St. Maarten Immigration policy: Important things you should know

St. Maarten Immigration policy

Resurfacing after the global lock-down of 2020 has been an ever-changing ordeal that has left many St. Maarten business owners often times with more questions than answers – particularly as it relates to immigration policy. Also stemming from the pandemic is a greater interest from foreign employees working from remote, especially in connection to persons offering professional services from the comfort of the Caribbean to the international market.

Most of us that have been living for many years on St Maarten, can recall (particularly prior to the pandemic), when the immigration process was more of a “do-it-yourself” option. There was not a real need for a qualified immigration specialist to ensure your file was truly compliant. Compliance in St Maarten – like in many other jurisdictions – is more likely to be placed at the forefront, as countries make efforts to preserve and protect their respective economies.
Here are some important details you need to consider before advancing on your immigration process in St Maarten:
1. Income earning levels for Guarantors have increased – The minimum requirements for guarantors was previously set at an annual income earnings level of NAF 24,000 (USD 13,334); however, as of June 1st 2021 this minimum threshold has been raised by approximately 50 percent. Additionally, the earnings must now be verified by way of filed tax declarations, supported by bank statements, pay slips, and job letter if required.

2. The difference between indefinite and permanent – Compliance is key everywhere we go and as a non-national legally residing in a foreign country, your stay has direct ties to your compliance and adherence to the local requirements and regulations of that jurisdiction. It is important to emphasize this, because in past many people have mistakenly used the term “permanent” to describe a residency permit that has no explicit expiration date. Non-compliance to tax policy, as well as inability to provide sufficient means of income can be reason for an indefinite residency to be revoked. Please remain mindful that residency permits are not “permanent” and can indeed be rescinded or revoked for non-compliance.

3. Managing Directors must show detailed business activity – Managing director programs are also under more scrutiny to protect the local labor market, as well as to ensure that those being granted a temporary residency permit are actually investing in, and exploiting, a business on island. This must be supported for first-time applicants with evidence of sufficient funds to start the business (a minimum reserve of NAF 36,000/USD 20,000) is the benchmark currently observed. Applicants for extension must show fiscal activity supported by monthly tax declarations, as well as annual tax filings. Although employment of a national is not currently a requirement, it is strongly encouraged.

Choosing your immigration services provider is now, more so than before, a very important decision that can have an impact on your livelihood and plans for many years to come. Verifiable experience, trust and reputation should be your deciding factors rather than simply price and location. The Team at BrightPath consists of multiple members with over 30 years of collective experience in the immigration and business incorporation services sector.

With tens of millions of dollars of client investments to St Maarten with the support of BrightPath, a regional presence in the English-speaking Caribbean, and more than 1,800 files handled in the past 8 years of business – it’s understandable why BrightPath continues to be the most recognized and trusted immigration services provider for the Caribbean.

sint marteen bright path caribbean airplane

What documents do I need to start a business in Sint Maarten

Starting a Business in Sint Maarten

If you are a foreign national who is exploring the possibility of incorporating a new business in St. Maarten, this article contains very valuable information that will allow you to make an educated decision. 

In addition to the benefits of being able to invoice in United States currency and receive revenues in US dollars, foreign nationals may find St. Maarten particularly attractive due to its business-friendly jurisdiction. Unlike many other Caribbean jurisdictions that require businesses to go through the Central Bank to retain or bank funds in US dollars, St. Maarten offers a more streamlined process for foreign investors.

Starting from March 1, 2024, the Sint Maarten Chamber of Commerce will require all ultimate beneficial owners to be reported, functioning as a company registry. This allows foreigners and non-residents to have full ownership of their businesses on the island without the need for local shareholders or directors. This level of autonomy enables foreign investors to have complete control over their business entity in St. Maarten.

For many foreign business owners, registering their business entity abroad as a foreign incorporation to conduct business in St. Maarten is a preferred option. While the specific requirements may vary depending on the industry or business sector, this approach offers a viable solution for projects that can be executed within a shorter timeframe. If you’re interested in exploring how to register your existing foreign entity to operate in St. Maarten, you can take advantage of a free consultation to receive personalized advice on the necessary requirements and obligations.

