Register your business

The most popular form of corporate entity are the two following types of limited liability company:

  • BV (besloten vennootschap) is a privately held company comparable to the limited company’ (Ltd) in the United Kingdom or a ‘Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung’ (GmbH) in Germany; and
  • NV (naamloze vennootschap) is a public company comparable to a public limited company’ (plc) in the United Kingdom or ‘Aktiengesellschaft’ (AG) in Germany. The shares in an NV may be freely transferable. 

Both the BV and the NV are separate legal entities with shareholders. They can be used for the same business purposes, to be set out in articles of association. The BV is the more flexible of the two and is the most popular in local as well as international business.

Other forms of corporate entity are:

  • The cooperative, is a legal entity similar to the NV and BV, governed by articles of association but characterized by a less regulated governance structure. The cooperative does not have a capital divided into shares, instead, the participants are called members. At least two members are required to form a cooperative. It is considered an extension of the businesses of its members, who can be individuals, partnerships or legal entities.
  • Private foundation, which unlike a normal foundation is not subject to the disbursement restrictions. The founder enjoys a great deal of latitude to set up a private foundation and it can generally be used for the same purposes as a trust. However, contrary to the trust it has the status of a legal entity. 

Corporate entities are established by the simple act of a notarial deed. The time required to complete the incorporation and to obtain the necessary licenses varies. Depending on the complexity of the legal form of the entity, they can be incorporated in one day while the necessary licenses can be obtained within a few weeks. 

  • The founders of the legal entity must sign the articles of association before the notary (it is possible to use a power of attorney) and at least one founder is required to form the corporation, either an individual or a legal entity. Nonresidents can establish a BV or NV by proxy.
  • The notary must register the legal entity at the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Burgerlijk Wetboek Boek 2 Herziening Burgerlijk Wetboek Boek 2
Relevant institutions Curaçao Chamber of Commerce

Key characteristics of limited liability companies

  • Different classes of shares may be issued, for variations in voting rights, participation in profit distributions and in entitlement to a balance after liquidation. Shares are registered. However, an NV may also issue bearer shares.
  • No minimum capital is required. The founders will determine the issued capital (at least one share) and required paid-up capital. The issued capital and paid-up capital will be laid down in the articles of association. Companies with multiple shareholders can issue different types of shares to vary the voting rights of shareholders and to vary their dividend rights;
  • Some shareholders (e.g. banks) can be excluded from voting rights;
  • Shares of a particular class may give no or limited entitlement to profit sharing. Shares with no rights to profit or liquidation proceeds must always have voting rights;
  • Depending on the wording of the articles of association, shares may or may not be freely transferable.

Required licenses

The most important licenses required are the following:

  • Business establishment license from the Ministry of Economic Development of Curaçao permitting the corporation to act on the island;
  • Director’s license for each managing director (the law does not limit the number of managing directors); in addition, managing directors need a residence and a working permit to work in Curaçao. This requirement applies to all expatriates. Expatriates with a Dutch passport do not need a working permit.

In specific cases, a foreign exchange license can be obtained, which exempts the corporation from foreign exchange controls. This license is issued by the Central Bank. 

Depending on the type of business, licenses may be required for:

  • specific businesses (such as the license pursuant to the Nuisance Act and the license needed for restaurants and hotels);
  • specific activities, such as for the importation of merchandise, for keeping a shop open outside the regular hours, for transfer of money to recipients abroad, etc;
  • personnel matters (like overtime, discharge and health certificates).

Find out more...

Relevant documents Requirements for a business establishment license

Environmental impact assessment

Activities that may have a negative environmental impact must, under the Nuisance Ordinance, obtain a license.

Application, together with an environmental impact assessment, must be made to the Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature, which considers the request and may undertake a public consultation before delivering its decision.


Find out more...

Relevant documents Nuisance Ordinance, 1994
Relevant institutions Minsitry of Health, Environment and Nature

Investment concessions

Curaçao provides number of concessions for investors that are described below.


Hotel sector Real estate development Economic zone development Other
Criteria NV or BV NV or BV Admitted to economic zone -
Minimum investment USD 550,000 or 165,000 if renovation USD 1.1 million excluding land value - USD 137,500
Other requirement Investment to be made within 2 years of grant of incentive Investment to be made within 5 years of grant of incentive - Create at least 5 permanent jobs for persons from Curaçao
Corporate tax At least 2% for up to 11 years At least 2% for up to 15 years At least 2% till December 2025 At least 2% for up to 11 years
Other tax - - Exemption of turnover tax and excises -
Exemption of import duties On materials and goods required for construction and initial furbishing. In case of renovation exemption is for 2 years. On materials and goods intended for investment in roads, construction of real estate and locations for entertainment - On materials and goods required for construction and initial capital equipment of business premises. Exemption from import duties for up to 10 years on raw materials and semi-manufactured articles where these components are processed by the company
Exemption of property tax For 10 years after becoming taxable For 15 years if plots of land being developed are not sold or leased - On business premises for 10 years after becoming taxable
Exemption from personal income tax On income earned from dividends and other distribution of profits within 2 years after the fiscal year that profit was obtained On income earned from dividends and other distribution of profits within 2 years after the fiscal year that profit was obtained - On income earned from dividends and other distribution of profits within 2 years after the fiscal year that profit was obtained
Foreign exchange license fee - - Upon request the central bank will grant and exemption for the payment of foreign exchange license fee charges for merchandise transactions -

What investors think

No problems were reported in the creation of businesses. Procedures were noted as straightforward. However, the requirement to file documents in Dutch and difficulty in finding translations of laws in English raised questions.

