The Cayman Islands – a beautiful Caribbean tax haven – has an obvious appeal for expats seeking employment. But how easy is it to find work there? The good news is that there are jobs available, particularly if you have a background in finance, specifically the investment and insurance sectors.
You will need a work permit in order to work legally in the Cayman Islands, either a temporary work permit or a work permit grant / Gainful Occupation Licence (GOL). The maximum length of time you can remain in the islands on an extended annual work permit is nine years.
Temporary work permits are issued for 180 days and cannot be renewed. For this, you will need to submit:
• an application form – the employer and employee sections must be completed
• one recent full-face photograph and one profile passport-size photograph
• an original police clearance certificate issued by a police station in your last country of residence, stamped and signed (valid for a six-month period)
• a full medical examination with chest x-rays and blood tests for HIV and VDRL (valid for a six-month period)
• the prescribed fees, including work permit and administrative fees
For a work permit grant/ GOL, valid for up to three years and renewable, you will need to submit:
• an application form – Part 1, Employee and Part 2, Employer sections must be completed
• one recent full-face photograph and one profile passport-size photograph
• an original police clearance certificate issued by a police station in your last country of residence, stamped and signed (valid for a six-month period)
• a full medical examination with chest x-rays and blood tests for HIV and VDRL (valid for a six-month period)
an accommodation form stating the details of where you will be living
• the prescribed fees, including work permit fee and filing fee
• job advertisements, provided by your employer – these must be submitted to ensure that there are no suitable Caymanians, spouses of Caymanians or Status Holders suitable for the role.
These advertisements must appear in the local newspaper for two consecutive weeks to allow any prospective applicants the opportunity to apply for the position.
Some Cayman organisations, such as the utility companies, prefer local hire. Please also note the criteria for a working visa, as above, which states that Cayman citizens must be prioritised over foreign personnel where possible.
As mentioned, experience and qualifications in finance will stand you in good stead, but there are other opportunities too. For example, construction companies report difficulties in finding local hire at management level, so often seek workers from abroad to fill these positions.
The hospitality industry, which usually starts hiring in autumn, is also an option, as is work within the medical sector, as medical professionals are often in high demand. If you are a qualified worker in IT, Cayman Enterprise City is expanding, so you may find work there, particularly in the fintech sector, such as Blockchain.
The Cayman Islands has a nine-hour day, five days a week, which adds up to a 45-hour working week. On Grand Cayman, opening hours are typically 8:30am to 5:00pm, but this may vary slightly on the smaller islands.
You will be entitled to a minimum of two weeks’ annual holiday if you have worked for your employer for less than four years, increasing to a minimum of four weeks after you have completed 10 years of employment.
If you have worked for five years, you will be entitled to receive a five-year cash grant.
If you become pregnant, you will be entitled to 12 weeks’ maternity leave in any 12-month period. Employers are legally required to offer 20 working days leave on full pay, 20 working days leave on half-pay and 20 working days leave on no pay.
The gross national minimum basic wage is KYD$6.00 (US$7.21) per hour for most employees, and the gross hourly minimum wage rate for service employees, working for an employer that has a registered gratuities scheme, is KYD$4.50 (US$5.40). There are also special calculations for live-in household domestics and employees who work on a commission basis.
Your spouse is not automatically entitled to reside in the Cayman Islands, even if you hold a valid permit. They must be named as a dependent on your permit, and a separate application must be filed. Dependents can also be added to a temporary work permit.
You can make speculative applications to companies, especially if you are working in sectors such as financial services.
To those looking for work, expats recommend going through recruitment agencies that cover the Cayman Islands. These agencies will be able to liaise with employers, who are primarily responsible for obtaining your work permit.
A standard CV/resume is acceptable. English is the official language of the Cayman Islands, so you will not need to have anything translated, unless you are applying from a non-English speaking nation, in which case you will need to have your documentation translated and notarised.
The Constitution of the Cayman Islands guarantees equality and non-discrimination. Employment laws state that no discrimination is allowed on the basis of race, colour, creed, sex, pregnancy or any reason connected with pregnancy, age, mental or physical disability (provided their ability to perform the job is not impaired), political belief or the exercise of any rights.
However, LGBT organisations have reported that the government has consistently expressed discriminatory attitudes towards members of LGBT groups.
The Cayman Authorities recognise most Commonwealth and international accounting designations.
Medical professionals fully registered in Australia, Canada, Jamaica, the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and the US may be eligible to practice in the Cayman Islands once they have registered with the appropriate council.
It is worth getting any qualifications notarised to be on the safe side, but you will not have to have any qualifications translated if they are already in English.
