What are the primary advantages of The Bahamas as the international financial services “jurisdiction of choice”?

As a sovereign country, with strong regulatory oversight and sensitivity to the requirements of a global market, The Bahamas is committed to the financial services industry. Aspects of the Bahamas environment that have supported the development of this industry over the last 60 years include:

  • Independent judicial system, based on English Common Law;
  • Long history of constitutional democracy, dating back to 1729;
  • Large, diverse and highly-skilled professional community;
  • Easy access, located at the crossroads of the Americas, with many direct flights each day from America and Europe;
  • Absence of exchange control for non-residents;
  • Modern and accommodating legislative framework;
  • No personal or corporate income, capital gains, estate, gift or inheritance taxes;
  • Regulatory environment that is conducive to investment opportunity, while maintaining the highest international standards of operation and conduct
  • Public/private sector cooperation


What are the Key Elements of The Bahamas’ AML/CFT Regime?

The Bahamas Government has gone on record with its intention of attaining and maintaining “the very highest levels of conduct as a clean jurisdiction, complying with the highest standards to prevent the abuse of its financial system by money launderers and criminal elements”. It has committed to satisfying recommendations coming out of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in relation to simplifying and making more efficient The Bahamas’ cooperation with foreign jurisdictions in legal proceedings.

Some of the key elements from the rounds of The Bahamas’ regulatory reform are as follows:

  • In 2000: The Bahamas eliminated bearer shares;
  • Since 2001: There is the filing of a register of directors and officers;
  • The law mandates that financial institutions have Known Your Client/Client Due Diligence as well as Counter Financing of terrorism processes. Further, regulators have issued guidelines to industry outlining best practices for verifying customer identity and for developing anti-money laundering procedures and measures to prevent terrorist financing.
  • There is a regulatory framework for the reporting and investigation of suspicious transactions;
  • There are Independent inspections and regulatory examinations of financial service providers including corporate service providers for compliance with AML/CFT laws;
  • The 2000 legislative restructuring included the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act and the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act. The former regulates cooperation by Bahamian courts in civil matters while the latter regulates such cooperation in criminal matters. The 2000 legislative restructuring included the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act and the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act. The former regulates cooperation by Bahamian courts in civil matters while the latter regulates such cooperation in criminal matters.

Banking Services

How did the Central Bank of The Bahamas Act 2000 and the Banks and Trust Companies Regulation Act 2000 impact banking operations?

These two new Acts provide for:

  • improved supervision of banks and trust companies
  • on-site inspection of banks and trust companies
  • full cooperation on cross-border supervision of banks and trust companies
  • enhanced cooperation between the Central Bank and overseas regulatory authorities
  • extensive information gathering powers for the Central Bank
  • enhanced supervisory powers for the Inspector of Banks and Trust Companies
  • enhanced role of the Central Bank Governor
  • expansion of the licensing criteria for banks and trust companies

More detailed information should be obtained directly from the Central Bank; specifically, the Inspector of Banks and Trust Companies.

What are “Managed Banks”?

There have been no new licences granted for “managed banks” over the last 2 years, and it is the Government plan to phase out this category of bank licence in due course. Banks will be able to operate under “management agent” arrangements, but subject to strict conditions relative to management contracts and senior officer staffing, records being maintained in The Bahamas, and physical presence requirements.

Since 1965 (introduction of banking regulations), The Bahamas has had uninterrupted growth and development, underpinned by the commitment of long-term partners. Economic stability and a strong partnership between the government and the constituents of the financial services sector have contributed to this success. The presence of the many international corporate partners in The Bahamas has been credited by the Prime Minister as giving encouragement of a bright and prosperous future for The Bahamas, particularly as a thriving international financial center.

What is a global offshore bank?

One which, through its network, service delivery and product capabilities, supports its international clients in jurisdictions around the world to a common standard, and works with them as their needs change and as they move locations.

What is private banking?

The personalised management of assets for high net worth individuals — including investment counselling and financial analysis, stock trading in currencies and precious metals, management of trusts, mutual funds and pension fund assets.