Business tax obligations are a critical aspect to consider when embarking on starting a business in St. Maarten. BrightPath Caribbean understands the significance of navigating tax requirements and relies on the expertise of Haven SXM to provide business owners with comprehensive tax advice, administration, and accounting services. Ensuring compliance with tax regulations is essential for the success and sustainability of your business venture in a foreign jurisdiction.

Furthermore, BrightPath Caribbean offers registered office services that can streamline the process of establishing and licensing your business in Sint Maarten. This service allows you to have a physical presence on the island without the immediate commitment of a long-term commercial real estate lease or purchase. By leveraging this option, you can test the waters and establish your business operations gradually, mitigating financial risks and ensuring a smooth transition into the St. Maarten business landscape.

When you are ready to take the next step and physically establish your business in Sint Maarten, you can rely on the expertise of Bright Future Realty, our affiliate real estate agency. Their experienced agents can guide you through the real estate process, helping you find the ideal commercial space for your operations. Additionally, they can assist in relocating the principal owners, key staff, and their families, ensuring a seamless transition and settling process on the island.

By engaging with BrightPath, you gain access to a comprehensive suite of services that support every aspect of your business establishment journey in St. Maarten. From tax advisory and administration to registered office services and real estate support, we are committed to ensuring your success and providing a smooth and efficient transition into the vibrant business environment of St. Maarten.

If you are considering establishing your business in St Maarten, we encourage you to schedule your free consultation with our team.  As St. Maarten’s most trusted and recognized corporate and immigration services provider, rely on BrightPath to provide you with a personalized consultation that addresses key factors such as work permits for key staff, sources for hiring of qualified personnel within the island, and importing of your inventory and/or personal items to start your business in St. Maarten.  Did you know that St. Maarten does not levy any duties or taxes on imports?  This makes the relocation process more affordable and provisions for a lower cost of goods on imported items. 

At BrightPath Caribbean, we can provide you with fully integrated and comprehensive services to facilitate you in starting your business in St Maarten.

BrightPath’s comprehensive services extend beyond just the initial incorporation process for foreign investors looking to establish their business in Sint Maarten. Once your business entity has been successfully registered, our dedicated team can assist you with navigating the pre-operating requirements that are crucial for the smooth operation of your business on the island.

One essential step is the first-time registration of your business at the SZV Department, which oversees the social and health insurance administration in Sint Maarten. This registration is mandatory for businesses employing individuals on the island and ensures compliance with local regulations. Additionally, BrightPath can also handle the registration process at the local Department of Labor, facilitating the necessary steps for your business to operate legally and sustainably in St. Maarten.

As the most sought-after firm for foreign business owners, BrightPath is well-equipped to guide you through the complexities of establishing and running a business in St. Maarten. Our expertise in compliance requirements and regulatory processes ensures that you can focus on growing your business while we take care of the administrative details.

Furthermore, once the Department of Economic Licenses approves the foreign director’s license under the Ministry of Tourism Economic Affairs Telecommunication and Transport (“TEATT”), foreign nationals looking to reside on St. Maarten must apply for a residence permit at the Department of Immigration, Border Protection Services. This additional step is crucial for foreign investors planning to live on the island and is seamlessly handled by BrightPath to facilitate a smooth transition for you and your business.

In addition to the standard business license, certain businesses such as bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and food-related industries may require an Operational License for specific operations. BrightPath can assist in obtaining these specialized licenses and guide you through the application process, ensuring that your business complies with all necessary regulations and permits in St. Maarten.

Whether you are considering establishing a new business or acquiring an existing one, BrightPath’s integrated solutions cater to all your needs as a foreign investor in Sint Maarten. Our expert team is committed to providing you with personalized guidance and support at every step of the way, from incorporation to operational licenses and beyond. Contact us today for a free consultation and let BrightPath be your trusted partner in navigating the intricacies of starting and running a successful business in St. Maarten.

