The following measures are to be adhered to in respect of all non-British Virgin Islanders entering the Territory:
Visitors may be granted entry for up to one month at the ports of entry, provided that they possess return (or ongoing) tickets, evidence of adequate means of support and pre-arranged accommodations during their stay. Visitors wishing to stay longer will need to apply for an extension from the Immigration Department in Road Town, Tortola or at the Government Administration Building in Virgin Gorda.
A valid passport is required for entry into the B.V.I. Visitors from some countries may also require a visa for entry. If in doubt about the necessity of a visa, contact the nearest BVI Tourist Board Office, the nearest British Embassy, or the Immigration Dept., BVI Government at Tel: (284) 494-3471 or 468-3701 ext. 2538.
A cruising permit is required.
Dec. 1-April 30:
Recorded charter boats: $2.00/pers/day;
Non-recorded boats: $4.00/ pers/day.
May 1-Nov. 30:
Recorded charter boats: $0.75/pers/day;
Non-recorded boats: $4.00/pers/day.
Dive, day charter and sportfishing boats should contact the B.V.I. Customs Department for current Cruising Permit requirements.
The removal of any marine organism from B.V.I. waters is illegal for non-British Virgin Islanders without a recreational fishing permit. Call the Fisheries Division at 494-3429 for information.
NATIONAL PARKS ENTRY FEES
There are entry fees to some B.V.I. National Parks including The Baths, Virgin Gorda; Sage Mountain National Park, Tortola; and the J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens, Tortola. Single admission to land parks: B.V.I. Residents $1; Visitor (child) $2; Visitor (adult) $3. Marine Parks: B.V.I. Boats, $3 p/p/day; Foreign boats, $6 p/p/day. For rates for multiple uses, groups and commercial usage, contact the BVI National Parks Trust at (284) 494-3904.
Boats are required to use National Parks Trust mooring buoys at designated reef areas and must purchase a Marine Conservation Permit for their use. Buoys are colour coded: Yellow, commercial dive boats; White, boat with divers; Orange, snorkel and day use; Blue, dinghy docks. Call the National Parks Trust at 494-3904 for more information. Private buoys on a fee per night basis are provided by Moor Seacure Ltd. at locations throughout the B.V.I.
DEPARTURE AND OTHER TAXES
BY AIR: Departure Tax $15.00 per person; Security Tax $5.00 p/p. BY SEA: Departure Tax $5.00; $7.00 for cruise ship passengers.
HOTEL ACCOMMODATION TAX:
A 7% Hotel Accommodation Tax is payable by guests who stay for six months or less in hotels and holiday rental accommodations.
There is no Sales Tax.
All imports are subject to varying rates of duty from 5% to 20%. Imports entering the B.V.I. on a temporary basis, will not be subject to duty. Liquor prices in the B.V.I. are so low that - even with duty added - savings can be made by purchasing here. There is no customs duty on the importation of computers.
Investment & Finance (back to top)
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS
The currency of the B.V.I. is the U.S. dollar. Major credit cards are accepted in many - but not all - establishments. There is a 10 cent stamp duty on all cheques and travellers cheques. An American Express office is located at Romney Associates in Road Town.
Telephone and Internet: LIME provides national and international telecommunications services, international direct dialing, fax and data services, private leased circuits, Internet and cell phone service. CCT Global Communications offers cell phone services, wireless Internet and other telecommunications services. Digicel offers local and international cell phone service. Marine Services: Marine communications are offered by Tortola Marine Radio (call on VHF channel 16, talk on 27 or 84).
The following full-service banks have offices on Wickhams Cay I, Road Town: Banco Popular and Scotia Bank; First Bank VI and First Caribbean have Road Town and Virgin Gorda offices. National Bank of The Virgin Islands (Road Town) has limited retail services. Private banks include VP Bank.
The B.V.I. is one of the region's foremost international financial centres. Approximately 500,000 international business companies are on the Register. Principal activities include: corporate domicile, trust and estate planning, mutual funds administration and management and captive insurance companies. Because tax laws vary from country to country, before starting an IBC, it is advisable for a prospective investor to consult with a tax lawyer in his country of origin to determine the suitability of forming a company in the BVI For further information, contact: BVI Marketing & Financial Unit. Tel: (284) 468-3701, Fax: (284) 494-5016.
