Obtaining Bahamas Residency

In a world where modern pressures and stresses have reduced the quality of life, The Bahamas beckons as an island paradise.

Since the enactment of the International Persons Landholding Act in 1993, foreign nationals have been encouraged to make the islands of the Bahamas their home. The Act outlines the requirements needed for non-Bahamians to purchase property in The Bahamas.

No permits or lengthy red-tape processes are required. The purchase need only be registered with the Secretary to the Investments Board and the Register General's Department, along with proof of ownership, payment of property stamp tax and the respective processing fees.

Foreign nationals should also register their investment with the Exchange Control at the Central Bank of The Bahamas to insure that on resale they will be able to remit the net proceeds of the sale outside the Bahamas. The currency of The Bahamas is pegged to the US dollar on a 1:1 ratio with both being used interchangeably throughout the island chain.

Non-bahamians are not permitted to engage in local employment unless they obtain prior permission from the government. This is primarily due to the fact that The Bahamas’ government has an inflexible principle that no expatriate may be offered an employment position that a suitably qualified Bahamian is available to fill.

Home Owner Residence Card

All international persons owning a residence in the Bahamas are eligible to receive, upon application to the Director of Immigration, an annual home owner residence card. The card is renewable annually and serves to facilitate entry into the Bahamas with minimum formalities. The card also entitles the owner, their spouse and minor children endorsed on the card to remain in the Bahamas for the duration of the card.

The cost of the home owner residence card is $500 per annum and depending on the purchase price of the property, processing fees can range anywhere from $75 to $125.

Permanent Residency

There are no taxes levied on capital gains, corporate earnings, personal income, inheritance, or dividends; therefore, depending on a person’s nationality, significant tax benefits may be obtained from establishing permanent residency in the Bahamas.

Permanent residency can be obtained by owners of residences valued in excess of $1,500,000. Applicants for this status of residency must be of good character and prepared to show evidence of financial support. Such an applicant must state that he intends to reside permanently in The Bahamas.

A person holding a certificate of permanent residence who wishes to include his wife, or dependent child under the age of 18 and ordinarily resident in his household, may have them endorsed on the certificate at the time of his original application or at a subsequent date.

Cost of Permanent Residency

Cost of a permanent residence certificate varies according to status:

  • 1) A person without a work permit, or holding a work permit in one of the top professional categories, and who has resided in The Bahamas for less than 10 years, not married to a Bahamian citizen, pays up to $10,000.
  • 2) A person who has resided in The Bahamas at least 10 years and less than 20 years and who holds a work permit may pay anything from $1,000 - $ 5,000.
  • 3) A person who has resided in the country at least 20 years and who holds a work permit may pay anything from $500 - $ 2,500.
  • 4) The spouse of a Bahamian citizen pays $250.

Restrictions to Purchasing Property in The Bahamas

There are circumstances in which foreign nationals are required to formally apply for a permit before they purchase property in The Bahamas, they are:

  • 1) The property is five or more adjoining acres,
  • 2) The intention is to rent out all or a portion of the property, and
  • 3) The property being purchased is for commercial development.

If such conditions exist, the buyer must submit an application with the Bahamas Investment Authority before finalizing. If approved, the Secretary to the Investment Board will issue the permit.