize, first issued in 1974.
  • The BZD is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 1:2.
  • Prior its independence, Belize used the British Honduras dollar, British pounds, and Spanish dollars at various points in its history.

Understanding the Belize Dollar

The Belize dollar was officially recognized as the currency for Belize on January 1, 1974, when it replaced the British Honduras dollar. Belize, which was a British colony and part of British Honduras, was renamed Belize six months prior on June 1, 1973.

The Spanish and British disputed ownership of the region, and Belize officially became a British colony in 1862. The country only gained independence in 1981. The Spanish dollar was the currency in circulation in Belize between 1765 and 1825. After this, the British sterling monetary system was used in Belize, as was the case in some other countries in the region including Jamaica and Bermuda.

Belize’s currency was initially pegged to the British pound, but in 1931, when Britain abandoned the gold standard, Belize’s currency became pegged to the U.S. dollar. Since 1978, the Belize dollar has been pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of BZ$2 to $1 USD.

The Central Bank of Belize, which was established in 1982, manages the nation's foreign reserves and issues its currency. Belize’s inflation rate is about 0.6%, as of 2019 estimates, and its GDP grew at a rate of 2.5%.

The Economy of Belize

Belize, a country in Central America, has an economy that is highly reliant on tourism and agriculture, with exports including sugar, bananas, citrus, and crude oil. Logging and timber exports, particularly mahogany, were a mainstay of Belize’s economy for decades but have declined in recent years. The country has since diversified its economy, with tourism and the service sector now contributing significantly to Belize’s GDP. Today, agriculture makes up only about 10 percent of Belize’s GDP.

The country’s GDP was growing has grown steadily over the past decade because of expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, but growth has now slowed in recent years to an annual rate of about two percent. Belize continues to experience a high unemployment rate of about 10 percent and it continues to struggle with a growing trade deficit and large foreign debts.