What is the difference between a restricted vs non-restricted Banking Licence?

Banks with restricted licenses may carry on business solely with, or for persons specified in the license. Unrestricted licensees are free to do business with the public and some of them are clearing agents. The major banks of North America and Europe have a presence in The Bahamas, which is not a brass plate financial centre.

Numbered among the public institutions are those designated by the Exchange Control Department to deal in Bahamian and foreign currencies and gold; Trust Companies designated as authorised agents to deal in foreign securities, or authorised dealers in gold, foreign currency and Bahamian dollars, or Authorised Agents/Dealers operating in Bahamian and foreign currency and securities and in gold and foreign currencies. Also included in the public institutions are Eurocurrency branches of banks based in the U.S., U.K., South America, Asia and Europe. The remaining are subsidiaries of banks or other institutions based outside The Bahamas, and Bahamian-based banks and/or trust companies.

Corporate Services

How do I go about incorporating a company?

The government agency responsible for company incorporation is:

Registrar General’s Office
P. O. Box N532
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Tel: (242) 322-3316
Fax: (242) 322-5553
ATTN: Registrar General

Once you have reserved your company name and submitted your company documents, incorporation generally can be completed within 24 hours.

You can access BFSB member firms providing company incorporation services through our Member Directory, and can reach them directly by mail/tel/fax/email. Most members also provide a www site — which you might wish to peruse to get detailed information on services. Individual company sites also provide details on costs and, in some cases, offer online registration services. Member sites in general also provide good background information on doing business in The Bahamas.

Company incorporation services generally are handled by attorneys, but some private banks, accounting firms, and general corporate service providers do so as well.

What are the principal changes in the International Business Company coming about as a result of new legislation?

The IBC Act, 2000 repealed the International Business Companies Act 1989 and reenacted provisions for the incorporation, registration and operation of International Business Companies. By virtue of section 175 (4) IBCA, the fee schedule under the Old Act will continue to apply until the end of 2001. Thereafter, the fees mentioned in the Schedule to the IBCA will apply along with those fees under the Old Act which were not changed by the Schedule in the IBCA.

The IBCA 2000 – and 2001 Amendments – modified the Bahamian IBC as follows:

  • Bearer Shares are no longer permitted;
  • Directors and Officers must be a matter of public record;
  • Penalties for offences have been increased in scale and scope;
  • New IBCs do not have a guaranteed fiscal exemption;
  • With Exchange Control approval, an IBC may have Bahamian resident shareholders and carry on business in The Bahamas with Bahamian residents.

Existing IBCs are allowed 180 days to transition into compliance with the requirements of the IBCA.

The abolition of bearer shares and the requirement of public registration of directors and officers address FSF, FATF and OECD issues of transparency relative to identification, recording and making available relevant information related to legal and business entities. Additionally, only banks and trust companies licenced under the BTCRA and financial and corporate service providers licenced under the FCSPA may provide registration, management, administration, registered agent, registered office, nominee shareholders and officers and directors for IBCs. Both the BTCRA and the FCSPA require their respective licensees to obtain beneficial ownership information and to comply with the FTRA. As a consequence, full application of the know-your-customer regime required by the FTRA and FTRR applies in relation to IBCs.


What is the general state of the economy?

The Bahamas competes successfully in the two largest global industries – tourism and financial services. Among the independent states in the Western Hemisphere, this nation with a population of just over 340,000 maintains the third highest per capita income, following only the United States and Canada. The Gross Domestic Product is over $7 billion.

It maintains investment grade status with international rating agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.

In the 2013/14 BUDGET COMMUNICATION, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said The economy has clearly turned the corner and The Bahamas can anticipate steady, ongoing growth and employment creation in the period ahead.

The Government has presented an action plan, over both the near-term and the medium-term, to restore public finances to a more desirable and sustainable position, affirming its commitment to healthier public finances.

What is the general state of the Financial services Industry

There is a mutual commitment by the Government and the private sector to ensure the integrity of the financial services system and keep The Bahamas on the competitive edge.