In order to enter the Cayman Islands, your passport must have a minimum validity of six months beyond the date of your return ticket, assuming you are on a short-term visit. Nationals from some countries will also need to possess a valid visa. You will need to present proof of onward or return travel, and may be asked to show evidence of sufficient funds to maintain yourself, as well as any dependants, for the duration of your stay in the Cayman Islands. On occasion, you may be able to use a local guarantor in place of proof of sufficient funds. Their signed consent for liability will be required.
Nationalities that do not require a visa to enter the Cayman Islands include the United States of America (USA), Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), and the majority of countries within the British Commonwealth. However, if you do need a visa, you will need to obtain it before you travel. If you are unsure whether or not you require a visa, you can visit the government immigration website for a full list of countries and their requirements here.
If applicable, upon arrival, you must retain the immigration card given to you by your airline. You’re highly advised to keep your immigration card, along with your other travel documents, in a safe (yet easily accessible) place. You may be required to present these to an immigration officer when you depart.
Many visitors will be able to stay for a period of up to six months, although this period can be extended. UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry and exit, as well as airside transit.
In order to qualify for a student visa in the Cayman Islands, you will need to be studying full-time at a recognised educational institution.
The following groups of people do not require a student visa to study in the Cayman Islands:
• Native Caymanians
• Spouses of native Caymanians
• Permanent residence holders
• Residency and Employment Rights Certificate holders
• Dependants of any of the above, so long as they are under the age of eighteen
Those who do not belong in one of the above groups, who are over the age of eighteen years old and/or are entering the Cayman Islands for the specific purpose of studying at a recognised institute, who will be leaving at the end of their studies, will require a student visa.
In order to make your student visa application, you will need to complete a V3 form, and provide evidence of financial support in the form of a guarantor or sufficient savings. You will also need to fill out a medical questionnaire, and show a letter of confirmation from the educational institute that you will be attending. You will need to provide details of your accommodation, and pay any appropriate visa fees. You may or may not be asked for a criminal records check and/or a police clearance certificate.
You can usually make this application at the local embassy or consulate in your home country. Alternatively, depending on circumstances, you may be able to make it to the Chief Immigration Officer in the Grand Cayman (Department of Immigration, P.O. Box 1098, Grand Cayman, KY1-1102).
Upon successful application, you will be issued with a student visa that will last for the duration of your studies, but not exceeding four years. After you arrive, you must attend the Immigration Department Headquarters to have your passport endorsed with a student visa.
If your application is unsuccessful, you can make an appeal to the Work Permit Board. This must be done within seven days.
Those who are not visa-exempt will require a visitor visa in order to visit the Cayman Islands. This must be obtained at the local embassy or consulate in your country of residence, prior to arrival.
Those who are not visa-exempt will require a transit visa in order to transit through the Cayman Islands to their intended destination. This must be obtained prior to travelling, at the local embassy or consulate in your country of residence.
There is nothing stopping you from seeking employment in the Cayman Islands whilst you are visiting, even if you are only there for tourism purposes. However, the Chief Immigration Officer and/or the Immigration Boards may refuse you a work permit if you are only on the Islands as a tourist visitor. If you are on a tourist visa and apply for a temporary work permit, your application will only be considered if you leave the Cayman Islands and re-enter. Exceptions are made in special circumstances at the discretion of the Chief Immigration Officer.
A work permit may be issued either for a period of up to six months (temporary work permit), or for longer on a renewable basis (annual work permit).
Exemptions from work permits can be found here.
It is worth noting that “prohibited immigrants” include:
• Those declared destitute/bankrupt
• Those who have a mental disorder or who have been previously deported
• Any persons creating or potentially presenting health hazards to the community
• Any persons believed to be involved in prostitiution
• Those who have received a prison sentence of longer than 12 months in another country
• Any persons declared to be undesirable for economic or moral reasons
Temporary work permits
If you are planning a business trip, including selling services and taking purchase orders, you will require a temporary work permit for the Cayman Islands. You can obtain this in advance by applying to the Department of Immigration. You cannot legally accept any kind of employment in the Cayman Islands without a valid work permit. You must also declare any samples of goods that you are bringing into the country with the intention of gifting or selling.
The contact information for the Cayman Islands Department of Immigration is as follows:
Telephone: (345) 949-8052
Email address: imweb @ gov.ky
Annual work permits
An employer may apply for the renewal of an annual work permit on behalf of their employee with the Work Permit Board or, if the employer has a business staffing plan, the Business Staffing Plan Board. Self-employed workers can apply for their own annual work permit to the Chief Immigration Officer.
Note that if the application is for employment located in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, the application will need to be made to the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Immigration Board (in Cayman Brac).