Below is a generalized example of documents required to incorporate your business in St. Maarten:

  • A copy of the passport bio page for all shareholder(s) and director(s) of the business to be incorporated.  This must be presented at our office in its original form, or by notarized copy via email. 
  • A second form of government-issued identification such as a driver’s license or state-issued identification card for all shareholder(s) and director(s) of the business to be incorporated.  This must be presented at our office in its original form, or by notarized copy via email. 
  • For all shareholder(s) and director(s) of the business to be incorporated, two separate utility bills or statements confirming name and residential address, issued within the past 90 days.  These must be presented at our office in original form, or by notarized copy via email. 
  • For all shareholder(s) and director(s), a recent police clearance certificate (certificate of good conduct), issued by the country of current legal residence. 

Learn more about opening a restaurant business in Sint Maarten by scheduling your consultation and a representative can provide you with commercial real estate options adequate for restaurant facilities, liquor license, and events, as well as all relevant advice about the establishment of your restaurant business.  Considering buying an existing restaurant business? Ask us, we are the experts! 


1. What are the benefits for foreign nationals incorporating a business in Sint Maarten?
Foreign nationals benefit from being able to invoice and receive revenues in US dollars, full ownership of their businesses without the need for local shareholders or directors, and a streamlined process for retaining or banking funds in US dollars.

2. What are the general document requirements to incorporate a business in Sint Maarten?
Required documents include a copy of the passport bio page for all shareholders and directors, a second form of government-issued identification, two separate utility bills or statements confirming residential address, and a recent police clearance certificate.

3. What services does BrightPath Caribbean provide to foreign business owners in Sint Maarten?
BrightPath Caribbean offers comprehensive services including tax advisory and administration, registered office services, assistance with business and operational licenses, real estate support, and guidance through the registration and compliance processes for social and health insurance and labor regulations.

Do you have additional questions?

Contact us today for a free consultation and let us guide you throughout the process!


Sint Maarten is a top Caribbean destination for tourism and investment


If you’re ready for your next tropical getaway, but aren’t sure which island is right for you, this blog post can help you choose your next Caribbean destination – whether it’s for business or pleasure. There are many islands to visit in the Caribbean, but St. Maarten is the top Caribbean destination for investment and tourism!

The list below was put together by Ben Souza for CruiseFever and showcases the top Caribbean destinations as decided by travelers.

Top 10 Caribbean Destinations for Tourism and Investment:

10. Roatán: This is an island located on the coast of Honduras, it’s a great tropical getaway with its sandy white beaches. The mild climate and friendly people will make your experience feel simply delightful. Also, Roatán is known for having the second largest coral reef system in the world.

9. Ocho Rios: Located on the coast of Jamaica, known for its world-class resorts and impressive beach clubs. If you are looking to propose, here you will find a wide selection of precious jewelry and gems. You will feel comfortable all-season round, Jamaican style.

8. Oranjestad: This city is the capital of Aruba. It has a combination of antique and modern which makes this island unique. It has accessible beaches that will have you enjoying this small city all day long.

7. St. Kitts: If you enjoy trees and being outdoors, this island located in the West Indies is great for you. It has a wild rainforest that expands all over the island instead of shrinking. It’s also known for its diving and scuba areas if you’re looking for more adventure.

6. San Juan: This popular city is the capital of Puerto Rico. Take a tour in this city and explore every known and historic corner. And you will not have visited San Juan without making a stop at Finca Cialitos, known to be a coffee house where the owner cultivates and roasts his own coffee beans.

5. Grand Turk: The island located in the Caribbean is known for its famous port that has nearly 18 acres of landscape grounds. From blue waters to one of the largest swimming pools of the Caribbean, you will be enjoying nothing but fun.

4. Grand Cayman: The largest of the three Cayman Islands. Discover the beauty of these beaches when looking for relaxation. If you are looking for something more adventurous take a visit to Stingray City, where you will get the play with friendly Southern Stingrays.

3. Cozumel: One of the most visited ports in the Caribbean, will have you in activity once you arrive. This Mexican island has an incredible culture, they don’t think that hospitality it’s just a practice, and they consider it a belief.

2. St. Thomas: Second one on the list is known for its shopping and its Cosmopolitan style. It has the prettiest beaches, stunning panoramic views and exciting nightlife. Take the Skyride 700 feet tall and have an incredible view of the city from above.