Considered one of the world’s principal international financial centers, The Bahamas is home to many of the world’s largest and most prestigious financial institutions which have set up branch or subsidiary operations here.

TThe financial sector contributes over 20% to GDP, with annual expenditures in the local economy of the banking and trust sector alone (over 250 licencees) exceeding around $600 million, assets of $600 billion, and with sizeable assets under management. There are some 40 insurance companies (not including brokers and agents), with assets of the domestic insurance companies alone exceeding $1 billion.

With 1,600 ships on its books and gross registered tonnage exceeding 57 million, The Bahamas currently ranks as the world’s fifth largest shipping registry, in the world, and credited with being the number one choice for the world’s leading cruise operators.

What percentage of The Bahamas’ GDP is represented by the industry?

The overall contribution of the financial services sector to the economy continues to expand, even beyond the 20% direct representation of the GDP. Expenditures from the banking sector alone exceed $600 million annually, with assets under management estimated around $1 trillion.

The offshore industry has helped integrate The Bahamas into the global economy. The financial services sector can be very catalytic and help add additional export services.


How difficult is it for non citizens to work in The Bahamas?

The Government has certain safeguards in place to protect its citizens in the workplace, with the intention of ensuring that qualified Bahamians are not passed over or denied jobs in favour of non Bahamians. In order to obtain a Work Permit, non-Bahamians must first obtain a position and have the prospective employer apply to the Immigration Department.

The Government has made certain provisions for employment and residence for suitable non Bahamians to ensure the continued economic growth and development of The Bahamas. An example of this is the International Persons Landholding Act 1994, which permits home-owner resident cards for qualified non Bahamians and their spouses and minor children. Permanent Residence Certificates – with and without the right to work – are available as well, providing certain investment requirements are met.

Also, as part of its National Investment Policy, the Bahamas Government has indicated that necessary work permits for key personnel will be granted.

Industry Legislation

What are the key pieces of legislation considered instrumental in enhancing the competitiveness of the financial services industry?

Financial legislation and amendments continue to produced a boom for the offshore industry. These include:

Note: Click here for comprehensive list and to download copies.


  • The Banks Act, 1909
  • The Banks & Trust Companies Regulations Act, 1965
  • The Banks & Trust Companies Regulation (Amendment) Act, 1989
  • The Banks & Trust Companies Regulations Act, 2000
  • The Central Bank Act, 2000


  • The Companies Act, 1986
  • The Companies Act, 1992
  • The Companies (Amendment) Act, 1994
  • The Exempted Limited Partnership Act, 1994
  • The International Business Companies Act, 1989
  • The International Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 1992
  • The International Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 1994
  • The International Business Companies Act, 2000


  • The Bahamas Nationality Act, 1973


  • The Insurance Act, 1969
  • The Insurance (Amendment) Act, 1984
  • The External Insurance Act, 1983
  • The External Insurance (Amendment) Act, 1996


  • The Business License Act, 1980
  • The Business Names Act
  • The Dangerous Drugs Act
  • The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act, 1988
  • The Exchange Control Act, 1952
  • The Exchange Control Regulations Act, 1956
  • The Tracing and Forfeiture of Proceeds of Drug Trafficking Act, 1987

(Money Laundering)

  • Money Laundering (Proceeds of Crime) Act, 1996
  • Money Laundering (Proceeds of Crime) Regulations, 1996
  • Money Laundering (Proceeds of Crime) Amendment, 1999
  • Proceeds of Crime Act, 2000

(Securities Industry)

  • The Mutual Funds Act, 1995
  • The Mutual Funds Regulations Act, 1995
  • The Securities Industries Act, 1999
  • The Securities Industry Regulations, 2000
  • The Investment Funds Act 2003
  • The Investment Funds Regulations 2003

(Real Estate)

  • The International Persons Landholding Act, 1993
  • The Perpetuities Act, 1995
  • The Real Estate (Brokers and Salesmen) Act, 1995
  • The Time Sharing Act, 1984
  • The Bahamas Vacation Plan and Time-Sharing Act 1999