The following people do not need to pay non-refundable work permit fees:
• Teachers (licensed by the Cayman Islands Education Council)
• Ministers of religion
• Cayman Islands Monetary Authority employees
• Contracted government employees
Requirements and prerequisites for work permits include:
• Completion of an English test, if applicable
• A medical examination (including HIV/VDRL tests)
• Chest X-ray
• Completion of a medical questionnaire
• A notarised English translation of any required documents that are not in English
Notes: The medical examinations that are required with work permit applications are valid for a period of three years. Laboratory tests, which have to be repeated with each medical examination), are valid for six months. Chest X-rays are valid for five years. Medical examinations must be signed and stamped (or sealed) by a licensed physician. Immigration authorities reserve the right to request additional medical examinations or information at any given time.
According to the government, approved local translators are:
• Baraud International Recruitment & Consultants: Translations by Bernd Kleinworth (German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch)
• Baraud International Recruitment and Steppingstones Recruitment: Translations by Ninfa Arellano-Smith (Spanish)
• Curtis and Methais Barnett (Spanish, French, German)
• Patrick Bennett (Honduras) (Spanish)
In the Cayman Islands, rather than having dependant visas, you must add your dependants to your work permit, as they are not automatically given the right to live and work in the Cayman Islands. There is a salary requirement for those who wish to add dependants to their work permit. Married permit holders are able to combine their income to meet the dependants’ salary requirement. However, unmarried couples are not able to do this.
The salary requirements currently sit at “a minimum household income in the region of CI$3,500 for one dependant to be included, with an increase of CI$500 for each additional dependant.”
All dependants over the age of eighteen years old must submit their own medical questionnaire. If the dependant is your spouse, you will need a copy of your marriage certificate. For dependent children, you will need copies of their birth certificates, and if applicable, a letter of acceptance from the private school your children will be attending. Children of expatriates are only allowed to attend private schools on the islands, unless their parents work for the government.
Some people may be eligible to become Caymanians, such as children or grandchildren of Caymanians born in the Cayman Islands, people who are married to Caymanians, and people who were born in the Cayman Islands between 27 March 1977 and 1 January 1983. You can see a full list of eligibility here.
Children that are born in the Cayman Islands but are not Caymanian nationals by birth will need to report to the Department of Immigration in order to have their status regularised. Parents must provide a work permit amendment form or residency variation form, a passport, or an original Cayman birth certificate, and complete an extension form, in order to provide the necessary supporting documentation.
A person who has been legally residing in the Cayman Islands for a minimum period of eight years will become eligible to apply for permanent residency.
Approval for permanent residency is generally assessed by the following factors:
• Education, experience, and training
• Local investments
• Financial stability
• Integration into the Caymanian community
• Knowledge of the Cayman Islands’ history and culture
• Possessing close Caymanian connection
• Demographic and cultural diversity
• Age distribution
In some circumstances, an individual may be granted permanent residency based on independent financial means, regardless of the length of time they have resided in the Cayman Islands.
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Approximately a third of the resident population of the Cayman Islands have moved there from countries across the globe. Many expats will only stay for the short to medium term, and so will look for properties to rent rather than buy.
The Cayman Islands also receives about two million tourists each year. Whilst many of them stay in hotels, others prefer to rent independent self-catering accommodation. Short-term holiday lets are most expensive during the busy winter months, when the weather is warm but not too hot.
Be aware that the Cayman Islands is not a territory offering property at a bargain price. Furthermore, some locations are much more expensive than the local average, especially if you want to be close to work and good schools or to have a lovely view of the ocean. You may have to compromise between space, facilities and location to find a rental home within your budget.
The good news is that property in the Cayman Islands comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether you select a small apartment, family home or mansion by the sea will depend on your financial resources and wish list.
If your employer isn’t arranging a rental property for you and you don’t have existing contacts in the Cayman Islands, using an estate agency is the best option. The landlord pays the estate agency a fee to find a tenant, so no charge is made to the tenant for finding a property.
The estate agent normally has a website showing properties available, with a range of pictures. The rent will be clearly displayed on screen. Even if the property is not listed online, perhaps because it is new to the market, the estate agent should give you the rental cost in some form of written or electronic document.
You need to be aware of additional costs, which will normally be clearly specified on the estate agency details. If not, do ask about them.
For example, if it is a strata property – that is, a building that has been divided into ‘lots’ – there will be fees to pay. Apartments in blocks require maintenance of the building structure, communal areas, and any outside areas including swimming pools, driveways, gardens and play areas. Any pest infestation or leaks will be dealt with by the building management team, who are funded by the strata fees. These people are normally a set fee paid quarterly in advance, which can be quite a lump sum to find.
Your landlord will probably add strata fees to the monthly rent and pay them over to the management company, but you need to confirm in writing that this is the case. Otherwise, you risk moving in and then discovering you have unexpected charges to pay.
