Register your business

There are essentially three types of entities that can be registered in Antigua and Barbuda:

  • Corporate entities conducting business in Antigua and Barbuda (domestic limited liability companies) are registered under the Companies Act of Antigua and Barbuda 1995.
  • Unincorporated business entities including sole proprietorships and partnerships are registered under the Business Names Registrations Act of 1989.
  • Entities conducting offshore banking, trust, insurance, betting or gaming activities and corporate management and trust services (international business corporations) are registered under the International Business Corporations Act. Offshore is defined as outside the CARICOM region.

Register a domestic limited liability company

Investors establishing a domestic limited liability company must follow these steps. It is recommended to use an attorney-at-law for this process.

  • Conduct a business name search: The business name search is done manually by going through business name registers at the Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office (ABIPCO).
  • Reserve the business name: Once it is certain that the proposed business name does not exist, complete and submit a business name application form. This reserves the name for 90 days.
  • Register the company: Submit the documents described in the box below.
  • Obtain the certificate of incorporationCollect the certificate of incorporation from ABIPCO.
  • Register the business for statutory deductions:
    • Inland Revenue Department: Register for your tax identification number and Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax number - see under Taxes tab.
    • Social Security Board: Register for social security payments - see under Labour tab.
    • Board of Education: Register for a number - see under Labour tab.
    • Medical Benefits Scheme: Register for a number - see under Labour tab.

Documents for registering a limited liability company

The following documents must be submitted when registering a company:

  • Statutory declaration by an attorney-at-law that the applicant fulfills the requirements of the Companies Act (over 18 years old, of sound mind and not bankrupt);
  • Articles of Incorporation;
  • Notice of the names of the directors;
  • Notice of the address of the registered office;
  • A Non-Citizen Landholding License, if member of board or a shareholder is non-citizen and company holds land; and
  • Receipt issued by cashier of the Registrar for payment of registration fees.

Register an unincorporated business

Expedited procedures exist for registering a business, defined as a sole trader, partnership (firm), trustee or agent for a foreign firm. For this, the Business Names Registration Act, 1989 applies.

Registration is carried out by the Office of Intellectual Property and Commerce and usually takes seven days. The business is required to register with the Inland Revenue Department and once operational, the entity must register its employees with the Social Security Board, Medical Benefits Scheme and the Board of Education.

Register an international business corporation

Special registration procedures are applicable to International Business Corporations (IBCs). The formation of an IBC is carried out by a licensed Corporate Management and Trust Service Provider (CMTSP). Thus individuals wishing to incorporate an IBC will first have to identify a CMTSP who will then initiate the process with the FSRC on behalf of the client. The client does not register the IBC directly with the FSRC. A list of the licensed CMTSPs is attached.

Investment concessions

Antigua and Barbuda provides a range of incentives for investors. These are detailed below.

Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority

The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA), established by the Investment Authority Act, 2006, promotes and facilitates investment to Antigua and Barbuda from local and foreign investors. Its responsibilities include the following:

  • Promote the country as an investment destination.
  • Provide information on investment opportunities and potential joint venture partnerships.
  • Provide information to investors on their legal obligations.
  • Help identify sites for investment operations.
  • Facilitate the obtaining of necessary permits.
  • Issue investment certificates providing the concessions listed below.
  • Advise the Government on measures that could improve the business environment and increase the international competitiveness of the country.

Investment Authority Act 2006

The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority may grant concessions as specified in the Investment Authority Act. These include:

  • An exemption from or reduction on payment of duty under the Customs Duty Act, 1993 on the importation or purchase of raw materials, building materials, furniture, fixtures, fittings, appliances, machinery, plant and equipment, and motor vehicles for use in the construction and operation of the business.
  • A reduction of property tax under the Property Tax Act (2000) of up to 75% percent in respect of land and buildings used in the operation of the business.
  • A reduction on the payment of stamp duty payable by 75% under the Non-citizens Land Holding Regulation Act, Cap. 293 and under the Stamp Act, Cap 410 on land transfers.
  • An exemption from or the reduction on the payment of income tax under the Income Tax Act, Cap, 212 for a period of up to 20 years, with the ability to carry forward losses for up to seven years.
  • An exemption from or the reduction on the payment of withholding tax under section 40 of the Income Tax Act, Cap. 212 for a period of up to 20 years.

Concessions and incentives are categorized into six levels and the concessions awarded are dependent on the value of the investment and the number of persons to be employed. At least one director must be lawfully resident in Antigua and Barbuda.

Investors must apply to ABIA in order to avail of these incentives.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Investment Authority Act, 2006 Guide to concessions
Relevant institutions Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority

Small Business Development Act, 2007

The Small Business Development Act 2007 was passed to provide incentives in the form of concessions, technical assistance and credit guarantee to aid in the development of small businesses in Antigua and Barbuda. The following concessions are available to businesses registered as approved small businesses under the Small Business Development Act:

  • Exemption from or reduction on payment of duty under the Customs Duty Act, 1993 on the importation or purchase of raw materials, building materials, furniture, fixtures, fittings, appliances, machinery, plant and equipment, and motor vehicles for use in the construction and operation of the business.
  • Exemption from or reduction on payment of duty under the Customs Duty Act, 1993 on the importation or purchase motor vehicles for use in operation of the business.
  • Reduction of property tax under the Property Tax Act (2000) of up to 75% percent in respect of land and buildings other than residential premises used in the operation of the business.
  • Exemption from or the reduction on the payment of income tax under the Income Tax Act, Cap, 212 for a period not exceeding five years. After the end of the mentioned five-year period, a reduction of up to 10% of income tax payable on the income of the business for a specified period.
  • Exemption from or the reduction on the payment of withholding tax under section 40 of the Income Tax Act, Cap. 212 for a period of up to three years
  • Exemption from stamp duty on documents required for loans for the business or security for those loans
  • Reduction of stamp duty payable under the Non-Citizens Land Holdings Regulation of up to 75% in respect of land and buildings other than residential premises used in the operation of the business
  • The government will, as far as is feasible reserve at least 25% of the procurement of its goods and services for small businesses registered under the Act.
Investors must apply to ABIA in order to avail of these incentives.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Small Business Development Act, 2007 Concessions guide
Relevant institutions Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority

Tourism and Business (Special Incentives) Act, 2013

Additional incentives are provided under the Tourism and Business Special Incentives Act, 2013 which was enacted for a limited time period ending 16 April 2018.

The concessions include:

  • An exemption from or reduction on payment of import duty, Revenue Recovery Charge (RRC) and the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) on the importation or purchase of raw materials, building materials, furniture, fixtures, fittings, appliances, machinery, plant and equipment, and motor vehicles for use in the construction and operation of the business.
  • A reduction/exemption of property tax under the Property Tax Act (2000) in respect of land and buildings used in the operation of the business.
  • A reduction/exemption on the payment of stamp duty payable under the Non-citizens Land Holding Regulation Act, Cap. 293 and under the Stamp Act, Cap 410 on land transfers.
  • An exemption from the payment of income tax under the Income Tax Act, Cap, 212 for a period of up to 25 years, with the ability to carry forward losses for up to seven years.
  • An exemption from or the reduction on the payment of withholding tax under section 40 of the Income Tax Act, Cap. 212 for a period of up to 25 years.

The level of concessions awarded is dependent on the level of capital to be invested. Currently, investments up to EC$1 million receive no special incentives, however, projects of this size are entitled to an exemption form the payment of Import Duty, RRC and ABST on capital items. 

Sectors covered by the Act are:

  • Tourism 
  • Manufacturing
  • ICT
  • Financial Services
  • Health & Wellness
  • Creative Industry
  • Energy

Investors must apply to ABIA in order to avail of these incentives.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Tourism & Business (Special Incentives) Act, 2013

Citzenship by investment

Antigua and Barbuda provide foreign nationals and their families with the opportunity to gain citizenship by either a contribution to the national development fund, a real estate investment, a business investment.

