Legal Residence in the Bahamas: Prestige and Prosperity  

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Several countries issue their passports to foreign investors making considerable contributions to their economies. A second passport can be a highly valuable asset in the modern turbulent world. For this reason, wealthy individuals ‘buy’ citizenship of St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and the Commonwealth of Dominica. These five Caribbean countries administer citizenship-by-investment programs and the programs bring significant contributions to their respective national budgets.

Some other countries offer permanent residence permits to foreigners who invest in their economies. Unlike a passport, a resident permit does not let its holder participate in the political life of the country but it does allow living in the country and engaging in various sorts of economic activities there. This is a valuable opportunity if the foreign country is attractive for relocating there by some important parameters.

The Bahamas in the Caribbean is certainly an attractive country to move to and it does have an Economic Permanent Residence program. The country occupies around 700 islands in the Caribbean Sea even though only about 30 of them are inhabited. Because the islands are located not far from the equator, the weather is always warm in the Bahamas. Coupled with multiple sandy beaches and crystal-clear water, the wonderful weather all year round makes the Bahamas a highly popular tourist destination.

One more factor that makes the Bahamas attractive for relocation is the fact that it is a rich Caribbean country. The expression ‘rich country’ is hardly applicable to any other Caribbean state if used literally. However, it describes the Bahamas correctly: the country’s economy trails only the US and Canada economies in the Americas.

The tourist industry is one of the two pillars of the Bahamas economy. The other pillar is the financial sector. The country is a world-renown offshore zone with hundreds of banks, hedge funds, and other types of financial institutions registered there. Registering an offshore company in the Bahamas is also a wonderful chance to save on taxes. If you establish a company in the Bahamas and do no business with local residents (people and companies), you will have to pay nothing in taxes. Admittedly, this opportunity is available to companies registered in other offshore jurisdictions too and in the Caribbean region in particular. However, most Caribbean states will tax your offshore company heavily if it enters business agreements with local residents. The Bahamas will not.

Thus, the Bahamas is a warm sunny country with a strong economy and on top of that, it offers weighty tax incentives to businesses registered on its territory. Can you relocate to the Bahamas and start a business company there? Well, the country does not ‘sell’ its passports to foreign investors but acquiring a permanent residence permit in exchange for an investment is quite possible in the Bahamas. The required investment amount is not low but establishing residence in a paradise cannot come at a small price. Below we discuss the specifics of the Economic Permanent Residence program administered in the Bahamas.

Permanent residence in the Bahamas

Making an investment into the economy of the Bahamas is not the only way of establishing legal residence there. For example, you will be legally allowed to stay in the country if you marry a citizen of the Bahamas. Alternatively, you can find a job in the country and if your employer is able to convince the local authorities that you are an outstanding specialist and no local resident can match you as far as your professional skills are concerned, you will be issued a legal residence permit too.

You certainly understand that these two methods of establishing legal residence in the Bahamas are rather problematic. Love is outside the scope of your control and outstanding specialists are few and far between. Acquiring legal residence in the Bahamas by investment is a much more realistic option.

Even though the Bahamas is a wealthy country, foreign investments are always welcome anyway. It would be wrong to claim that the Bahamas has no economic issues at all. It does. The money that foreign investors bring to the Bahamas is mostly used to solve the following important tasks:

  1. Eliminating the consequences of natural disasters that unfortunately occur in the Bahamas frequently;
  2. Financing promising business projects that are capable of contributing to the economic development of the country;
  3. Improving the education and healthcare systems in the Bahamas.

A couple hundred foreigners establish permanent residence in the Bahamas by investment every year. Most of them are Americans and Canadians because all other prosperous countries are located a bit too far away from the Bahamas. With time, the situation might change in view of the hardships that some European countries are going through at the current moment. You can make two types of investments to qualify for economic permanent residence in the Bahamas:

  1. Buy a piece of real property that costs at least half a million US dollars;
  2. Invest at least a million and a half US dollar into a business company that will create jobs for the islanders.

Please note that real property is expensive in the Bahamas and you won’t be able to buy a spacious villa for US$ 500,000. A nice house in a nice neighborhood will cost you a few million dollars. Please also note that putting half a million into property is not going to be the only proof of solvency that you will have to supply. You will also have to bring bank statements that confirm the fact that you have some money remaining in your bank accounts.

If you buy a house or start a company in the Bahamas and you physically reside there most of the time going away only occasionally, you can turn your permanent residence permit into a passport of the Bahamas. After 3 to 7 years, you can become a citizen of the country by naturalization. You have to realize, however, that if you use your house in the Bahamas to spend your vacations there, for example, you won’t be able to qualify for citizenship by naturalization. You have to live on the islands to achieve this goal.

Types of property that you can buy in the Bahamas to qualify for legal residence there

  1. A building plot of not more than 5 acres (you will have to ask for special permission if you would like to buy a larger land plot);
  2. Residential accommodations of any type – a detached house, a semi-detached house, a villa, a cottage, a bungalow, or an apartment (US$ 500,000 might suffice for a nice apartment in a high-rise building).

When you purchase the property, you will be issued an Ownership Certificate. If you contact a reliable real estate agent in the Bahamas, you may be able to choose the property online. Today, realtors will shoot videos for prospective foreign buyers and you can see everything that you want to see even without going to the Bahamas. We suggest, however, that you should travel there and see the property on sale with your own eyes. Unless you live in Miami, it is going to be a long flight but what does it matter if you have decided to relocate to the Bahamas anyway?

In conclusion, we would like to point out a less expensive method of acquiring legal residence in the Bahamas. If you rent residential accommodations in the country and supply a bank statement that confirms your solvency, you can qualify for an Annual Residence card. Your family member will then qualify for such cards too and they can be extended as long as you extend the rent agreement and remain solvent. Annual Residence card holders cannot find employment in the Bahamas but no-one can disallow you to work from home for a foreign company. 

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