Starting a business in the Bahamas isn't cheap, at least for foreigners. The Bahamas Investment Authority requires a minimum capital investment of a half-million Bahamian dollars, roughly equal to the same amount in U.S. dollars. If you want to run a business in a tropical paradise, there are other hoops you'll have to jump through.
Make Them a Pitch
Whether you represent a corporation or just yourself, you have to submit your proposal to the Investment Authority along with the proof you have enough money to invest. The proposal should detail your business idea and business plan, your principal investors, the environmental impact and where in the Bahamas you want to set up shop. The authority also wants to know how you'll benefit the Bahamian economy, for example whether new businesses can spin off from yours.
The Business License
The government has business license applications available online and at bricks-and-mortar local government offices. You use the form to register your business name and structure -- a partnership, corporation or limited liability company, for instance -- and to reserve a trade name for your company. The form also gives the government your name, contact information and the nature of your business. You also have to detail the products or services you plan to provide.
The Bahamas maintains a long list of businesses that require more than just a basic license. Accountants, for example, need certification from the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants. Boat rental businesses must register with the Port Authority. Funeral homes need a certificate of sanitation and pool halls must ask for approval from the Ministry of Tourism. The business license form includes a list of required approvals for various professions and contact information for the agency that gives the OK.
If you want to incorporate your business, you have more paperwork to do. You have to search the corporate-name database and reserve a name for your own company. You need to draw up a memorandum and articles of association establishing your company and have them notarized. The memorandum goes to the Treasury Department along with a fee, while you file the articles with the Bahamas Companies Registry. You then obtain a National Insurance Number for the company, after which you apply for a business license.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.