The options are as follows:

  • A foreign national may contribute $250,000 to the national development fund. This is done via an approved agent. The Citizenship by Investment Unit carries out due diligence checks before recommending citizenship to the Prime Minister.
  • A foreign national may purchase a real estate unit, built or off-plan, for a minimum of $400,000. This must be done via a development approved by the Develoment Control Authority, and they are usually sited in coastal areas. This entitles the investor to provisional citizenship. In order to convert to full citizenship, the investor needs to hold the property for five years, visit Antigua to swear an oath of allegiance and spend at least five days during the five year period in the country. The property itself may be rented out.
  • A foreign national may invest $1.5 million in a business venture. If it is a group of investors, the minimum combined investment is $5 million, with the proviso that each investors must invest at least $400,000. The investment may either be in an approved tourism development, for example, or if judged transformative, in any other sector.

What investors think

Investors reported a very enabling environment and a government open to investment.


It was noted that the time taken to obtain certain licenses could be lengthy and that investors might need to closely follow the progress of their applications through the relevant ministries.

Questions were also raised about consistency in the way fiscal incentives had been awarded in the past.

Population

Antigua and Barbuda has an estimated population of 92,000 in 2016 of which 48 percent male and 52 percent female. The Labour force was estimated at 59,000 with an unemployment rate of about 12 percent.

Skills

The education system in Antigua and Barbuda is fashioned off the British model with more recent modifications. It is governed by the provisions of the Education Act 2008 which makes it mandatory for students ages 5-16 to participate in the educational process. The sector comprises Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary, Technical Vocational and Tertiary Institutions. It comprises a mix of Government and Private Institutions. 

The country has achieved the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of universal access to Primary and Secondary Education. Adult literacy is 99 percent.

Tertiary education is also provided, with the following institutions:

  • Antigua State College (ASC)
  • Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute (ABHTI)
  • Antigua and Barbuda International Institute of Technology (ABIIT)
  • The University of the West Indies Open Campus

The Antigua State College is the main tertiary level institution and offers associate degrees in the humanities, sciences, business and engineering. In addition, its undergraduate department offers 1st and 2nd Year select programmes of the University of the West Indies bachelor's degree. Students then complete their course of study at one of the major campuses of the University of the West Indies, at Cave Hill, Barbados, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Mona, Jamaica. There is also a national scholarship system, which grants assistance to study in institutions in North America, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Cuba and China.

The Antigua and Barbuda International Institute of Technology provides training leading to associate degrees in a range of business and technology areas. It has developed collaborative relationships with Pace University, Skidmore and Monroe College.

Plans for the establishment of the University of the West Indies Antigua and Barbuda Campus are at an advanced stage.

For expatriates, the Island Academy offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute

The institute trains around 110 students a year in hospitality management, culinary arts, resort management, and food and beverage management with the aim of supplying a qualified and personable workforce to the local hospitality industry.

Courses are offered either as an associate degree to be completed elsewhere in the region after two years on-site, or one-year certificates, and target both junior management level and entry level. The courses include internships at establishments on the island.

The institute has already attracted international students from the region. It is looking to expand and open a hotel on-site, with the aim of drawing students from across the Eastern Caribbean and CARICOM.

Employment and contracts

An employer is required to provide an employee with a letter of employment within ten days of the employment starting.

Terms and conditions of employment may be changed with the agreement of the employee. In certain sectors, or where employees have requested union representation, terms and conditions are set and modified through collective agreement.

Employment can include a probationary period of up to three months. Beyond the probationary period, the notice period of termination of contract is the length of time between pay days, and does not need to exceed 30 days.

The Labour Code allows termination of employment for:

  • economic reasons;
  • performance reasons; or
  • disciplinary cases.

Where termination is for economic reasons, severance pay of one day per month or major fraction thereof worked with that employer and any previous employer.

The Labour Commissioner ensures that the Labour Code is applied. This includes determining complaints of unfair dismissal. Should there be a disagreement between the employer and employee, either party can request intervention by the Labour Commissioner, who will try to settle the case amicably. If the Labour Commissioner doesn't succeed, the case is referred to the minister who may decide to refer the case to a hearing officer for a formal and biding decision.

The Labor Commissioner also settles disputes over labor abuses, health, and safety conditions. Workers have the right to report unsafe work environments without jeopardy to continued employment; inspectors then investigate such claims, and workers may leave such locations without jeopardy to their continued employment.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code
Relevant institutions Labour Department

Wages

The table below shows indicative monthly wages paid by foreign investors.

The Department of Labour prescribes a minimum wage of EC$ 8.20 an hour, however, reference employers pay significantly more.

The work week is up to six days with a maximum of 8 hours per day.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Senior managerUSD3000-35002016per month, plus benefits
Middle managerUSD20002016per month
EngineerUSD30002016per month
Graduate entryUSD15002016per month
Skilled technicianUSD800-10002016per month
Office assistantUSD10002016per month
Shop assistantUSD5502016per month
DriverUSD7502016per month
Security guardUSD600-10002016per month
Unskilled labourerUSD6002016per month

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Labour Department

Non wage benefits

Non-wage benefits provided by an employer

Benefit Amount
Annual sick leave (certificate to be produced after third consecutive day) 12 days
Annual vacation leave 12 days
Severance pay 1 day per month worked with that employer and pervious employers
Work during a public holiday 150 percent of wage

Social security and other contributions

Employers and in some cases employees are required to make contributions as described in the table below. Information on the different benefits is described below.

As described in the Get Started tab, businesses must register with each of these three schemes.

Further within a week of employment starting, an employer is required to register their employee for each of the benefits.

Social security authority Employer contribution Employee contribution
Social Security Board 7% 5 %
Medical Benefit Scheme 3.5 % 3.5 %
Board of Education (Chargeable income of $6,500 to $60,000) None 2.5 %
Board of Education (Chargeable income of over $60,000) None 5 %

Social security

Sickness benefit

Sickness benefit is not paid for the first three days of the medical certificate or for Sundays. However, if sickness reoccurs within eight weeks of initial illness, the benefit will be paid from the first day. Sickness benefit is 60% of the insured individual’s average insurable weekly earnings. (i.e. three calendar months immediately before illness, divided by the number of weeks worked). Sickness is paid for a maximum of 39 weeks of continuous illness, provided that there is a second medical opinion after 26 weeks.

Maternity benefit

Maternity benefit is paid for a maximum of 13 weeks, commencing as early as 6 weeks before confinement or as late as the week of confinement. Maternity is 60% of the insure individual's average insurable weekly earnings. The average insurable earnings is calculated by totaling the earnings in the 52 weeks immediately preceding the 6 weeks period before the expected date of delivery.

Age Benefit 

Age Benefit is a benefit payable to an insured person who has reached the age of 60 years and has satisfied the required contribution conditions. Age Benefit is either a pension or a grant.

Invalidity benefit

Invalidity benefit is a benefit payable to an insured individual who has not yet reached the age of retirement or not damaged on the job, but is unable to take part in any further employment becauseof illness that is likely to remain permanent. Invalidity benefit may be either a pension or a grant. Invalidity pension is a monthly payment, payable to an insured individual who has a paid a minimum of 156 weekly contributions or three years contributions.

Invalidity grant is a onetime payment payable to an insured person who does not satisfy any of the above conditions for a pension, but has paid at least 52 weeks or 12 months of contributions. An invalidity grant is EC$1,200 or 3/4 of the total contributions paid, whichever is greater.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Social Security Act, 1974
Relevant institutions Social Security Board

Medical Benefits

The Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) offers financial assistance and pharmaceutical supplies to qualified residents of Antigua and Barbuda. Beneficiaries are also entitled to refunds for services rendered through laboratory tests, x-rays, surgery, ultra sounds, electrocardiographs or similar services, hospitalization and drugs. The MBS also provides financial, managerial and medical supplies to the local hospital and health clinics. 

There are two groups of beneficiaries: 

Group I 

  1. All persons who have paid contributions to the scheme for 26 weeks in any calendar year or in any period of 12 months.
  2. Persons who are under the age of 16 years.
  3. Persons who are permanently incapable of work by virtue of age.

Group II 

  1. Persons certified by a medical practitioner to be suffering from any of the specified diseases. These persons are entitled to free medical benefits, including drugs, X-rays, laboratory tests, and electro-cardiograms and similar services. 

