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Barbados: Country and Foreign Investment

Entry and Residence

All visitors to Barbados require a valid passport. Nationals of CARICOM member states, the UK, and the USA, Canada and some Commonwealth countries can travel directly to Barbados with acceptable proof of nationality and identity (a valid passport and/or original birth certificate with national photo identification) and may be admitted for a period not exceeding three months. All visitors are required to have onward or return tickets.

Recent information from the Immigration Department indicates that CARICOM skilled nationals are required to arrive in Barbados with return airline tickets until they have been formally registered with the Immigration Department as such. The registration process can take up to four weeks to complete, and includes submitting to the Immigration Department a registration form (available at the Immigration Department or at the BIDC), along with the following documentation:

  • Four photographs
  • Police certificate of character (from home country)
  • Birth certificate
  • Documentary proof of qualifications
  • Letter from employer, where applicable
  • Document certifying citizenship by descent, where necessary

Non-residents need work permits; these are issued quite readily and are usually processed in about six to eight weeks. Certain CARICOM nationals can live and work in Barbados without a work permit. There are no statutory restrictions on the number of foreign employees on the payroll of a company at any time, but employers are required to establish that the position in question cannot be filled satisfactorily by a resident or national of Barbados. A long-term work permit is valid for up to three years. The cost per approval is approximately BDS3,600 -BDS4,000. Short-term work permits are valid for up to six months and are necessary for company personnel entering the country to assist with the setting up of the operation and training employees. Approval will cost approximately BDS600.00.

Non-residents may purchase real estate in Barbados with foreign currency that has been registered with the Central Bank.

As the Caribbean Single Market develops, freedom of movement in the area is gradually improving. In late 2003, Head of the Barbados-based CARICOM Single Market Economy Unit Desiree Field-Ridley revealed that five categories of workers are now able to enjoy freedom of movement between member countries without the need for a work permit. Field-Ridley indicated that initially, artists, sportsmen, media workers, musicians and university graduates will be the first groups to benefit from freedom of movement. However, the CARICOM representative emphasised that the free movement of labour was designed primarily for those with specific contracts and is not intended to encourage long-term residency in other member countries. Nevertheless, it is the Caribbean community's stated aim to extend the rights to all citizens in the region Field-Ridley added.

It is also envisaged that individuals will be able to travel within the CARICOM region without the need for a passport when an ID card system is eventually introduced.

In February 2007, Barbados was one of the ten countries belonging to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to introduce the 'Single Domestic Space.' Established to facilitate easy movement during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, persons belonging to the single domestic space are able to move from country to country without having their passports stamped, but must present their completed forms to immigration officials.

In an attempt to streamline the work permit and residency application process, the government announced in 2007 that as part of a new International Business Charter, it would introduce a single set of forms for work permits, student visas and spousal visas, thus making it easier for family units to relocate to Barbados and work in the international business sector.

This announcement was welcomed by the business and finance industry, which had complained that the processing of work permits could take as much as six months before approval is granted.



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