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Antigua and Barbuda - Finding Employment


Imagine living on an island with year-round sunshine on its white sandy beaches and no personal income tax to pay. Your leisure time could be packed full of golf, sailing and cricket, and evenings spent eating mouthwatering Caribbean dishes. The relaxed business environment is far from the mean rat race of many pressurised cities. Since everyone speaks English, or the Antiguan Creole version of it, there are no complicated new languages to learn.

But of course every dream has a reality. Antigua and Barbuda may be free of personal income tax, capital gains tax and even inheritance tax, but the government has to find an income from somewhere. So you will pay plenty of property and consumption taxes that will make your cost of living high.

The relaxed business environment becomes less appealing when you want other people to do things for you. If you’re used to tradesmen, customer services staff and officials working long hours to complete jobs quickly, the adjustment can take some time.

It’s a question of understanding that you have come to Antigua and Barbuda to work, which means it’s not a permanent holiday, and that you have to take the rough with the smooth. However, if you have realistic expectations and a willingness to adapt, you could find this a great place in which to live and work.

Obtain Permission To Work In Antigua And Barbuda

You must arrive in Antigua and Barbuda legally, otherwise you will be arrested and deported. Read the Visas section of this country to find out more.

However, if you also want to work here, you must have legal permission to do so. This means obtaining a work permit.

Work Permit Requirements For Antigua And Barbuda

An employer who offers you a job must first have advertised the position in the local newspapers, and interviewed local candidates. They will have to provide evidence that they have done this, and explain why none of the local applicants were suitable for the role.

The employer will make the application for the work permit on your behalf, and submit a notarised letter along with a hefty fee. However, you will need to provide a lot of information and evidence too. This will include a fully completed form, your passport, bank statements, proof of temporary residence and two reference letters.

The Ministry of Labor at St. John’s will process the paperwork. If successful, your work permit will be valid for up to one year, but can be renewed after a further application and fee payment.

In 2017, a number of serious gun offenses related to gang activity committed by migrants living on the islands led to the government strengthening deportation legislation against non-national criminals. If you commit a serious crime, you can expect to be deported even if you hold a work permit or have married a local citizen.

Register At The Social Security Office

Once you have arrived in the country, but before you start your new job, you must register at the Social Security Office. They will need to see your passport and your work permit, which will contain information about your employer.

You will be given a Social Security card. This has a unique number that you must not lose.

Your employer will use this number to make compulsory deductions from your salary, which should be clearly identified on your wage slip. These sums of money will be transferred by the employer directly to the government.

In return, you will receive financial assistance should you become too ill to work or require time off to have a baby. If you die, help may be available for your funeral costs and to assist your dependents. You even have the chance to earn a pension. All social security benefits are subject to terms and conditions laid down by law.

Employers in Antigua and Barbuda are subject to a wide range of laws to protect the welfare of every employee. These range from health and safety legislation, to the legal right to join a trade union. Paid holidays and payment for requested overtime are benefits all employees enjoy.

Government Jobs In Antigua And Barbuda

The Antigua and Barbuda Government Information and Services website has a vacancies page. However, few jobs will be advertised here, and those which are will be suited to those with a high level of qualifications and professional experience. Most government jobs will be filled by local candidates.

Teaching Jobs In Antigua And Barbuda

As Antigua and Barbuda is an English-speaking country, there is little call for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) instructors.

Local state schools do have a need for qualified teachers. About four-fifths of the workforce is female. The majority of teachers gained their teaching qualification at the local university. You can find out more about this in the Education and Schools section of this country guide.

Island Academy, the sole international school on Antigua and Barbuda, does welcome applications from qualified foreign teachers. Details of the application process can be found on the school website.

Cultural Differences In The Workplace

You may take some time to adjust to the pace of life on Antigua and Barbuda. Learn to be patient when things don't happen as quickly or go as smoothly as you expect them too. Getting angry and complaining will not endear you to colleagues, managers, suppliers or tradesmen.

Attitudes to the LGBT community are unfortunately rather conservative. Certain sexual acts between partners of the same sex are illegal, and not through some historic law which has been overlooked. While some people are fighting for LGBT rights, most people within this community are sadly forced to keep their sexuality secret because of the discrimination they will face.

If you have retired to Antigua and Barbuda and live in an expat bubble, local attitudes to LGBT issues may not be an issue. However, if you are working on the island and have a liberal mindset then you may be uncomfortable with the open homophobia around you.

Working For Yourself In Antigua and Barbuda

Since paid employment in Antigua and Barbuda is hard to find, you may decide to start a business here.

If so, our article on How To set Up Your Own Business In Antigua And Barbuda sets out some of the opportunities and challenges to consider.

If you earn your living from blogging, YouTube or other digital content creation, remember you are a sole trader running a business. Arriving on a tourist visa does not allow you to work in Antigua and Barbuda without permission, so this aspect must be taken into account if you are planning to continue your work once you have moved here.

Asking Other Expats For Help

The number of expats who have moved to Antigua and Barbuda for work is small when compared to many other expat destinations. The majority of people who move here do so for the short to medium term, and usually as part of their retirement adventures.

However, if you have specific questions or are seeking recommendations which will help you find employment, head to the Expat Focus Forum and the Facebook Group for expats in Antigua and Barbuda. Expats are often more than happy to pass on the benefit of their own experiences and help others where they can.


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