Medical benefits are provided to two categories of beneficiaries: 

Persons hospitalized

All beneficiaries hospitalized for any disease and treated in the general ward of the hospital are entitled to free medical services, including medical and surgical care and services, drugs, X-rays, laboratory tests, and electro-cardiograms and similar services. 

Persons not hospitalized 

Persons in Group I are entitled to free X-rays, laboratory tests and electro-cardiograms conducted at the Holberton Hospital. Where this treatment is not available at the hospital, and the beneficiary obtains the treatment elsewhere as a result, the beneficiary is allowed to claim the costs incurred. However, if the beneficiary elects to receive the treatment from a third party provider instead of through the Hospital, the amount reimbursed is limited to the fees regularly charged at the Hospital.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Medical Benefits Act, 2010
Relevant institutions Medical Benefits Scheme

Board of Education

The Board of Education provides additional support to Antigua and Barbuda's education system. In doing so it provides the following benefits:

  • Financial assistance, bursaries and scholarships for citizens and nationals of Antigua and Barbuda.
  • Financing of textbooks.
  • Payment of contributions to  the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) on behalf of the Government.
  • Payment of contributions  to the University of the West Indies (UWI) on behalf of the Government.
  • Contributions to the  upkeep, maintenance and continuity of the Antigua State College (ASC)
  • Maintenance of government school grounds maintenance.
  • Provision and maintenance of equipment and computers to schools
  • Provision of supplies to schools.
  • Repairing and refurbishing of the physical school plants.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Board of Education Act, 1994
Relevant institutions Board of Education

Work permits

Any employed or self-employed worker who is not a national of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), nor a resident (see below) requires a work permit to be employed or manage a business in Antigua and Barbuda.

Work permits are approved primarily by the Department of Labour.

In applying for a work permit, employers are required to demonstrate that having called for applications through the publication of a job vacancy, a suitable applicant could not be found locally.

In reviewing applications, the Department of Labour considers:

  • whether the use of expatriate personnel is part of a human resources strategy in which the skills of local personnel are developed in order to assume such roles in the future;
  • whether a work permit is required for key roles (such as CEO/general manager, finance director) or other roles; and
  • whether the permit is for a temporary assignment or an ongoing one.

Once approved by the Department of Labour, the worker may travel to the country. If from a country not requiring a visa, the worker enters at the port of entry and obtains an entry stamp. If from a country requiring a visa, the worker applies online for a visa (address). 

Once in the country, the employer brings the passport to the Department of Immigration, along with a written undertaking to pay the worker's return ticket, and the passport is endorsed with a work permit of up to a year. The permit is renewable on a yearly basis.

The spouse of a worker receives an extension of stay in the passport, linked to the work permit.

Children of a worker must obtain a letter of enrolment from an educational institution in Antigua and Barbuda. This qualifies them for a student permit.

A foreign national may apply for residency if:

  • they have independent means;
  • are married to a local national; or
  • have lived in the country for four years and can demonstrate that they intend to make the country their permanent home. This requires a letter to the Chief Immigration Officer setting out their ties to Antigua and Barbuda.

A CARICOM national, who is not an OECS national does not require a work permit if they have a university education. In this case, they can obtain a CARICOM Skilled National Certificate from the Department of Labour, either before or after entering the country, although preferably before. This certificate does not have an expiry date.


Find out more...

Relevant documents Immigration and Passport Amendment Act 2015 Labour Code
Relevant institutions Labour Department

Documents required for a work permit

  • A valid passport with at least six months before expiration and 6 weeks immigration time.
  • Proposed letter of employment or Ccontract
  • A detailed job description
  • Recent police certificate of character from last country of residence and from Antigua and Barbuda after six months of residency
  • For companies: a certificate of incorporation and notice to directors
  • For other businesses - registration certificate and statement of particulars


What investors think

Investors noted that the local workforce was generally well-qualified and highly proficient in English. For hotels it was noted that the training and quality of local staff had improved but that for the higher grades it was still necessary to bring in foreign personnel with greater experience and exposure.

Labour costs were noted as high compared to some competing islands.

The work permit process was noted as lengthy because of all the documents required for initial application and annual renewal, including the police record check, letter from the medical insurance and social security. However there were no reports of work permits not being renewed.

Electricity

The Antigua Public Utilities Authority is the sole utility company in Antigua and Barbuda providing electricity. The Electricity Business Unit is responsible for transmission, distribution and generation. Electricity is generated by diesel  and supplied by 115/230V Single phase and 120 to 480V Three Phase. Electricity supply is clean and generally reliable. The company is actively exploring alternative energy sources in its quest to supply lower cost electricity (see Renewable energy in the Growth sectors and opportunities tab).

Current installed capacity is 110 MW, with a total demand of 54 MW. However, distribution difficulties result in a lower effective capacity of 51 MW.

When applying for a new or temporary electricity service an application form must be completed, approved and stamped by the DCA before submitting it to APUA. Please note that four copies of the electricity form must be presented along with a valid photo ID, Certificate of incorporation, land title and a copy of a utility bill (if applic

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
General PurposeUSD0.16 per unit2016USD$5.52 minimum charge monthly
Domestic Tariff USD0.15 per unit2016Based on usage of less than 50 units per month.USD$3 minimum charge per month
Domestic Tariff 1 - 300 KwhUSD0.15 per unit2016Based on usage of more than 50 units per month. USD$9.20 minimum charge per month
Domesti Tariff 300+ KwhUSD0.14 per unit2016Based on usage of more than 50 units per month. USD$9.20 minimum charge per month
Commercial Tariff 1st BlockUSD0.16 per unit2016100KWH/KVA of Demand
Commercial Tariff 2nd BlockUSD0.15 per unit2016250 KWH/KVA of Demand
Commercial Tariff 3rd BlockUSD0.14 per unit2016All remaining KWH
Industrial Tariff 1st BlockUSD0.17 per unit2016100KWH/KVA of Demand
Industrial Tariff 2nd BlockUSD0.15 per unit2016250 KWH/KVA of Demand
Industrial Tariff 3rd BlockUSD0.13 per unit2016All remaining KWH

Find out more...

Relevant documents APUA Tariffs
Relevant institutions Antigua Public Utilities Authority

Water

The Antigua Public Utilities Authority provides potable water services to the nation of Antigua & Barbuda.  It executes this mandate through its management of the islands surface and groundwater resources in addition to several desalination plants ideally located around the island. 

Water service applications can be obtained and on completion returned to any of the Authority’s business offices.  A site inspection by the Authority’s Planning Department follows and an estimate for the required work generated. Service installation follows on payment of the estimate.  The duration of the application/installation process is largely dependent on the quality of information available.  Paramount being poof of property ownership and project/development approval.


Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Domestic Tariff (over 4,000 gallons per month)USD18.40 2016per 1,000 gallons. Meter Rental - $0.37. Minimum Monthly charge $7.72.
Domestic Tariff (up to 4,000 gallons per month)USD7.72 2016Per 1,000 gallons or part thereof
Commercial and Industrial TariffUSD18.402016Per 1,000 gallons or part thereof
Agricultural TariffUSD9.202016Per 1,000 gallons or part thereof.
Churches/Schools/Non-Proft Social Institutions (over 4,000 gallons)USD18.40 2016Per 1,000 gallons or part thereof
Churches/Schools/Non-Proft Social Institutions (up to 4,000 gallons)USD7.722016Per 1,000 gallons or part thereof

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Antigua Public Utilities Authority

Telecommunications

Antigua presently has two undersea Fiber Optic Cables. Each cable system has bandwidth capacity in excess of 10 Gbps. The capacity capability on this network can support the entire Caribbean

The internet service providers in Antigua and Barbuda are the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) Inet, Digicel, Flow Communications and the Antigua Computer Technology Ltd (ACT).

Telephone services are provided by APUA - Land line and mobile, Flow - Mobile, Digicel - Mobile

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Internet (1 Mb bandwith)USD1152016per month
Internet (5 Mb bandwith)USD3912016per month
Mobile phone (4G 10 Gb)USD632016per month

Find out more...