1. St. Maarten: And we’ve arrived to the number one top Caribbean destination for tourism and investment! What can’t you do on this island with its architecture and exotic beaches? St Maarten has been voted as the best cruise port in the world for two years in a row. Since cruises arrive daily, the tourism is one of the financial motors of this island. Its cultural and natural wealth makes this island perfect not only to take short vacations but to live here. This island is also called the gastronomic capital of the Caribbean, so looking for good restaurants here will be no problem. St Maarten has a stable growing economy, making it the highest income per capita island on the Caribbean.

At BrightPath Caribbean, we believe in the growing success of this island, so we are here to help you set up your business in St. Maarten. We only handle quality investments that will yield a financial impact both for the investor and the island. Now is the perfect time to initiate your business and stay in St. Maarten with all the advantages this island can provide you.

Do you have any questions?


Work permits and Residency permits in Sint Maarten

Learn More About Work and Residency Permits for St. Maarten

BrightPath Caribbean was established in 2013 as a corporate and immigration services provider.  Over one decade in business operations, and an extensive network of valuable relationships with both private and public sectors alike, we are the most reliable and trustworthy firm for immigration and work permit requests. 

If you are a business owner, human resource manager, or employer on Sint Maarten, rely on BrightPath to provide you with the advice, consultation, and immigration services you need to determine if the employment candidate that you are considering for hire has a high probability of success when applying for a work and residency permit.  This is important to determine from the onset because work permit requests can often be timely and costly, with upfront fees due to government and relocation expenses in connection to the employee to consider as well.   

Also important to highlight for work permit processes is that the employee must remain abroad for the duration of the decision-making process.  This is extremely critical to note because a labor agreement must be signed with the non-national employee while the employee remains abroad.  Therefore, relying on the skillset and expertise of the team at BrightPath is essential to align clear, achievable goals for both the employer and the employee as to the timeframes, costs, and expectations. 

Our referral partners at HaVen SXM and BrightFuture Realty are at your full disposal to address matters regarding taxation and housing, each respectively, making the work permit process a seamless and integrated one that will save you time, and money, and increase the likelihood of a positive employee relocation experience.  No other firm in Sint Maarten offers this suite of services under one roof. 

If your employee will relocate to Sint Maarten with immediate family, they too may qualify for temporary residency under the employee’s work and residency permit in St Maarten.  BrightPath can assist with the immigration process that must be undertaken at both the Department of Labor Affairs for the work permit and the Immigration Border Protection Services Department for the respective residency permits for the employee and the immediate family members.  Because a school letter will be required for all children between ages 4 and 16 years, BrightPath can support the employee’s family relocation by offering private enrollment services at school institutions accredited in the United States or Canada depending on the employee’s preference. 

When applying for an employment permit for a non-national, particularly at the management level, the employee may qualify for tax benefits as an expat.  With BrightPath, payroll and tax exemption services requests are processed by way of our referral partners at HaVen SXM and we can offer an integrated approach that may help in the finalization of employee benefits packages that are essential when trying to attract the right candidate.   

In general terms, work permits must first be petitioned and registered as a vacancy at the Department of Labor, to announce the details, requirements, and compensation of the role and to allow for suitable candidates to be sourced from within the local labor pool.  A mandatory minimum five-week waiting period is allotted for local applicants to submit their interest in writing with documentation to support their qualifications.  During this time, an advertisement of the vacancy in mention must be placed in the local newspapers announcing the open vacancy and informing interested, qualified parties of where to submit their application with a copy of the application to be sent to the National Employment Employment Services Center which is a division of the Department of Labor Affairs.  The latter is the adjudicating department on the work permit request filed.   

BrightPath Caribbean services Sint Maarten Work Permit

Why do we elaborate with so much detail on what the work permit process entails?  Because work permits in Sint Maarten are for qualified candidates who truly meet the criteria of an employment position.  They are petitioned by the employer and the initial costs are borne solely by the employer.  Relying on the right service provider, such as BrightPath, will help you determine if your candidate has a high (or low) probability of success before we start services.  Work permit application fees alone can go up to USD 1,700 payable directly to the Government of Sint Maarten, so ensuring that your candidate has documented qualifications is essential before engaging our services.  A free consultation with a representative from BrightPath can assist in determining that and a detailed cost estimate from BrightPath can determine the costs, timeframes, and documentation required to move forward with us in processing your work permit request. 


