Employment and Business Rules

Working in the BVI (British Virgin Islands)

Working in the BVI - Local Employment Rules for Foreigners

If, as a foreigner, you have received a job offer or would like to start working in the British Virgin Islands, you must be sponsored by the BVI company that is planning to employ you.

BVI employment law favors citizens (“Belongers”) to be awarded local jobs, as long as they meet the same qualifications as the foreigner being considered. Before finalizing a job offer to you, your prospective employer is required to advertise the position in a BVI newspaper for two consecutive weeks.

If a Belonger who qualifies for the position does not come forward, the next step for you is to secure a work permit. Approvals vary but typically take two to three months. Application forms are usually prepared by the prospective employer but can also be acquired through the Labour Department in Road Town.

A copy of the employment offer must accompany the applicant as well as:

  • birth certificate
  • passport
  • medical examination documents
  • police records if applicable
  • the location where the prospective employee plans to reside.

Working in the BVI - BVI Self-Employment / Starting a BVI Business

If you are wondering if it’s possible to relocate yourself and your business to the British Virgin Islands or start a new business here, the answer is “maybe.” First, you will need to apply to obtain a trade license to operate.

Your application must be submitted to the BVI Trade Department. Approval times for trade licenses vary greatly, depending on which category your proposed business falls into. Some types of businesses will be approved only if you will be in partnership with a local citizen (“Belonger”).

Once a trade license is granted, as strange as it seems, you will also have to apply for a work permit before starting to operate your new business in the BVI. Employment law normally requires all prospective jobs to be advertised in the local papers and awarded to a Belonger if he or she is just as qualified as the prospective foreign employee. However, this step is not required for the position of a director in a BVI company.

For further information contact the BVI Immigration, Labour or Trade Departments at (284) 494-3701.

Working in the BVI