  • The Bahamas Maritime Authority Act, 1995
  • The Merchant Shipping Act, 1976
  • The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1979
  • The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1982
  • The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 1989
  • The Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act, 1976
  • The Shipping Miscellany (Amendments) Act 1991


  • The Banks & Trust Companies Regulation Act, 1965
  • The Banks & Trust Companies Regulation (Amendment) Act, 1989
  • The Banks & Trust Companies Regulation Act, 2000
  • The Fraudulent Disposition Act, 1991 Asset Protection Trust)
  • The Trustee Act, 1893
  • The Trustee Act, 1998
  • The Trustees Appointment Act
  • The Variation of Trusts Act
  • The Trusts (Choice of Governing Law) Act, 1989


Is The Bahamas an international insurance center?

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in interest in The Bahamas as an international insurance centre. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • The introduction of insurance legislation incorporating innovative features unique to The Bahamas
  • Increasingly restrictive insurance regulation in many onshore jurisdictions
  • The high cost of conducting insurance business – both onshore and in some of the other offshore insurance centres
  • Changes in onshore tax laws (notably in the US and Canada) that have removed most of the remaining tax advantages of offshore trusts and corporations
  • The continuing need for new products for the very substantial Bahamian banking and trust community

In response to this interest, the Bahamas Government and private sector have made available the requisite legal, regulatory and professional infrastructure to facilitate both the rapidly growing offshore life insurance sector as well as the reestablishment of The Bahamas as a captive insurance centre.

What types of insurance products are offered in The Bahamas?

Large numbers of insurance companies are registered to do business in, or from The Bahamas. Some of these service domestic risk needs for life insurance and property and casualty insurance, while others are established to insure risks situated elsewhere in the world. The government of The Bahamas has expressly stated its support for further development of The Bahamas as a centre for external risk insurance business.


Why are international insurance products proving so popular?

International variable life insurance products offer clients distinct tax benefits, sound asset protection and greater investment freedom and flexibility.

International Cooperation

Are mechanisms in place allowing The Bahamas to cooperate with foreign jurisdictions in legal proceedings?

Any offshore financial centre which hopes to be successful in the long term must cooperate with other jurisdictions and have stringent regulations in place to enhance and protect the reputation of the centre.

The Bahamas Government has gone on record with its intention of attaining and maintaining “the very highest levels of conduct as a clean jurisdiction, complying with the highest standards to prevent the abuse of its financial system by money launderers and criminal elements”. It has committed to satisfying recommendations coming out of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in relation to simplifying and making more efficient The Bahamas’ cooperation with foreign jurisdictions in legal proceedings.

Further, the Government has indicated its determination to ensure that The Bahamas is in line with international best practices.

The 2000 legislative restructuring included the Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act and the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act. The former regulates cooperation by Bahamian courts in civil matters while the latter regulates such cooperation in criminal matters.

An International Legal Cooperation Unit has been created within the Office of the Attorney General. The Unit is staffed with attorneys specialised in the preparation and presentation in court of all international requests for judicial assistance, freezing and forfeiture of the proceeds of crime.

The Bahamas currently has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) with the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

How concerned is the industry about increased scrutiny?

The Bahamas always has been committed to complying with international best practice and has fared well in its phase two ‘Peer Reviews’ by the OECD’s Global Forum. In fact, The Bahamas has been deemed “largely compliant” with the OECD’s existing standard of exchange of information on request.

What steps have been taken by The Bahamas to meet international standards for transparency and tax cooperation?

A. The following steps have been taken by The Bahamas:

i) The Bahamas has entered into 33 Tax Information Exchange Agreements

On March 20, 2010, The Bahamas achieved the G20 standard on Transparency and Cooperation in Tax Matters. This standard was first promulgated by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) in the 1990s. In 1998, the OECD sought to have 40 plus countries, including The Bahamas, adopt this standard. The Bahamas, in a 1999 presentation to the OECD, insisted on a level playing field. This principle was formally accepted by the OECD in 2002 and represented in a communiqué issued by The Bahamas in 2002.