The benefits of strata management while you rent a property are enormous. You don’t have to worry about checking the condition of the building or trying to source specialists when something goes wrong. Even the grass will be cut with no effort on your part.
Avoiding Property Scams
Unfortunately, people seeking rental properties in the Cayman Islands are increasingly being targeted by online scammers, and can lose thousands of dollars. Be aware of this so you don’t become the next victim.
Criminals have been listing attractive properties with a surprisingly low level of rent, with all utilities included. They wait for potential tenants to ask for further details, and then start a persuasive discussion by email about why the property is being offered so cheaply. Next, they suggest the property can be reserved via Airbnb, by wiring funds to what is actually an overseas third-party bank account.
Once the money is paid, all contact with the victim will cease and they slowly realise they have been scammed. By the time they contact their bank and enquiries are made, the money has been withdrawn from the overseas account. The banks do not refund the lost money, and it is often difficult to make a formal complaint about the bank which allowed a criminal to open an account.
You can only be assured that your property listing is genuine if you visit in person before handing over any money. If you are worried about missing out on the deal of a lifetime, it was probably too good to be true anyway.
If there are any problems about getting access to the property, or you are asked to pay any sort of fee to view it, walk away.
Using a reputable estate agent will ensure you avoid with these scams.
Never Pay Anyone In Cash For Your Rental Property
Although the estate agent will not ask you to pay a fee for finding the property, there are a number of costs you will need to pay up front before moving in. These may be direct to the landlord or via the estate agent.
At least one month’s rent must be paid in advance. In addition, you will have to pay a security bond, which again will be the equivalent of at least a month’s rent.
Never pay these sums in cash, as you must have evidence of payment should any legal dispute occur. The same applies to the rent each month.
Sign A Rental Contract
You and your landlord should sign a rental contract on the same day you make your advance rent payment and pay the security bond.
As a bare minimum, it must contain your personal details and the landlord’s name and address. The period of rental must be clearly specified, with the address to be rented. Importantly, the monthly rent and any additional charges must be clearly stated.
It is advisable to have a break clause in the contract. Expats can be called home at short notice for sick relatives, company transfers and other unexpected events. A break clause would allow you to leave with only, say, three months rental payment due, rather than being contractually bound to continue payments right to the end of the rental period.
Check The Inventory And Take Photos
On the day you move in, carefully check the inventory list. Even an unfurnished property, if you have chosen one, will have a number of fixtures and fittings to be listed. A furnished property could have several pages of contents, and anything missing at the end of your tenancy may legally be taken out of your security bond. Arguing later that an item was never present is usually futile. So if something on the inventory list is missing or broken, alert the estate agent or landlord immediately.
Take a lot of photos of the property and its contents. In particular, take close ups of damage or signs of wear and tear. Mobile phones now take clear pictures which can be backed up into cloud storage for access if you need them. The photos should prevent any problems at the end of the tenancy, such as if the landlord tries to charge you for a pre-existing problem.
Regardless of where you come from or where you live, you have equal access to buying property in the Cayman Islands.
Furthermore, you won’t be asked to pay capital gains tax if your property is sold for a lot more than you paid for it. There isn’t even the annual property tax which most countries in the world levy. You will, however, pay stamp duty of up to 7.5 percent of the purchase price, depending on your citizenship and the type of property purchase.
If you live in the Cayman Islands, you need to register for tax on your income sources and pay high levels of duty on imported goods. If you remain overseas as a fiscal resident of the US or UK, for example, you are required to complete your tax returns to the authorities there. In addition, if you still own your property at the point you die, there won’t be any death duties to be paid on your estate to the Cayman Islands government.
The Cayman Islands are financially and politically stable. Legal titles of property were clearly documented in the 1970s Cadastral survey, with complete mapping of the islands and their parcel numbers. The land registry contains evidence of the current legal ownership of every property and piece of land.
All of these factors make property purchases in the Cayman Islands an attractive proposition for local people and migrants alike.
Finding An Estate Agent
The Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA) sets out rules and regulations to which its brokers and agents must adhere.
Since it runs a multiple listing service, you only need to choose one agent in order to view a wide selection of homes, saving you time and effort.
Mortgages In The Cayman Islands
If you have been living and working legally on the Cayman Islands for at least six months, the banks will normally consider your mortgage application. Migrants may apply for funds, but the deposit required will be much higher. It is a good idea to look at the range of terms and conditions on offer by different banks. A slightly higher interest rate will obviously a real difference in what you pay over the course of the entire mortgage, for example.
A broker will suggest a number of options to help you choose the right mortgage. However, be aware that commission may affect the options you are presented with, so do your homework too.
