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Barbados – Self-Employment

Barbados is a small island country in the Caribbean known for its beautiful beaches, friendly people, and business-friendly environment. For expats looking to start a business or become self-employed in Barbados, there are plenty of opportunities and benefits to take advantage of. In this article, we will explore how self-employment works for expats, the process of registering as self-employed, starting a company, and the incentives available for expats in Barbados.

How Self-Employment Works for Expats in Barbados

For expats who wish to become self-employed in Barbados, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to note that expats are allowed to work as self-employed individuals in Barbados. However, they are required to obtain a work permit and residency visa before they can legally work in the country.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Barbados has a relatively low tax rate for self-employed individuals, with a flat rate of 16%. This makes Barbados an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and freelancers.

How to Register as Self-Employed in Barbados

The process of registering as self-employed in Barbados is relatively straightforward. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Obtain a work permit and residency visa: Before you can register as self-employed, you will need to obtain a work permit and residency visa. This involves applying to the Barbados embassy in your home country and providing supporting documents such as proof of income, criminal record, and medical certificate.

  2. Choose a business activity: Once you have obtained your work permit and residency visa, you can begin the process of registering as self-employed. The first step is to choose a business activity that you wish to engage in. This can include anything from freelance writing to consulting.

  3. Register for a national insurance number: Once you have chosen your business activity, you will need to register for a national insurance number. This can be done by applying to the National Insurance Department.

  4. Register for taxes: As a self-employed individual, you will need to register for taxes. This can be done by filling out the necessary forms and submitting them to the Barbados Revenue Authority.

  5. Obtain a license: Once your tax registration has been approved, you will need to obtain a license to operate your business. This can be done by applying to the Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development.

Working as a Digital Nomad in Barbados

For digital nomads who work online, Barbados can be an attractive destination. The country has excellent internet connectivity, a business-friendly environment, and a vibrant culture. However, it is important to note that all foreign nationals who wish to work in Barbados must obtain a work permit and residency visa before they can legally work in the country.

Starting a Company in Barbados

For expats who are looking to start a company in Barbados, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to note that Barbados has a relatively straightforward process for registering a company.


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Another thing to keep in mind is that Barbados has a favorable tax regime for businesses, with a corporate income tax rate of 5.5%. Additionally, there are no taxes on dividends or capital gains, making it important to carefully consider the tax implications of starting a company in Barbados.

How to Set Up a Company in Barbados

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you set up a company in Barbados:

  1. Choose a company structure: The first step is to choose the structure of your company. Barbados allows for several types of company structures, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, and limited liability company
  2. Reserve a company name: Once you have chosen your company structure, you will need to reserve a name for your company. This name must be unique and cannot be similar to any other company names already registered in Barbados.

  3. Draft the company articles: The next step is to draft the company articles. These are the legal documents that define the company’s structure, governance, and activities. This can be done by engaging a lawyer or legal expert.

  4. Register your company: To register your company, you will need to submit the company articles and other necessary documents to the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office. This will include information about your company structure, company name, and business activities.

  5. Obtain a tax identification number: Once your company has been registered, you will need to obtain a tax identification number (TIN) by filling out the necessary forms and submitting them to the Barbados Revenue Authority.

  6. Register for taxes: Finally, you will need to register your company for taxes by filling out the necessary forms and submitting them to the Barbados Revenue Authority. This will include information about your business activities and any taxes that may apply.

Incentives and Programs for Expats in Barbados

Barbados offers several incentives and programs to encourage expats to become self-employed or start a company in the country. These include:

  • The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation: The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides support to entrepreneurs and start-ups in Barbados. This program provides mentorship, funding, and access to networks.

  • The Barbados Small Business Association: The Barbados Small Business Association provides support to small businesses in Barbados by providing information about the business environment, legal framework, and regulatory requirements.

  • The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation: The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation provides support to foreign investors by providing information about investment opportunities, investment regulations, and legal requirements.

Barbados is a beautiful island country in the Caribbean with a business-friendly environment and plenty of opportunities for expats who wish to become self-employed or start a company. With its low tax rate for self-employed individuals and favorable tax regime for businesses, Barbados is an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Whether you are looking to work remotely as a digital nomad or start a company in Barbados, the country has plenty to offer. With its supportive business environment, incentives for businesses, and vibrant culture, Barbados is a country that is well worth considering for anyone looking to pursue their business dreams.


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