Relevant documents

Transport infrastructure

Road network

Antigua and Barbuda has 385 km of paved roads.

Airport

Antigua and Barbuda has one of the most modern international airports in the Caribbean. With a brand new terminal opened in August 2015 doubling the capacity of the previous terminal, the V.C. Bird International Airport is an important regional hub, and the largest gateway to the Eastern Caribbean.

The new terminal has 4 jet bridges, a modern baggage sorting and scanning system and efficient immigration processing times.

There are both direct and connecting flights to and from North America, Europe and the rest of the Caribbean.

Maritime

Antigua's main international port for cargo is the commercial pier at Deepwater Harbour in St John's. It has a draught of 35 feet. Facilities including container handling services. Offloading and customs clearance usually takes place within the day. Customs uses the Asycuda system.

In addition to the commercial pier, Nevis Pier and Heritage Quay are designed to handle cruise traffic, receiving ships averaging 1,700 passengers.

With the redevelopment of downtown St John's (see Growth Sectors and Opportunities tab) there are plans to move the commercial harbour to Param in order to develop a larger cruise terminal.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority

Transport costs

Indicative costs for freight transport by sea are below.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Freight from New ZealandUSD7500201640 foot container
Freight from ShanghaiUSD3900201620 foot container
Freight from ShanghaiUSD5900201640 foot container
Freight from MiamiUSD5000201640 foot container
Freight from BrazilUSD5600201640 foot container
Freight from ItalyUSD5500201640 foot container
Freight from UKUSD3600-3800201620 foot container
Freight from UKUSD5200201640 foot container

Other costs

For indicative purposes, a basket of goods and services that investors may face is included below.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
PetrolUSD1.3020161 litre
DieselUSD0.8220161 litre
CementUSD5.20201647 lbs
Coca ColaUSD3.3020162 litres
Local beerUSD1.8620160.5 litres
Imported beerUSD3.7020160.5 litres
Bottled WaterUSD1.2120161.5 Litre
MilkUSD220161 litre
RiceUSD1.8420161 kg
FlourUSD1.4020161 kg
SugarUSD1.2520161 kg
Whole chickenUSD7.720161 kg
Minced beefUSD520161 kg
MuttonUSD6.9420161 kg

What investors think

Concerns were raised with regards to the cost and availability of electricity and water. Good quality hotels made provision for backup generators and desalination plants.


With regards to the port, it was felt that the equipment needed upgrading and the draught increased to allow bigger ships to berth. The port was felt to be under-staffed during busy periods.

The airport was seen as efficient and flight capacity as adequate.

Types of land

Land is either owned by the Government or privately. In Antigua, the Government owns 55 percent of land in Antigua, with the remaining 45 percent private. In Barbuda, land ownership is prohibited. The Lands Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries is the custodian of crown lands on behalf of the Government.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Land Registry

Acquisition procedures

An investor can lease or buy land from the government or the private sector. Land sold to non-citizens is subject to the Non-Citizen Land Holding Regulation Act that makes provisions for the buyer to obtain a license to purchase land (see Taxes tab). It is advised that the buyer consult with a local attorney.

Acquiring land from the Government through leasing or buying, either by citizens or non-citizens, is always conditional on approval of a proposed project by the line ministries and the Cabinet. This is because the Government has an unwritten policy of only divesting itself of land if it leads to the development of a specific project. 

The Land Registry's involvement in the acquisition of government land occurs once the stamp duty (see Taxes tab) has been paid on the Instrument of Transfer and the Chief Surveyor has signed the certificate contained in the said instrument confirming that boundaries have been verified or authenticated. There is a EC$30 administration fee for the processing of an instrument of Transfer filed within three months of the date of signing, rising in EC$30 increments  thereafter for each three month period to a maximum of EC$150.00. 

The turn-around time for the registration for an instrument of transfer and the issuance of a Land Certificate varies between 5 to 10 working days.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Non Citizens Land Holding Regulation Act
Relevant institutions Land Registry

Land costs

Indicative land costs are displayed below.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
WarehouseUSD302016per square metre per month
Commercial building - Friars Hill RoadUSD242016per square metre per month, includes parking
Commercial building - St. John'sUSD172016per square metre per month
Villa - Jolly Harbour (South)USD800-3,5002016per month
House - St. John's AreaUSD2,000-4,0002016per month
House - Falmouth/English Harbour AreaUSD1,500-2,5002016per month
Apartments - Jolly Harbour/Valley Church AreaUSD800-1,0002016per month
Townhouse/Apartments - Five IslandsUSD1,200-3,0002016 per month
Villa - Jolly Harbour (North)USD650-14,0002016per week, short-term vacation let
Villa - Galleon BeachUSD5,000-10,0002016per week, short-term vacation let
Villa - Nonsuch BayUSD3,000-10,0002016per week, short-term vacation let

Construction permit procedures

Construction permits are provided by the Development Control Authority.

The first step is to submit a concept drawing. The DCA checks whether it suits the land use and provides an approval in principle. A non-Antiguan will also need to provide an Alien Land-holder Certificate and a copy of the land register.

However, if the development falls under the Third Schedule of the Environmental Protection & Management Act 2015 or is likely to have a significant impact on the environment, then the file is referred to the Department of Environment for its advice (see next section). The Department of Environment may return terms of reference for environmental impact studies to be prepared and submitted at the following stage.

Depending on the nature of the development it may also be referred to the Central Board of Health (for waste water issues), the National Parks Authority (if sited in a national park) or Cabinet (if a large development) for their advice before an approval in principle is provided.

The next step is for the developer to prepare the detailed drawings and plans and submit them along with any required environmental impact studies.

Depending on the nature of the development, the file is referred to a number of public bodies, including the Department of Environment (for an audit of the environmental studies), the National Parks Authority (if sited in a national park), the Central Board of Health, the Fire Department, and if a jetty is involved, the Department of Marine Services, Fisheries Division, Department of Agriculture (as the sea is crown land) and the Port Authority.

Depending on the complexity of the development, the approval process can last from two weeks to significantly longer - this is especially the case when environmental studies are involved.

At the end of the review, and if successful, the Development Control Authority provides a clearance to begin construction, which includes a Commencement Permit. There may be conditions attached from the various public bodies consulted, including the Department of Environment.

The Development Control Authority sends inspectors at every phase of construction. At completion it certifies the development with a Completion Certificate, which allows use and occupation.

Find out more...

Relevant documents DCA Procedures Manual
Relevant institutions Development Control Authority Environment Division

Environment impact assessment

As part of the construction permit procedure, most developments will require an environmental impact assessement (EIA). This applies to developments of the following types:

A hotel or resort complex

  •  An airport, port or yacht marina
  •  A power plant
  •  A crude oil or refinery facility or a petroleum and natural gas storage and pipeline installation;
  • An incinerator, sanitary landfill operation, solid waste disposal site, sludge disposal site, toxic waste disposal site or other similar site;
  •  A wastewater treatment, desalination or water purification plant;
  •  An industrial estate development project;

A full list is in the Third Schedule of the Environmental Protection & Management Act 2015 (attached). In such cases, the Development Control Authority will refer the concept drawings to the Department of Environment before providing an approval in principle

The Department of Environment will come back within a 2-3 week review period with possible terms of reference for an EIA and, where necessary, related studies - this is particularly the case with regards to coastal tourism developments, where impact on coastal erosion and marine life needs to be considered. The studies will cover environmental aspects, and in certain cases, socio-economic aspects, such as access to farm land, beaches or public spaces, or the impact of the project on local operators. Developers should be aware that the time taken to complete certain studies, especially those related to coastal erosion, could take up to a year.

The terms of reference will be provided to the developer by the Development Control Authority when it delivers an approval in principle.

The developer carries out the studies requested, through a qualified private consultant of their choice, and returns the studies through the Development Control Authority to the Department of Environment at the same time that it submits the detailed drawings. The Department of Environment's role is then to audit the studies and provide recommendations to the Development Control Authority on whether or how the proposed project may be improved.

