Register your business

All business entities, including external companies, must first register with the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) in Barbados. Main types of business are governed by:

  • The Registration of Business Names Act, CAP317: unincorporated business entities such as sole proprietorships and partnerships.
  • The Companies Act, CAP308: corporate entities conducting business within Barbados and the CARICOM region; corporations exporting goods or services globally, including insurance, banking, trust and corporate management services. Companies earning 100% of their income in foreign currency should also apply to the International Business Unit for a foreign currency permit. 


Register an unincorporated business

The procedure for registering an unincorporated business is simple and can be expedited within two business days.

A company name search should first be conducted. Applicants may elect to do this online or may submit a Name Search and Reservation Form to CAIPO, listing at least two names in order of preference. The cost of a business name reservation is BDS$30.00.

An application for registration form is then submitted and, once the name is acceptable, a certificate of registration is issued at a cost of BDS$104.00. The certificate is valid until the principals file for cessation of the business. The company should also register with the Barbados Revenue Authority, the Labour Department and National Insurance Department prior to commencing operations.

Register a Barbados company

On completing registration of the business name, corporations intending to carry on business in Barbados are required to do the following:

  • Submit articles of incorporation/organisation to CAIPO.
  • If 100 percent of the entity's earnings will be in foreign currency, submit an application for a foreign currency permit (FCP) to the International Business Unit 
  • Secure a license from the appropriate regulatory body, e.g, the Financial Services Commission for insurance companies, the Central Bank of Barbados for financial institutions
  • Register the business for statutory obligations with the following:
    • Barbados Revenue Authority: company registration number from CAIPO entered into Tax Administration Management System (TAMIS) for relevant tax liabilities, e.g. corporation tax, VAT.
    • National Insurance Department: national insurance contributions
    • Labour Department: employment rights
  • Companies that hold a FCP are required to retain a licensed corporate and trust services provider who will perform the functions on their behalf.

Documents for registering a Barbados company

The following documents are required to establish a new company:

  • articles of incorporation/registration
  • application for a FCP if 100% of earnings will be in foreign currency
  • statutory declaration by a director/manager that 100% of the income earned will be in foreign currency
  • proposed names of company (minimum of two names in order of preference)
  • address of the registered office
  • details of the nature of the business the company proposes to carry on
  • minimum and maximum number of directors (must be a minimum of one)
  • full name and residential address of each proposed director
  • number of employees who will require work permits and the positions to be held by such persons
  • full details of each shareholder including residential address, corporate status,etc.
  • details of each director/manager including academic qualifications, training, experience, etc.
  • proof that no director/manager has ever been convicted in any jurisdiction of a criminal offence related to fraud, money laundering or insider dealing or has been investigated by a regulatory body in any jurisdiction.

Register an external company

The Companies Act defines an external company as an incorporated or unincorporated entity formed under the laws of a country other than Barbados. In order to conduct business in Barbados an external company must first register with CAIPO and pay the applicable registration fee of BDS$3,000.00. 

To complete the registration process, the company is required to submit a statement on the prescribed form (Form 28), accompanied by the following documents:

  • A statutory declaration by two directors of the company that verifies on behalf of the company the particulars (listed below) set out in the statement.
  • A certified copy of the corporate instruments of the company.
  • A statutory declaration by an attorney-at-law that this section has been complied with.
  • A Power of Attorney and a Consent to act as Attorney in the prescribed form (Form 30) empowering a person named in the power and resident in Barbados to act as attorney of the company for the purpose of receiving service of process in all suits and proceedings in Barbados and all lawful notices.

Investment Facilitation

Invest Barbados is an economic development agency of the government of Barbados with lead responsibility for promoting the country as a domicile of choice for global business and for international investment. Its main services include:

  • Promoting and securing foreign direct investment.
  • Providing timely, quality information to investors.
  • Advocating for the Barbados environment to be conducive to foreign direct investment.
  • Assisting investors in establishing business enterprises in Barbados.
  • Ongoing liaison with existing investors to ensure that any issues or concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
  • Collaborating with stakeholders to manage Barbados' global business brand.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Invest Barbados

Environmental impact assessment

In considering whether an environmental impact assessment may be required, projects are categorized as follows:

  • Projects that are likely to have significant or potentially irreversible adverse environmental risks require a mandatory environmental impact assessment (EIA).
  • Projects where the risk is less significant or may be easily mitigated require an environmental analysis or scoping study to identify precisely any potential negative impacts and determine whether a full EIA should be conducted
  • Projects where there is minimal or no adverse effects do not require an EIA nor further social analysis.

The EIA must include an analysis of the potential social impact. In Barbados this may necessitate collaboration with a number of agencies such as the Environmental Protection Department, the Coastal Zone Management Unit of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, and the Ministry of Agriculture if a change of land use is required. The developer is mandated to hold public meetings which must be advertised in the local press for a period of at least 28 days before the scheduled date. The purpose of the meetings is to inform members of the general public, and to receive their feedback / views, about the proposed project.

The EIA application must be submitted to the Town and Country Development Planning Office for approval, which may be granted within 3-4 months, in normal circumstances. This time frame may be extended where there is significant public objection to the project or serious concerns regarding the potential negative impacts.

What investors think

Concerns were raised with regards to the time taken and physical paperwork required to establish a business. It is hoped that a programme currently being implemented to fully digitize government will significantly improve the ease of doing business. The process for obtaining sector permits in banking and insurance was reported to be well-managed. The approval process for environmental impact assessments was seen as slow. Establishing bank accounts can require extensive paperwork.

Population and education

At the end of 2019, Barbados' population was estimated to be around 287,000, of which 48.4 percent were male and 51.6 percent female. The average life expectancy at birth is 75.7 years which is above the average life expectancy at birth of the global population (about 71 years), according to the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations. Barbados also boasts of one of the highest rates of centenarians per capita in the world.

Barbados has a well-educated labour force comprising approximately 147,000 persons. The unemployment rate is around 10 percent.

Education

The Barbados education system is based on the British model and is compulsory for children between ages 5-16. Traditionally, education has benefited from a significant portion of the government's annual budget expenditure (over 20 percent) and it is provided free of cost to nationals at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. There are also a number of privately operated schools on island which provide education at the primary and secondary levels on a fee-paying basis.

With a literacy rate of 98 percent, one of Barbados' greatest competitive advantages is its pool of well educated, skilled human resources. The UN Human Development Index 2019, ranks Barbados 5th in the Americas and 56th in the world in terms of educational attainment, as measured by adult literacy and enrolment at primary, secondary and tertiary level institutions.

Main tertiary level institutions:

  • University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus: undergraduate, graduate and post graduate programmes in a wide range of disciplines.
  • Barbados Community College (BCC): associate degree and bachelors degree programmes in select disciplines.
  • Barbados Hospitality Institute: operated by the BCC to provide practical training in all aspects of the hospitality industry.
  • Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology: technical and vocational training in a wide range of skills including electrical/mechanical engineering, human ecology, business, and auto mechanics.
  • Erdiston Teachers' Training College: training for both graduate and non-graduate teachers at certificate and diploma level.
  • Barbados Institute of Management and Productivity: certificate and diploma programmes for management level personnel.
  • American University of Barbados: the first offshore medical school to establish in Barbados began operations in February 2012. Provides medical training for domestic and international students.
  • Ross University School of Medicine: a subsidiary of Adtalem Global Education started operations in January 2019. It offers medical training and a nursing programme.

Additionally, the Barbados Vocational Training Board was set up by the government to provide technical and vocational training, while the Barbados Accreditation Council establishes guidelines, procedures and standards for training institutions seeking accredited status and also certifies whether those institutions meet the requirements.

Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training

The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training is primarily responsible for the formulation of educational policies, the administration and regulation of education programmes, as well as national policy and programme development for science, technology, and innovation.