Population and skills

Curaçao has an estimated population of 160,012 (2018) of which 46 percent male and 54 percent female. The labour force was estimated at 70,153 with an unemployment rate of 13.4 percent. 

The island enjoys a high standard of education, based on the Dutch educational system. Each graduate from secondary school is proficient in at least three official languages: English, Dutch, and Spanish. The literacy rate is over 95 percent. 

There are three levels of education. Primary education is compulsory for 12 years and is based on the principle that every child has the right to develop to their full potential. Secondary education is when students choose more specifically to pursue a more general or more technical track. Opportunities for tertiary education are also available and encouraged. Students have access to both universities both locally and in the Netherlands.

Employment and wages

Actual wages paid are often higher than the minimum. The standard legal working hours are normally 8 per day and 40 per week. 

Collective labor agreements usually cover a period of two to three years, after which new terms are agreed upon for a similar period of time. The reliability provided by these contracts benefits both the employer and employee. In most cases, there is a clause which provides for no strikes or lockouts during the contract period. All labour disputes where parties do not reach an agreement must be subjected to mediation. Parties may request intervention, or the mediator can ex-officio compel parties to accept mediation. The government has the authority to impose a ‘cooling off period.


Termination of employment, apart from disciplinary reasons, is subject to approval of the Ministry of Social Development, Labor and Welfare, and must respect a notice period, detailed below.

Wages

UnitValueYearComment
MidwifeANG42072019On average per month plus benefits
Dental hygienist ANG4265,502019On average per month plus benefits
Operation Assistant ANG44142019On average per month plus benefits
ReceptionistANG21002019On average per month plus benefits
Financial Account Manager ANG4,4902019On average per month plus benefits
Facility services supervisorANG6,8002019On average per month plus benefits
IT consultantANG5,2372019On average per month plus benefits
Plant MecanicANG2,3002019On average per month plus benefits
Refrigeration technicianANG2,1002019On average per month plus benefits
NotaryANG7,5002019On average per month plus benefits
Skilled gardenerANG3,535.602019On average per month plus benefits
ButcherANG2,7302019On average per month plus benefits
VeterinarianANG4,9002019On average per month plus benefits
Medical Environmental ExpertANG4,9442019On average per month plus benefits

Non-wage benefits

Employers are required to provide a number of additional benefits, as detailed below.

Non-wage benefits

Benefit Period
Paid annual vacation 15 days
Paid public holidays 10 days
Paid maternity leave 14 weeks
Paid paternity leave 5 days
Notice period if employment up to 5 years 1 month
Notice period if employment between 5 and 10 years 2 months
Notice period if employment between 10 and 15 years 3 months
Notice period if employment above 15 years 4 months

Social security contributions

Curacao has an extensive social security safety net system for its citizens. Several institutions in Curaçao are responsible for the application of these social security laws. In general, social security premiums are withheld and paid over by the employer. Contributions are paid by employer and employees and may be capped at certain limits Self-employed persons generally pay both contributions. 

Contributions may be due in respect of: 

  • Old age pension (AOV): a compulsory insurance against the financial consequences of old age for the entire population, on account of which the insured person receives an old age pension on reaching 65 years of age 
  • Widow’s, widower’s and orphan’s pension (AWW): a general insurance guaranteeing financial support to the widow or widower after the passing away of a spouse and to children, generally up to the age of 15, upon the death of an insured mother or father.
  • Accident insurance (OV): obliges employers to insure their employees for the costs of medical care and loss of income as a consequence of an accident at work.
  • Sickness insurance (ZV): insures employees with an income under a certain threshold for the costs of medical care and loss of income as a consequence of sickness.
  • Basic health insurance (BVZ): provides health insurance for most types of care.
  • Social insurance for specific health expenses (AVBZ): bears part of the medical expenses in special circumstances. 
  • Cessantia: a severance payment that insures employees against the costs of unemployment through no fault of their own. It grants the employee the right to a lump sum payment dependent on the duration of the employment and the most recently received wage.


Social security contributions 2020 (expressed as percentages of income)

Category Employer contributiuon (%) Employee contribution (%) Remarks
Old age pension (AOV) 9.0 6.0 -
Widow’s, widower’s and orphan’s pension (AWW) 0.5 0.5 -
Accident insurance (OV) 0.5 to 5 - depending on the hazard class
Sickness insurance (ZV) 1.9 - -
Basic health insurance (BVZ) 9.3 4.3 retirees pay 6.3%
Social insurance for specific health expenses (AVBZ) 0.5 1.5 -
Cessantia ANG 40 - per employee per year

Work permits

A work and residence permit is required to live in and work in Curaçao. There is an application process and waiting period for both. Work permits are technically only granted if no qualified person is available and the employer has to provide a guarantee in respect of related expenses. 

Dutch nationals that aren’t residents can apply for a declaration of no objection against their presence in Curacao instead of a work permit and residence permit. Americans, Canadians and Belgians can also apply for this declaration, due to a friendship agreement with these countries. 

What investors think

No concerns were raised with regards to the employment of personnel. Investors noted the well-educated workforce.

In view of the large expatriate workforce in the hospitality industry, efforts by the government to improve local capacity were welcomed.