Where the Department of Environment has concerns about a developer's willingness to abide by the recommendations it provides, it may require a payment of a performance bond. A developer may also be required to provide monthly progress reports to the Department of Environment during construction, and six-monthly or yearly once the development is completed.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Environment Protection and Management Act
Relevant institutions Environment Division

Free trade and processing zone

The free trade and processing zone, located near the airport in the North-East of the island, was set up to help diversify the country's economy by attracting investment in a broader range of sectors for the purpose of increasing the export of goods and services.

The FTPZ Commission is responsible for licensing businesses to operate and is set up to run as a private enterprise. Investors must apply directly to the commission or a license.

Current clients include the American University of Antigua (on-site) and a number of interactive gaming firms (off-site).

To operate in the zone a business must:

  • Engage in commercial or industrial activity for export outside CARICOM. Goods sold in Antigua, where authorized, are considered as having been imported from outside CARICOM.
  • Be physically present in the zone.
  • Be licensed as an International Business Corporation (see Get started tab).
  • Employ at least three citizens of Antigua and Barbuda for each foreign worker.

The zone has over 100 acres of land available, ready for use, with fibre optic cable, roads and other utilities. A bus route runs by the zone, enabling travel for local employees.

The fiscal benefits of operating in the zone include:

  • The zone license is replaces the various sectoral licenses that would be necessary outside the zone.
  • Exemption from government taxes or levies on the activity being carried out.
  • Exemption from import taxes and duties for machinery, equipment, spare parts, construction material and other items needed to construct and operate facilities in the zone.
  • Exemption from duty and other taxes on the importation of raw materials and other input goods.
  • Exemption from income and other taxes other than social security payments, medical benefit contributions and education levy for employees.
  • Exemption from export taxes and levies
  • Exemption from taxes on the repatriation of profits.

Other benefits include:

  • Expedited clearance through customs.
  • Expedited handling of work permit applications.
  • Connection to the more reliable airport electricity grid.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Free Trade Zone Act
Relevant institutions Free Trade and Processing Zone Commission

What investors think

The Government's commitment to improving environmental standards with regards to planning and developments was appreciated. It was noted that developers would be well advised to familiarize themselves with planning and environmental rules from the outset in order to avoid complications later on, especially for developments by the coast. It was also felt that the environment impact assessment process could be speeded up, possibly through contracting out the service.

It was felt that the rationale for how and to whom land concessions were awarded could be made more clear.

Tax introduction and registration

A newly registered business entity must apply for a taxpayer identification number and ABST number from the Inland Revenue Department. Registration is also required for the Medical Benefits Scheme, the Social Security Board and the Board of Education (see Labour tab).

The fiscal year is the calendar year, but a different cycle can be requested. The taxable basis is income earned in Antigua and Barbuda. Companies that can be taxed include those incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda or external companies doing business there.

A number of incentives exist (see Get started tab).

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Relevant institutions Inland Revenue Department

Corporate income tax

Corporations should pay corporate income tax (CIT) in monthly installments based on the amount of taxes assessed the previous year. CIT is paid on the chargeable income of a corporation, which is derived by adding expenses not allowed and deducting allowances to be granted to the new profit of a Company. The corporate income tax rate is levied at 25%.

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Relevant documents Income Tax Act
Relevant institutions Inland Revenue Department

Unincorporated Business Tax

The Unincorporated Business Tax is levied on the chargeable income (net income) of an unincorporated business. A business under this Act includes any business, profession, trade, venture or undertaking for the provision of personal services or technical and managerial skills, and also includes any adventure or concern in the nature of trade and property rental.

Unincorporated Business Tax

Tax Bands (Chargeable Income) Rate (%)
Up to EC$ 42,000 0
EC$ 42,001 to EC$ 186,000 8
EC$186,001 and over 25

Find out more...

Relevant documents More information

Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST)

ABST is a value added tax on consumption; it is imposed on the selling (buying price + mark-up) of goods and services. The rates are indicated below. The minimum threshold is EC$300,000 in taxable activities per year.

Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax

Item Rate (%)
All items except those below 15
Hotels 12.5
Financial services, local transport, education, medical and veterinary services Exempt
Exports, basic food items, water, electricity for residential use Zero-rated

Find out more...

Relevant documents Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax Act
Relevant institutions Inland Revenue Department

Withholding taxes

Withholding taxes are levied on non-resident corporations and individuals where they are receiving income in the form of dividends, preferred share dividends, interest and rentals, management fees, and royalties, as well as on interest on bank deposits to non-resident corporations

Withholding taxes

Dividends (%) Dividends preferred shares (%) Interest and rentals (%) Management fees, royalties and other payments to a non-resident (%) Interest on bank deposits (%)
Non-resident corporations 25 25 25 25 25
Non-resident individuals 25 25 25 25 0
Corporations resident of a CARICOM member stae 0 15 15 15 15
Individuals resident of a CARICOM member state 0 15 15 15 0

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Inland Revenue Department

Custom duties

The Customs Division levies a number of taxes. They are:

  • Import duty: Imposed on an assortment of goods. The rates vary and are taken directly from the harmonized system (HS). A list with some goods and their current rates is attached.
  • Environmental protection levy: Imposed against various goods at different rates. The full list is attached below.
  • Throughput levy: Charged in relation to oil. The rate is calculated as ten cents ($0.10) per Imperial Gallon.
  • Revenue recovery charge: A fixed rate of 10% on all goods.
The following exceptions apply:

  • Goods coming from a CARICOM country are exempted from import duty.
  • Importers may, once approved, store imported goods in a bonded warehouse under a suspense warrant for up to two years, after which all goods are to be duty paid, exported or re-warehoused as prescribed by law.

Property taxes

This tax is charged on land or land and buildings, based on market value. Rates differ depending on the use of the property. Allowances and rebates also apply.

Non-citizens who do not develop their land face a non-citizens undeveloped land tax.

Property taxes

Percent of land value Percent of building value
Residential 0.2 0.3
Commercial 0.4 0.5
Agricultural 0.1 -
Undeveloped land owned by a non-citizen, in first year of non-development 10.0 -
Undeveloped land owned by a non-citizen, in second year of non-development 15.0 -
Undeveloped land owned by a non-citizen, in third and subsequent years of non-development 20.0 -

Find out more...

Relevant documents Property Tax Act, 2000
Relevant institutions Inland Revenue Department

Stamp duty and other taxes on transfer of property or shares

The buying and selling of property and shares incurs stamp duty, payable by both buyers and sellers.

In addition, non-citizens must acquire a non-citizen license in order to buy a property, a process that takes three to six months.

Non-citizens selling their property must pay a land appreciation tax on the difference between the buying and selling price of their property.

Taxes on transfer of property or shares

Paid by buyer (%) Paid by seller (%)
Stamp duty on shares 2.5 5.0
Stamp duty on property 2.5 7.5
Land appreciation tax (applies to non-citizens) - 5.0
Non-citizen license (applies to non-citizens) 5.0 -

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Inland Revenue Department

Licenses

Taxes apply for certain licenses. A full list is attached.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Full list of taxes on licenses

Double taxation agreements and tax information exchange agreements

Antigua and Barbuda has double taxation agreements on income and capital for:
  • Denmark (1954)
  • Norway (1955)
  • Sweden (1972)
  • Switzerland (1963)
  • United Kingdom (1947)
It also has an extensive list of tax information exchange agreements, further detailed in the attachment.

Find out more...

Relevant documents List of tax information exchange agreements

What investors think

Investors were positive about the fiscal environment, both with regards to tax levels and the manner in which taxes are administered.

However it was felt that there was room for improvement in the efficiency of customs handling, although there was already a marked improvement from the past.

Legal framework

Antigua and Barbuda bases its legal system on the British common law system. The Attorney General, the Chief Justice, Puisne Judges, and Magistrates administer justice in the country. An appeal may be taken to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s Court of Appeal, and the final court of appeal for Antigua and Barbuda is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is the regional judicial tribunal, established in 2001 by the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice. The CCJ has original jurisdiction to interpret and apply the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. In its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ considers and determines appeals from Member States of CARICOM, which are parties to the Agreement Establishing the CCJ. Antigua and Barbuda is subject to the original jurisdiction of the CCJ.