The Ministry is committed to a multi-sectoral approach in the delivery of educational services, placing emphasis on identifying  the needs of young people and addressing those needs through relevant programmes. Students benefit from a number of services including:

  • free primary and secondary level education
  • financing of text books
  • provision of computer equipment and supplies to schools
  • free daily lunch service for students at the primary school level
  • upkeep and maintenance of school premises
  • financing of undergraduate education at the University of the West Indies
  • financing of government scholarships, exhibitions and bursaries for nationals and citizens of Barbados
  • access to concessionary financing for higher education through the Student Revolving Loan Fund


Find out more...

Relevant documents Barbados Education Act CAP41
Relevant institutions Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training

Employment and contracts

The Employment Rights Act requires employers to provide employees with a written statement of employment particulars on commencement of work. The statement must contain certain details including, job title and description of the duties to be performed, wages rates, normal working hours, period of probation, notice required to terminate the contract, disciplinary and grievance procedures, policies with respect to holidays, sickness/injury, period of employment if temporary, to mention a few.

Where a probationary period is included, this is generally for three months but may be extended if necessary. In normal circumstances, the notice of termination period is usually the time between pay periods, up to a maximum of 30 days.  An employee may be terminated for economic, performance or disciplinary reasons. In the event of unfair dismissal, an employee has the right to appeal the decision to the Chief Labour Officer. If not settled at this level, the case is elevated to the Employment Rights Tribunal for final determination.

Workers may exercise their right to join a labour union of their choice. In such instances, terms and conditions are determined by collective agreement.

The Labour Department is responsible for the enforcement of labour legislation. It also provides other services such as workplace inspections, investigation of complaints and industrial relations training, among others. The Department has ratified several ILO conventions including Safety and Health at Work, Protection of Wages, Equality of Treatment, Minimum Age, and numerous others.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Labour Department Act Employment Rights Act
Relevant institutions Labour Department

Wages

There is no national minimum wage in Barbados. However, wages of shop assistants are regulated by the Shops Act, with the existing rate of BDS$ 6.25 per hour proposed for review.

Nevertheless, certain industry norms have been accepted over time. The list below provides an overview of wages/salaries across select industries.

Normal working hours are 40 hours per week. Barbados observes 11 public holidays per year and employees are allowed these days off with pay. Adequate notice must be given if overtime is required. It should be noted, however, that the following holidays are closed for business:

  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Independence day
  • Christmas day

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Senior ManagerUSD4,560 - 8,0002020per month plus benefits including company vehicle, entertainment allowance, pension, medical insurance, etc.
Middle ManagerUSD2,500 - 5,0002020per month plus benefits including travel allowance, medical insurance, mobile phone, pension
EngineerUSD2,500 - 5,0002020per month plus benefits including medical insurance
Systems Analyst/ProgrammerUSD2,000- 5,0002020per month plus benefits including medical insurance
Skilled TechnicianUSD1,500 - 2,5002020per month plus benefits
Executive AssistantUSD1,825 - 2,6002020per month plus benefits including medical insurance and pension
Administrative AssistantUSD1,500 - 2,5002020per month plus benefits including medical insurance and pension
Assembly WorkerUSD290 - 3752020per week plus benefits
Customer Service RepresentativeUSD325 - 3902020per week plus benefits

Non-wage benefits

Barbados labour legislation makes provision for certain non-wage benefits which must form part of the employment contract, as outlined below.

Non-wage benefits to be provided by an employer

Benefit Amount
Annual sick leave (doctor's certificate required after 3rd consecutive day) 6 days
Annual vacation leave with pay 3 weeks after first year of employment and 4 weeks after 5 years
Overtime (voluntary) 150% of wages for work in excess of 8 hrs on a normal day; 200% for off days and public holidays
Severance pay ( must complete at least 2yrs service to be eligible) 2.5 wks/yr for first 10 yrs, 3 wks/yr for next 10 yrs and 3.5 wks/yr for next 13 yrs

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Labour Department

Social security and other contributions

All employers, and employees over 16 and under pensionable age, are required to contribute to National Insurance payments. Employees' contributions are deducted from their wages/salaries on maximum insurable earnings of BDS$4,650 (US$2,325) per month or BDS$1,072 (US$536) per week.

Barbados has a reciprocal agreement with some countries regarding national insurance contributions. Under this arrangement investors who make payments in their respective home countries are not required to pay in Barbados.

The scheme is managed by the National Insurance and Social Security Department, one of the agencies with which employers are required to register at the start of operations.


National insurance contributions

National Insurance Department Employer % Employee %
National insurance 6.75 6.75
Non-contributary 2.00 2.00
Employment injury 0.75 --
Unemployment 0.75 0.75
Training fund levy 0.50 0.50
Severance fund 0.50 --
Catastrophe fund -- 0.10
Vacation and public holidays 9.00 --

Find out more...

Relevant institutions National Insurance Department

Social Security

Sickness benefit

The first three days of sick leave are considered "waiting days" and are not eligible for benefit unless the illness extends for two weeks or more. To qualify an employee must satisfy the following conditions:

  • have paid no fewer than 7 contributions in the contribution quarter before the quarter in which they became ill
  • have been working before becoming sick, or
  • have no fewer than 39 contributions paid or credited to their account in the four consecutive quarters ending with the quarter  before the quarter in which they became ill

The daily rate for the benefit is 66.6 percent of average insurable weekly earnings, divided by 6.

Maternity benefit

The Employment of Women (Maternity Leave) Act, CAP 345, guarantees expectant mothers maternity leave of 12 weeks once they have been employed for a minimum of 12 months. An employee's seniority rights, reinstatement to her former or equivalent work and rate of pay are all guaranteed under the Act.

The daily rate for this benefit is 100 percent of average insurable weekly earnings, divided by 6.

Jury duty

The Juries Act, CAP 115B provides for employees to be granted paid leave when summoned to serve on the Jury.  Employees are required to report for work when excused from duty.              

Contributory old age pension/grant

To qualify for an old age contributory grant a person must be of pensionable age and have at least 50 contributions paid or credited to their account. The grant is a lump sum payment equal to 6 weeks average insurable weekly earnings for each 50 contributions actually paid or credited to the insured person’s account.

To receive a pension an individual must have at least 150 contributions actually paid into their account and a total of 500 contributions paid or credited to that account. Pension reform was implemented on January 1, 2003. Therefore, pension calculations depend on the individual's age on December 31,2002, the day prior to implementation.

Invalidity benefit/grant

To qualify for a grant a person must be under the pensionable age; be permanently incapable of working because of a specific disease or physical or mental disability and have at least 50 contributions paid or credited to their account. The grant is equal to 6 weeks out of every 50 (weekly) contributions credited to the person's account.

Find out more...

Relevant documents National Insurance and Social Security Act CAP47
Relevant institutions National Insurance Department

Work permits

With the exception of qualified CARICOM nationals, work permits are required for non-nationals to live and work in Barbados. Work permits are approved by the Immigration Department.

The employer must submit an application for a work permit on behalf of a prospective employee and must satisfy the immigration authorities that the individual possesses special skills not available in Barbados. The employer is also required to advertise the position to be filled for a period of two weeks, following which an Objection Notice must be placed in the local press to allow the general public an opportunity to respond. There are two types of work permits:

  • Long term: for managerial and administrative positions and are normally granted for three to five years. Provided that all documentation is in order, approval may be granted within 3-4 weeks. Additional scrutiny may be applied where there is more than one permit requested .
  • Short term: for artisans, labourers, etc., and are granted for a maximum of 11 months. May be approved within 2-3 days.

On approval, the employer pays the required fee and the Immigration Department affixes the appropriate stamp in the employee's passport. A work permit is renewable but non-transferable. If employment with the original employer ceases, the work permit is cancelled. Renewal of work permits may be subject to a requirement to localize the position in due course.

A spouse is granted an extension of stay for a period matching that of the work permit holder. Children of school age are issued a student visa on being offered a place at an educational institution.

Owner-managers of businesses are required to apply for a long term permit.

