Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What services are provided by the International Business Division?

The International Business Division is the Department of Government responsible for the licensing and registration of International Business Companies (IBCs), International Societies with Restricted Liability (ISRLs) and International Trusts (ITs).

Question: Who can I contact to enquire about investing in Barbados?

Invest Barbados is the Investment Promotion Agency of the Government of Barbados responsible for landing, facilitating and sustaining international investment for Barbados. Invest Barbados can be contacted at info@investbarbados.org or (246) 626-2000 for any queries relative to investing in Barbados

Question: What is an IBC?

An International Business Company (IBC) is a company incorporated under the provisions of the Barbados Companies Act, licensed under the IBC Act Cap. 77 of the Laws of Barbados.  IBCs may carry on international manufacturing or international trade and commerce. They may manufacture, process, or otherwise prepare products for export outside of Barbados or provide services to non-residents of Barbados.  All companies wishing to operate as IBCs must obtain a licence from the International Business Division, Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development. 

Question: What is an SRL?

This is an entity formed under the Societies with Restricted Liability (SRL) Act 1995 which possesses the flexibility to be treated as a corporation, or a partnership. An SRL can be formed either as an International society or a non-exempt society. International Societies with Restricted Liability (ISRLs) are used mainly for international transactions and are prohibited from acquiring land in Barbados and from transacting business with residents. International Societies with Restricted Liability are licensed by the International Business Division, Ministry of Industry, International Business and Small Business Development.

Question: What is an International Trust?

The concept of a trust is recognized by Barbados law, as Barbados law is based on English common law and equity. The law regarding trusts is supplemented by the Barbados Trustee Act and the International Trusts Act. International Trusts are governed by the International Trusts Act Cap. 245. These International Trusts are registered with the International Business Division.

Question: Are IBCs, SRLs, and International Trusts required by law to pay corporation tax?

Yes. The rates range between 0.25% to 2.5%.

Question: How do I go about applying for an IBC or ISRL licence?

In order to be licensed, IBCs or ISRLs first need to be incorporated at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office. Following incorporation, the company must then be licensed. There are Application forms for licensing IBCs and ISRLs and Annual forms relative to IBCs and ISRLs to be completed every year. The Ministry’s Practice Directions #2-2014 and #3-2014 outlining key information relative to licensing should also be read, in conjunction with completing relevant forms.

Question: What is the cost of licensing an entity?

With respect to an International Society with Restricted Liability and an International Business Company, the fee is made up of an application fee of Bds $250.00 and a prescribed licence fee of Bds $1000. (US $1.00 = Bds $1.98). Payment must be made by cheque to the Permanent Secretary, (International Business Division), Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, drawn on a local bank account.

Question: What is the cost of registering an International Trust?

The fee for the registration of an International Trust is Bds $1100. (US $1.00 = Bds $1.98). Payment must be made by cheque to the Permanent Secretary (International Business Division), Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, drawn on a local bank account.

Question: What if I change service providers, must the Ministry be notified?

If licensees change service providers, the Ministry will not release any documents relative to the licensee to the new service provider unless a letter by an official of the licensee is submitted indicating that this new service provider is now authorised to act on the licensee's behalf.

Question: To whom should cheques be written?

Cheques should be written to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development.

Question: Are there any penalties for late filing?

Yes. If the licensee does not pay the prescribed fee by December 31st, the licensee should pay the prescribed annual fee (Bds$1,000) in addition to a pecuniary penalty for the late payment (equal in the amount of the annual fee Bds$1,000) by 1st February of the year to which fee relates. If the fee remains unpaid after February 1st, the licence may be subject to cancellation by the Minister.

Question: What is a reinstatement and how much does it cost?

Prior to the International Business (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014, any licence renewal application received after February 1st was treated as a reinstatement. Reinstatements could only be granted to licensees within five (5) years of the expiration date of the last licence. The fee for the reinstatement of a licence was BDS $2100 for each year for which the company was being reinstated.

Question: Are companies still eligible for reinstatement following the introduction of the International Business (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014?

Any company which was eligible to apply for the reinstatement of its licence (at August 2014) will continue to be eligible for as long as it would have remained so eligible (i.e. within 5 years of the date of expiration of its licence) had the International Business (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014 not commenced. Where this reinstatement application is approved the fee of BDS $2100 shall be payable.

Question: Is any other currency accepted by the Ministry?

No. Only Barbados currency is accepted by the Ministry.

Question: How do I apply for a reinstatement?

The Annual Form for IBCs and ISRLs is used to apply for the reinstatement of a licence.

Question: How long does it take to process an initial licence?

If the application form is completed fully and ALL the supporting documentation is provided, an initial licence may be issued in three (3) working days.

Question: How long does it take to process the Annual Form?

Since the introduction of the International Business (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014 on August 25, 2014, all valid licences are considered indefinite licences, on condition that an Annual Form is submitted and that the prescribed fee is paid. The validity of the licence continues once payment is made and relevant information received.

Question: How long does it take to process a licence reinstatement?

Once the requisite information is provided, a licence reinstatement should take no more than three (3) working days for the certificate to be issued. The application for the registration of an International Trust can be found here.

Question: Do I have to apply through a service provider?

Licensees must use the services of a service provider in submitting applications for an initial licence or in submitting Annual Forms to the Ministry. Declaration Forms must be signed by an individual who is not a director, officer, senior manager or shareholder of the proposed entity.

Question: Who is a service provider?

The Corporate and Trust Service Providers Act 2015-12 is intended to regulate the activities of persons that provide certain corporate and trust services to specified entities within the international business sector, as listed in the First Schedule of the Act.

Question: How do I know that my licence is ready?

The Division will advise you when the licence is ready by telephone or by e-mail.

Question: Is it possible to get copies of licences?

The service provider must request a certified copy of the licence at a cost of Bds $75 a copy.

Question: Can a Barbados national be the sole shareholder of an IBC or ISRL?

Yes. Barbadians can hold 100% of the shares in an IBC or ISRL.

Question: Does Barbados have Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) in force?

Yes, Barbados is a treaty-based jurisdiction with thirty-six (36) DTAs currently in force. Please see here for a list of the treaties in force to date.

Question: Does Barbados have Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) in force?

Yes. At present eleven BITs have been signed, nine (9) of which are currently in force. Please see here for further details.

Question: What are the regulatory agencies for international banking and insurance in Barbados?

The Central Bank of Barbados is the supervisory/regulatory authority for the operations of the domestic and offshore banking sectors.

The Financial Services Commission has responsibility for the supervision and regulation of the non-banking financial services sector. This includes the international insurance sector.

Question: Are taxes levied in Barbados?

Yes. The Barbados Revenue Authority  is the agency responsible for levying taxes.

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