Investment protection

Antigua and Barbuda has certain legal and treaty measures that exist to provide protection. These are described below.

The Government treats foreign and local investors equally with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investment in its territory.

Expropriation

The Investment Authority Act of 2006 states that any nationalization, expropriation or indirect measures having an equivalent effect will be carried out in a non-discriminatory manner, for the public good and in accordance with due process of law. It will be accompanied by prompt, adequate and effective compensation. Calculation of compensation is based on fair market value immediately before the expropriation or before the impending expropriation became public knowledge. Compensation must be paid in convertible currency and can be freely transferred.

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Relevant documents Investment Authority Act, 2006
Relevant institutions Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority

Dispute settlement

Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the 1958 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention), meaning that arbitral awards relating to foreign investments are legally binding and enforceable.

The country has also signatory to the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). This membership in MIGA allows direct foreign investment into the country to be eligible for the Agency’s investment guarantees. Investors from Antigua and Barbuda going into MIGA’s other developing member countries may also receive coverage for their investments.

Investors are free to use national or international arbitration with regards to contracts entered into with the state. Further, access to international arbitration is provided for under Antigua and Barbuda's bilateral investment treaties. International arbitration awards are enforceable by the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda.

International or national arbitration may also be selected if specified in contracts between private parties.

Investors also have access to Antigua and Barbuda's legal system, which is based on the common law tradition. If both parties agree, cases in front of the court can be moved to arbitration as per the Arbitration Act 1975.

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Relevant documents Arbitration Act, 1975

International investment agreements

Antigua and Barbuda has bilateral investment treaties (attached below) with:

  • United Kingdom (1987)
  • Germany (2001)
Investment provisions are also contained in a number of CARICOM trade agreements (see the Growth Sectors and Opportunities tab).

Repatriation of funds

Companies registered in Antigua and Barbuda have the right to repatriate all capital, royalties, dividends and profits free of all taxes or any other charges on foreign exchange transactions. Withholding taxes are levied on non-resident corporations and individuals where they are receiving income in the form of dividends, preferred share dividends, interest and rentals, management fees, and royalties, as well as on interest on bank deposits to non-resident corporations. One must be on the island for 180 days to be considered a resident. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

Intellectual property

Antigua and Barbuda has a wide legislative framework with respect to the protection of intellectual property rights, on trade marks, copyrights, industrial designs and geographical indications. Intellectual property can be registered at the Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office.

In addition, Article 66 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (2001) establishing the Caribbean Single Market and Economy commits all 15 members to implement stronger Intellectual Property protection and enforcement.

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which was signed between the CARIFORUM States and the European Community in 2008 contains the most detailed obligations in respect of intellectual property in any trade agreement to which Antigua and Barbuda is a party. The EPA gives recognition to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property. Article 139 of the EPA requires parties to “ensure an adequate and effective implementation of the international treaties dealing with intellectual property to which they are parties and of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).”

International agreements

Antigua and Barbuda is signatory to the following intellectual property agreements.

Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (1967)

Link to WIPO website

Find out more...

Relevant documents WIPO Convention
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886) establishes minimum standards regarding the national protection of copyrights in signatory countries, and guarantees the application in these countries of the national copyright law to artistic works originating from another signatory country.

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Relevant documents WIPO Berne Convention
Patent Cooperation Treaty (1970)

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Relevant documents WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) establishes industrial property protection rules regarding patents, marks, industrial designs, trade names, geographical indications and the repression of unfair competition. Its provisions include regulations regarding the national treatment, the right of priority and a number of common rules.

Link to WIPO website

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Relevant documents WIPO Paris Convention
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (1989)

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Relevant documents WIPO Madrid Protocol

Infringement of intellectual property rights

In case of infringement, an owner or licensee of an intellectual property right may seek award of damages and remedies at the High Court.

They may  also request the Comptroller of Customs to seize imported counterfeit goods. However it is a matter of the courts to make the determination on the destruction of the goods. Seized items are usually handed over to the police to be used as evidence during any court matters. 

Antigua and Barbuda is in the process of reviewing the existing laws in relation to the importation of counterfeit goods into the country.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Customs Division

Competition law

Chapter 8 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas provides the competition policy applicable to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) States. Member States are required to establish and maintain a national competition authority for facilitating the implementation of the rules of competition.

At the CARICOM level, a Caribbean Competition Commission has been established to apply the rules of competition in respect of anti-competitive cross-border business conduct. The CARICOM competition policy addresses anti-competitive business conduct, such as agreements between enterprises, decisions by associations of enterprises, and concerted practices by enterprises that have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the Community; and actions by which an enterprise abuses its dominant position within the Community. No legislation is yet in operation to regulate competition in Antigua and Barbuda.

The OECS has agreed to establish a regional competition body to handle competition matters within its single market. The draft OECS bill has been submitted to the Ministry of Legal Affairs for review. 

Find out more...

Relevant documents Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (2001)
Relevant institutions Caribbean Competition Commission

What investors think

No concerns were raised with regards to breaches of investors' rights. The judicial system was seen as fair.

Economy and production

Antigua and Barbuda is a small open economy, dominated by the service sector. GDP at market prices was estimated at US$1.3 Billion in 2015. of which tourism contributed 50 percent. Growth was estimated at 3.3 percent, underwritten by positive economic activity in tourist origin countries. 

The economy is estimated to have expanded by 3.3 per cent in 2015, relative to growth of 4.2 per cent in 2014. The expansion in economic activity was due to growth in the major sectors including hotels and restaurants; construction; transport, storage and communications; wholesale and retail trade; and real estate, renting and business activities. Value added in the hotels and restaurants sector, an indicator of tourism activity, increased by 2.5 per cent in 2015, relative to growth of 3.0 per in 2014 as global economic conditions improved and marketing efforts were intensified. The tourism industry also benefited from increased airlift from Jet Blue Airways, InterCaribbean Airways and Seaborne Airlines among others, particularly during the last quarter of the year.

Antigua is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank issues the East Caribbean dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar, for all members of the Union. The Bank also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in union member states.

Market access

Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the WTO as well as a number of regional groupings. It also has preferential access to the United States and Canada and reciprocal access to the European Union. Further details below.

Regional and international markets

Antigua and Barbuda is member of the following regional organizations and trade agreements

Overseen by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas in 1973, it allows all goods originating from within CARICOM countries (except the Bahamas) to be traded without restrictions. Most member states also apply a common external tariff (CET) on goods originating from non-CARICOM countries. Investors operating in one CARICOM country are given preferential access to the entire CARICOM market. The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishes the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), permitting the free movement of goods, capital and labour within CARICOM States. More information at: http://csmeonline.org.

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Relevant documents CARICOM Treaty CARICOM Single Market

The OECS, established by the Treaty of Basseterre, consists of seven full Member States: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and three associate members: Anguilla, Martinique and the British Virgin Islands. The purpose is to promote harmonization among Member States in areas concerning foreign policy, defence and security, and economic affairs. The six independent countries of the OECS ratified the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union on January 21, 2011. The Economic Union established a single financial and economic space within which all factors of production, including goods, services and people, move without hindrance.

The CBI provides for the United States to reduce tariffs on imports from CBI beneficiary countries if a) they are imported directly from a CBI beneficiary country into the U.S. customs territory; b) they are wholly the growth, product or manufacture of a CBI beneficiary country or are substantially transformed into a new or different article in the CBI beneficiary country; and c) contain a minimum of 35 percent local content of one or more CBI beneficiary countries (15 percent of the minimum content may be from the United States). More information: https://ustr.gov/issue-areas/trade-development/preference-programs/caribbean-basin-initiative-cbi.

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Relevant documents Trade and Investment Framework Agreement

The Caribbean-Canada Trade Agreement provides goods originating from the Commonwealth-Caribbean with duty-free access to the Canadian market. Certain goods, such as textiles and apparel, footwear, luggage and handbags are excluded. There are plans to replace this agreement with a reciprocal free trade agreement. More information at: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-98-36/page-1.html

Signed in 2008 between CARIFORUM's 15 states and the European Union's 27 states, it allows products from CARIFORUM economies 100 percent immediate duty- and quota-free access to the EU. EU access to CARIFORUM markets will however be phased in over 25 years, with protection for 17 percent of CARIFORUM goods and services. The agreement also covers competition, innovation and intellectual property, public procurement, and environmental and labour standards. More information: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/regions/caribbean.

