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Vanuatu: Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes

Employment and Residence

Employment and residence by non-Vanuatu citizens requires permits. These are normally given to skilled workers or to those who have substantial funds to invest. Applications for residency permits are normally made concurrently with work permits. A residency permit is required by anyone who stays in Vanuatu for longer than 4 months in any one year.

Retirement residency permits are given to persons demonstrating a minimum monthly income of VT150,000 (VT300,000) for a married couple.

Residency Permit Fees are levied at the following rates based on the term of the permit:

  • 1 Year: VT57,600;
  • 1 Year but no more than 3 years: VT158,400;
  • 3 Years but less than 5 years: VT259,200;
  • 5 Years: VT511,200.

Prior to the issue of a residency permit, a repatriation bond must be lodged with a local bank.

This usually takes the form of a blocked deposit, with the bank certifying to the immigration authority that it holds a repatriation bond equivalent to airfare to the country in which the applicant has citizenship, or its nearest territory.

Investors are required to obtain from a local trading bank proof of their level of investment in Vanuatu. This level of investment required starts at Vt5 million (US$50,000).

A Work Permit or an exemption from the need to hold a work permit is required by all non-citizens before a residency permit will be issued, except in circumstances where no active investment in any Vanuatu based business is being contemplated.

A work permit may be granted for an expatriate to be employed on a contract by an employer in an occupation where there are no suitably qualified Ni-Vanuatu available. However, in order to prove that this is the case, there is a requirement for the position to have been advertised locally for at least two weeks, and for employers to explain why any application by a citizen has been refused.

Labour Department fees for a work permit are VT200,000 per person per annum. An exemption from the requirement to hold a work permit may be obtained for self-employed persons engaged in business which has necessitated a minimum investment of VT5 million. However, exemption is not automatic, and all expatriate investors have to complete the work permit application form.



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