It was noted that applications for work permits for nationals other than Dutch and reciprocated countries could take time.

Utilities

Curaçao enjoys a well-developed infrastructure comparable with other countries in the region. Power and water production and distribution are handled by state-owned Aqualectra. The company produces and distributes potable water and electricity to over 80,000 households and companies. Curaçao has one of the best drinking waters in the world, produced by reverse osmosis. 

Aqualectra recalculates rates for water and electricity every month. For the latest rates and additional information visit Aqualectra's  website.

Cost of electricity and water

UnitValueYearComment
Domestic (01)ANG0.582019per kWh, equal and less than 250 kWh consumption
Domestic (01)ANG0.682019per kWh, between 250 and 350 kWh consumption
Domestic (01)ANG0.732019per kWh, kWh more than 350 kWh consumption
Commercial (02)ANG0.692019per kWh, 0 or more kWh consumption
Industrial Standard (22)ANG0.592019per kWh, high kWh consumption
Industrial Standard (22)ANG0.582019per kWh, low kWh consumption
Domestic (A)ANG8.12019per m³, equal and less than 9 m³
Domestic (A)ANG13.22019per m³, between 9 and 12 m³
Domestic (A)ANG15.22019per m³, more than 20 m³
Commercial (B)ANG13.62019per m³, equal or more than 0 m³
Industrial Standard (B)ANG13.62019per m³, equal or more than 0 m³

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Aqualectra

Telecommunications

Curaçao has a modern telecommunications system that includes direct telephone links worldwide, digital and computerized systems, satellite link-ups, and undersea fibre-optic cabling. Internet connections are also available at competitive prices.

The telecommunications infrastructure is equipped with telex, fax services, entrance to merconon, viditel and direct satellite connections. Communications with the rest of the world is of good quality without disturbance. Additional services are the mobile communication, audiotext, voice mail and ISDN.

There are four telecom providers in Curacao. Columbus Communications, United Telecommunications Services (UTS), Flow and Digicel. These companies provide a variety of landline and mobile phone network-, internet-, business- and home entertainment services.

Internet prices

UnitValueYearComment
HouseholdsANG1102019per month, average starting price up to 30 Mbps
HouseholdsANG3002019per month, average starting price up to 100 Mbps
Business ANG3002019per month, average starting price up to 100 Mbps

Transport infrastructure

Curaçao's transport infrastructure is described below.

Air

The island has an international airport, Curaçao International Airport (also called Hato International Airport) providing passenger and cargo facilities. The airport has one of the longest runways in the Caribbean, accommodating up to Boeing 747 aircraft. 

The airport has an integrated handling service for all types of cargo. The cargo facility is computerized and efficient. With modern cargo buildings on the premises, there is strong capacity. Transit time for cargo is two hours, while for airline passengers en route the transit time can be less than 20 minutes. For perishable products, cool and deep-frozen storage is available and sensitive products can be handled safely. Air containers can be stripped and the contents distributed throughout the region.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Curaçao Aiport Partners

Maritime

The ports of Curaçao have more than 1,300 sailings per year, more than 20 regularly calling shipping lines, and an efficient and reliable shipping agent network. Curaçao’s harbours are among the region’s most developed and best-organized. The ports of Curaçao are all natural, sheltered ports that offer safe, fast, efficient and reliable handling of both ships and cargo. 

Curaçao is practically located at the outer edge of the hurricane belt and an ideal gateway to the Caribbean. The Port of Willemstad’s strategic geographical location with respect to the United States, South America and Europe has contributed in making Curaçao an important regional transshipment hub for container shipping. Curaçao’s Mega cruise terminal is equipped with facilities to embark and disembark passengers. 

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Curaçao Ports Authority

Road network

Curaçao has 550 kilometres of paved roads.

Transport costs

Indicative costs for freight to Curaçao from two important markets. 

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
Container from MiamiUSD2,038.30201920 ft container
Container from MiamiUSD3,193.30201940 ft container
Container from ChinaUSD3,876.00201920 ft container
Container from ChinaUSD5,047.00201940 ft container

Other costs

For indicative purposes, a basket of goods that a potential investors will regularly consume if based in Curaçao.

Prices

UnitValueYearComment
GasolineANG1.9122019Average price per liter
DieselANG1.3772019Average price per liter
Coca Cola ANG1.222019Average price per 355 ml (can)
BeerANG16.952019Average price per 6 pack
Bottled waterANG1.852019Average price per 1.5 liter
MilkANG9.002019Average price per half gallon (1.89 liter)
Rice ANG3.002019Average price per 2 lbs (907 gram / 32oz)
FlourANG5.502019Average price per 2lbs (907 gram / 32oz)
SugarANG2.162019Average price per 2lbs (907 gram / 32oz)
Minced beefANG11.952019Average price per kilogram
EggsANG4.882019Price per dozen (regulated by the government)

What investors think

No concerns were raised with regards to utilities. Communications were reported as reliable and fast due to a strong fibre-optic infrastructure. Port handling is seen as efficient.

Types of land

The two most common land types are property (eigendom) and government long lease (erfpachtcanon), with third being government rental

The Government gives parcel to citizens or authorities for various purposes in long lease or rent. Not only citizens who are looking for land for housing are eligible for long lease or rented land, but also amongst others, project developers and religious organizations. 