CARICOM nationals who possess a certificate of recognition from their home country, are permitted to remain in Barbados for an initial period of six months. Provided that the certificate is verified by the Barbados Accreditation Council, such individuals may be granted CARICOM skilled national status enabling them to work in Barbados. Such persons also have the right to establish a business under the Treaty of Chaguaramus as set out in the CARICOM Community Act.

Permanent residence may be granted to persons who have operated businesses and established themselves in Barbados. They may apply for citizenship after seven years as permanent residents.

Special entry permit

Barbados does not offer a citizenship by investment programme currently. However, high net worth individuals wishing to spend more of their time in the country or to make it a second home, may be granted a special entry permit (SEP) on investment of a minimum of US$2 million in real estate or securities. Such persons must also satisfy certain other conditions including proof of good character. The SEP programme is administered by the Immigration Department.

What investors think

Investors praised the quality and skills in the local workforce, which were seen to compensate wage costs. It was noted that time should be set aside when seeking approval for work permits, sometimes up to six months. Labour laws are considered fair, although for certain industries, closed days may result in lost productivity.

Electricity

Since starting operations in 1911, the Barbados Light and Power Company Ltd. (BLPC), has been the sole electricity provider in Barbados. In 2011, Emera Inc of Canada acquired a majority of the company's shares through its subsidiary Emera (Caribbean) Inc, which is now the parent company of BLPC.

Electricity service is clean and reliable and is supplied at 110 volts/50 cycles as well as 220 volts. While traditionally generating electricity from fossil fuel and gas, the BLPC currently produces 2.2 percent of energy through its photovoltaic solar plant. The company is actively seeking to significantly increase its generating capacity from alternative energy sources in the near future.

In recent years, a growing number of independent power producers have also been generating energy via solar photovoltaic systems. As this number continues to increase the BLPC anticipates that it will assist the company in meeting its renewable energy goal of 100 percent renewable electricity and 100 percent electrification by 2045.

Applications for service to a new or upgraded building must first be certified by the Government Electrical Engineering Department (GEED), confirming that the installation meets required standards, before connections can be made. Once the application has been forwarded to the GEED for inspection, customers should have their electrician complete a Notice of Inspection Form which should be submitted to the BLPC along with a Service Application Form and relevant documentation. New service is usually connected within 12 working days provided that all requirements are met. However, if the electrician needs to carry out additional work to comply with required standards, or if further line work is necessary to accommodate the supply, this may lead to delays.

Cost of electricity

For new or upgraded services, the service charge is BB$ 58.75 for a single phase supply up to 100 amps, and BB$ 235.00 for a single phase supply greater than 100 amps and for all three phase supplies.

In addition to the rates listed below, all customers are subject to a fuel clause adjustment (FCA) charge which is influenced mainly by movements in the purchase price of fuel. The FCA is calculated monthly as the sum of the previous month's cost of energy purchased and cost of fuel consumed, plus any cumulative over and under recovery, divided by the kWh sales of the previous month. The cost of energy purchased includes energy purchased from renewable energy resources.

Value added tax is also applied at a rate of 17.5 percent.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Domestic tariff: 0-150 kWhUSD0.0752020plus a customer charge of US$3.00 on usage of 0-100 kWh; plus fuel adjustment charge
Domestic tariff: on next 350 kWhUSD0.0882020plus a customer charge of US$5.00 on usage of 101-500 kWh; plus fuel adjustment charge
Domestic tariff: on next 1000 kWhUSD0.1002020plus a customer charge of US$7.00 for usage over 500 kWh; plus fuel adjustment charge
Domestic tariff: over 1,500 kWhUSD0.1122020plus US$7.00 customer charge; plus fuel adjustment charge
Business tariff, secondary voltage-all kWhUSD12.00 demand charge per kVA2020Based on a minimum demand of 5 kVa
Business tariff, secondary voltage-all kWh USD0.069 energy charge per kWh2020Plus a customer charge of US$10.00; plus fuel adjustment charge
Business tariff, large power -all kWhUSD11.00 demand charge per kVa2020Based on a minimum demand of 50 kVa
Business tariff, large power -all kWhUSD0.059 energy charge per kWh2020Plus a customer charge of US$150.00; plus fuel adjustment charge
General tariff:1-100 kWh USD0.0922020Plus customer charge of US$7.00; plus fuel adjustment charge
General tariff: next 400 kWhUSD0.1082020Plus customer charge of US$7.00; plus fuel adjustment charge
General tariff: over 500 kWhUSD0.1292020Plus customer charge of US$7.00; plus fuel adjustment charge

Water

Barbados water is considered to be of high quality due to the country's limestone formation which serves as a natural filter.  Water is generated from three sources, springs, wells and desalination, and is distributed through an extensive network of mains connected to pumping stations and reservoirs strategically located across the island. The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is responsible for supplying the country with potable water, as well as, providing wastewater treatment and disposal services for the capital, Bridgetown and the island's South Coast.

An application for new service must be submitted together with the following documentation:

  • an acceptable form of identification
  • proof of ownership of the land or written permission from the owner giving consent for the installation
  • for domestic service to a wall house or service for building/construction purposes - an approved plan from the Town & Country Planning Development Office, a recent land tax receipt and a deposit of US$200.

Persons resident outside of Barbados who are applying for service, must appoint a local agent who will accept responsibility for the service in the applicant’s absence as bills are not sent to addresses outside the country.

The BWA normally completes installation within 90 days following receipt of the application.

Domestic customers are billed based on four rate blocs over a 30-day period. A minimum charge of US$16.00 applies. Commercial customers are billed at a flat rate.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Domestic tariffUSD1.24 per m3 20200-8 m3
Domestic tariffUSD1.55 per m3 20209-20 m3
Domestic tariffUSD2.33 per m3 202021-40 m3
Domestic tariffUSD3.89 per m3 2020over 40 m3
Commercial tariffUSD2.33 per m3 2020over the entire billing period
Sewage tariff-domesticUSD20201/3 of total water charges for the billing period
Sewage tariff-commercialUSD20202/3 of total water charges for the billing period

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Barbados Water Authority

Telecommunications

Barbados' sound telecommunications infrastructure is among the reasons why the country has consistently attracted international companies providing global business services. Traditionally one of the most networked countries in the region, with over 98 percent of the population having access to landline and mobile telephone services, ongoing upgrades to the telecommunications infrastructure have resulted in island-wide broadband and wireless internet services, inclusive of internet television.

This investment in telecommunications, together with other reliable services such as electricity, have been the foundation for the development of key industries including information communication and technology and financial services, as well as, for the attraction of foreign investment in these areas. Competition and innovation have resulted in significant reduction in telecommunications costs in Barbados over the years.

There are two full service telecommunications and entertainment providers, Cable & Wireless (Barbados) Ltd., rebranded as FLOW and Digicel Barbados. The Telecommunications Unit of the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology is the department responsible for implementing government's policy for the sector, including regulatory and licensing functions.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Computer Misuse Act Electronic Transactions Act
Relevant institutions The Telecommunications Unit Digicel Barbados FLOW Barbados

Licensing Procedure

Applications for a license should be submitted on the relevant form (see website), together with the applicable fee, to the Chief Telecommunications Officer. Application fees are non-refundable. Generally licenses are processed and approved within two days, except for the following which are completed within a three to four week period:

  • VSAT and all satellite communication licenses
  • All value added (individual) licenses applied for using Form TU 00

Additionally, major licenses such as mobile, telecommunications domestic fixed, domestic fixed wireless, domestic trunking networks, domestic data communications, international telecommunications and VoIP, which require due diligence, are processed in approximately three to four months. 

Transport infrastructure

The modernisation and enhancement of Barbados' transport infrastructure has traditionally remained a top priority for successive governments considering its vital role in the country's economic development.

Road

Barbados has an extensive road network providing access to all areas of the country. A major highway connects the north and south of the island with links to the east and west.

Both public and privately owned buses provide an efficient island-wide service from 5 a.m. to midnight daily. A standard fare of BDS$3.50 is charged per ride. School children in uniform and senior citizens, over 65 years of age, travel free on government owned buses.

