How to Setup a Business in the Bahamas

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The Bahamas have a stable democracy, no personal or corporate income taxes and close proximity to the United States, with extensive air and telecommunications links and a good pool of skilled professionals. The Bahamian government responds to foreign competition and tends to protect Bahamian business and labor interests. The Bahamas' infrastructure is most developed in the principal cities of Nassau and Freeport, where there are well-paved roads and international airports, providing a good business environment.

Things You'll Need

  • Bahamian attorney
  • Name, address and phone number of investors and principals
  • Business plan, including executive summary and employment projections
  • Letter of Credit from proposed business' bank
  • Environmental impact study
  • Concessions sought from the Bahamas (if any) in writing
  • Licenses and permits
  • National insurance for all employees

Setting Up a Business in the Bahamas

  • Engage the services of an attorney, a prudent step to help you establish the structure of your business and make the applications to the relevant government departments for permits and approvals.

    For example, to incorporate a company in the Bahamas, a Memorandum of Association must be filed with the Registrar General. Articles of Incorporation may be filed with the memorandum, or within six months, and must be signed and witnessed by one other person.

  • Obtain government approvals. Businesspeople setting up a business in the Bahamas must present a project proposal to the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) with supporting documents. This proposal will ultimately be judged by the National Economic Council (NEC). The guidelines for the project proposal include:

    Names of investors and principals
    Address (including telephone and fax)
    Description of proposal (an executive summary of project)
    Type of business
    Proposed location
    Land or factory space requirements
    Proposed start date
    Management personnel requirements
    Employment projections
    Capital investment in the project
    Financial arrangement (letter of credit from financial institution or net worth statement of principals)
    Environmental impact statement
    Concessions sought

    Businesspeople should allow a minimum of three months for determination of applications for approval. This initial application for approval does not require a fee.

  • Apply for licenses and permits. After approval by the NEC, the businessperson must make application to the Ministry of Finance Business License Division for a business license ($10.00 fee). The license is renewed annually for a percentage of annual gross receipts.

  • Register under the National Insurance Act of 1972. Employers and employees in the Bahamas are required to register and pay contributions under this law. National Insurance is a government system administered by the National Insurance Board of the Bahamas providing free medical care and employment-associated injury assistance.

  • Acquaint yourself with laws protecting the environment. Businesspeople setting up the Bahamas need to be aware that several acts of parliament directly or indirectly protect native species and ecosystems. Noteworthy laws include the Plant Protection Act and the Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of The Bahamas Act.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be patient and diligent. Winding your business information through the proper channels may take a long or short time, depending on whom you retain.
  • Contact the Bahamas Bar Association at 242-326-3276 to begin the search for an attorney to work with you.
  • Contact the Bahamas Investment Authority at 242-327-5970 to learn the types of businesses encouraged by the Bahamian government.
  • Be careful whom you retain in the Bahamas to represent you. There are more than 1,000 Bahamian attorneys.
  • Be sure to stay current with all required dates for submitting paperwork and following the terms of the grant of your business license (e.g., percentage of Bahamians employed in your business).

References

  • Photo Credit bahamas flag button image by Andrey Zyk from Fotolia.com
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