Foreign Investment Board of The Bahamas: Everything You Need to Know

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Are you a non-Bahamian that purchased investment property in The Bahamas? You must register that property through The Foreign Investment Board Bahamas, or Bahamas Investment Authority. The same goes for time-shares, new businesses, and development project proposals. 

The Bahamas Investment Authority (sometimes referred to as the Foreign Investment  Board Bahamas) is a government agency that oversees and approves investment projects. Considering that investment is the country’s top attraction and means to securing permanent Bahamian residency, it certainly warrants a dedicated governing body for all related activities!

Here at MCR Bahamas, we help many of our clients navigate the Board’s policies and application processes as they embark on a real estate investment journey for a second home or rental property. 

But what exactly is the Foreign Investment Board Bahamas meant for, and why is doing business impossible without it? Today we’ll walk you through the role of the Foreign Investment Board Bahamas, their services, the registration process, and the different applications you will find on their website. 

 

What is the Foreign Investment Board of The Bahamas? 

The Board’s role is to ensure that investments—second homes, new businesses, new developments—meet the criteria of the Bahamas Investment Act and other relevant legislation.

 

 

What services does The Bahamas Investment Authority offer? 

The Bahamas Investment Authority (or Foreign Investment Board) offers several services to those looking to invest in The Bahamas. 

 

Application for Permission to Purchase or Acquire Real Property

Looking to purchase a new Freeport condominium or lush Eleuthera estate? If you’re a non-Bahamian, you have to fill out an application for permission to buy or acquire real property. This application is necessary for: 

  • Properties on undeveloped land 
  • Two or more connected acres

What if you’re a Bahamian citizen? You must apply for a permit if you plan to rent out instead of live in the property. 

The Bahamian Investment Authority will decide on your application within 30 days, and you’ll need to pay a BS 500 application fee. Before you apply, make sure you have all the following documents handy: 

  • Photo ID (passport, driver’s license, etc.)
  • Written confirmation that you meet the “Know Your Customer” requirements (Financial Transactions Reporting Act)
  • Site plan
  • Bahamas immigration status
  • Police record
  • Financial reference (from a bank, lender, etc.)
  • Social security or national identification number
  • Real property tax number
  • Proof of payment for property tax
  • Certificate of Incorporation if a Bahamian company
  • Current character reference

Forms: Application for Permit, International Persons Landholding Act, 1993

 

Registration of Purchased or Acquired Real Property

 

If you’re a permanent resident or foreigner that’s purchased a piece of property, you must register the purchase with the Secretary to the Investments Board. You’ll need this registration if you meet any of the below situations. 

You’re a: 

  • Non-Bahamian that has acquired interest in a condominium or other property and you plan to live in it
  • Permanent resident
  • Non-Bahamian inheriting land
  • Non-Bahamian acquiring interest in land through a court order or as a mortgagee
  • Non-Bahamian acquiring leasehold interest (business purposes, over 21 days)

With your application, you must provide a BS 250 fee and the following documents: 

  • Police record
  • Current character reference
  • Site plan, including size
  • Bahamas immigration status
  • Social security or national identification number
  • Real property tax number
  • Certificate of Incorporation if a Bahamian company
  • Financial reference (from a bank, lender, etc.)
  • Proof of paid stamp duty
  • Proof of wealth and income
  • Proof of paid BS 250 fee

Forms: Certificate of Registration, International Persons Landholding Act, 1993

 

Registration of a Time-Sharing Purchase or Acquisition

Time-shares: enjoy the sun-soaking benefits of fractional property ownership at a fraction of the price. Any Bahamians or non-Bahamians interested in a time-share must register that interest with the Bahamian Investment Authority. 

Once approved, the development owner must register the time-share and inform the new buyers of the time-share certificate.

You’ll likely hear back within 30 days, and you definitely don’t need as many supporting documents as the previous two applications. All you need is BS 25.00 application fee and a contractual agreement for the time-share. 

Forms: Application for Registration of Time-Sharing Purchaser 

 

 

Establishing a Business in The Bahamas

With nonexistent corporate taxes, establishing a business in The Bahamas is an attractive endeavor for many international entrepreneurs. Citizens, along with residents and international investors, may inquire about targeted investment incentives that occur from time to time. 

If you’re a permanent resident or otherwise non-Bahamian, you must send a project proposal for the BIA’s consideration. You’ll have to submit a project proposal if you’re:

  • Non-Bahamian
  • Investing a minimum of BS 500,000
  • Interested in locations that are open to Bahamian citizens and non-citizens alike

Here are the supporting documents you’ll need to apply:

  • Passport copy 
  • Financial reference and proof of wealth and income
  • Current character reference
  • Police records and fingerprints
  • Application for crown land (if applicable)
  • Environmental impact assessment

 

Establishing a Time-share Resort in The Bahamas

Remember the time-share registration requirement? That was for people interested in buying interest in a time-share. But what about someone who wants to construct a new or renovate an existing building to transform it into a time-share?