The long lease is given by the government typically for a period of 60 years, for which the lessee pays an annual fee. For the duration of the term the leaseholder may treat the property as if he/she were the actual owner. 

Acquisition procedures

Property

The purchase of land must be entered into in writing through a purchase contract. A purchase agreement concluded orally is voidable. Also required is a notarial deed of transfer. A title investigation at the land registry is recommended.

In addition to the agreed purchase price, the purchase contract needs to include the relevant registered property, the delivery date, any obligation to pay an agreed deposit or to provide a bank guarantee, any resolute condition and the period within which an appeal can be made on that resolute condition.

Long lease

An application for long lease and rental land can be filled at the Domain Management (Domeinbeheer) along with a valid ID in the case of housing and a business plan and a copy of Chamber of commerce registration in the case of commercial development.

The destination for which the lease is granted usually determines the duration of the lease. For the lease, an annual lease fee must be paid per square metre, which is determined by order of the Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning. In addition, the property tax must also be paid annually, just as with property land.

If a long lease land is granted to a leaseholder, the latter must go to the notary with the decision. The notary draws up a deed after inspecting the land that is being issued at the land registry

Once the costs specified by Domain Management, including the ground lease for the first year and the measurement costs, have been paid by the leaseholder, the lease can be passed.

A copy of the long lease deed has to be presented to the land registry for registration.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Ministry of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning Domeinbeheer

Land costs

The price of privately owned plots for sale can vary a lot. Location, view, demand and purpose (for housing or commercial) are the main price drivers. Depending on these variables you have plots starting at ANG 71/m(USD 39.01) and running as high as ANG 324/m(USD 178.02) or more for plots in very exclusive neighborhoods that often include great amenities. 

The same goes for home rentals. location determines the price. A two bedroom apartment located in one of the better neighborhoods can easily start at ANG 3.500, while a multiple bedroom home, with garden, pool and a nice view in these areas can run as high as ANG 7.000 a month or more.

There are also many units available for rent at competitive prices for commercial use throughout the island. Our Industrial Park Brievengat also provides multi-purpose buildings. leases at the Industrial park range between USD 56 to USD 70  per m²  per year.




Construction permit procedures

A building permit is required to build or renovate with application made at the Dienst Ruimtelijke Ontwikkeling en Volkshuisvesting (DROV). The application must state the name of the applicant, occupation and place of residence. 

In accordance with the Building and Housing Ordinance, the application should include the following documents:

  • a blueprint and construction specifications;
  • the height, thickness, dimensions and material of the walls;
  • calculations and details;
  • name of the architect and/or contractor;
  • location drawing of the building lot;
  • measurement certificate of the building lot; and
  • title deed or lease/rental agreement for the lot
Duration of the application process

The application process takes approximately six weeks for houses with a value up to one million ANG. The process may take longer for more expensive or complex structures.

Building inspector

A building inspector is charged with, among other things, technical testing of the building plans. He also assesses whether laid foundations and the subsequent construction work comply with the approved building plans. 

How to calculate construction permit fee 

  • Calculate construction price.
  • Check in the fee table in which category the construction price falls.
  • The fee consists of two parts. The fixed amount and a permillage of the added value in the given category. (Added value is construction price minus start amount in the given category.)

Construction permit fee

Category Construction price from (ANG) to (ANG) Fee (fixed portion, in ANG) Fee (additional variable portion permillage)
1 0 10,000 10 0
2 10,000 40,000 10 5
3 40,000 70,000 250 4
4 70,000 200,000 490 8
5 200,000 1,000,000 1,530 8
6 1,000,000 5,000,000 7,930 8
7 5,000,000 upwards 39,930 8

Special economic zones

Curaçao has two free economic zones, known as e-zones, one in the harbour, and one at the airport. Both are regulated by the economic zone law. 

Permitted activities include warehousing, and repair and maintenance. Imported goods may be stored, exhibited, serviced, repacked, relabelled, or assembled as a new product. Services using electronic communications and information technologies, insofar as they do not involve financial services (such as investment companies, patents, and royalties) are also permitted.

The zones are also used for the wholesale of products such as shoes, garments, leatherwear, toys, household articles, electronics, jewellery, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, alcohol and cigarettes. Foreign visitors may enter the zones and have products shipped to their home country or delivered to them at the airport on their departure.

CURINDE is charged with managing and maintaining the zones and providing support and qualitative facilities.

Incentives for operating in the zone include:
  • exemption from import duties.
  • 0 percent turnover tax
  • 2 percent corporate income tax
  • no land or property taxes.
Goods sold or services rendered to the domestic market, however, are subject to the normal profit tax rate of 22 percent.
To operate in a zone, the activity must meet the following requirements:
  • A minimum of 75 percent of the e-zone’s company annual turnover must be obtained from export. Local market sales are allowed up to a maximum of 25 percent of the e-zone company’s annual total turnover. Regular import duties and sales tax rates are applicable, while a permit is required to sell goods to the local market.
  • For every 170 square metres of space occupied, a minimum of one job must be created.
To operate in an economic zone, an application must be made to CURINDE. 

Find out more...

Relevant documents E-zone law
Relevant institutions CURINDE

What investors think

For large projects especially, close interaction with government is to be expected. Investors reported that the authorities were willing to facilitate their projects and permits were comparatively easy to obtain, although preparation by the investor is essential.