For more than 10 years, The Government of The Bahamas held firm to this principle and kept faith with the industry; likewise in 2009, The Bahamas, as an integrated member of the international community, moved to implement the standard immediately following global consensus and the achievement of its key pre-condition.

Over a 12 month period culminating in March 2010, The Bahamas successfully concluded 19 agreements to achieve the standard.

To date (April 2016) the Bahamas has signed over 30 Tax Information Exchange Agreements.

ii) The Bahamas is FATCA Compliant

On 3 November 2014, The Bahamas and the US signed their Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to Improve International Tax Compliance (the Agreement) and to Implement FATCA based on the Model I IGA. To accommodate the non-direct tax system in The Bahamas, the IGA is a model 1B (non-reciprocal) IGA. As an IGA partner jurisdiction, Bahamas-based Financial Institutions will not be subject to a 30 percent withholding tax on US source income, unless they fail to meet the requirements set out in the IGA and in Bahamas domestic implementing legislation.

Under the terms of the Agreement, Bahamas Financial Institutions will provide the Bahamas Competent Authority with the required information. The Bahamas Competent Authority will forward that information to the Competent Authority in the US. The Agreement is an international instrument for exchange of information for tax purposes between The Bahamas and the US.

iii) The Bahamas is committed to the Automatic Exchange of Information/Common Reporting Standard:

The government has restated commitment to the bi-lateral approach. Industry and government are collaborating on the implementation strategy. Industry has made recommendations to the government on the approach to take to effectively implement AEOI/CRS.

Cooperative & Responsible Jurisdiction

Generally, The Bahamas is well regulated with processes for reporting where money laundering or terrorist financing is suspected. There is strong regulatory oversight. We are a cooperative and responsible jurisdiction and we are committed to transparency through the Automatic Exchange of Information.


Are certain areas of business activity restricted to Bahamian nationals?

The National Investment Policy does outline those areas especially targeted for (a) Overseas Investors; (b) joint ventures with local partners; and (c)those areas reserved for Bahamians. A list of businesses in each category should be obtained from BIA.

Does the Government have an Investment Policy?

The entire team at the Ministry of Financial Services & Investments stands ready to cut the red tape and roll out the red carpet to all investors and members of the financial services community.

The Ministry is staffed by an experienced and qualified group of professionals committed to serving investors’ needs. From the Minister to Investment Officers the collective goal of the MFSI is to ensure that projects get the attention required to achieve successful results.

For more information contact the Director of Investments, at the Ministry of Financial Services and Investments at:

P.O. Box N7770 Nassau, N.P., The Bahamas Tel: (242) 356-5956 Fax: (242) 356-5990

Both major political parties in The Bahamas are committed to maintaining and enhancing its status as a first-class international financial centre, ensuring the industry will retain both its stability and its profitability.

What legal system is used in The Bahamas?

The Bahamas’ legal system is based on English Common Law. Appeals are heard by The Bahamas Court of Appeal, which sits year round in Nassau, New Providence. The final appeal court is The Privy Council in the United Kingdom.

The independence of the Bahamas Judiciary is constitutionally recognised. Judges are not politically appointed, and nor are they elected. The independence of the judiciary and Bahamian sovereignty are important to the status of The Bahamas as an international financial centre.

Note: The high number of Supreme Court Justices and numerous Magistrates ensure speedy resolution of disputes.


What is an open ship register? Has this impacted the growth of The Bahamas Register?

An open registry offers ship registration to ship owners whose principal place of business is not in that country. Increasing numbers of ship owners are registering their vessels with countries which offer the advantages of an open registry — political neutrality, absence of nationality requirements for officers and seafarers, absence of restrictive labour and employment laws and tax advantages. The proportion of world shipping flagged with open registers now exceeds 50%, up from 30% some 10 years ago.