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Relevant documents CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement

Tourism

Antigua and Barbuda has had a tourism industry since the 1940s and was the first to be developed in the Eastern Caribbean. The industry saw significant growth in the 1980s and 1990s with the redevelopment of the St. John’s Waterfront and enhancement and addition of other attractions such as Nelson’s Dockyard and Jolly Harbour.

Key factors making the sector attractive include:

  • Landscape, climate and heritage: Three hundred and sixty five beaches, as well as forests and hilltop locations. A tropical climate. A number of colonial heritage sites.
  • Access: The international airport has direct flights to Europe, the United States and Canada and to other countries in the region. The cruise ship piers in St John's are being developed to include a cruise terminal and possibility for home-berthing. The 5th Cruise Ship Berth is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2017
  • Skills: An English-speaking workforce and a local hotel school.
  • Incentives: Attractive fiscal incentives package for the sector.
  • Potential for growth: Airline load factors average around 60 percent. The Government has identified ten new sites as suitable for tourism development.

The tourism sector is the country's largest economic sector with an estimated contribution of 50 percent in 2015.

The three principal source markets for stay-over visitors in 2016 were the United States (108,652) United Kingdom (76,512) and the rest of the Caribbean (33,898). Canada and Italy are also important markets and the Government is keen to grow the German market. Total Air Arrivals was 265,187 in 2016.

While beaches are a natural asset, the Government is keen to focus on niches. These include:

  • Weddings and honeymoons: Laws have been amended to allow marriages to take place within a day of arriving in the country. There is no residency requirement although some documents need to be sent in advance.
  • Yachting: There are opportunities to increase the number of regattas during the sailing season. Opportunities exist in servicing this sector (see yachting and marine services below) as well as providing ground handling for yacht passengers to visit Antigua or transfer to their flights.
  • Beach activities: These include soft adventure sports such as jet-skiing and kite-surfing.
  • Culinary: The mango and seafood festivals draw visitors in off-season.
  • Colonial heritage: There are proposals to redevelop heritage sites. These include Nelson's Dockyard, Betty's Hope plantation, Fort James and Fort Barrington.
  • Cricket: The Sir Vivian Richards stadium hosts international cricket matches, including the 2007 ICC World Cup and has a capacity of 10,000. It also hosts touring international teams.
  • Cruises: The port at St John's is being redeveloped (see box below) and will be able to allow home-porting. This starts in December 2016 with Pullmantur cruises and 1,800 passengers disembarking at a time. There are opportunities for hotels to develop one or multi-day packages similar to Miami and Cartagena. There are also limited opportunities for ground-handling for cruise passengers, although this would be dependent on when the ships turn up, and would need to recognize the increase in attractions on board ships that would discourage passengers from disembarking.
  • Conventions: These typically take place at Sandals and Jolly Beach. The Government is keen to encourage development of convention-ready hotels inland, although the addition of conference facilities to beach hotels can also be envisioned.

The Government's aim is to double room stock (presently 3,000) by 2020 across all segments. Below is a description of the current room capacity in the country:

  • Luxury Hotels: Antigua boasts some of the finest luxury hotels in the Eastern Caribbean. Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort is located on a private island comprising 50 rooms accompanied by luxury villas that often house the rich and famous in anonymity. Curtain Bluff, founded over 50 years ago is the recipient of many prestigious awards. The sector enjoys good occupancy levels in the high season. All the hotels in this category close during September to October.
  • All-Inclusive Resorts: The most well-known hotel in this category is the Sandals Grand Antigua, a 373 bedroom resort situated on Dickenson Bay. The Sandals group owns and operates two properties on the island with the second being the Grand Pineapple Beach Resort on Long Bay on the north eastern corner of the island. This is an ageing resort of a lower standard but still enjoys the Sandals branding and service levels. The other large operator on the island is Elite Island Resorts that operates three properties; Galley Bay, a high end, couple-only 92 bed-room resort on the western coast at Five Islands, St James’s Club, a large sprawling resort on the south coast comprising traditional hotel rooms and villas totalling 242 units and the Verandah Resort, another large sprawling resort in luxuriant vegetation totalling 180 units in low-level bungalows. All five of these hotels are well maintained and offer a good product backed by effective marketing and enjoy an average 85% year round occupancy.
  • Small boutique properties: The island also boasts many small boutique style properties, an alternative to the large all-inclusives. Many are owner-managed and often locally-owned. Some such as Siboney Beach Club and Buccaneer Cove are strategically placed on the beach front whilst others are located in the historic English Harbour area. Whilst these hotels welcome vacationers they are also frequented by the business traveler to the island. With few true business friendly hotels most visitors to the islands stay within the small hotel community often in beachfront properties.

In addition, over 1,000 rooms located in Jolly Beach Resort & Spa, Halcyon Cove by Rex Resorts, Hawksbill by Rex Resorts, Grand Royal Antigua Beach Resort present attractive opportunities for redevelopment so that they can meet guest expectations.

St John's Development Corporation

St John's Development Corporation was established in 1986 by Act of Parliament to redevelop the downtown city centre and quayside. Regeneration projects have included Heritage Quay, The Exhibition and Cultural Center at Perry Bay and most recently, the Vendor's Mall.


The latest phase of this renewal is the St John's Masterplan that will centre around several blocks of downtown St John's by the quayside. The masterplan foresees the creation of a pedestrian promenade linking at either end two transport centres to facilitate the flow of cruise passengers to buses and taxes. In between will be three new squares, a streetcar and a new retail centre. Buildings will be painted in bright local colours and food and beverage outlets will be franchised from international brands.


This coincides with the creation of a marginal berth and terminal that will allow home-porting for ships as large as Harmony of the Seas, and will make St John's the second largest cruise port in the Caribbean. Under a separate development, the cargo terminal will be moved further from the centre.


Different funding modalities are foreseen for the development, including from international investors.

 

Education

Opportunities exist to establish higher education centres aimed at students from the US and other markets, where shortages of places in home countries exist. 

Key attractions include:

  • Location and access: Short flying time to the United States. Attractive location for students.
  • Skills: Well-educated, English-speaking workforce.
  • Incentives: Useful fiscal and other incentives for facilities based in free trade zones.
There are currently two medical schools, the University of Health Sciences and the American University of Antigua Medical College. The latter (see box) uses the existing free trade zone legal framework.

American University of Antigua

The American University of Antigua College of Medicine was founded in 2004. It provides teaching at the level of the first two years of a US medical school and is duly accredited. After studying at AUA, students continue at a range of US medical schools for semesters 5 through 12.


Most students originate from the US and there are around 1,000 at any one time. The university is recognized by the US Title 4 funding, meaning that students are eligible for US government loans. 


The university employs a faculty of 62 foreign teaching staff as well as employing 136 local staff. The emphasis is on small group teaching.


It is in the free trade zone and benefits from certain fiscal and other advantages (see land tab). The site has potential to expand for further teaching activities. Antigua was chosen as a location in part because of the proximity to the US, an environment climate popular with students,simple procedures for business establishment and the availability of qualified English staff locally.

Financial services

Antigua and Barbuda hosts both inshore and offshore financial services companies covering banking, trusts and insurance.

With regards to inshore financial services, cooperatives and insurance companies are registered with the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC), which is the supervisor and regulator.

Banks conducting business in the country must register with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the supervisor and regulator.

With regards to offshore financial services, the country hosts banks and trusts, which are registered as "international business corporations". International Business Corporations are also the company type for interactive gambling (see heading below).

Registration of international business corporations is through registered corporate service providers. The documentary requirements and procedures are set out on the FSRC website (see below). The process takes three to four weeks, though directors from outside Antigua and Barbuda may need due diligence checks.

Find out more...