Tax introduction and registration

All businesses and individuals operating in Curaçao are required to register for and file tax statements. 

Registration is at  the Belastingdienst (tax authorities) from which taxpayers receive their Crib number (taxpayer identification number) in order to do business - this number is required to appear on all invoices. 

The Belastingdienst Curaçao is responsible for the enforcement of all tax laws and collection.

Find out more...

Relevant institutions Belastingdienst Curaçao

Corporate income tax

Corporate income tax is levied on resident and nonresident entities. To qualify as resident an entity must be incorporated under Curaçao laws (or under the former Netherlands Antilles laws) or incorporated under foreign law, but essentially managed from Curaçao. 

The corporate income tax is levied on the total net profits earned during an accounting period. Profit means the sum of the benefits that, in whatever form, are obtained from business. Entities (such as a B.V. or N.V.) must file a profit tax return. (Natural persons enjoying a profit pay income tax.)

Corporate income tax

Category Rate (%)
Standard rate 22

Personal income tax

For purposes taxation, an individual is either resident or non-resident, and tax status is not based on nationality. Residency is determined by taking into account the location of an individual's permanent home, their habitual place of actual residence, and their center of economic and social interest. 

All residents are taxed on their income derived from one of the following categories:

  • Income from a business or profession;
  • Income from employment;
  • Income from property (real estate);
  • Income from capital; and
  • Certain periodic receipts.


Personal income tax rates

From To Rate (%)
0 ANG 30,643 9.75
ANG 30,643 ANG 40,858 15.00
ANG 40,858 ANG 61,287 23.00
ANG 61,287 ANG 86,823 30.00
ANG 86,823 ANG 127, 681 37.00
ANG 127, 681 - 46.50

Property tax

A property in Curaçao may be subject to property tax, which is levied annually on the value of the property as determined by the tax authority.

Find out more...

Relevant documents Property tax law

Capital gains taxes

Capital gains are included in profits and taxed at the normal rates. Under the participation exemption, gains derived from the disposal of a qualifying participation are fully exempt.

Sales tax

Sales in Curaçao are subject to sales tax (OB). This tax is levied over the sales volume of the following actions:

  • Delivery of goods by a business
  • Delivery of services by a business
  • Import of goods


Sales tax rates

Category Rate (%)
Basic necessities 0
Standard rate 6
Insurance, hotel accommodations 7
Prepared food, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, etc. 9

Custom duties

Goods brought into free circulation in Curaçao, by sea or by air, are considered as imports. Import duties, sales tax and excise duties may apply. Duties are imposed on the total sum of the value of goods, the freight cost and the insurance cost. The rates vary and are conform the harmonized system (HS). Rates for a sample list of goods are below.


Find out more...

Relevant documents Import duties
Relevant institutions Douane Curaçao

Inheritance tax

When someone in your family dies, you may be subject to inheritance tax or transitional tax. You pay inheritance tax on the value of everything that you have inherited from the deceased, if the deceased was a resident at the time of his death. If the deceased lived abroad at the time of death, you will pay transitional tax if you inherit one or more real estate property located here from the deceased.

Inheritance tax is levied on the value of the deceased person's estate or part thereof, which means the balance of the assets and liabilities of the deceased. (If the deceased was married in complete community of property, the estate consists of half of the joint assets and debts.)

The Fiscal Legislation has the following deductions for inheritance tax:

  • if obtained by a child or grandchild:  ANG 80,000
  • if obtained by the remaining spouse: ANG 240,00
  • in all other cases: ANG 8,000

Inheritance tax rates

The sum of the inheritance (ANG) 0 - 50,000 50,001 - 250,000 250,001 -
% % %
Blood relatives and relatives in a straight descending line or the remaining spouse or life partner 2 4 6
Blood relatives and relatives in a straight ascending line 3 6 9
Brothers (-in-law) and sisters (-in-law) 4 8 12
Brother’s- or sister’s child or grandchildren 6 12 18
In all other cases 8 16 24

Taxation agreements

Curaçao has signed tax information exchange agreements with the following countries:
Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Greenland, Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

 
Key features include a reduction in the Dutch withholding tax (normally 8.3 percent) to 5 percent or in some cases 0 percent, in case a company that is a resident in Curaçao holds at least 25 percent of the shares or profit sharing certificates in a company in the Netherlands.

What investors think

No concerns were raised concerning taxes.

Legal framework

The judicial system, based on Dutch civil law, forms an integral part of the legal system of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Judges appointed by the Dutch monarch serve the District Court and the Joint Court of Appeals, which serves all six Dutch Caribbean islands and hears civil cases as well as criminal cases. Although the legal system of Curaçao is based on civil law, it also provides possibilities for common law structures like the Curaçao Trust.

The Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the leading legal document within the Kingdom, forms the basis for the possibility to appeal to the Supreme Court in the Netherlands. The Charter is seen an assurance for good governance and the preservation of human rights. 

A number of international law firms are established in Curaçao.

Investment protection

Article 16 of the Constitution of Curaçao provides for the protection of property and adequate compensation should that property be expropriated in the public interest.

Dispute settlement

In the case of a legal dispute parties can turn to the public court system or opt for arbitration. It is also possible to include an arbitration clause in the any contract in order to avoid the public court system and go strait to arbitration, which has its advantages like the confidential nature of the proceedings and price point. 

