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DOING BUSINESS IN THE BAHAMAS

The business community has come to realize that The Bahamas is truly a paradise for many reasons. This is not the least because of the stable and attractive investment climate the government has created to facilitate the ease and effectiveness of doing business in The Bahamas. Our skilled professional workforce, stable government and economy, sound legal framework, modern infrastructure, proximity to key markets and investment incentive policies are just some of the elements which create this ideal investment climate.

OVERVIEW GUIDE FOR INVESTORS

The Economy

The Bahamas welcomes foreign direct investment. It is a small developing country with an open economy, the two primary pillars of which are tourism and financial services. The economy has been undergirded by sound economic, monetary and fiscal policies, as well as uninterrupted parliamentary democracy since 1729. These have bolstered investor confidence and as the record reflects, facilitated great returns on those investments.
Presently, the Bahamian economy is experiencing a slight rebounding following the global financial crisis and recession. This upturn is underpinned by modest growth in the global economy and is reflected in significant public sector infrastructural development and private sector initiatives in the tourism sector.

Infrastructural Development

During the economic downturn, The Bahamas Government commenced substantial infrastructural development initiatives. These included the redevelopment of the country’s principal airport, which is the largest public sector project ever undertaken in The Bahamas; the deepening of Nassau Harbor, which now accommodates the world’s largest passenger vessels; and the creation of a new cargo port just outside the City of Nassau. We are also presently in the midst of extensive upgrades to existing road arteries and the development of new thoroughfares throughout New Providence, as well as other islands of The Bahamas.
In April, 2011, the government privatized the local telecommunications company, with the expectation of wider and higher quality services, as well as reduced costs to the consumer, in particular to the business community. Each of these initiatives have served more effectively to connect The Bahamas internally and to the international markets to which we cater.

Tourism Sector

The investment climate and infrastructural support in The Bahamas have been able to attract and sustain significant touristic developments. Not only is the country home to the renowned Atlantis Resort and Aquatic Park on Paradise Island, but also underway in The Bahamas at present is the construction of the $2.6 billion Baha Mar Cable Beach Redevelopment Project, boasting hotel brands of Morgans, Rosewood and Hyatt.
Moreover, the Tavistock Group, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els are completing their exclusive high-end residential resort, marina and, of course, golf course development at the southwestern end of New Providence, called Albany. The Bahamas is also home to thriving all-inclusive resorts of Sandals and Breezes, as well as numerous smaller-scale eco-tourist developments, bed and breakfasts and fishing lodges throughout the Family Islands.

Financial Services

The Bahamas is one of the leading international business and financial centres. This sector of the Bahamian economy is marked by the strong public/private sector partnership which exists. This partnership contributes to keeping the associated legislative framework current and responsive, so as to accommodate the changing requirements of investors and to enable the country to continue to provide innovative instruments.

Agricultural and Marine Resources Sectors

Key to the government’s investment policy is the encouragement of foreign direct investors to take advantage of opportunities available in The Bahamas for both agricultural and marine resources developments. The many islands of The Bahamas offer untapped potential as it relates to arable land. Indeed, the government targets areas such as agro-industries, food processing and mari-culture so as to attract direct investment.

Second Homes

The proximity of The Bahamas to the United States, and the privacy and anonymity which persons are able to enjoy in The Bahamas, have enabled our islands to become an oasis to persons desiring to have a second home, a home away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. The country’s 700 islands, 29 of which are inhabited, offer a variety of options to the consumer, including luxurious condominiums, estate homes or one’s very own private island. Moreover, there is ease of access through the network of domestic and international airlines which travel to the islands, providing direct flights from all major international cities.
There are incentives to persons for choosing The Bahamas for this purpose as well. Overseas investors may acquire residential properties in The Bahamas of up to two acres without prior government approval.
Additionally, persons who purchase a home in The Bahamas valued at $1.5 million or more may receive accelerated consideration of their application for Permanent Residency in The Bahamas. These are processed within a period of 21 days.

Offshore Medical Centres

The natural attributes of The Bahamas which make it ideal for tourism and second home buyers, when combined with the business environment created by The Bahamas and the skilled professionals available in the country, creates the perfect platform from which to undertake offshore medical centres and medical tourism endeavours.

Green Initiatives

The Bahamas is committed to implementing a diverse range of sustainable energy programmes. The country has embarked upon a series of policies targeted at developing alternative energy sources, expanding business opportunities in the energy sector, increasing energy efficiency and managing our demand on fossil fuel.  To this end, import duties on many green products have been substantially reduced or eliminated. Additionally, we have encouraged private sector developers who wish to pursue projects supplied solely or in part by alternative energy sources.