If you need a mortgage, ensure you have received pre-approval before you start viewing. Finding your dream home to then be turned away from financing it is not only a heart-breaking experience, it also wastes everyone’s time and money. Buying a property with a mortgage will attract a higher rate of stamp duty. The rate depends on the value of the house, but can be up to 1.5 percent more than standard stamp duty.
You will also need to arrange adequate life insurance so that your mortgage is covered should the worst happen.
Sometimes the owners of a property in the Cayman Islands are unable to cover the mortgage, usually because of a change in their circumstances. The banks try to negotiate with the owner to find a way out of the arrears, and often do so over a number of years. However, if the situation cannot be resolved, the banks take court action to obtain legal ownership of the property. It is then placed on the open market, so sale proceeds can be used towards the outstanding mortgage and associated debts. Around a hundred properties in the Cayman Islands will be foreclosed each year.
Foreclosed properties tend to be at the entry level point of the market, followed by middle tier homes. Large homes are fairly unusual as those purchasers tend to have a wide variety of assets they can fall back on in times of need.
When initially placed on the Cayman Island property market, the prices of foreclosed properties are standard or even optimistic. As a result, they rarely sell quickly. Over time, it becomes possible to negotiate the price down, although many will be purchased at the going rate. So whilst foreclosure gives you more room to negotiate than with an individual homeowner who is in rush to move, you are unlikely to find a bargain basement deal.
Apartments on different levels, or with shared areas, are bought with strata ownership. The regulations set out the legal framework under which owners pay strata fees, which are spent to manage and maintain the entire block. If you are purchasing a property which is a subdivision of a larger block, be aware that you will be legally required to pay these fees. They are charged monthly or quarterly, and must be paid in advance.
Make sure you are given full disclosure of these costs before you make an offer to purchase an apartment. Double check you can afford these fees, especially as you are likely to be paying large advance quarterly charges as one lump sum.
Although a strata property commits you to an additional outlay, it may be a worthwhile investment. Someone else undertakes maintenance of the property, communal areas and gardens. Swimming pools and play areas will be kept clean, safe and functional. If a pest control issue arises or the pool filtering system breaks down, it will be dealt with. Security is often part of the package, a great comfort if your property will be empty for long periods. Moreover, some of the strata fees are used to provide property insurance cover.
If you live in an independent property and undertake maintenance jobs yourself, those will take time and money. You will have to find contractors and obtain quotes, and if the contractor doesn’t turn up, it becomes your problem to find out what has happened and possibly start the process again.
Obviously, this is annoying if it interferes with a relaxing retirement, and is particularly problematic for those working long hours. For expats who have a holiday home in the Cayman Islands, traveling to talk to builders and oversee work can become expensive and difficult. This is why strata properties are popular.
Detached properties are often built on developments which have a strata-style homeowners association, although the insurance is not included.
Ensuring Your Property Purchase Is Legal
If you are buying a property in the Cayman Islands, you will need to appoint a lawyer or notary to ensure the title is clear and correct, and to arrange and process your contracts. They will charge one percent of the purchase price for this work
Should you require a mortgage, the bank will nominate a law firm to undertake the work. You will still be responsible for paying the bill, so ensure you receive the estimate before work begins.
Offers to purchase a property must be made in writing. If you have used the services of a CIREBA registered agent, they will have standard documents to do this and help you through the process.
Your offer will include the purchase price, deposit, conditions of the offer, and suggested closing date. This becomes legally binding once both parties have agreed.
You will now pay the deposit, via your lawyer. If you pull out of the purchase without good reason, you will lose your deposit. At this stage, you should have the property inspected by a surveyor to ensure it is in good condition.
Once your lawyer has completed all the checks and prepared the documents, you will sign the final contract and provide the funds to pay the seller. You will also pay the stamp duty, estate agent fee, and the lawyer’s fees at this point. The lawyer will then process the Transfer of Land Form RL1, and give you copies of this to use for connecting utilities and so on. Congratulations; you will now be a Cayman Islands property owner!
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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QUICK LINK: Caymans health insurance
If you are resident in the Caymans, you must by law have health insurance, from a government approved provider (including the government’s own health insurer). These are licensed and regulated by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority and the Health Insurance Commission and cover around 94% of Cayman residents. If you are working, your employer must register you with a Standard Health Insurance Contract (SHIC) from the first day of your employment.
Everyone resident in the Caymans will be eligible to sign up with a SHIC, but note that this is a private rather than a public health insurance scheme.
Your employer should sign you up with a SHIC, but check the coverage that any proposed package gives you. You will need to have a medical check and the extent of this will vary depending on the coverage required: a more comprehensive package will need a more extensive medical check, so make sure that you bring your medical records to the Caymans with you. It is also a good idea to ask your employer to seek pre-approval with any insurer if you have a pre-existing health condition.
If you have been with your insurer for 12 months, you should be able to change your coverage with no restrictions, even if you have developed a health issue during this period.