If one of the parties doesn’t adhere to the arbitral decision, the wronged party may turn to the public court system to enforce the arbitral decision, but it will only whether procedural rules have been observed and whether the enforcement of the arbitral decision is not against public order or god morals

The legal basis for arbitration can be found in Section 1020 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Every arbitration that takes place in one of the jurisdictions of the Dutch Caribbean is subject to the English version of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, as adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

The enforcement of a foreign arbitral award are subjected to the provisions of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of New York, 1958.

International investment agreements

Curaçao forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As such, the investment protection treaties concluded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in general, apply to Curaçao. This means that if Curaçao is used as the home base to invest in other countries, these treaties may help to mitigate certain risks that are involved with such investments. Based on these investment treaties the business is entitled to equal protection as an investor who is a resident of the treaty partner.

A full list of investment treaties can be found here:
https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/international-investment-agreements/countries/148/netherlands

Repatriation of funds

There are no restrictions on repatriation of profits and invested capital notwithstanding any tax obligations.

Intellectual property

Curaçao has a number of laws in place to protect intellectual property, which are detailed below.

Registration of intellectual property is carried out at the Bureau of Intellectual Property.

It should be noted that all registrations made before 2010 with the Netherlands Antilles continue to apply for Curaçao.

In case of infringement, is if for the owner of the intellectual property to seek and injunction, and if necessary, compensation, through the courts.


International agreements

Curaçao is member of the following treaties and agreements among others. In many cases, these were transferred over in 2010 from the former Netherlands Antilles.

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
Patent Cooperation Treaty (1970)

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Relevant documents WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (1989)

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Relevant documents WIPO Madrid Protocol

Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks (2006)

Link to WIPO website

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Relevant documents WIPO Singapore Treaty
Patent Law Treaty (2000)


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Relevant documents WIPO Patent Law Treaty

Established under the World Trade Organization, the TRIPS Agreement plays a critical role in facilitating trade in knowledge and creativity, in resolving trade disputes over intellectual property, and in assuring WTO members the latitude to achieve their domestic objectives. The Agreement is legal recognition of the significance of links between intellectual property and trade.

Competition law

The Curaçao Competition Act came into effect in September 2017. It addresses the three main topics of completion law: cartels, abuse of dominance and mergers. It is  in line with Dutch and European competition rules.

The Fair Trade Authority Curaçao (FTAC) has been charged with monitoring and ensuring compliance with the The Curaçao Competition Act. It has various investigative powers in order to accomplish its goal.

What investors think

The legal environment for investment is reported as stable, predictable and investment-friendly.

Economy and production

Curacao's GDP per capita is estimated at USD 19,386. The island has an open and market driven economy where foreign investors are allowed to own property, with no restrictions with regards to repatriation of profits or invested capital. It has a well-developed infrastructure and is active in several key sectors.

The island has a modern international airport, a well-developed harbour including a natural deep sea port, container terminal and dry dock with multiple connections from and to the Caribbean region as well as from as to South, Central and North America and the European Union.

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Relevant institutions CINEX (Curaçao Investment and Export Promotion Agency)

Access to markets

Curaçao is located about 35 miles off the north-western coast of Venezuela and because of its geographical location, it’s well positioned for doing business with its South American counterparts, or with the United States. 

The island has always played an important role in international trade due to its strategic location, and its deep and wide naturally sheltered main harbour, which is an important regional trans-shipment hub for container shipping. Curaçao is well equipped to offer businesses with operations in South America and the Caribbean, a base as a regional warehousing or distribution centre.

Curaçao has access to the following markets.

Council Decision 2013/755/EU on the Association of the OCTs with the European Union sets out the conditions under which products manufactured in an OCT gain preferential treatment in accessing the EU.

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

Sectors of opportunity

This section presents a number of sections of opportunity being prioritized by the Government.

Financial services

Curaçao has been a financial centre since 1954. Due to its long time activity in this area, the island has developed an infrastructure well suited for international finance, investment banking, shipping registration, mutual funds and related.

Key factors for Curaçao as a financial centre are:

  • As part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the legal system is linked to the Dutch Supreme Court in The Hague;
  • Supervision by the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten provides security and stability;
  • Investment protection treaty eligibility as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands;
  • Tax system linked to well-known regulations and incentives of the Netherlands and other EU member countries.
International banking

Investment and other financial companies conduct a wide range of international banking transactions for individual, institutional and corporate clients throughout the world. In addition, international banks operating in Curaçao offer a broad range of commercial banking services. 

The banks present in the international financial sector already represent a broad span countries, among them the Netherlands, Venezuela, France, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United States. 

Recently the sector has shifted in line with changes to the global fiscal and financial environment, towards asset management and compliance activities.

Dutch Caribbean Securities exchange (DCSX)

The international securities exchange that lists bonds, equity and funds is licensed by the Minister of Finance. This stock exchange operates under supervision of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten. The DCSX is known for its efficient listing procedure, civil legal framework and supervision.

Tourism

The tourism sector is identified as the sector with significant growth potential. The sector offers a range of assets that distinguishes itself in the region. These include:

  • a rich historical heritage;
  • a cultural melting pot influenced by the African, Dutch, South American and Caribbean cultures;
  • a strong food culture;
  • a vibrant nightlife;
  • more than 60 impressive world-class diving sites;
  • lower hurricane risk being in the Western Caribbean and 
  • beautiful beaches. 