Incentives, Concessions and Regulatory Reform

The Government of The Bahamas has as one of its goals encouraging and facilitating business activity. Accordingly, a compendium of legislative incentives and concessions exist for doing business in The Bahamas, not only in the tourism hotel sector, but equally in respect of manufacturing and agricultural developments, as well as establishing timeshare facilities.
Such incentives include the availability of access to land owned by the government; and concessions on customs duties (or border taxes) on approved raw materials, equipment and building supplies, as well as exemptions from real property taxes for defined periods. The Bahamas has no restrictions on current account transactions, nor any restrictions on the repatriation of profits.
The government is continually engaged in the process of reforming our legislative and regulatory environment. For example, within the past year we have enacted a new Business Licence Act which has streamlined the process of doing business in the country. We have also launched a multi-million dollar consultancy programme with the Government of Singapore to implement a comprehensive e-Government services platform.

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas welcomes International Investors who wish to establish a business in The Bahamas. All non-Bahamians or Permanent Residents seeking to do business in The Bahamas must submit a Project Proposal to the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA).

Additionally, from time to time the Government of the Bahamas offers targeted investment incentives for particular types of projects. All non-Bahamians, Permanent Residents or Citizens seeking to access concession pursuant to the Government’s targeted investment incentive must also submit a Project Proposal to the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA).

There are no requirements for Bahamians to qualify for this service. Non-Bahamians must meet a minimum capital investment of BS$500,000 and the proposed investment must not be in an area reserved for 100% Bahamian participation.

Eligibility

Interested persons must:

  • be Non-Bahamian.
  • have a minimum investment of BS$500,000.00
  • be interested in an area that isn’t reserved for 100% Bahamian participation

Process

  1. Submit a Project Proposal, along with supporting documents to the Bahamas Investment Authority.
  2. The BIA will process the application and submit the same to the National Economic Council for a determination.
  3. Depending on the nature of the proposed business activity, the relevant Government Ministry or Agency would be consulted for input:
    • Ministry of the Environment.
    • Ministry of Works and Transport.
    • Ministry of Housing.
    • Respective Family Island Local Government.
  4. Once a determination has been made, the BIA will communicate to the applicant in writing.
  5. Once approval is obtained, the BIA also coordinates with other Government agencies and facilitates the implementation of projects.

  • Touristic Resorts
  • Upscale Condominium, Time share and Second Home Development
  • Information and Data Processing Services
  • Assembly Industries
  • High-Tech Services
  • Ship Repair and other services
  • Light Manufacturing for export
  • Agro-Industries
  • Food Processing
  • Mariculture.
  • Banking and other Financial Services.
  • Captive Insurance.
  • Aircraft Services.
  • Pharmaceutical manufacture.
  • Off-shore Medical Centres.

NB. This list is not exhaustive and investors interested in areas not included here are encouraged to bring their interest to the attention of the BIA.

The following business areas/sectors have been reserved for Bahamian Nationals only:Wholesale and Retail Operations.

  • Commission agencies engaged in the import/export trade.
  • Real estate and domestic property management agencies.
  • Domestic newspapers and magazine publications.
  • Domestic advertising and public relations firms.
  • Security services.
  • Domestic distribution of building supplies.
  • Construction companies, except for special structures for which international expertise is required.
  • Personal cosmetic/beauty establishments.
  • Shallow water scale-fish, crustacean, mollusks and sponge-fishing operations.
  • Auto and appliance service operations.
  • Public transportation inclusive of locally solicited charter boat tours.
  • Landscaping.

Governing body for all investment activities in The Bahamas

Office of the Prime Minister
2nd Floor, Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre
West Bay Street
P.O. Box CB-10980
Nassau, N.P., The Bahamas
T: (242) 327-5826-8
T: (242) 702-5500-3
F: (242) 327-5806
E-mail: [email protected]
For more information on investment, please click here

The Bahamas High Commission wishes to inform Canadian residents with property in The Bahamas that the most efficient way to pay real property tax is through the Department of Inland Revenue’s payment portal. The payments are real time and the taxpayers can view account balances and print receipts. Attached is the instruction to register on the portal. Should the taxpayers encounter difficulty during the registration process they can contact Ms. Violet Brown at the address below.

In addition, customers who are not comfortable with online payments can send payments via wire. Also attached is wire instructions. International Money Orders/Drafts payments are made payable to The Public Treasury.

Please note that in an effort to improve the Department’s services to the public, The Department of Inland Revenue has created an online system that would assist in reviewing Real Property Tax Bills and make online credit card payments. Customers can access their statement by creating a user account on www.propertytax.gov.bs

(Note: for ease of registering, you would need a copy of recent bill or Tax Certificate {TC})

Ms. Violet Brown
Operations – Real Property Tax Billings
Department of Inland Revenue
P.O. Box N-13
Nassau, Bahamas
1(242)604-8072
Email: [email protected]