The BIA has an application process for that, too. Both Bahamians AND non-Bahamians must apply for a time-sharing project license. 

To apply, you’ll need to complete a Form B application — the best part is you don’t need supporting documentation for this BIA service. You’ll likely learn in 60 days whether your proposal was approved. 

 

Applying for an Investment Incentive Concession

While The Bahamas welcomes foreign investment from independent entrepreneurs, it also offers specific incentives to promote investment in particular projects. This opportunity is open to both Bahamians and non-Bahamians. 

You can apply for an investment incentive concession under the following:

  • Hotels Encouragement Act
  • Industries Encouragement Act
  • The Bahamas Vacation Plan and Time-Sharing Act

Forms: 

 

What else does The Bahamas Investment Authority cover? 

The Bahamian Investment Agency is your one-stop-shop for anything business. On top of formal registration and proposal processes, it also encourages Bahamians and non-Bahamians to come forward with any investment and business ideas that their services don’t cover. 

Here are a few other areas you might go to the BIA for support: 

 

Becoming an international owner of a second home

The Bahamian government encourages international investors to invest in a second home on The Bahamas’ 29 inhabited islands, especially those from the United States. 

To encourage second home purchases, the Bahamian government:

  • Does not require approval for any home purchases under two acres. 
  • Offers speedy consideration for permanent residency for people who purchase homes with $1.5 million

Additionally, you can see the government’s enthusiasm through their public description of all the advantages of a second home, such as being away from the US hustle, easy access to flights, and the many real estate options on offer from condominiums to private islands. 

 

Investment opportunities & incentives 

On top of all the concession incentives the BIA offers, they also encourage investment in all the following areas: 

  • Upscale condominiums
  • Ship repair and mariculture
  • High-tech services
  • Banking and other financial services
  • Agro-industries
  • Information and data processing
  • Time-share and second home development
  • Food processing
  • Offshore medical centers
  • Captive insurance
  • Export and pharmaceutical manufacturing

 

Guides for investors

On the BIA’s website, you’ll find plenty of helpful resources for budding investors interested in The Bahamas for their next move. 

Here are some of the investor guides they feature on their website: 

  • Financial Services: The Bahamas has long been known as a leader in global banking, aspiring to be competitive in: 
    • Wealth management
    • Capital investments
    • Emerging markets
    • Residency
    • Portfolio management

Of course, the country’s generous tax benefits urge investment in many financial industries in markets, including insurance services, securities, accounting, banking, and law. 

  • Hotels and Resorts Development: Tourism makes up a whopping 40% of The Bahamas’ economy, promoting job growth, generating income, and inviting a second home market. A unique “Hotels Encouragement Act” offers duty-free entry for construction, fixtures, and furnishings for hotels while cutting property tax obligations. 
  • Ship Registry: The Bahamas has the world’s largest fleet of ships, encouraged by its central location, world-class banking, and robust transportation sector. 

 

  • Freeport/Grand Bahama: The city of Freeport is The Bahamas’ home to a free trade zone pumped by industry and tourism. The zone removes the obligation for businesses to pay taxes and capital gains on profits, as well as on inheritance, income, and goods. 
  • Light Manufacturing: The Bahamas encourages businesses to establish offshore manufacturing plants on its islands, promoting its convenient location to Florida. Some incentives to encourage investment include the exemption of import duty for building materials, property tax, and equipment.

 

Bills, laws, & acts information 

The Bahamian Investment Agency offers an extensive online resource with bills, laws, and acts that describe the rights and conditions for Bahamians and non-Bahamians alike to conduct business in certain industries and markets. 

You can find high-profile, foundational laws like the Constitution on the agency’s e-laws page. Additionally, discover investment-specific laws, including: 

 

Conclusion: Get Support from The Foreign Investment Board of The Bahamas

If you’re thinking about relocating to The Bahamas, there’s no better time. The country makes foreign investment attractive through so many laws, acts, and incentives, and makes residency a breeze if you’re willing to invest. 

We like to think that we at MCR Bahamas also make moving and living in the Bahamas simple. Our skilled agents have years of targeted experience in each of The Bahamas’ most popular locations, including Exuma, Freeport, Nassau, Eleuthera, and more. 

Ready to make the best investment of your life? Lean on the Foreign Investment Board Bahamas/Bahamas Investment Agency for the incentives and MCR Bahamas for your real estate needs. You can contact us today to get access to the best real estate agents in The Bahamas that will find you the best places to live in The Bahamas. 

Foreign Investment Board of The Bahamas: Everything You Need to Know

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