Taxis are available at various locations including all ports of entry, hotels, throughout Bridgetown, along the west and south coasts, as well as on request. A taxi dispatch system is in place at the airport. There is also a wide range of well equipped private vehicle hire services, including rental cars and coaches.

Air

The Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) is located to the south-east of the island, approximately 15 - 20 minutes away from the capital, Bridgetown. The GAIA services daily non-stop flights from major international cities such as New York, Miami, Toronto, London and several Caribbean islands. Additionally, twice weekly services are available to Panama.

Among the airlines serving the country are American Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Condor, COPA, Delta, Jet Blue, LIAT, Virgin Atlantic, US Airways, West Jet and several other charter services.

Barbados has the distinction of being one of the few destinations to which the British Airways' Concorde made regularly scheduled commercial flights, particularly during the busy winter season. A retired Concorde aircraft now serves as a Concorde museum, sited on grounds to the east of the main airport.

An executive lounge and business centre cater to select passengers. In addition, high net worth individuals arriving by private jet are facilitated through a private lounge. 

The Civil Aviation Department is the civil aviation authority in Barbados with responsibility for ensuring compliance with international aviation standards.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Civil Aviation Act CAP 288B Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill 2007
Relevant institutions Civil Aviation Department

Maritime

The Port of Bridgetown is one of the most modern in the Caribbean with both a deep water harbour and a shallow draught facility. This multipurpose seaport is well equipped with container handling and berth facilities for ocean-going freighters and passenger vessels, including major luxury liners. Currently there are five berths, with a six under construction which is expected to provide over 300m of additional berth space. The port also continues to upgrade and enhance its cargo operations through the use of technology based solutions including a new Terminal Operating System which facilitates real time tracking of cargo, among other features.

Barbados serves as a home port for a number of cruise lines and has recorded significant growth in these operations. The Barbados Port Inc., which manages the Bridgetown port, has reported cruise passenger arrivals of 853 200 from 422 cruise ship calls in 2019, the highest on record to date and which represents a 3% increase in arrivals over the previous year.

The government has announced its intention to develop a second cruise facility at Speightstown, in the north of the island, to accommodate super yachts and small luxury class cruise vessels.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Barbados Port Inc

Transport costs

Typical transport costs are presented below.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
BusUS1.752020per trip
TaxiUS5.00 - 50.002020depending on distance; taxis are not metered
Rental carUS45.00 - 60.002020per day
AirfareUS550-1,0002020round trip economy, Barbados to North America, depending on season
AirfareUS 1,200 - 1,5002020round trip economy, Barbados to UK, depending on season

What investors think

It was noted that utility services are reliable although the costs are relatively high. Shipping links are competitive compared to the region, with access to international destinations. A number of investors had also located themselves in Barbados in order to benefit from regional shipping connections.

Types of land

Most of the land in Barbados is privately owned, either by corporations or large landowners with the government holding a minority share. The country's land mass is approximately 106,000 acres of which 27,000 acres are available for agriculture.

Barbados employs a zoning system with respect to land usage and Zone 1 areas, which form part of the country's water table, are subject to special protection. Prior permission for a change of use or for construction must be obtained from the Town and Country Planning Development Office.

The Land Registry Department of the Ministry of Housing and Lands is responsible for maintaining a register of land in Barbados.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Land Registration Act
Relevant institutions Land Registry Department Town and Country Development Planning Office

Acquisition procedures

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate in Barbados. However, non-residents are required to finance the purchase from external sources. In addition, they must obtain permission from the Central Bank of Barbados for the purchase, or subsequent sale, of the real estate. As a minority land owner, the government leases land to foreign investors only in special circumstances, for example, where an investment project may be geared towards the development of a new and/or key industry critical to economic growth.

Generally land is acquired from the private sector either by sale, lease or rental. In cases of absolute ownership, transfer of the land is effected via either a certificate of title or deed of conveyance. Documentation relevant to the transaction must be registered with the Registration Office of the Land Registry.

The vendor is liable for stamp duty and property transfer tax. Stamp duty is charged at a rate of 1 percent of the full sale price; while  property transfer tax is levied at a rate of 2.5 percent on the value of the sale price in excess of BB$150,000. (see Taxes tab). Both vendor and purchaser should engage the services of a legal professional to effect the transaction on their behalf.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Land Registry Department

Land costs

Following is a range of indicative prices for land and accommodation in Barbados. Rates vary depending on location and degree of luxury desired, with the West coast of the island considered more exclusive.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Vacant landUSD10 - 252020per sq. ft.
Office space-privateUSD35 - 402020per sq. ft. per year
Office space-governmentUSD14 -162020per sq.ft. per year
Factory space-privateUSD12 -152020per sq.ft. per year
Factory space- governmentUSD6 - 72020per sq.ft. per year
ApartmentUSD700 - 1,5002020per month
House - West coastUSD2,500 - 6,0002020per month
House - South coastUSD2,000 - 4,0002020per month
Villa - West coastUSD900 - 10,0002020per night
Villa - South coastUSD250 - 1,0002020per night

Construction permit procedures

Applications to construct new buildings are processed by the Town and Country Development Planning Office (TCDP). The documentation requirements are below.

The EPD issues a decision under the Health Services Act, CAP 44, with respect to waste disposal and drainage.

Provided that all documentation is in order, applications are normally approved within 3-4 months, following which the TCDP advises the applicant in writing that permission has been granted to commence construction. The applicant is then required to notify the Chief Town Planner, in writing, of the intended start date. A TCDP representative conducts an onsite inspection of the proposed works prior to commencement. The inspection fee is US$75.

On satisfactory completion of construction, the Chief Town Planner issues a Certificate of Compliance, verifying that the project meets the requirements. The fee for a Certificate of Compliance is US$75.

Documentation requirements for a construction permit

  • 2 copies of the application form for TCDP
  • 2 copies of the application form for the Environmental Protection Department (EPD)
  • 4 copies of the location plan including Google coordinates
  • 4 copies of the site plan - showing layout and design of the proposed construction in relation to neighbouring buildings and layout of proposed vehicular access
  • building plans - indicating boundaries, size of land and its position in relation to roads, provisions for drainage, waste disposal, etc.
  • floor plan - indicating layout of rooms
  • elevation plans
  • application fee

Special economic zones

Currently there are no special economic or export processing zones in Barbados. All Barbados companies, whether domestic or foreign owned, that are exporting their products or services to the global market, are eligible for the same benefits. Several of these enterprises operate from government owned business parks located across the island. Many companies rent accommodation from the wide range of options available in the private sector, while others prefer to build or purchase their own facilities. Ultimately, it is not location, but rather, the nature of the business, which determines a company's eligibility. In other words, if the company:

  • provides products or services for export outside of CARICOM
  • holds a foreign currency permit (see Get Started tab)
  • meets the regulatory and economic substance requirements (see Get Started tab)

Benefits include:

  • no capital gains tax
  • exemption from import duties on raw materials, plant and equipment used directly in the business
  • exemption from exchange controls
  • exemption from property transfer tax and stamp duty
  • zero rating for value added tax (VAT)
  • no withholding tax on dividends, interest and royalties

What investors think

Acquisition of land is seen as straightforward although the overall registration process could be slow. Concerns were raised with regards to the time required for planning applications and it is hoped that a new Planning and Development Act will speed things up.

Tax introduction and registration

All businesses must register with the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) for their respective tax obligations, including Value Added Tax if earning income in excess of US$100,000 per year.  Each company's registration number, issued by the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office, is entered into the BRA's Tax Administration Management Information System (TAMIS) and each company is provided a unique Tax Information Number (TIN) to be used in all subsequent communication with the BRA.

Businesses are also required to register with the National Insurance Department and the Labour Department. (see Get Started tab).

Corporate tax

All business entities must register for corporate income tax. Filing is done annually, either on March 15 or June 15, depending on the company's year-end.

Tax rates are presented below for both domestic and foreign-owned companies.