Relevant documents More information Schedule of fees at the FSRC
Relevant institutions Financial Services Regulatory Commission

IT enabled services - business process outsourcing

Antigua and Barbuda has a number of factors that make it an attractive location for ITes-BPO, which can include IT support, hosting or servers and call centres. These include:

  • Good connectivity: The islands are connected to two undersea fibre-optic cables.
  • Skills: The local workforce is well-educated and proficient in English.
  • Time zone: The time zone lines up with the US East coast and is four to five hours behind the UK.

The sector is already present in the country, which has hosted interactive gaming sites and provided the necessary IT support services.

New developments in the sector include a US$ 25 million call centre in Upper Gambles to be operated under Call Centre Services Antigua. It will target the US market.

Growth potential is seen in the provision of Bitcoin and Blockchain technology services to the interactive gaming industry.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Gaming sector review

Interactive gaming

The interactive gaming sector currently employs 350 people in Antigua and Barbuda.


The Government provides two types of gaming licenses, for interactive wagering (such as betting) and for interactive gaming (such as poker and other casino games).


The country has been white-listed by the UK authorities meaning that sites hosted in the Antigua and Barbuda are legally accessible from the UK.


Key benefits for hosting in the country include a friendly business environment, availability of a well-educated workforce, the fiscal framework, and good quality telecommunications infrastructure.


The sector is regulated by the Financial Services and Regulatory Commission and the Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering Regulations, 2007 as amended.


Additional information from the FSRC is attached above.

  

Yachting and marine services

The Caribbean sailing season is December to April. During that time yachts are brought mainly from Europe, either sailed themselves or by ship. The season starts with a yacht charter show, attended by charter companies and agents, and ends with Antigua sailing week, which has been running for over 50 years. The country has a tradition of servicing boats cruising the island chain.

Key features that make Antigua and Barbuda an attractive investment destination in this sector include:

  • Location: It is the only island port with high quality re-provisioning services between St. Maarten and Guadeloupe.
  • Facilities: There are four marinas (Falmouth Harbour, Antigua Yacht Club, Nelson Dockyard and Jolly Harbour) with berthing facilities that include electricity, water, fuel and food, and which cater up to the mega yacht grade. Other facilities include dry-docking and engineering services.
  • Natural harbours: It features natural harbours of sufficient depth for a range of yacht types. Falmouth Bay area provides hurricane protection. The Government is keen for further harbours to be developed.
  • Access: It has direct air connections for cruisers that want to leave their boats and head home to visit family for a week or two.
  • Skills: Antigua and Barbuda has an established reputation for certain skills, including varnishing, sails repair, cleaning, engine repair and air conditioning repair. The Yacht Workers Association has started an apprenticeship programme to attract further workers to this sector.
  • Events: Some of the Caribbean’s biggest yachting events take place in the country. In addition to Antigua Sailing Week they include the Super Yacht Challenge, the RORC 600 and the Classic Week.
  • Synergies with the cruise sector: The Government is developing a cruise port at St John's that will include home-porting facilities. Synergies may be identified.

Agriculture

The agriculture sector is small, at 7 percent of GDP, but growing. Current farming includes crops and livestock with a nascent fish farming sector.

The government encourages foreign investment in many sectors including agriculture. The Government is not opposed to a non-national investing in Agriculture but its primary focus is to empower and enable Nationals already engaged in the sector. The investment also attracts concessions under the Tourism and Business (Special Incentives) Act, 2013.

Opportunities exist to provide products to the local market, especially to a hospitality sector looking to find cheaper alternatives to imports. Areas not significantly exploited include fish farming (tilapia and shrimp), and hydroponics.

In 2016 the Government started the implementation of the “National Food Security and Sovereignty Action Plan”. This plan is aimed at reducing imports by empowering farmers to produce various crop and livestock commodities with the ultimate aim to achieve self-sufficiency in some of these; such as chicken, pork, roots crops and tubers, onion, carrot, tomato, melon etc.

The Medium Term Development Strategy 2016-2020 further notes that for some agricultural products and livestock, Antigua and Barbuda has the potential to significantly reduce imports and to engage in exports. There is also active encouragement of egg production with a view to reducing imports. The Central Marketing Cooperation (CMC) is also being institutionally enhanced to further facilitate the marketing and distribution of domestic agricultural products.


Renewable energy

The Government is aiming for the widespread adoption of renewable energy, with an emphasis on solar, wind and biofuels, in order to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports and consumption. As a consequence, the National Energy Policy sets a goal of reducing energy consumption of public facilities by 30 percent by 2025.

Current projects include the installation of a 10 MW solar park spread between various sites, including by the airport (3 MW), on public buildings (2 MW), in Bethesda (4 MW) and on Barbuda (1 MW).

The relative high cost of thermal energy in Antigua and Barbuda make renewables an interesting option. However, the recent acquisition by the Antigua Public Utilities Authority of new thermal generation capacity, limits its interest in reaching supply agreements with independent power producers. Nevertheless, businesses that have their own power generation capacity, are able to sell surplus electricity to the grid at 45 percent of the retail price. This amount is paid as credit against future consumption.

The following are incentives offered to foreign and domestic investors aimed at advancing the sector:

  • Exemption of registered project resources from import duty on the actual plants, machinery and parts thereof imported for renewable energy generation
  • Waiver of customs duties
  • Relief from the payment of corporate tax in favor of registered projects
  • Exemption of ABST

Additional initiatives underway include:

  • The Caribbean Energy Efficiency Lighting Project (UNDP)
  • Energy auditing in government buildings (CARICOM, GIZ Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance, and Ministry of Energy)
  • Lighting retrofit project in government complexes and schools (Ministry of Energy & PDV CAB)
  • Streamlining of concessions procedures for the private sector
  • Renewable energy tariff rate setting

Find out more...

Relevant documents National Energy Policy Renewable Energy Assessment

Real estate

Antigua and Barbuda's real estate market is steady but growing with the most popular segment being housing in the US$ 200,000 to 450,000 bracket. The rental market is also seen as steady. However, property sales have been poor with an outstanding stock of 200 properties for sale.

The market is generally price inelastic and targeted by a certain class of customer looking for a third or fourth property.

An additional market is the expatriate rental market, which includes at the higher end, Crobies, and at the mid-range end, Jolly Harbour.

In order to encourage investment into the sector, the Government provides options for citizenship for those investing a minimum of US$400,000 in a real estate unit or, as part of a group, US$1.5 million in a real estate development project (see Get Started tab). In both cases these must be in approved developments. For investors, citizenship has been seen as a useful benefit, although not a reason in itself for investing.

The Government is keen to ensure that real estate developments respect the environment of the islands. Given the attractiveness of being on the coast, developers should pay close attention to procedures linked to construction and environmental impact assessments, and to the criteria for purchase of public land (see Land tab).

What investors think

The overall view of investors was that niche opportunities existed and that the country provided a reliable and predictable framework in which to operate. 

It was felt that an overall view from the Government on how it would see these opportunities develop would could be useful.

Why invest in the country?

  • No restrictions on foreign ownership of businesses
  • No restriction on the repatriation of profits or capital c\gains
  • Exemption from corporate tax for qualifying enterprises ranging from five (5) to twenty (20) years
  • Exemption from import duties for qualifying businesses
  • Diverse and well regulated offshore financial sector
  • Highly educated labour force
  • Preferential trade agreements with the United States, Canada, the European Union, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy and Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Economic Union
  • Excellent telecommunications infrastructure 
  • Excellent sea and air links to major markets
  • Legal system modeled on UK Law


Country data

Date
Official name Antigua and Barbuda
Country area 108 sq miles (Antigua) and 62 sq miles (Barbuda)
Capital city St. John's
Population Population Estimate 2015 - 90,755
Administrative regions There are 6 parishes as well as Barbuda
Local currency Eastern Caribbean Dollars (EC$)
Exchange rate EC$2.70 = US$1.00
Official language English
Other national language(s) None
GDP US$1.3 billion (2015 estimate)
GDP per capita US$14,106.37
Literacy rate 90% Estimated
Fiscal year January 1 to December 31
Normal working hours 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m.
Main ports of entry St. John's, English Harbour, Heritage Quay, Jolly Harbour, Barbuda

Country map

last update on: 19/9/2017