The increase in The Bahamas Register illustrates the growth of open registers. In 1978 there were just 60 vessels on the Register, comprising 58,000 gross tons. By 2003, there were 1,600 vessels, totalling 34 million GT, with The Bahamas Registry ranked third in the world. The Bahamas Maritime Authority has a firm policy that the growth of the register will not be at the expense of quality standards. To qualify for admission to the register vessels must be classed with the seven best classification societies, and must undergo annual inspection by “approved” inspectors.


How would you describe telecommunications services in The Bahamas?

Telecommunications services in the islands are “state-of-the-art”. Instantaneous direct international links are provided through a 100 percent digital switching system. International telex, cellular radio telephone, facsimile, internet access, automatic ratio paging and private line services are all available. The fiber-optic submarine cable between The Bahamas and Florida has improved and increased the capability for both voice and data communications.

Most recently, Caribbean Crossings Ltd., an international communications company, was created in 2000 to build a 5-segment, submarine fiber-optic cable system linking several Islands of The Bahamas with the United States. Segment 1 from Florida to Freeport has been completed and is fully operational, with Segment 2, from Grand Bahama to Nassau expected to be operational any day now. The fiber for Segments 3 and 4, connecting Nassau to Eleuthera and Eleuthera to Abaco has been laid, with commissioning to be completed in June and August, respectively. The installation of fiber for Segment 5, the final segment in the chain, from Abaco to Grand Bahama, is expected to begin in late 2002.

The business features/services of the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation include: fiber optic connectivity; leased line data circuit; international business services (digital leased line); analog services; satellite broadcast.

In which time zone is The Bahamas located?

The Bahamas observes US Eastern Standard Time (EST), with local time five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-5). In addition to being in the same time zone as New York, The Bahamas also offers the advantage of a telecommunications network with instantaneous links to the rest of the world via direct dialing and the Internet, and special banking communication networks.

Is gambling legal in The Bahamas?

Casino gambling is legal in The Bahamas for non-residents 18 years and older, and there are casinos here in New Providence and in Freeport, Grand Bahama. A licence has been granted for a casino operation at Club Med in San Salvador. Games include roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat, craps, slot machines, wheel of fortune, big six, Caribbean stud poker and casino war. Also, cruise ships docked here for at least 18 hours, or traveling to/from Bahamian designated ports, can operate casinos between 7 p.m-3 a.m.

Under the Lotteries and Gaming Act, sports betting is allowed — i.e. the placing of bets on any athletic game or sport (other than horse racing) that takes place within or outside The Bahamas. Sports betting cannot be conducted by telephone or other telecommunication devise, nor on behalf of another person.

The following agency is responsible for casino licensing/operations:

Gaming Board
P.O. Box N4565
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Tel: (242) 327-7478
Fax: (242) 327-8664

What is BISX?

The Bahamas International Securities Exchange, launched in May, 2000, signifies a major milestone for the financial services sector of The Bahamas. It cleared the way for The Bahamas to compete more effectively with other international money centres and creates a new market for capital funds. The regulatory Securities Commission of The Bahamas has been granted full membership in the International Organisation of Securities Commissions and the Council of Securities Regulators of the Americas.

What is the currency of The Bahamas?

The legal currency of The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar (B$), which is on par with the United States Dollar (US$). (Note: The US$ is accepted throughout the Islands of The Bahamas.)

Mutual Funds

What services can The Bahamas provide to the international mutual fund?

Mutual fund management, back office accounting, and administration. The Bahamas is a leading centre for the operation of offshore mutual funds. Most funds operated in The Bahamas are of the ‘open-ended” kind, which permit the issue of new shares and a redemption of existing shares periodically. Mutual funds operated in The Bahamas can be organised in the form of a limited company, or as trusts.

The introduction of IBCs provided an ideal corporate vehicle upon which to build the mutual fund structure and these have taken preference over the company limited by guarantee as the preferred method of incorporating mutual funds. In addition to mutual funds incorporated in The Bahamas, there are others administered here, organised under the laws of other countries.

The Mutual Funds Act and Regulations regulate the industry in The Bahamas through oversight and supervision by the Securities Commission as well as licensed mutual fund administrators.