Special rates exist for insurance entities which are taxed as follows:

  • Class 1: Insurance companies which restrict the business they can underwrite to related party Business - taxed at zero percent.
  • Class 2: Insurance companies which can underwrite risks of third parties - taxed at a rate of 2 percent.
  • Class 3: Includes brokers, intermediaries, insurance management companies, insurance holding companies, etc. - taxed at a rate of 2 percent.  


Corporate tax - all companies, except insurance entities

Taxable Income US$ Rate %
Up to $500,000 5.50
Above $500,000 to $10 million 3.00
Above $10 million to $15 million 2.50
Above $15 million 1.00

Personal income tax

Employers are required to make the relevant deductions on behalf of their employees. Self-employed persons are required to make prepayments three times per year (June, September and December).

Earnings of US$12,500 and under are exempt from income tax, while earnings in excess of this amount are subject to tax as indicated below. 

However, residents earning up to US$12,500 per annum but earning no more than US$1041.50 per month are entitled to a reverse tax credit of US $650.00. Individuals who earn above US$12,500 and up to US$17,500 benefit from a compensatory income credit of US$625.00 per person.

Individuals over 60 years old and in receipt of a pension may claim an annual allowance of US$20,000.

Filing of personal income tax must be completed by April 30th of the following year.  


Personal income tax

Taxable Income-US$ Tax Rate %
Up to $12,500 Exempt
Over $12,500 - $25,000 12.5%
Over $25,000 28.5%

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Relevant institutions Barbados Revenue Authority

Property taxes

Property taxes are charged on undeveloped land as well as on land and buildings. The government conducts a land valuation survey every three years to assess the value of land in the country.

Non-residential properties on which there is a building, including industrial buildings, hotels, etc. are taxed at a rate of 0.95 percent on the improved value of the land. However, rebates are available to select groups, as follows:

  • properties carrying on business in the tourism sector: 25 percent
  • agricultural land in production: 50 percent

Pensioners may benefit from a 60% tax rebate on residential property which they occupy.

There is no inheritance or gifts tax in Barbados. However, on the sale of a property, the vendor is liable for stamp duty at a rate of 1 percent of the sale price, as well as property transfer tax which is levied at a rate of 2.5 percent on the value of the sale price in excess of US$75,000.

The realtor's commission is approximately 5 percent of the sale price, while attorneys' fees for both vendor and buyer range from 1.5 to 2 percent of the sale price.


Property taxes

Residential - US$ Tax Rate
Up to $75,000 Exempt
$75,001 - 225,000 0.10%
$225,001 - 425,000 0.70%
Over $425,000 1.00% up to a maximum of US$50,000
Vacant land (over 4,000 sq. ft.) 1.00%
Vacant land (less than 4,000 sq. ft.) 0.80%

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Relevant institutions Barbados Revenue Authority

Capital gains taxes

There is no capital gains tax in Barbados, either on property or securities.  However, in rare circumstances where the government improves an area resulting in improved property value and, if the property is sold within a 10-year period, the vendor is required to reimburse the government some portion of the applicable tax. 


Withholding tax

There is no withholding tax on the payment of interest, management fees and royalties to non-residents. Branch profits paid out of income earned outside Barbados are also not subject to branch profits tax. However, branch profits and dividends paid to non-residents out of income earned in Barbados will attract a tax rate of 5 percent.

Residents are subject to a withholding tax of 15 percent on interest and dividends from local sources.

Indirect taxes

Various indirect taxes are levied on goods and services based on consumption. Value Added Tax (VAT) is applied in most cases, with exemptions for certain items while others are zero-rated. See table below.

  • Excise tax - generally levied on items such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, motor vehicles, and petroleum products. Rates range from 5 to 60 percent. Sweetened beverages are also subject to a 10 percent excise tax before VAT.
  • Property transfer tax: 2.5 percent of the sale value in excess of US$75,000
  • Stamp duty: 1 percent on the sale of property and shares
  • Mobile phone services: taxed at 22 percent
  • Fuel tax: BB$0.40 per litre on petrol and diesel; BB$0.05 per litre on kerosene


Value Added Tax

Item Rate (%)
All goods and services except those listed below 17.5
Hotels 10.0
Exports, selected food items, international freight services zero-rated
Services to non-residents payable in foreign currency zero-rated
Financial and insurance services, education, sale of real property, villa accommodation Exempt
Water and sewage services provided by the BWA, all medical services, postal services, domestic transport Exempt

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Relevant documents Value Added Tax Act, CAP87
Relevant institutions Barbados Revenue Authority Customs and Excise Department

Custom duties

The Customs and Excise Department processes all goods that are imported to Barbados. The country is guided by the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Valuation Code, in the classification of goods.

Duties are generally levied at a rate of 0-20 percent of the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of the goods. However, some products, including motor vehicles, agricultural products and jewellery attract specific rates. For example, motor vehicles, except those for commercial use, attract import duty at a rate of 45 percent; excise tax and VAT are then applied, as indicated in the table below.

Exceptions:

  • Goods imported from CARICOM member countries are exempt from customs duties, as agreed through the Common External Tariff.
  • Businesses exporting global business services or products from Barbados are exempt from duties on imports of raw materials, equipment, machinery and other direct inputs into the operation.
  • Temporary imports, placed in a bonded warehouse, may benefit from a waiver of duties until the goods are re-exported.
  • Exports are exempt from duties. It is recommended that exporters register with the Certification Department of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation to facilitate duty free entry of their products into CARICOM member countries, the USA, Canada, Venezuela, Colombia.


Custom duties

Vehicle Imports (chargeable value = cost+45% import duty) Tax
engine capacity 1,600 cc and under and chargeable value no more than US$27,500 46.95% excise tax, plus 17.5% VAT
engine capacity 1,600 cc and under and chargeable value exceeds US$27,500 64.35% excise tax, plus 17.5% VAT
engine capacity over 1,600 cc but less than 1,800 cc and chargeable value no more than US$27,500 76.35% excise tax, plus 17.5% VAT
engine capacity is over 16,000 cc but no more than 18,000 cc and chargeable value exceeds US$27,500 93.73% excise tax, plus 17.5% VAT
engine capacity is more than 18,000 cc and chargeable value exceeds US$27,500 120% excise tax, plus 17.5% VAT
commercial vehicles 10% import duty, plus 62.77% excise tax, plus 17.5% VAT

Other taxes

Businesses in the tourism industry, including vacation rentals, are subject to a shared economy levy of 10 percent and a product development levy of 2.5 percent. Additionally, a room rate levy is charged as indicated below.


Room Rate Levy

Type of Accommodation Rate (BB$ per night)
Apartment 8.75
Guest house 8.75
Hotel 8.75
Hotel 19.75
Hotel luxury class 35.00
Vacation rental property 3.75% of nightly rate (maximum $35.00/night)
Villa 3.75% of nightly rate (maximum $35.00/night)

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Relevant documents Tourism Development Act
Relevant institutions Barbados Revenue Authority

Double taxation agreements

Barbados currently has 40 double taxation agreements in force with the following countries:

Austria, Bahrain, Botswana, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, UK, USA, Venezuela and CARICOM (Antigua & Barbuda; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; St. Kitts & Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent & The Grenadines; Trinidad & Tobago).

In addition, nine bilateral investment treaties have been concluded with Canada, China, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Switzerland, Venezuela and the United Kingdom. 

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Relevant institutions International Business Unit Invest Barbados

What investors think

Initiatives such as TAMIS, which had streamlined tax administration for corporations, and the adoption of ASYCUDA World by the Customs and Excise Department, which was starting to improve customs clearance times, were welcomed by investors. The creation of a unified tax rate for corporations was also welcomed. VAT refund times had improved. Customs inspection times were flagged, in part due to a requirement that a minimum number of containers per day be inspected in port rather than on company premises.

Legal framework

Barbados has a well developed legal system based on English common law and statutes. The laws are administered by the courts of Barbados, comprised of a lower Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court, with the latter including a Court of Appeal and a High Court. The Attorney General is responsible for administering the country's legal and judicial system.

