Retiring to the BVI

Old May 29th 2014, 6:27 pm
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Question Retiring to the BVI

Hi to everyone,

I am considering moving to the BVI. Having done quite a bit of research already, I still lack some essential information. It seems that the BVI are not exactly eager to welcome new residents But I want to at least give it a try.

I am a person of independent means and do not intend to work, so I would not need a work permit. I have read that foreigners are free to buy property after having got a Non-Belongers Landholding License, and that they can then apply for a permit as a Full-Time Resident. Now for my questions:

1. Is there a minimum investment amount that is required of a Full-Time Resident? What is the typical cost of an average beach-front home?
2. Is there a minimum income (from abroad)?
3. What other requirements are there (police certificate, health examination, medical insurance, reference letters, …)?
4. What is the cost of the Full-Time Residence permit? One-time or annual?

Any information is highly appreciated!
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Old May 31st 2014, 4:11 pm
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Default Re: Retiring to the BVI

Originally Posted by e-migrator View Post
I am a person of independent means and do not intend to work, so I would not need a work permit. I have read that foreigners are free to buy property after having got a Non-Belongers Landholding License, and that they can then apply for a permit as a Full-Time Resident.
The most sensible thing for you to do would be to NOT set your heart on one particular island or group of islands, but to choose a region - the Caribbean region, for you - and go down there and try out this place and that. Ask your questions when you're there. If you really are of independent means, then you can afford to drift around until you find a place you like.

Many of us on this site have shifted from one place to another. In my case, I had to work for a living, and began in Bahamas for a few years as a newly married man. We moved on after three years and spent three years in Vanuatu. Then, after a long holiday, we came to Cayman with our young son, and settled here. We could as easily have gone to BVI or Turks or Grenada or Belize or anywhere else. We would have enjoyed any of those just as much. It doesn't matter which place you choose first! It's a big, wide, world.
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Old Jun 1st 2014, 10:59 am
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Post Re: Retiring to the BVI

Thank you. Yes, there are many options. Something for everyone, luckily. However, I do not like moving. I am the type who needs a pemanent place of abode I can call home. My procedure is:

1. Listing eligible destinations.
2. Finding all relevant information for every single one.
3. Comparing, evaluating, and deciding.
4. Going there for an extended holiday to try it out.
5. Moving there.

And yes, other Caribbean jurisdictions are on my list. I have found it quite easy to come by information on the Cayman Islands, the TCI, Anguilla and Bermuda. In contrast the BVI appear rather secretive. Maybe a sign they would not want to encourage anyone.

Based on my current set of information, the TCI are my favourite. It seems they are the only jurisdiction that allows non-working foreigners to live there at an annual cost of US$1,500 without having to make a heavy investment in local property or a local business.

But then the TCI are flat, just like the Caymans, Anguilla and Bermuda whereas most of the BVI are hilly which reminds me of my home country, so I may want to buy a home there after all. If only I found someone to give me the facts (minimum investment, minimum income, real estate prices, immigration requirements, cost of residentce permit)...
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Old Jun 16th 2014, 1:24 pm
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Default Re: Retiring to the BVI

I am happy to report that I did indeed get a reply to one of my e-mails sent to the BVI. It only took them two weeks. I am beginning to understand what they mean by a "relaxed lifestyle" in the Caribbean

Anyway, the answers to my questions are:-

1. Buying a home is actually not a requirement for a "Permit to Reside in the BVI/Annual Permit", as they call it. Subsequently, there is no minimum investment amount. So I would not need an expensive Non-Belonger Land-Holding Licence. On the other hand, buying a property does not confer the right of residence.

2. The Chief Immigration Officer must be satisfied that I have sufficient funds to support myself without working, but what the expected amount is, I still do not know.

3. Of course they require all the usual paperwork: police certificate, health examination, and reference letters, but they did not mention medical insurance.

4. As for the cost of the permit, there is an immigration bond (sounds like it is refunded at the end of the stay, doesn't it?) of US$ 1,000 plus an annual cost of US$ 25 for each renewal.

Now for the bad news: There is no guarantee that a one-year permit is going to be renewed. There is no statutory provision for it not to be extended, either. Whether I get to stay longer or have to go home is solely at the discretion of the Chief Immigration Officer. Personally, I would feel very uneasy being at the whim of some government officer who might give me the boot for, say, making the wrong comment to an internet newspaper article

Worse yet, in order to obtain the permit in the first place, I have to convince the CIO that I do not intend to stay permanently in the BVI. This is obviously quite difficult since this would in fact be my intention

So my initial feeling was right: The BVI are not as welcoming to foreigners as some of the other Caribbean jurisdictions. Based on my current information, I would rank them as follows for their hospitality towards new immigrants (in ascending order):
1. The BVI.
2. Anguilla.
3. Bermuda.
4. The Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.
5. The Turks and Caicos Islands and St. Kitts & Nevis.