Professional Services

Is it difficult finding qualified personnel in the industry?

The Bahamas has a large, diverse and well-qualified cadre of professionals, trained for the most part in North America, Europe and the West Indies. In the financial services industry, this wealth of local expertise means The Bahamas can offer long-term working relationships — a critical factor in international investment management services. The industry and the Bahamas Government have committed to continuing and expanding training opportunities for young Bahamians in private banking, trust services, accounting, information technology, insurance, law, management, and foreign languages.

In the support services area alone, there are some 600 attorneys actively practising in The Bahamas, and over 350 accountants.

The Bahamas has an abundance of skilled labour, generally, and one of the most highly educated populations in the Western Hemisphere. The adult literacy rate is over 95%.

Real Estate

Can non Bahamians sell real estate in The Bahamas?

Real estate and domestic property management agencies are areas reserved for Bahamians, under the Government’s National Investment Policy.

Do non Bahamians need permission to purchase real estate in The Bahamas?

Foreign investors may acquire residential properties in The Bahamas of up to five acres without prior Government approval. Such acquisitions have to be registered with the Foreign Investments Board in accordance with the International Persons Landholding Act. Second Home owners are eligible for a Home Owners Residence card, issued by the Department of Immigration and renewable annually. This card facilitates entry into The Bahamas, and entitles the owner, his spouse and minor children to enter and remain in The Bahamas for the duration of the validity of the card.

The International Persons Landholding Act generally deals with the purchase of property by non Bahamians and companies under their control. In the case of undeveloped property, it is necessary to apply for a permit.

There is an active Bahamas Real Estate Association, which provides information and referrals on licensed agents. The industry is regulated under the Bahamas Real Estate (Brokers and Salesmen) Act 1995.

How difficult is it to find reasonably priced rental accommodations? Are homes expensive to purchase, or build?

Rentals (apartments and homes) in select residential areas can range from $2,000 to $8,000 per month. A minimum outlay of $250,000 can purchase a three bedroom, two and a half bathroom house or condominium in a good area.

Most modest homes cost at least $150.00 per sq. ft. to build. The luxurious and spectacular homes in areas such as Lyford Cay cost at least $250.00 per sq. ft.

Commercial property generally runs between $25-35 per square foot to rent, dependent on whether it is classified as Class B (older than 10 years office space) or Class A (new office space). There has been tremendous commercial property development in recent years, both in the construction of new office buildings and redeveloped properties.

Construction costs for a new Class A office building is approximately $250 per square ft. for the base building only. Tenant leasehold improvements average approximately $100 per sq ft.

There is an active Bahamas Real Estate Association, which provides information and referrals on licensed agents. The industry is regulated under the Bahamas Real Estate (Brokers and Salesmen) Act 1995.

Is there a time share industry in The Bahamas?

There are about 30 timeshare projects, with The Bahamas considered 4th in the Caribbean in terms of timeshare offerings (over 1,000 units). Timeshare properties are regulated under the Bahamas Vacation Plan and Timesharing Act, 1999. Properties are traded for other vacation spots through exchange organisations.

Regulatory Agencies

What are the primary regulatory agencies for the financial services industry in The Bahamas?

The Bahamas has established a comprehensive regulatory framework that includes five regulators and supervisors in the financial sector.

The Central Bank of The Bahamas, the Securities Commission of The Bahamas (SCB), and the Registrar of Insurance Companies ensure adherence to international standards of oversight, service and confidentiality through a progressive regulatory and supervisory framework.

Regulation of the securities industry is structured to protect the interests of those who do business with financial institutions licensed in The Bahamas, and to ensure The Bahamas’ business environment continues to meet the highest international standards.

The Securities Commission was established in 1995. As part of its endeavour to keep abreast in an ever-changing global regulatory environment, and to ensure a Bahamian contribution in improving the efficiency and conduct of international markets, SCB became a member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the Council of Securities Regulators (COSRA) in 1996 and 1997 respectively.