The final court of Appeal is the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Modern corporate law is based on the Canada Business Corporations Act. Most business entities in Barbados are governed by the Companies Act, CAP 308 and subsequent amendments.

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Relevant institutions Office of the Attorney General The Barbados Bar Association

Investment protection

The Constitution of Barbados grants investors the same rights as citizens with respect to protection of investments and expropriation. Property rights are well protected and an independent judiciary guarantees the impartial and effective resolution of disputes. In cases of compulsory acquisition, compensation must be based on the fair market value of the property.

Various other legal provisions, as well as a number of bilateral investment treaties with specific countries, guarantee investors certain rights.

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Relevant documents The Consitution of Barbados

Revocation of license

Barbados is a transparent, well-regulated jurisdiction committed to the rule of law and the implementation of global business standards. The Minister may revoke an entity's license in certain circumstances, including the following:

  • if the entity acts in a manner that contravenes the provisions of the Act under which it was established
  • is suspected of violating anti-money laundering regulations
  • is carrying on business in a manner that is detrimental to the interest of Barbados, or depositors (if a financial institution)

Dispute settlement

Where disputes arise, individuals may seek recourse through Barbados' court system, assured of a fair and unbiased outcome. However, since this process can sometimes be lengthy and cumbersome, alternative methods of dispute resolution are being embraced. International commercial dispute resolution services are offered through the Arbitration and Mediation Court of the Caribbean Inc (AMCC) based in Barbados, while the Alternative Dispute Resolution Association of Barbados deals with domestic cases, placing emphasis on mediation.

Additionally, Barbados has enacted legislation with respect to trade disputes, and an Employment Rights Tribunal has been set up to address cases of unfair dismissal. (see Labour tab).

International investment agreements

Barbados has concluded nine bilateral investment treaties (BITs) as follows:

  • United Kingdom - April 1993
  • Venezuela - October 1995
  • Switzerland - June1995
  • Italy - July 1995
  • Canada - January 1997
  • Cuba - August 1998
  • China - October 1999
  • Germany - May 2002
  • Mauritius - June 2005

BITs with the Republic of Ghana and Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union are awaiting ratification.

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Relevant institutions International Business Unit

Repatriation of funds

Investors may freely repatriate foreign currency proceeds from the sale of assets in foreign currency or elect to keep them in a foreign currency account in Barbados. The proceeds are not subject to capital gains tax but permission should be sought from the Exchange Control authority for the sale of real property. Payments of interest, management fees and royalties to non-residents are also free from withholding tax.

Additionally, Barbadians are allowed to open foreign currency denominated bank accounts to hold foreign currency they have earned locally or abroad.

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Relevant institutions The Central Bank of Barbados

Intellectual property

Barbados has been a member of the United Nation's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) since 1979. The country is also a signatory to the Paris convention on intellectual property rights and the Nice Agreement, among others. Additionally, Barbados is one of 15 CARIFORUM countries that signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Community and CARIFORUM. The EPA places various obligations on parties, including the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, specifically requiring countries to implement international treaties dealing with intellectual property, as well as, the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).

At the domestic level, Barbados has enacted the following laws in its ongoing commitment to the protection of intellectual property rights.

  • the trademarks act
  • the patents act
  • the industrial designs act
  • the copyright act
  • the protection against unfair competition act
  • geographical indications act
  • integrated circuits act
  • protection of new plant varieties act

The Intellectual Property Division of The Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) is responsible for administering intellectual property rights in Barbados. However, responsibility for registration, protection and enforcement resides with the rights' holder who may file notice with either the Comptroller of Customs, or with the civil or criminal court, as appropriate.

Penalties for competition offences or infringement range from a fine of BB$5,000 or two to six years’ imprisonment, to BB$20,000 or 10 years’ imprisonment. Ongoing offences are subject to an additional fine of BB$500 per day.

International agreements

Barbados has ratified the following treaties and agreements.

Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (1967)

Link to WIPO website

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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

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
Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (1957)

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Relevant documents WIPO Nice Agreement

Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol (1981)

Link to WIPO website

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Relevant documents WIPO Nairobi Treaty

Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (1961)

Link to WIPO website

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Relevant documents WIPO Rome Convention

The WIPO Copyright Treaty (1996) extends the copyright protection granted by previous treaties, in particular the Berne Convention, to new information technologies, including computer programmes and databases.

Link to WIPO website

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Relevant documents WIPO Copyright Treaty

Competition law

Subsequent to passing the Protection Against Unfair Competition Act in 1998 which relates specifically to intellectual property rights, Barbados introduced The Fair Competition Act in January 2003. This Act allowed for the establishment of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) which was granted responsibility for promoting and maintaining effective and healthy competition in the Barbados market and the prevention of anti-competitive conduct. In carrying out its functions, the FTC focuses on consumer protection, as well as, the enforcement of regulations with respect to utilities, telecommunications and mergers.

In establishing the FTC, the government of Barbados also met its obligations under CARICOM's Revised Treaty of Chaguaramus which requires member countries to each set up a national competition authority "for the purpose of facilitating the implementation of the rules of competition" at both the domestic and regional level.

What investors think

Investors were attracted by Barbados's legal system, with its foundation in British common law, as well as, the country's treaty network. It was felt that efforts were required in order to address delays in the commercial judicial process.

Economy and production

Barbados is a service economy with tourism being the most important sector, contributing approximately 1/3 of the country's GDP. Other key sectors include business services (insurance, financial, administrative and support services), wholesale and retail, real estate, construction, mining and quarrying, and manufacturing.

In 2018, the Barbados government introduced a number of fiscal austerity measures to address the country's challenging macroeconomic situation. This resulted in contraction of the economy by 0.6 percent, despite modest performance of the main foreign exchange earning sector, tourism. Although the number of long stay visitors increased by 2.8 percent over the previous year, there was a reduction in overall length of stay as more visitors came from the USA and Canadian markets, rather than the longer-staying visitors from the UK, traditionally the country's leading tourist market. The situation was compounded by declines in other sectors including construction, business and services and transportation, among others.

The Central Bank of Barbados reported that the country recorded nominal GDP of US$5.13B; an inflation rate of 3.7 percent and average unemployment of 9.2 percent at the end of December 2018.

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Relevant institutions The Central Bank of Barbados

Regional and international market access

A number of regional and international agreements provide Barbados manufactured products preferential market access to several countries, including CARICOM member states, Canada and the USA, among others. Barbados is also a member of the World Trade Organisation.

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

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

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

The Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement with Colombia was signed in 1994 and entered into force on 1 January 1995. This agreement is a reciprocal one with both parties permitting some goods to be traded with immediate duty-free access, with other products obtaining duty-free status on a phased basis.

The Free Trade Agreement between CARICOM and Costa Rica was signed in March 2004 and entered into force in August 2004. The agreement, is intended to increase trade between CARICOM countries and Costa Rica, and grants reciprocal duty-free or preferential access to a wide range of products.  Both parties have agreed to eliminate duties on additional products over a four-year period.  The phased period should commence from the date of entry into force of the Agreement.

The More Developed Countries (MDCs) of CARICOM, and Costa Rica have also identified a special list of products which would enjoy differentiated market access. Under this innovative arrangement, the treatments granted are immediate free access upon entry of force of the Agreement; phased reduction of duty; and exclusions.

The CARICOM-Cuba Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement was signed in June 2000. The objectives of the agreement are to strengthen the commercial and economic relations between the parties through (i) the promotion and expansion of trade in goods and services; (ii) the establishment of financial arrangements to facilitate the progressive development of trade between the two parties; (iii) the progressive liberalisation of trade in services; (iv) the encouragement of investment; (v) the development of joint ventures; (vi) the promotion and protection of investment; and (vii) the discouragement of anti-competitive business practices.