You may also be able to extend your existing coverage in your home nation to cover you while you are in the Caymans, but legally you will still need to be registered with a SHIC.
The SHIC system covers:
• GP visits (outpatient coverage tends to be limited, however)
• hospital care, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy
• surgical care
Since this is essentially a private insurance system, the level of coverage will depend on your premium: you may wish to opt for more comprehensive insurance, for instance, which covers prescription charges.
Your doctor or dentist will usually claim costs directly from your insurance company. Payments are based on a government-set Standard Health Insurance Fee (SHIF) schedule, but it is advisable to get a preliminary quote, particularly for extensive treatment, since medical services are not legally obliged to keep within the SHIF guidelines and any additional costs must be borne by the claimant.
The Cayman Islands are home to a thriving financial industry, operating as an offshore financial centre for overseas investors. Obtaining an international banking license, sometimes called an offshore license, has traditionally required less regulation and transparency than, for example, a banking license in the United States or many European countries.
The jurisdictions offering these licenses become known as offshore financial centres regardless of their physical place in the world. Andorra, Luxembourg and Switzerland are landlocked nations, but their tax arrangements mean they are referred to in the same terms as the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and the Cayman Islands.
These countries and territories are also referred to as tax havens, because little or no tax is charged on the wealth deposited there. Some individuals and organisations have used these offshore accounts to hide taxable wealth from their domestic government agencies and even launder the gains of criminal activity.
However, offshore investments are changing. A number of initiatives to tackle the financing of terrorism, money laundering and related crime have been undertaken on an impressive global scale. These include the financial action task force’s blacklist of Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCT). Many countries have now signed agreements to share bank account information with the tax authorities of the account holder’s resident nation.
Furthermore, government authorities may legally use stolen documents to investigate and prosecute cases of tax evasion. Secret information has been handed over to the press and governments on a number of recent occasions. In 2016, 11.5 million documents now known as the Panama Papers were electronically leaked from the Panamanian law firm and corporate services provider Mossack Fonseca, allowing the international media to discuss in detail the offshore wealth arrangements of politicians, celebrities and other notable people. A year later, a second leak of 13.4 million electronic documents from the offshore service providers Appleby, Estera and Asiaciti Trust as well as 19 tax havens become known as the Paradise Papers. There are many other, lesser known but still revealing, cases.
A combination of multi-government action and document leaks mean offshore account holders are aware they may have their wealth holdings declared to their domestic tax authorities or included in media scandals. Offshore accounts are no longer seen as a place for tax evasion, and offshore banks do not want business which could discredit them.
What Are The Advantages Of Holding An Offshore Account?
Although the secrecy aspect should no longer be a reason to open an offshore account, there are a number of other benefits which are still attractive to investors. For example, a number of countries experience political and financial instability which can make currencies and financial assets insecure. Keeping your investments offshore in these circumstances protects their value.
The low tax environment can be used to your advantage as long as your wealth is fully declared to your domestic tax authorities, which you are usually required to do. You are likely to pay tax as a result, in line with the fiscal laws, but this would occur later than if your tax had been deducted immediately as interest was paid.
Furthermore, you may have your investment structured in a way which does not make you personally liable for taxes to the same extent as it would if you are an individual investor. Trusts and foundations are examples of this.
It used to be the case that offshore accounts would pay higher rates of interest, but this is rarely true these days. However, it may be possible to invest in financial vehicles that are inaccessible or unaffordable elsewhere.
Finally, the thriving financial centre in the Cayman Islands generates income, jobs and facilities which would otherwise be absent. It can be argued that the low tax regime means benefits are not fairly distributed, but without finance, the islands would have little industry to support them beyond tourism.
How Many Banks Are In the Cayman Islands?
The number of banks operating in the Cayman Islands fluctuates. According to AboutTheBanks.EU, there are currently 149 banks remaining in the Islands following the closure of a further 70 banks. Many of these are branches and subsidiaries of large, global banks. They are joined by private banks and a raft of financial services including hedge funds and insurance houses.
If you are looking for a bank account in the Cayman Islands, all the usual advice about interest rates, account charges and other terms and conditions apply. However, you must also be careful to check the bank’s credit rating and – importantly – the level of deposit guarantee. Most consumers weren’t even aware of this valuable protection for bank account funds until the global financial crisis of 2008 put banks around the world into jeopardy.
Under international pressure, the banks are increasingly careful about the account holders they accept. You will need to provide documentation to confirm your identity, and may be asked questions about the source of your income and wealth.
Cash In the Cayman Islands
The official currency of the Cayman Islands is the Caymanian dollar, shortened to KYD and displayed as $ or CI$ on price lists. It can be divided into 100 cents. One Caymanian dollar is worth slightly less than a US dollar, and the two currencies are fixed.