SCB’s mission is to effectively oversee and regulate the activities of the securities and capital markets, and to protect investors, while strengthening public and institutional confidence in the integrity of those markets,

In addition, a unique supervisory body, the Bahamas Compliance Commission, was established in 2000. The Compliance Commission, an essential part of the jurisdiction’s rigorous anti-money laundering efforts, is a supervisory body for non-traditional groups of financial institutions such as lawyers, accountants and other professionals where these institutions hold funds on behalf of clients.

The fully operational Financial Intelligence Unit of The Bahamas, a member of The Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, and the International Legal Cooperation Unit of the Attorney General’s Office assure that The Bahamas fulfils its global commitment to the fight against money laundering and terrorism.

Other regulatory and supervisory agencies include the Inspectorate of Financial & Corporate Service Providers and the Public Utilities Commission. (Click onto Regulators from our home page to get a complete list, plus contacts)

Note: The Association of International Banks & Trust Companies is a professional, self-regulatory association for the offshore banks engaged in banking and trust business in The Bahamas. The AIBT promotes a high level of ethical conduct and management standards, with members adhering to a strict Code of Conduct. Similarly, the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants has functioned as a self-regulatory body, ensuring professional compliance with International Auditing and Accounting Standards and Rules of Professional Conduct. BICA’s efforts are backed statutorily under the Public Accountants Act 1991. Other industry groups that operate on a self-regulatory basis include the Bahamas Bar Association and the Bahamas Real Estate Association.

Services & Products

What are some of the primary wealth planning/management structures provided

These include:

  • Annuities
  • Captive insurance
  • International Business Companies
  • Life insurance
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Private Investment Funds
  • Trusts
What are the principal services and products offered by The Bahamas

The Bahamas offers a full range of financial services and products including:

  • Asset Management and Protection
  • Aviation Registry & Support Services
  • Brokerage Services
  • Commercial Banking
  • Company Formation & Administration
  • E-Commerce Services & Support
  • Fund Administration
  • Information Technology Services
  • Insurance & Support Services
  • Investment Management
  • Marine Registry & Support Services
  • Private Banking
  • Support Services (Back Office)
  • Trust Services


Is tourism the number one industry in The Bahamas?

Yes. Tourism accounts for over 40% of the country’s GDP, employing approximately half of the work force, either directly or indirectly.

The year 2000 saw a record 4.2 million tourist arrivals, representing a 15% increase over the previous year. The $1.7 billion in revenue represented a 5.7% increase in tourist expenditures.

Where would I find information about the tourism industry in The Bahamas, specifically visitor info

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is the government agency responsible for product development and promotion. You can access the Ministry at


Trust Services

How has the Trustees Act impacted the marketing of trust services in The Bahamas?

The Trustee Act 1998 completely amended and updated trust laws in The Bahamas. The Law clarifies the types of investments that Trustees may make; the powers that Settlors may retain without running the risk of invalidating the trust; the types of information to which beneficiaries are entitled; and the types of actions that may be taken by Protectors without running the risk of being found to be acting in a fiduciary capacity.

This has been particularly important as offshore banks increasingly feature a trust side to their organisations. Responding to their clients’ needs, banks are becoming more and more engaged in private banking and asset protection/asset management services.

What are Trusts used for primarily?

For several decades international investors have recognized the benefits of structuring ownership of their assets through trusts and companies incorporated in The Bahamas.

The Government of The Bahamas has demonstrated its commitment to maintaining the industry’s competitive edge in the international market, and has recognised the need for an effective system of supervision and regulation to ensure high standards of conduct and management, and to afford international clients with an appropriate level of confidence in the integrity of the jurisdiction.

For the international investor, trusts and companies can be tailored to meet one’s individual estate and wealth planning needs. The depth and experience of the trust and company professionals in The Bahamas can facilitate the timely development and implementation of an estate plan.

Once wealth has been created, it needs protection and stability, as well as enhancement. The impact of death, divorce, disability, or the inability of children or other heirs to manage substantial wealth and delays caused by probate, may be addressed by estate planning.