Of course there are many more islands that would love to see an influx of rich foreigners, but I have been concentrating only on those that do not levy income tax. St-Barth would be a near-perfect place, but in order to reach the tax h(e)aven, you have to go through the French tax hell for five years first

Hope this helps. Any comments are more than welcome.
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Old Jun 16th 2014, 2:54 pm
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Default Re: Retiring to the BVI

Very interesting.. Have you thought about Panama? Have friends there who love it - they are working though and now building a B&B.
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Old Jun 16th 2014, 3:08 pm
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Cool Re: Retiring to the BVI

Yes, I have. They do have an income tax, but on a territorial basis. Would have to think how to structure my affairs accordingly
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Old Jun 24th 2014, 11:16 am
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Smile Retiring to the BVI--or to other Caribbean islands

I have found some more information that I would like to share with you:

Permanent residence

Applicants for permanent residence must satisfy the same requirements at the port of entry as other visitors (...). If the requirements are satisfied, an initial admittance period of one month is granted.
A person wishing to reside in the British Virgin Islands without working must provide evidence to the Chief Immigration Officer that he or she is of good character and has sufficient funds to support himself or herself and any dependants. This requirement may be satisfied by producing bank statements, a statement of pension entitlement or any other evidence that the applicant has funds adequate for this purpose.
An application for permanent residence status must be submitted to the Chief Immigration Officer of the Immigration Department and must be supported by the following:
• Evidence that the applicant wishes to make the British Virgin Islands his or her home
• Evidence of financial support for the applicant and any dependants
• Evidence of marriage, if applicable
• Evidence of birth
• Photograph of applicant and any dependants
• A certificate of good health from the country of embarkation
• Two copies of a Police Certificate of Character, one from the applicant’s country of birth and one from his or her country of residence prior to arrival
My source is http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAs..._Executive.pdf. Not quite up to date, but I do not think the BVI's immigration rules have changed much since 2011. So these islands are not quite as unwelcoming as originally thought. Which makes me revise my list of Caribbean jurisdictions as follows (ascending):

1. Anguilla
Even if you buy a home (that must not lie directly on a beach), you are not granted the right to reside permanently, but need a work permit, even if you do not intend to work.

2. Bermuda
You can live there permanently if you buy a home. However, foreigners are only allowed to buy in the top 5% of the housing market, which means the rental value of the property needs to be at least US$153,000 per year.

3. The Cayman Islands and the Bahamas
Both places require the purchase of real estate with a certain minimum in order to grant the right of residence.

4. The BVI
As we have seen, there is no requirement to invest locally, but there is no guarantee that a yearly permit will be renewed. Information is hard to come by, which is a telling sign.

5. The Turks and Caicos Islands and St. Kitts & Nevis
Both places welcome foreigners with no local investment requirement and with low fees.

This is my personal evaluation. Other people may have other criteria and hence prefer other places. As always, comments are welcome at any time.
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Old Jun 25th 2014, 11:19 pm
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Default Re: Retiring to the BVI--or to other Caribbean islands

Originally Posted by e-migrator View Post
I have found some more information that I would like to share with you:

5. The Turks and Caicos Islands and St. Kitts & Nevis
Both places welcome foreigners with no local investment requirement and with low fees.

This is my personal evaluation. Other people may have other criteria and hence prefer other places. As always, comments are welcome at any time.
Good for you, e-m. I wish you well in whichever of those you choose. I wouldn't hold TCI's lack of mountains against it. We've enjoyed Cayman, and its biggest hill is the town dump! Politics is rough in both TCI and Cayman, but if you keep aloof from that you should be OK. As long as they remain British colonies...! The cost of living is the greatest drawback here - and there, I expect. I guess you've looked into that.
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Old Aug 10th 2014, 3:52 pm
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Default Re: Retiring to the BVI

e-migrator, I don't know if you will see this as I've only just joined. I spent 40 years travelling frequently to the Caribbean and settled on TCI and have part lived here for 10 years. For me, I had a check list and TCI ticked all the boxes. Easy to buy a house, regular flights from an international airport, good and regular food supplies, new modern hospital, good diving, generally free from hurricanes. I haven't applied for residency yet, so I can stay for 3 months before having to leave for a day or two. This is no big deal, as Miami is close as is the DR and Bahamas.
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Old Apr 17th 2015, 12:54 am
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Default Re: Retiring to the BVI

Hi, e-migrator. Any new info?
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