PERMIT TO RESIDE IN THE BAHAMAS

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It is no secret that the islands of The Bahamas remains one of the most popular destinations in the world, citing its advantageous proximity to the North and South American Continents while enduring summer like weather for most of the year. Its 700 cays and waterways are the playgrounds of the rich and famous, while its sunsets and isolated beaches are the background images of major advertisers selling its newest product. For many years tourism has served as the country’s number one industry, which has resulted in the development of a substantial market in seasonal vacation homes and long term stopovers by travelers who enjoy the splendor of island life. Indeed the Bahamas Government offers a standard tourist visa where recipients are permitted to visit The Bahamas for up to eight months as long as they can demonstrate their means of financial support for that period, even exempting citizens of other countries from visa requirements (i.e. citizens of the USA, Canada, UK, and some British Commonwealth states).

In recognition of its importance to promote its tourism product, The Bahamas Government remains poised to keep formalities to a minimum in facilitating travel and residing in the archipelago for leisure purposes through its Permit to Reside initiative, which allows permit holders to travel to the islands as often as they wish and to reside within the archipelago consecutively on a yearly basis. This permit to reside is normally issued for one to three years in duration, but may be issued for up to five years under exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Immigration Department. Presently the Department of Immigration approves an average of some 12,678 permits to reside in the Bahamas since the 2012 year.

Persons wishing to reside in The Bahamas on an annual basis may qualify under one of four categories:

1.A Spouse or Dependant of Bahamian Citizens or Permit Holders

For non-residents who are married to Bahamian nationals are qualified to apply for a Spousal Permit, provided that the marriage has existed for less than five (5) years. Spousal Permits are valid for up to 5 years, upon which permit holders are eligible to apply for Permanent Residency or Citizenship. Unlike other holders of other categories of residential permits, holders of Spousal Permits are authorized to reside and work while in the Bahamas along with their spouses until the end the permit. Under this category, proof of marriage of less than five (5) years is required.

Spouses or dependants of non – residents that are holders of permits and are lawfully able to reside in the Bahamas (i.e. Permanent Residents, work permit holders, etc.) may apply for a Permit to Reside in The Bahamas in order to facilitate their accommodations with their their loved ones while in the islands. For spouses or dependants of permit holders, there is no need to demonstrate being married for less than 5 years.

Application Requirements

The following documents are required for this application:

  • A Cover Letter from the supporting Applicant;
  • Immigration Form 1, Section B completed and notarized with a $10.00 Bahamian stamp affixed;
  • Two (2) Passport sized photographs with signatures on reverse of prints;
  • Police Certificate covering five years’ residence dated no older than 6 months before submission of application;
  • Original Fingerprint Card;
  • Medical Certificate dated no earlier than 30 days before this application;
  • Applicant’s Certificate of Birth;
  • Birth, Marriage and/or any certificate evidencing dependence of the subject of the Application
  • Copy of sponsor’s permit, Permit to Residence, Certificate of Permanent Residence, or other lawful authority to reside in The Bahamas;
  • B$100.00 Processing Fee

*All documents that are not in English are required to be accompanied by a certified translation by an accredited translator in the Bahamas. Certified copies of documents must be accompanied by an apostille or other legalization document.

2.Resident Homeowners or Seasonal Resident Homeowners

Non-resident Investors who have purchased vacation/ second home properties in The Bahamas are eligible to apply to the Director of Immigration for an Annual Homeowner’s Card, which is renewable annually. The Homeowner’s Card entitles the owner, spouse and any minor dependants endorsed on the owner’s card when travelling with the owner to enter and remain in the islands for a stay of up to one (1) year for the validity of the card. This initiative facilitates the ease of entry into The Bahamas with minimal formalities by eliminating the need for return travelling tickets and proof of maintaining ability while in the jurisdiction. Under this category, proof of ownership of a residential property in The Bahamas and authorization under the International Persons Landholders Act is required as part of the application.

Application Requirements

The following documents are required for this application:

  • Letter of Request
  • Two (2) Passport sized photographs with signatures on reverse of prints;
  • Completed Application form;
  • Proof of Property Ownership
  • Proof of existence of a physical residence on the property;
  • Proof of payment of stamp duty and real property tax.

*All documents that are not in English are required to be accompanied by a certified translation by an accredited translator in the Bahamas. Certified copies of documents must be accompanied by an apostille or other legalization document.

3.Independent Economic Residents

Non – residents who are interested in residing in The Bahamas for any other purposes other than employment are also eligible to apply for a Permit to Reside as an Independent Economic Resident who are able to demonstrate that they are able to support themselves financially while residing in the Bahamas. Contrary to second home owners, there is no need to purchase residential property under this application, although it is generally understood that this will facilitate the application. Under this category s part of the application process, a financial reference is required from a reputable bank verifying economic worth, and two written character references are required.

Typical Applicants

In facilitating Independent Economic Residents, we find applicants to come in a variety of forms, such as frequent travelers who explore the archipelago’s channels while ‘island hopping’ via boat or plane. Business persons who prefer the comfort of island life while taking advantage of direct flights to nearby cities in the US, Canada, or other South American countries, many of which average about 1.5 hour flight from a number of islands, are also found applying as Independent Economic Residents. Applicants also comprise of students who have enrolled in the country’s expanding number of training institutions and collegiate institutions throughout the Bahamas. Applicants seeking to take advantage of the country’s reputable medical industry while enjoying the seasonal environment as a therapeutic means to recovery, are likely to find themselves to be applicants for Permit to Reside status.

Application Process

Candidates for Permit to Reside applications are required to submit the following documents

  • Immigration Form completed and notarized with a $10.00 Bahamian stamp affixed;
  • Two (2) Passport sized photographs with signatures on reverse of prints;
  • Police Certificate covering five years’ residence dated no older than 6 months before submission of application;
  • Original Fingerprint Card;
  • Medical Certificate dated no earlier than 30 days before this application;
  • Two (2) testimonials of good character;
  • Copy of lease/ deed;
  • Financial reference from a reputable bank verifying economic worth (i.e. citing a figure range);
  • Confirmation of whether the Applicant owns a home or property in the Bahamas, and if yes, the address;
  • A statement of net worth stating a figure range and how it is compromised (asset classes);
  • Source of income including whether derived from employment, pension, investments, trust funds, etc.;
  • Amount of time to be spent in The Bahamas;
  • Civic or charitable affiliations;
  • Reasons for seeking residence in the Bahamas
  • Ticket evidencing intended departure (if applicable);
  • Processing fee of B$100.00

*All documents that are not in English are required to be accompanied by a certified translation by an accredited translator in the Bahamas. Certified copies of documents must be accompanied by an apostille or other legalization document.

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The information and any commentary on the law contained on this web site is provided free of charge for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by any member of Chambers. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a licensed attorney about your case or matter and not to rely on the information or comments on this site. No responsibility is accepted for the content or accuracy of linked sites.
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