Obtaining Bahamas Residency Status
There are many great reasons for wanting to live in the Bahamas. First and foremost, obtaining residency status in the Bahamas can offer significant tax advantages to persons from countries with high personal and corporate income taxes and/or inheritance tax. The Bahamas has no form of personal income tax on revenue earned either in the Bahamas or any other country.
As a non-Bahamian owning a home in the Bahamas and without resident status, you may stay in the country for up to 3 months at a time before being required to exit and then re-enter the Bahamas. This works well for those that plan to maintain a home in their country of origin as well as one in the Bahamas, but for those intending to spend 9 months or more annually in the Bahamas, acquiring permanent residency is advised.
Many Americans, Canadians and Europeans achieve annual residency status in the Bahamas via the purchase of real property located on one of the islands of the Bahamas. Due to its simplicity, this route is considered a preferred method of obtaining official residency status. Thanks to the availability of this option, the Bahamas boasts a thriving population of expatriates.
Obtaining Residency status by purchasing a home
In order to obtain permanent residency status via the purchase of property (condominium or home), the purchased property must have a minimum valuation of US$500,000. As added incentive for those making larger investments, laws were changed in 2011 to allow ‘fast-track’ processing for foreigners purchasing homes in the Bahamas worth at least US$1.5 million.
Once the property has been purchased, an annual homeowner's residence card may be applied for from the Director of Immigration. This card entitles the owner, spouse and any minor child or children endorsed on the card to enter and remain in The Bahamas for the validity of the card. The card must be renewed annually. This program was put in place to facilitate entry into The Bahamas with minimal formalities.
While engaging the services of a local attorney is not required by law, the intricacies of the English Common Law system upon which the Bahamian legal system is based, would mean that we strongly advise that the counsel of a local attorney should be sought.
Address for the Bahamas Investment Authority
|Bahamas Investment Authority|
|Office of the Prime Minister|
|Cecil Wallace Whitfield Centre|
|PO Box CB 10980|
|T: 242 327-5970|
Applying for residency status for a spouse
Many foreign-nationals obtain permanent residency status in the Bahamas prior to becoming married. Once married, and in order for their spouse of foreign nationality to legally live with them in the Bahamas, the spouse that already has official permanent resident status must apply for their foreign-born spouse to be endorsed on their existing certificate of residency.
According to the Immigration section of the Bahamas Government’s website (Bahamas.gov.bs), the following must be submitted to the Immigration department by all persons seeking permanent residency and must accompany their application:
• Two (2) passport size photographs (in colour) with name printed on the reverse side;
• Original birth certificate (Bahamian) or certified copy (foreign) with English translation, sealed by the appropriate Consular Office where applicable, with a $4.00 Bahamian postage stamp affixed to the translation;
• An original police certificate (issued not more than six (6) months prior to the submission of the application);
• An original medical certificate (not more than thirty (30) days prior to the submission of the application);
• Two original character references (by Bahamian citizens known to applicant for at least five (5) years);
• Financial reference (citing a figure range, and verifying economic worth) from a reputable bank or financial institution;
• Parents’ birth or marriage certificate (where applicable);
• If the applicant is/was married, he/she is also required to submit an original certified copy of his/her marriage certificate, spouse’s birth/death certificate, legal separation document or final divorce decree, if applicable.
Once all requirements are met and the application is approved, the individual receives a Permanent Residence Certificate, with a photograph affixed, sealed, dated and signed by the Minister responsible for Immigration matters.
Address for Bahamas Immigration Department
|P.O. Box N-831|
|Nassau, N.P. The Bahamas|
|T: 242-322-8504 / 242-322-7530|
Obtaining or applying for a work permit
Many expatriates living in the Bahamas have applied for, and been granted, ‘Economic’ Permanent Residency by purchasing a home with a minimum valuation of US$500,000. Acquiring ‘economic’ residency status however, does not grant the recipient the right to work in the Bahamas. Should an applicant wish to operate a business or work in the Bahamas, an application must be made to the National Economic Council (“NEC”), a department operating under the auspices of the Office of the Prime Minister. Please consult legal counsel in the Bahamas for further advice.
Address for the NEC
|Prime Minister, Office of the|
|Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield Centre|
|West Bay Street|
|Nassau, N.P., The Bahamas|
Recommended Attorneys and Law Firms in the Bahamas
Jan W. Borghardt
|Winter Borghardt Law Chambers
||Bldg. #4 Caves Village|
|P.O. Box SP-63801||Nassau, Bahamas|
|T: 242-327-7843 or 7844||F: 242-327-6073|
|E: firstname.lastname@example.org||W: www.winterborghardt.com|
|Harry B Sands & Lobosky & Company||50 Shirley Street|
|P.O. Box N-624||Nassau, Bahamas|
|T: 242.322.2670||F: 242-323-8914|
|E: email@example.com||W: www.hbslaw.com|
|Satory & Associates
||Unit #3 Professional Centre,
|P.O. Box SS-19884||Nassau, Bahamas|
|T: 242-327-5150 or 5151||F: 242-327-5156|
|Unwala & Co
|East Street||P.O. Box N-80978|
|Nassau, Bahamas||T: 242-322-7403|
|F: 242-356-6663||E: firstname.lastname@example.org|