The CARICOM/Dominican Republic Framework Agreement was signed on 22 August 1998. This Agreement provisionally entered into force in 2001. This Agreement is wide in scope. Its coverage includes: trade in goods, trade in services, government procurement and intellectual property rights. It also provides for the development of cooperation in a number of areas such as trade financing, the development of economic sectors, and private sector alliances. The More Developed Countries (MDCs) of CARICOM are required to grant reciprocal treatment to goods originating in the Dominican Republic.

In October 1992, the CARICOM/Venezuela Agreement on Trade and Investment was signed and came into force on January 1, 1993. It allowed some CARICOM products immediate duty-free access to the Venezuela market, and additional products on a phased basis.

CARICOM and Venezuela are in the process of revising this non-reciprocal agreement. When revised the Agreement will allow Venezuelan products duty-free access to the markets of the More Developed Country (MDC) members of CARICOM for a list of products to be negotiated between the two parties.

Tourism

Barbados has a long tradition in tourism services and continues to be one of the most sought after destinations in the Caribbean. From as far back as the 18th century when Barbados was one of the most important colonies in the British Empire, the island's potential as a tourist destination centred primarily on the health benefits of the climate, in particular, its open landscapes and fresh sea breezes. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that major development of the industry was undertaken, as the country sought to diversify from a monocrop economy dependent on sugar, to one which was oriented towards the development of the services and manufacturing sectors.

For decades tourism has been the mainstay of the Barbados economy, contributing between 12-13 percent to the country's GDP and directly employing 13 percent of the workforce. Barbados welcomes approximately 700,000 long stay visitors and 800,000 cruise passengers annually, 52 percent of whom are repeat visitors. In 2018 there were 6,600 hotel rooms, as well as, 3,000 other accommodation options, such as villas, apartments, Air BnB facilities, etc. Average overall occupancy ranges from 60-65 percent per year. 

As a mature destination Barbados offers a diverse and dynamic range of experiences, indeed something for everyone. Tourism authorities continue to refresh and rebrand the product and, in addition to the traditional attractions of sun, sea and sand, have in recent years, focused on heritage, cultural and romance tourism, and on positioning the country as a "home away from home" for visitors. Fotty-five percent of visitors have visited the country before.

  • Heritage tourism: in 2011, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison was granted UNESCO World Heritage status. Among the featured attractions is George Washington House and Museum, a plantation house where a young George Washington and his ailing brother, Lawrence, stayed for two months in 1751. Lawrence's doctor recommended the visit as he felt that the island's idyllic climate would aid in his recuperation. Barbados was the only country ever visited by the future US President and this property is the only house he ever lived in outside of the continental United States.
  • Cultural tourism: Barbados has an active calendar of cultural activities and festivals celebrating history, cuisine, music, sports, visual and performing arts. Most notable among these are Cropover, the Barbados Food and Rum Festival, Sandy Lane Gold Cup, Run Barbados and the Barbados Golf Festival, among others.
  • Weddings and romance: a range of romantic getaway options can be found in Barbados. Wedding ceremonies can be conducted on the beach with sunset views or in a tropical garden surrounded by colourful blooms or even at one of the island's historical sites. Experienced wedding planning and photography services are easily available.
  • Cruise tourism: Barbados already functions as a major home-porting location for Caribbean cruises. The aim is to encourage cruise passengers to spend one night in Barbados either at the start or end of their cruise.
  • Multigenerational tourism: Barbados wishes to further expand this growing sector whereby several generations of the same family rent a villa and pursue similar or different activities. To this end it has an incentive package in place to encourage development of holiday villas.

The country's Ministry of Tourism recently launched a national tourism programme focusing on further product development within the industry. This five year project is being funded through a US$20 million loan from the Inter- American Development Bank. 

Barbados Tourism Investment Inc

The Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTII) was established by the government of Barbados with responsibility for identifying and facilitating investment in tourism projects in the country. Potential investors should contact the BTII directly for further information/requests for proposals on tourism projects including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Sam Lord’s Castle: this historic hotel which was constructed in 1820 and was once the flagship of Barbados’ hotel plant, is being restored to its former glory. The hotel is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Located on the East of the island, it will sit on 27.2 acres of land and have an impressive amenity base, including large and flexible meeting facilities, a village centre and a world class spa.
  • The Carlisle Bay Development: covers over 2 km of beachfront land and is a unique tourism investment prospect in any tropical island in the world today. This beachfront land, owned by the government and the private sector, sits on a beautiful crescent bay in front of the historic capital city, Bridgetown and UNESCO site. This development will be the anchor for the complete regeneration of the communities in this urban corridor. The Carlisle Bay Development will include:

    • an iconic performing arts/conference facility
    • 5 new hotels (an additional 1,500 rooms)
    • a marina
    • entertainment facilities
  • Harrison's Point - the proposed development of Harrison’s Point, St. Lucy is a public-private joint venture of BTII and Fairways Development Ltd. The site has an area of approximately 83 acres with a coastline of approximately 1km in length. The proposal is a resort hotel based development with associated real estate developments. It will open to the general public for beach access and other amenities. The project will include use of the Harrison’s Point Lighthouse for public recreation and interpretative facilities.

Tourism projects may benefit from a range of concessions under the Tourism Development Act and the Special Development Area Act.

Alternative energy

The government of Barbados has set 2030 as the year when the country will be generating 100 percent of its energy from alternative/renewable energy sources including solar, wind and biomass. Although regarded as an ambitious timeline, the Energy Division of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources has been working with relevant authorities over the past decade to develop the necessary policy and regulatory framework. The legislation was amended as recently as July 2019 to take into account technological advances in the sector. A growing number of individual homeowners continue to incorporate solar photo-voltaic systems in the design of new residences or to retrofit existing ones, some of them selling the excess power generated to the Barbados Light and Power Company, which recently improved its buyback scheme, allowing up to 1 megawatt.

Currently 160 megawatts of alternative energy is used throughout the island at peak demand periods. According to the Energy Division, the goal is to achieve 660 megawatts by 2030 with sources including offshore wind and ocean thermal energy generation. It is envisioned that 50 percent of this capacity will be available to foreign investors. 

Interest in electric vehicles also continues to grow, with 400 in use at present.

The Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) is concerned with energy efficiency and the growth of alternative energy in the country. Barbados is a member of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy (CREE).

Medical tourism

As a leading tourist destination known for its excellent quality of life, Barbados is well placed to take advantage of opportunities in the medical tourism sector. Indeed, the island's healing qualities such as fresh sea breezes, clean open spaces and perennial sunshine, were among the reasons the country was recommended to young George Washington in 1751, as the place where he should bring his ailing brother, Lawrence to recuperate, which ultimately proved to be sound advice.

Today, Barbados' modern infrastructure, easy international accessibility, good quality healthcare standards and skilled medical professionals, enhance the country's attractiveness as a medical tourism centre. At the forefront of delivering these services is the Barbados Fertility Centre, the only Joint Commission International accredited IVF facility in the Caribbean, which has been providing IVF treatment to clients from Barbados, the Caribbean, North America, UK and Europe since 2002. The Barbados Fertility centre has recorded average success rates of 67%, among the highest in the world.

The 4H Hospital at the Sparman Clinic is a concierge medical facility that caters to the needs of both local, regional and international clients. Main services offered are cardiac care and cosmetic surgery.

Premiere Surgical Centre is a new state of the art facility dedicated to offering a safe and professional environment for outpatient and ambulatory procedures. Specialties include neurosurgery, orthopedics, plastic surgery, urology and dental services, among others.

The Barbados authorities are committed to creating the appropriate enabling environment to ensure the further growth of this sector.

Medical schools

Since 2012 Barbados has been benefiting from the increasing demand for international medical training, with the establishment of the country's first offshore medical school, the American University of Barbados (AUB). From an initial enrolment of 11 students, the AUB now caters to a student body of approximately 300, offering a four, as well as, a five and half year, US model medical degree programme. AUB uses modern innovative teaching techniques including interactive methods such as 3D animations and video games.