Also to consider is that if you are a citizen of the United States of America, the work permit process detailed herein will not apply to you.  To learn more about the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty and what benefits for employment and residency on St Maarten this may grant you as a U.S. passport holder, read this article and schedule your free consultation with BrightPath. 

Retirees do not qualify for work permits because the retiree immigration program allows for residency only and is not requested at the Department of Labor Affairs, but instead, only at the Sint Maarten Immigration and Border Protection Services Department.  If you would like to learn more about retiring in St Maarten, read here, or schedule your consultation if you would like to explore changing your residency status from retiree to employment permit.   

In Sint Maarten, work permits are granted to candidates between the ages of 25 and 58 years.  In some instances, if an applicant is over 58 but has completed post-graduate studies, an exception to this standard may apply.  Also, candidates with post-graduate studies may be exempt from the mandatory five-week waiting and publication period if the skillset and experience they possess can verifiably not be sourced within the local labor pool.  A written request must be submitted and processed by the Department of Labor Affairs specifically petitioning that the waiting period be lifted and yes, the team at BrightPath has substantial experience with this.  Most business organizations and established Human Resources teams on St Maarten continue to rely on BrightPath for work permit requests for key personnel, particularly for their management teams. 

Sint Maarten work permit and residency permits


  1. What are the key steps involved in obtaining a work permit for non-nationals in Sint Maarten, and what role does BrightPath Caribbean play in facilitating this process?

Obtaining a work permit in Sint Maarten involves petitioning and registering the position with the Department of Labor, advertising the vacancy locally, and allowing a five-week period for local applicants to apply. BrightPath Caribbean assists employers in determining candidates’ eligibility, managing the application process, and providing consultation on costs, timeframes, and required documentation.

  1. How does BrightPath Caribbean support employers in navigating the complexities and costs associated with work permit applications in Sint Maarten?

BrightPath Caribbean provides essential support to employers by offering consultation services, assessing candidates’ qualifications, and estimating costs and timeframes associated with work permit applications. Additionally, they guide employers through the process of fulfilling legal requirements, such as advertising job vacancies locally and coordinating with government departments.

  1. What are the eligibility criteria and age restrictions for obtaining a work permit in Sint Maarten, and are there any exceptions to these requirements?

Work permits in Sint Maarten are generally granted to candidates aged between 25 and 58 years. However, exceptions may apply for individuals over 58 who have completed post-graduate studies. Candidates with post-graduate qualifications may also be exempt from the mandatory five-week waiting period if their skillset cannot be sourced locally. BrightPath Caribbean assists employers in navigating these eligibility criteria and exceptions, ensuring a smooth application process for work permits. 


Do you have additional questions?

Contact us today for a free consultation and let us guide you throughout the process!


Incorporate a new business in Sint Maarten


Are you looking to open a business in St. Maarten? BrightPath Caribbean handles every aspect of opening a new business in St. Maarten, regardless of nationality. We will guide you through the entire process, from drafting your company articles to submitting and obtaining all required business certificates and licenses.

St. Maarten is the ideal Caribbean island on which to open a new business, since it carries a duty-free status and has no foreign-exchange controls. With help from BrightPath Caribbean, we can help you open a new business in St. Maarten in as little as 6 weeks (conditions may apply)!

The following individuals require a business license in St. Maarten:

  • Dutch Nationals NOT born on St. Maarten, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.
  • Foreign Nationals (Americans may qualify for our Express Service).
  • A Limited Liability Company (N.V. / B.V.) or other.

BrightPath Caribbean can make it easy to start a business in beautiful St. Maarten! We have the experience to guide you every step of the way; we will send you document checklists, obtain licenses on your behalf at government offices and even open your business bank account for you. We know that starting a new business requires a lot of time and hard work, which is why we handle all the paperwork for you, from drafting your first company articles to submitting and obtaining all St. Maarten government business licenses.

To start a business in St. Maarten, the following documents are required:

New business application form (completed and signed).

  • Original police check (no older than 6 months).
  • 2 proofs of address (utility bill, cell phone bill, etc.).
  • 2 government-issued IDs.
  • Color copy of passport.