Water activities vary from swimming with the dolphins to discovering the sea at a depth of 320 meters with a submarine. Outdoor adventures include: surfing, kite surfing, hiking, biking and ATV tours. UNESCO has recognized the historic city centre of Willemstad as a World Heritage Site. Furthermore, Curaçao offers a luxurious championship golf course, casinos and high end retails stores and has the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Regatta and the Carnival as well known annual events attracting visitors from around the world. 

Curacao tourism experienced a growth of 7.8 percent in 2019, thanks in large part to stayover tourism. The main markets were the Netherlands, the United States, Colombia, Canada, Germany and Brazil, with these markets accounting for 77 percent of total visits, according to Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB).

Online rentals market

This market is also growing and becoming an important component of Curacao’s tourism industry, with guest staying an average eight days, which rates well above average for the region. This has also underwritten the renovation of historic houses in the city centre.

Cruise tourism

Curaçao has two port facilities for cruise liners of all sizes: the Mega Cruise terminals right outside the harbour and the Cruise Terminal within the harbour. These seaports are natural shelter ports. Over the past years there has been an increase in the number of port calls and visitors. Curaçao Ports Authority (CPA) indicated that the number of cruise ships calling at the port of Curaçao has increased by 2 percent in 2019. Some of the Cruise operators coming to Curaçao are: Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line, Pullman Tours and Celebrity Cruises.

Yachting

Curaçao is an ideal destination for yacht and boat owners because it is outside the hurricane zone. Facilities include bunkering services, repair, dry storage, sea rescue services, and hauling out. Marinas can accommodate vessels of varying lengths and offer 24/7 security and private beach access. Fees for services are competitive and attractive compared to the region.

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Relevant institutions Curaçao Tourist Board

Oil refining and renewable energy

Oil refinery


The Isla Refinery was opened by the Shell during World War I. Since 1985, the Venezuela state oil company PDVSA is in charge of operations. However this lease contract expires in 2019. Efforts are currently being made by the Government to find an operator in order to continue operations. Scenarios such as upgrading, building a new refinery and closing (and redeveloping the land) are being evaluated by the Government. 

The refinery contributes to the direct employment of approximately 1500 persons including contractors 

Renewable energy

Curaçao generates about 34 percent of its current electricity supply through wind and solar energy and distinguishes itself from the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with regard to the use of renewable energy sources. 

Increases in energy prices have led to an increase in interest and investment opportunities in renewable energy sources such as seawater air conditioning, wind energy and solar power. Ninety-five percent of the wind in Curaçao comes from the same direction with almost constant speeds (average wind speeds at 30 m is 8-9 m/s) creating good conditions/opportunities for wind farms. Curaçao has two wind farms located at Playa Kanoa and Tera Kora. The Government is committed to clean energy and has positioned itself as the Caribbean leader in wind energy. 

Small businesses and inhabitants with a solar power system have the ability to offset the electricity costs by selling excess power back to the local utility company.

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Relevant institutions Aqualectra

Digital services

Curaçao‎ is taking steps towards becoming a "smart nation" and aims to position itself as a frontrunner in the Caribbean region. In 2018 the  “Smart Nation Platform Curaçao” platform was launched. The main objective of this platform is to produce a vision document to develop Willemstad as a smart city and Curacao as a smart nation. 

Curacao has a full-fledged Tier-IV certified data centre, Blue NAP Americas, which is the most advanced multi-tenant Tier-IV certified data centre in the Caribbean region.

Furthermore, Curacao’s technology companies have been developing high level and competitive services and products such as CRM, ERP, Mobile Apps and IBeacon applications. The island has attracted companies such as AMSIX, Akamai and Google and software giants such as IBM, BearingPoint and Exact, for regional headquarter functions.

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Relevant institutions Blue NAP Americas

Logistics: airport and maritime

Airport

Curaçao has a modern and international airport which can handle all sizes of aircraft, including Boeing 747s. The airport handles on average 22,000 flights, more than 1.6 million passengers and 13,000 tons of cargo annually. There are daily flights to and from Europe, the United States, South and Central America, and other Caribbean islands. Various airlines maintain extensive air transportation facilities, both for passengers and air freight. Future plans are to further transform the island into a safe gateway to and from Latin America and other parts of the world by developing a green sustainable, 100 percent self-sufficient Airport City using green energy innovations such as saltwater air conditioning, waste to energy and ocean thermal energy conversion to generate electricity. Airport City aims to attract business to further stimulate economic growth. 

Maritime

As a result of the extensive port facilities and Curaçao’s geographic location, the island’s port is considered to be a major centre for oil transshipment, ship repair and bunkering. A number of important services for shipments into Curaçao and transshipment worldwide are concentrated here, namely for refinery, dry-dock, free economic zone, container port and bulk cargo facilities and for cruise terminals.

Ship repair

Curaçao has one of the largest commercial dry docks in the Caribbean, the Curaçao Dry Dock, with over 50 years of experience. Services being offered are ship repair, engineering, conversion, port repair and on-voyage services. In 2017 Damen Shiprepair & Conversion took over the management of the Curaçao Drydock Company (Damen Shiprepair Curaçao). The yard already had two graven docks and almost 2 kilometres of quaysides outfitted with 13 cranes that can handle vessels up to 150,000 DWT, but its capacity has further been increased with floating docks. Damen Shiprepair Curaçao is strategically located in the Caribbean, en route to the Panama Canal, and outside the hurricane zone.