The frequently used coins are for 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents. The banknotes most commonly used are for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 Caymanian dollars.
If you are withdrawing cash from an ATM using a card issued in the United States, you may be asked if you want to receive your cash in US dollars or KYD. US dollars are not official currency in the Cayman Islands and merchants are not under compulsion to accept them for payment, although in reality, many do.
Credit And Debit Cards In the Cayman Islands
Visa, Mastercard and AMEX are all widely accepted across the Cayman Islands. There are very few transactions where you cannot use a card or will be charged to use one. You do not need to withdraw and carry about large amounts of cash, it is an unnecessary risk.
If your card is registered in your home country, you will be charged a foreign transaction fee (often three percent) for each use in the Cayman Islands. Many merchants will convert the payment into US dollars for their customers from the States, but it is up to the card company as to whether they levy their foreign transaction charge on the payment. Some do, and some don’t. Meanwhile, you risk the merchant charging you more for the conversion.
If your stay in the Cayman Islands is not for long, you can seek out a card which will not charge foreign transaction fees anywhere in the world. They are normally offered without the cashback, airmiles or low rates of interest which are used to promote other cards.
If you are living on the Cayman Islands for any length of time, it is important to obtain a card registered to your address there. This way, you will avoid foreign transaction charges altogether when shopping locally.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers
Situated south of Cuba in the Caribbean, the three Cayman Islands are a British dependency, with a population approaching 70,000 people, of whom 60% are of African or multi-racial ethnicity, with the rest of the population being mainly English. There is a small but active expat community.
The Cayman Islands have a very lenient tax regime, and provide offshore banking facilities for major multi-national companies. Famously there are twice as many companies as residents in the islands. There is no income or corporation tax, but indirect tax and import duties are relatively high, giving the government a significant source of revenue.
The official language in Cayman Islands is British English, spoken by the entire population. Additionally, in common with most Caribbean islands with a British history, Caymanians have developed their own style of Patois, based on Jamaican Patois, and this is widely used throughout the islands.
If English is not your native tongue, then learning or improving it will naturally help you to communicate and settle better, and it will be vital in the workplace. It is preferable to possess a level of confidence and proficiency in English before you arrive.
You may need to consider an online English course, or attending an international school. This is especially important if you need occupation-specific proficiency, for example in banking, finance, or medical English.
There are many courses in English available on the internet catering for all levels. Some will be free to a certain level. There are also several international language schools in the Cayman Islands with a wide variety of courses in English to help you when you arrive.
Commerce and general conversation on the island will be in English; these daily interactions will improve your level of proficiency fairly quickly, as you will essentially be immersed in the language and culture. You should also be able to find locals willing to coach you or encourage you by engaging in conversation over a coffee or a beer.
You may also wish to explore the idea of learning Spanish, which is the third largest language per capita in the world, spoken by almost half a billion people worldwide. The Caribbean is flanked by many Spanish speaking countries, and some facility in the language will help you if you wish to visit them.
There are many excellent Spanish language courses available on the internet, some free (if you don’t mind the advertising). There are also a number of Spanish learning opportunities, particularly in the capital, George Town, and plenty more in Latin America.
Linguistic experts recommend an immersive learning experience as the quickest and most reliable method to acquire or consolidate a new language. If you need to improve your English, this should be a matter of going about and engaging with the local population, reading English books or newspapers, and watching English-language TV or films without subtitles.
Similarly for learning or improving your Spanish, immersing yourself in Spanish language television and newspapers is a good plan.
Expat learners report that teaching standards locally are generally very good. There are also a few locals who offer private coaching, particularly in George Town.
There are employment opportunities in the Cayman Islands too, mainly in the specialist banking and finance sector, and a few in tourism. Fluent English is expected, and good qualifications for the more specialist positions.
Teaching English in the Cayman Islands is another possibility. There are several international schools, and contracts can be anything from six months upwards. These teaching jobs are available to anyone with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate. Please note that it is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Most language teaching jobs would be in the capital, George Town. Rates of pay vary considerably, and if you are intending to stay long-term you need to factor in the high cost of living, and your own desired lifestyle.
If you intend to teach English in the Cayman Islands, it is preferable to have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.
You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality or medical English.
All children of compulsory school age living on the Cayman Islands must receive an education. Children are eligible for Year 1 if they have celebrated their fifth birthday by the start of September, although they can attend reception class a year earlier. Pupils may leave education at the end of Year 12, when they are 17, but many continue their studies.
The government has used worldwide research to establish that more successful education systems often introduce children to compulsory education at a later age. Therefore, while children can access childcare which builds skills in communication and social interaction before they are age of five, this new, higher age for the start of compulsory formal education was recently introduced. Parents may make an application for their child to access the education system earlier if they wish.
