Cook Islands: Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes
Employment and Residence
There are no special privileges for the employees of non-resident or offshore entities. The Entry, Residence and Departure Act 1977 states that anyone other than a Cook Islands citizen or permanent resident who wishes to live and work on the Islands must first obtain a work and residence permit. An application for a work and residence permit can be made online.
A business or employer can apply for a work permit on behalf of an expatriate employee. As a rule, a permit is issued for a year, and is renewable on application by the employer. The work permit is tied to the applicant's employer and is not transferable to another employment.
Under the Leases Restrictions Act 1976 a foreigner may lease land for up to 5 years without obtaining special permission. A foreigner wishing to lease land for more than 5 years needs to obtain the approval of a Government committee set up under the Act. A foreigner cannot lease land for more than 60 years and is forbidden from owing a freehold. A foreigner is defined as anyone who is not a permanent resident or a citizen of the Cook Islands.
In February 2008, the Entry, Residence and Departure Act was amended with regard to the granting of permanent residence .
Under the updated legislation, the granting of up to 650 PR certificates was permitted, 150 more than the previous limit of 500.
The amendment also required applicants not only to be of "good character" but to have a proven record of having made a "significant positive contribution to or investment in the Cook Islands in terms of skills, expertise, community work or financial investment."
There was also a new seperate category allowing unlimited number of PR certificates to be granted to those married to Cook Islanders or PRs, as long as they have been married for no less than five years.