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Relevant institutions Damen

Trade and distribution

Curaçao’s benefits from a location astride important trade routes and a proximity to attractive markets. This makes it an attractive host for United States or European companies with trade and distribution operations in Latin America and the Caribbean Basin. It provides a regional warehousing and distribution centre, or can provide for intermediary arrangements in which Curaçao trading companies manage products for investors in the region. 

Companies can either operate in the free economic zones to service export markets or in the World Trade Centre to promote their goods and services to the United States, Europe and other parts of the world.

The Curaçao free economic zones


Curaçao has two free economic zones, one at the harbour and one next to the airport, that offer opportunities for sales, warehousing, distribution, assembly, manufacturing as well as technical services. Land in the free economic zone can be leased on a long term basis, and showrooms and storage area for warehouses can be obtained at competitive prices. Further details on fiscal incentives and permitted activities are contained in the dedicated heading on special economic zones in the Land tab.

The World Trade Centre

The 150,000 square foot complex offers businesses and institutions the possibility for further penetration into the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Located a short ride from the airport, downtown Willemstad and the free economic zone, the WTC includes a spacious exhibition hall, a modern auditorium, separate meeting rooms, a trade mart where approximately 80 companies can have their permanent showrooms, a representative office building where international companies can rent space for their executive offices, temporary business units, a trade information centre and a spacious reception room. The room is equipped with all facilities appropriate to the status of a world trade centre.

Manufacturing

Examples of foreign industrial operations located in Curaçao include pharmaceutical products, plastics, and electronic devices.

To further encourage manufacturing, the government has established the Brievengat Industrial Park, which is open to locally-established NV and BV companies. Incentives, subject to certain conditions, include exemption from import duties and a 2 percent rate of corporate income tax. 

It features multi-purpose buildings with a floor area varying from 3,000 to 4,000 square metres and connected to water, electricity, telephone lines.

Industrial plots can be obtained on long leases, and multipurpose industrial buildings are available for rent at competitive rates. 

There is no obligation to export. However, Curaçao does have duty-free trade access to the United States (under the Caribbean Basin Initiative) and the European Union (under the EU-OCT agreement) for manufactured products that have undergone "substantial transformation", subject to meeting minimum rules of origin requirements.

Curaçao is one of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) and as such has preferential access to the European Union. Products manufactured in Curaçao obtain preferential duties when imported into the EU. Goods to be transported to the EU, however, should have the ‘Curaçao origin’ certification.

Cultural and creative industries

The government has been making efforts to promote the orange economy. It has developed the sector through museums, art institutions, private galleries and international conferences. 

Prominent examples include the annual carnival, The Curaçao North Sea Jazz festival, the annual International Film Festival and sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. 

Opportunities exist in music, online publishing, visual arts, fashion, performing arts and crafts.

Transnational education

Curaçao has positioned itself as a location for investment in the education section, particularly at the university level.

Private higher education institutions that have been established in Curaçao include:

  • The University of Curaçao (UoC): UoC offers a wide variety of bachelor studies such as economics, law, engineering and the Executive Master in Financial Management in conjunction with the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
  • The University of the Dutch Caribbean (UDC): UDC offers several bachelor studies such as fiscal economy, accountancy, sport management accredited by the Dutch organization NVAO and a MBA program in collaboration with the Webster University.
  • The Saint Martinus University (USM): USM offers two 20 week semesters per year for medical students. The courses are consistent with LCME-accredited US and Canadian Medical Schools.
  • The College of the Dutch Caribbean (CDC): CDC offers a wide variety of full time and part time courses in close collaboration with the Dutch ROC and Schoevers and the Examen Instituut voor Informatica (EXIN).
  • Carmabi (Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity): Carmabi offers tropical marine science studies.
Curaçao also hosts the International School of Curaçao (ISC), a non-profit, US-based curriculum school serving the needs of students ages 2 to19 with English as language of instruction. ISC currently holds three recognized accreditations with AdvancEd/SACS, the Council of International Schools (CIS), and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.


What investors think

The country has been through a difficult economic period given instability regarding the ownership of the refinery and changes to the global fiscal and financial environment. With this in mind investors noted positively the efforts made by the government to adapt the investment environment, reorient certain sectors and develop new ones. Noteworthy has been the government's focus on improving transport and communications infrastructure.

Why invest in the Curaçao?

Curaçao is a paradisiacal island located in the Southern Caribbean. The island has beautiful beaches, colonial architecture and diversified commerce. It also boasts kind and warm people and many tourist attractions. But along with all of these wonderful qualities, Curaçao also presents many great investment opportunities.

Our modern and compliant financial services, stable economy operating under Dutch law, multilingual workforce and good relationships with the US, Latin America and the Caribbean are among the island’s financial assets, but there are more factors that make us the ultimate Caribbean destination for lucrative investments.

  • Prime location and market access
  • Small island, big business
  • The perfect testing ground for Tech Startups
  • Modern seaports
  • Quality education
  • Stable government
  • Multi-faceted economy

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Country data

Official name Curaçao
Country area 444 km2
Capital city Willemstad
Population 160,012
Administrative regions 0
Local currency Netherlands Antillean guilder
Exchange rate 1 US dollar = ANG 1.78
Official language(s) Papiamentu Dutch
Other national language(s) English
GDP per capita $20,020

Country map

last update on: 15/1/2020