By January 2019 the number of medical schools in Barbados had increased to seven to include the Ross University School of Medicine, a division of the US based Adtalem Global Education. According to company officials, among the reasons they chose Barbados as the new home for Ross were: 

  • the government's pro-business policies
  • the community of highly educated Barbadians with technology and customer service skills
  • international airlift and domestic services and facilities available to their academic community

Students are drawn primarily from Canada, the USA, India and Nigeria.

As is the case with medical tourism, medical schools not only generate necessary foreign exchange, but also provide many other spin-off benefits for the economy, especially in the areas of tourism/hospitality, accommodation and transportation, among others.

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Relevant institutions Ministry of Health and Wellness Invest Barbados

Financial technology

With an established reputation as a leading centre for financial services within the Caribbean, Barbados is also home to the first blockchain start-up in the region - Bitt.com. Founded in 2014 by two Barbadians, Bitt secured a major investment from a well known USA corporation in 2016, significantly spurring the growth of the company. Bitt's success has encouraged other start-ups, primarily from Canada, to enter the Barbados market. The Central Bank of Barbados and the Financial Services Commission have since launched a regulatory sandbox to facilitate further growth of the sector via investment from both domestic and international sources.

Bitt is also working with other regional territories that are embracing the technology, in particular, St. Kitts whose Central Bank is expected to soon launch a digital currency.

Real estate

Traditionally Barbados' real estate market has represented a very attractive investment opportunity, particularly for persons from the UK who prefer the more exclusive west coast of the island, sometimes referred to as the "platinum coast." There are no restrictions on foreign ownership in Barbados but Central Bank permission is required for the purchase of real estate.

Non-nationals who invest at least US$2 million in real estate and meet the necessary requirements, may be eligible for a special entry permit (see Labour tab-work permits).

Following a period of decline due to the 2008 global financial crisis, the real estate market in Barbados experienced a resurgence during 2018. Although not yet at pre-2008 levels, real estate transactions have shown encouraging growth and, with the return of investor confidence, optimism is high that this upward trajectory will continue. It is anticipated that the Government's Planning Law Reform, which seeks to foster a more structured, efficient planning process, will spur further development of the sector.

There is a wide selection of real estate agents in Barbados who offer a range of services, including property valuation and management.

Agriculture

Once dominated by the production of raw sugar for export, Barbados' agricultural sector is now focused on food security and mitigating the effects of climate change. Over the years the country's food import bill has resulted in the outflow of unacceptably high levels of foreign exchange. This is despite growth in areas such as domestic poultry and pork production, as well as, small ruminants where livestock such as sheep, goats and rabbits are reared. Additionally, the authorities instituted a land lease programme where interested local small farmers have access to plots of government owned land, at concessionary rates, for food production.

More recently, the government introduced a farmers' empowerment and enfranchisement drive (FEED), a programme aimed at reducing agricultural imports and fostering national food security. According to the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, which is responsible for administering the programme, some of the goals are:

  • to facilitate the sustainable development of the agricultural sector through improved access to land and inputs for agricultural production and development;
  • to increase employment, particularly among vulnerable groups including women and the youth; and
  • to ensure long-term national food and nutrition security through improved access to safe and nutritious foods

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus has also announced plans to develop the "UWI-Dukes Agri-business Development Park" on over 28 acres of land granted to the university by the owners of Dukes Plantation. It is envisaged that the park will be used for farming, agro-processing, cutting-edge agri-business research, chocolate manufacturing, cotton processing and will also include a training facility and food standards laboratory, among other services.

At the same time, a number of young entrepreneurs have been employing technology to pursue opportunities in hydroponic farming and aquaculture. This is regarded as an area with significant potential, particularly in view of the limited land space (27,000 acres) available for traditional agriculture.

Following extensive research and recommendations from various stakeholders, the government is fine-tuning its policy for the development of a medical marijuana industry in the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture offers a number of incentives to drive growth in the sector, including assistance with market research and duty free importation of equipment, etc. Access to financing, up to BDS$1 million, is also provided via the Agricultural Development Fund.

Global business services

Barbados has a long history in the provision of quality business services to clients across the globe. Traditionally, this has been in areas such as financial services including insurance, banking, wealth and asset management, among others; accounting; legal; advisory and consultancy services, as well as a range of information and communication technology related services including, business/ knowledge process outsourcing, market research, digital multi-media and software development.

The growth of this sector has been made possible through the country's ongoing investment in education which has resulted in the creation of a cadre of well qualified, skilled industry professionals committed to delivering high quality services in adherence with international best practice standards. Additionally, the availability of a wide selection of good quality office accommodation and other business services locally continue to add to Barbados' appeal as a domicile for these services. It is anticipated that recent amendments to Barbados' business legislation including the convergence of corporate tax rates will generate further opportunities for the country in this key sector.

Creative industries

For decades Barbadian talent has found creative expression through music, dance, fashion, drama, visual arts, and related disciplines. Some, such as The Merrymen and Rihanna, have achieved international acclaim. The Cultural Industries Development Act sought to address this by providing the regulatory framework to harness the potential of the industry and to facilitate its growth and development. The Act established the Cultural Industries Development Authority (BCIDA) with responsibility for, among other things, promoting the industry and assisting cultural practitioners in accessing funding. In April 2019 the BCIDA was merged with the National Cultural Foundation.

The Government has also announced its intention to re-establish a national school for dance, as well as, a national school for the performing arts. In addition, the national Film Commission will be equipped to play a leading role in positioning Barbados as an attractive domicile for film and video productions and strategic co-productions, as well as, supporting the further development of a local film industry. 

Co-founder of the Barbados film festival, Senator, Dr. Sir Trevor Carmichael, is of the view that such festivals “have the ability to not only bring people to Barbados, but to bring in revenue...and also provide opportunities for young local filmmakers to learn from more experienced counterparts.” As interest in this sector grows, the Barbados film industry appears to be on an upward trajectory, with a recent production having attracted international attention.

The Barbados based Caribbean Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (COSCAP), a membership organisation, protects the IP rights of practitioners in the music industry.

What investors think

Overall investors were attracted by Barbados's skills base, its role as a shipping hub, its legal system and encouragement of financial technologies. It was felt that reforms to the tax and business environment were starting to pay off. Importantly, the correspondent banking issue appeared to have been resolved. Investors suggested new sectors of opportunity for Barbados as a logistics hub and an insurance industry hub, as well as, sales and customer support services.

Why invest in Barbados?

Barbados is considered one of the most developed countries in the Caribbean with a sophisticated business environment, which is just one of the reasons it continues to be attractive to investors. Other appealing attributes are as follows:

  • Jurisdiction of substance offering a reputable and transparent domicile.
  • Sound legislative and regulatory systems in keeping with international standards. 
  • An excellent quality of life.
  • Well-educated human resources with literacy rates at 98 percent.
  • Quality, internationally rated professional services including legal, accounting, corporate, investment and consultancy services.
  • Easy accessibility with direct flights to major international cities and also serving as a hub to other Caribbean destinations.
  • Political, social and economic stability with a tradition of parliamentary democracy.
  • Freedom from corruption - ranked 4th in Latin America/Caribbean and 30th among 180 countries, according to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index 2019
  • Investment protection through an expanding treaty network (currently 40 double taxation agreements and 9 bilateral investment treaties).
  • Wide choice of accommodation, as well as, excellent selection of dining options to suit all budgets and tastes.
  • Unified tax regime for international and local businesses.
  • Good quality stock of office accommodation.


Country data

Official name Barbados
Country area 166 sq. miles/ 430 sq.km.
Capital city Bridgetown
Population 287,000 (2019 est)
Administrative regions Barbados is comprised of 11 parishes
Local currency Barbados dollar (BDS$)
Exchange rate BDS$2.00 = US$1.00
Official language(s) English
Other national language(s) Bajan (dialect)
Nominal GDP (2018) US$5.13B*
GDP per Capita (2018) US$17,758
Literacy rate 98%
Major trading partners CARICOM, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Japan

Map of Barbados

last update on: 18/2/2020