The BVI International Finance Centre (BVI IFC) is a dedicated unit within the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development dedicated to enhancing and promoting the B.V.I. as a premier international finance centre and providing assistance and advice to those seeking to utilize the territory's financial services facilities. For more information on the BVI IFC telephone (284) 494-1509. Fax: (284) 494-1260.
A variety of residential properties are available for sale in the BVI including homes, condominiums and apartments; for those desiring to build a custom designed house, home sites and raw land can also be purchased. In addition, some commercial properties are available. Non-Belongers must first obtain a Non-Belonger Landholding License (see below) before purchasing or leasing property.
Non-Belonger Landholding License. The procedure for purchasing property for outsiders includes putting down an "Earnest deposit" (normally 10%) with a letter of intent; the signing of a Purchase and Sale Agreement, and applying for a Non-Belongers Land Holding License (Belongers are persons who by virtue of birth, citizenship, marriage, or special designation belong in the BVI). Belongers and naturalized citizens do not need a permit.
Non-Belonger applicants must provide financial and personal references as well as a police certificate, among other documents. Once the license is approved and signed by the governor, closing occurs and payment of the balance of the purchase price is due. On transfer of title, a property Stamp Duty at the rate of 12% of the appraised value or purchase price (whichever is higher) is payable by the purchaser. Generally the process takes about a year from application to closing. If you are purchasing raw land, you will be required to develop it within a specified period. Your lawyer or real estate agent can provide additional information on property purchase requirements.
Application fees are $200/person, $500/ company; license fees are $600/person, $1,000/company. Complete fees can be provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources: Telephone (284) 468-3701 extension 2147.
SHIPPING & POSTAL SERVICES
The Government of the B.V.I. operates a domestic and international postal service. In addition there are several overnight courier firms operating between the territory and most other nations. A number of air and sea freight services offer regular shipping services between the B.V.I and the U.S., Britain and Europe.
Electricity: The B.V.I. Electricity Corporation provides 110 volt and 208 volt supply to Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Camanoe.
Water and Sewerage: Water supply is available in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and parts of Anegada. Other areas use cisterns. A sewerage system exists in Road Town and environs, Cane Garden Bay and some parts of East End. In other areas private treatment plants or septic tanks are used. For more info. contact the Water and Sewerage Dept. at (284) 494-3416/3417.
Payroll & other Taxes: There is no company or personal income tax, although companies and employees are subject to a Payroll Tax. Property, building and homeowners are subject to Property Tax. There is no inheritance tax, death duty, capital gains, capital transfer or estate tax. For additional taxation information please call the Department of Inland Revenue, Government of the BVI at (284) 468-3701, ext 2155.
IBC Ordinance: Corporations registered under the IBC Ordinance are exempted from B.V.I. income tax. There is no inheritance tax, death duty, capital gains, capital transfer or estate tax.
Land Tax: Expatriates pay $150 per year on the first acre of land or part thereof; $50 on all remaining acres or part thereof and $50 on parcels of land totalling one half (1/2) of an acre or less. British Virgin Islanders pay $10 per year on the first acre or part thereof and $3 per acre on all remaining acres or part thereof.
House Tax: House tax is levied on buildings at the rate of 1 and 1/2% of assessed rental value.
Pioneer Services and Enterprise Ordinance: Persons who invest in enterprises for which there is a special need in the Territory may obtain a ten year tax holiday as well as import duty exemption on capital equipment necessary for the business.
Hotel Aid Ordinance: Under this ordinance building materials and equipment for the construction or expansion of a hotel are permitted duty free entry in the B.V.I. for a period of 10 years.
International Business Companies Ordinance: Under this ordinance, offshore companies are exempted from: B.V.I. income tax; filing shareholders or directors information; filing audited financial statement with the Registrar of Companies. They can also have a sole shareholder or issue bearer shares.
Registration of Profits: Earnings and capital may be repatriated freely in U.S. Dollars and other convertible currencies.
More Helpful Information (back to top)
BUSINESS INFO & TRADE LICENSES
The B.V.I. Government encourages outside investment in a variety of sectors. To do business in the B.V.I., one must first obtain and complete a trade licence application form from the Trade and Investment Promotion Department. The form should be submitted to the same department together with a financial statement, police record, two business references of the person or company submitting the application and a comprehensive summary of the investment proposal. For further information regarding Trade Licence regulations and fees, as well as additional investment opportunities, contact: Trade and Investment Promotion Department, Premeirer's Office, Road Town, Tortola, (284) 494-5007 Fax: (284) 494-5657.