Cayman Islands Government Schools
The department of education services for the Cayman Islands has a well organised and useful website which sets out national policies, admissions procedure, and information about government schools, news and announcements.
The school year begins at the end of August, and closes at the beginning of July.
Government-run schools are only available to the children of Cayman Island citizens, and are based on catchment areas. If you move to the Cayman Islands you will be faced with the choice of private schooling or home-schooling. This is because there is a shortage of school places. The only exception is if an expat is working for a Cayman Islands government service, but the parent will then be asked for a set fee, although this will be a much cheaper option than a private school.
Before children are offered a place at a government school, parents must complete an application. The child must also undergo a health check as schooling starts.
Religious Teaching In The Cayman Islands
Religious education is a compulsory subject for government schools to deliver, although parents have the right to withdraw students from this. The national policy requires education about Christianity and other major world religions. Staff and teachers may not promote or discriminate against any religious denomination.
The department of education services has a national policy regarding school uniform. It is compulsory and aims to increase pupils’ sense of pride, belonging and discipline.
Each government school can determine the style of uniform, as long as it complies with the national standards. These are specific. For example, black shoes or sneakers with no other colours, skirts no higher than an inch above the knee, no jewellery except watches and only plain stud earrings (except at the Light House school, where no earrings are permitted at all). Anything that suggests gang membership is forbidden.
All items must be comfortable, affordable, easy to maintain, and be anti-discriminatory.
Private Schools In The Cayman Islands
Private schools are attended by the children of citizens who have made an active choice to pay for education, which is common, as well as the children of expats who are unable to access the government school places.
Many children are sent away to boarding schools in the United States as they get older. Others access private education for A-Levels at CPHS and St. Ignatius. Since government high schools do not offer A-Levels, pupils can apply for state help with fees, dependent on their GCSE grades.
Due to the heavy demand for private education in the Cayman Islands, private schools have long waiting lists and normally include assessments as part of the application process. It is recommended that parents make applications to at least two schools as far in advance as possible. Each application will require a completed form, passport sized photographs, copies of the birth certificate, and a fee.
Applicants will normally be given preference if a sibling is already attending the school, or if one of the parents attended the same school as a child. Faith-based schools will also give preference to active members of the associated religion. A pre-kindergarten class is run for toddlers at St. Ignatius Catholic School and at Cayman International School. This further reduces the places available for older year groups.
The Health Screening
Regardless of whether a child is entering a public or private school in the Cayman Islands for the first time, they are required to undergo a health screening.
This series of checks is performed by public health department staff for free. They are offered between June and August depending on your area of residence.
Your child’s hearing and vision will be tested, they will have a dental check-up, their growth and development will be assessed, and their personal history examined. If any vaccinations are outstanding, they will be offered at this session.
Popular Schools In The Cayman Islands
The government schools of George Hicks and John Gray High School will only accept applications on behalf of the children of Cayman Island citizens or expats who work for the government. They are both in George Town.
Being a conservative and religious country, it is not surprising that many of the popular private schools are faith schools. These include the Cayman Preparatory and High School, the St. Ignatius Preparatory and High School, the Triple C School and the First Baptist Christian School, all of which are also in George Town. The Grace Christian Academy is based in West Bay.
Meanwhile, there are popular schools delivering the American system of education. The Cayman International School and the Hope Academy are located in George Town.
The small school Montessori by the Sea is on Prospect Road Point, Patrick’s Island.
Cayman Island Home-Schooling
It is legal for children to be home-schooled in the Cayman Islands. However, for the protection of the children, strict regulations are in place which must be adhered to.
You must formally apply to the department of education services for permission to home-school by 1st August. In the event that home-schooling starts part way through the school year, either because you move to the islands or because you remove your child from a school setting, you have 14 days to make the formal application. All applications need to be fully complete and you may be asked for supporting evidence. You will receive a decision letter within 10 working days.
When home-schooling, you must maintain attendance records. Each child is also required to have an individual home-school plan. This must include a wide range of details about the child and their location, the textbooks and syllabus to be used, and plan of instruction for core subjects along with details of the qualifications held by the home instructor.
There must also be a statement confirming that the home-schooling meets the educational requirements of the Education Law 2010 revised sections 13 & 14. This requires a minimum of 4.5 hours of study (excluding breaks) for 185 days each year.
You will be asked to submit reports to the department twice a year. In addition, a government inspector will visit you twice a year to inspect your home-school facilities and practice. One of these visits will be arranged, whilst the other will be unannounced.
If you are a home-schooling parent, you may find contact with similar families on Facebook useful. That way you can share the highs and lows of home-schooling with people who are in the same situation and who won’t judge your decision to educate your children at home.