The BVI Chamber of Commerce & Hotel Assoc.
Box 376, Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I.
Tel: (284) 494-3514.
The BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association is a private non-profit organization. The Association offers assistance to interested persons desiring information on matters relating to trade and industry and on investment opportunities.
In order to work in the BVI, everyone except Belongers, naturalized citizens and holders of a certificate of residency are required to have a work permit. These are issued to non-islanders only in cases where the position cannot be filled by British Virgin Islanders; the training of local people to fill key positions is encouraged. For information on Work Permits contact the BVI Dept of Labour, (284) 494-3451.
For Police, Fire or Ambulance: Dial 999 or 911.Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR) is a voluntary organization providing a 24-hour marine search and rescue service in B.V.I. waters. In an emergency call on VHF marine radio Channel 16 or dial 767 from any telephone. From outside the B.V.I call (284) 499-0911. Office: (284) 494-4357.
MARRIAGE LICENSE & REGULATIONS
Arranging to get married in the B.V.I. is fairly easy, with minimal residency requirements. With prior arrangements, the Registrar will often marry couples in the venue of their choice, including a beach or boat.
For information regarding requirements on getting married in the Territory, contact: Registrar's Office, Box 418, Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I.; or phone (284) 468-3701, Ext 5001 or (284) 494-3492.
NEWS MEDIA, RADIO AND TV
There are three weekly newspapers: The BVI StandPoint, The BVI Beacon and The Island Sun. The Limin' Times is a weekly entertainment and TV guide. There is one AM (ZBVI at 780 AM) and six FM (ZCCR - 94.1, ZKING-100.9, ZVCR-106.9, ISLE 95- 90.9, ZROCK-97.3, ZR3-94.3 and ZBEACH-91.7) radio stations. There are three local television stations, CBN, JTV and Channel 1.
The Churches are: Anglican (Episcopal), Methodist, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Church of God, Jehovah's Witness, Pentecostal, Church of Christ and Baha'i. For further information, see Churches in the yellow pages of the B.V.I. Telephone Directory.
There are no dangerous animals or snakes in the BVI. A few plants including oleander and elephant ears are poisonous. But especially beware of the caustic fruit, sap and leaves of the Manchioneel (or Poison Apple tree) which are severely irritant, dangerous to eyes and poisonous if ingested. It is found near beaches in the form of a shrub or tree.
Pets are allowed entry into the Territory only after an import permit is issued by the Department of Agriculture. For regulations governing animal importation, contact (well in advance): Dept. of Agriculture, Paraquita Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Tel: (284) 495-2532 or Fax: 495-1269.
An International Vaccination Certificate is not mandatory. Peebles Hospital has surgical, x-ray and lab facilities. Private x-ray and lab facilities are offered by B&F Medical Complex, Eureka Medical Clinic and Medical Diagnostic Lab. The Bougainvillea Clinic is a small private surgical clinic. For more information on health services, call the Dept. of Health at (284) 468-3701.
Meetings for the following clubs are as follows: The Rotary Club of Tortola, Thurs. 12 pm, The Moorings; Rotary Club of Road Town, Tues. 12:30 pm, The Moorings; Lions Clubs of Tortola, Lions Den, Johnson's Ghut; Lions Clubs of Virgin Gorda, Community Centre; Toastmasters, 1st and 3rd Tues., Fort Burt; and Tortola Ladies Club (TLC), 3rd Weds. 12 pm, Spaghetti Junction.
We are more than just a beach and beach attire worn elsewhere tends to offend residents. There-fore, please wear proper attire (no bare chests or midriffs) in residential and commercial areas.
TOBACCO & DRUG REGULATIONS
Tobacco: Smoking is prohibited in all public indoor and outdoor spaces (and within 50' of these spaces). This also applies to most beaches. For more information contact the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Tel: (284) 468-3701 ext 2174 Illegal Drugs: The possession, sale, use or distribution of illegal drugs constitutes a criminal offence punishable by law and conviction on drug charges can lead to stiff fines and jail sentences.
COMMUNITY AGENCY ON DRUGS & ADDICTION (CADA)
For referrals and meeting schedules for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Al-Anon Family Group, and drug education programmes, call (284) 494-2324.