Are you planning to open a limited liability company or partnership in St. Maarten? If so, you’ll need to send a letter to the Executive Council of the Island of St. Maarten.

What a limited liability company or partnership request letter must include:

  1. The name of the business.
  2. The name of the business owner.
  3. The nature and objectives of the business.
  4. The investment capital available.
  5. The place of establishment.

After opening a business in St. Maarten, you will need to visit the Department of Economic Licenses to obtain a business license, an operational license (if applicable) and any director licenses needed.

Submit the following documents to the Department of Economic Licenses:

  1. A letter (in Dutch) addressed to the Executive Council requesting a business license.
  2. A copy of the director’s(s) passport.
  3. A copy of the director’s curriculum vitae.
  4. A copy of your diploma(s) certificate(s) of director (s) (only needed to show certain expertise).
  5. A copy of your police record of director (s) with foreign nationality. (not valid after six months).
  6. The exact address of the business.
  7. Your present home or mailing address.
  8. Your current telephone number.

Please note, that once your new St. Maarten business license is issued, a residency permit is required for all individuals planning on living in St. Maarten for longer than their travel visa allows. This must be done by requesting a residence permit at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection Service, which BrightPath Caribbean can help you set-up after the St. Maarten business license is approved.

Unlike other Caribbean countries – with the right professional help – it is very easy to open a new business in St. Maarten. There are no large investment requirements, and the process isn’t incredibly lengthy, especially for American citizens.

Do you have any questions?


Obtaining Legal Residency in St. Maarten Through Real Estate

How to Obtain Legal Residency in St. Maarten by Purchasing Real Estate

For most persons who have been smitten by the blue waters and white sands of the Caribbean, the opportunity to own property to enjoy a different pace of everyday life becomes a reality with the assistance of the team at BrightPath Caribbean and BrightFuture Realty.

Purchasing property abroad requires a high level of trust and a team of professionals that can address seamlessly and transparently questions regarding banking and mortgage options, ownership rights and structure, tax, and succession planning matters, as well as immigration topics for legal residency and citizenship in jurisdictions where the latter may be applicable.

Sint Maarten continues to have a high demand for real estate because the island offers real estate options with amazing views, modern construction, and amenities, at prices generally lower than United States, Europe, and Canada.  The gastronomy, nightlife, and access to European and North American products are widespread throughout the island, which is also exempt from duties on imports, making it an attractive destination to relocate.  Many real estate buyers are excited to learn that when they relocate to St. Maarten, they can import all their personal belongings such as furniture, clothing, equipment, and vehicles free of any import duties.



Banking and Mortgages

Clients of BrightPath Caribbean can enjoy direct access to banking services in St. Maarten.  Our firm maintains strong ties within the local banking and business community, allowing our clients who are purchasing real estate with our affiliate BrightFuture Realty, access to business and/or personal bank accounts (if qualified), as well as opportunities for financing of mortgages to purchase your property.  Sint Maarten banks, in general, offer mortgage financing to non-resident buyers for up to sixty-five percent (65%) of the purchase price or appraisal value, whichever is less.  A standard credit report from Experian is typically required, as well as proof of downpayment, and verification of continued income to confirm loan repayment and total debt-to-income ratio.  Legal residency is not a mandatory requirement for mortgage financing, however, obtaining residency may allow you access to mortgage financing with local banks with a smaller downpayment toward your purchase.

Interest rates remain competitive on the island and will vary contingent on economic factors such as the cost of funds.  In general, interest rates available remain accessible and without strong fluctuations due to a comparatively stable cost of funds on the island.  Also important to mention is that banking in United States currency is allowed for residents and businesses alike, which makes banking and mortgage options easier to fund and maintain for foreign nationals who want to invest in real estate in Sint Maarten or altogether relocate to the island.


Tax and succession planning

Our referral partners at Haven SXM specialize in taxation, accounting, and administrative services.

Penshonado regime

If you have reached the age of 50 and you have moved to, or are planning to move to Sint Maarten, you might qualify for the ‘Penshonado Regime’ which features an attractive Income Tax rate on certain qualifying foreign income. If the applicable requirements are met, an advantageous 10% Personal Income Tax rate could apply to most foreign income items.

The most important requirements are:
– the taxpayer must have lived outside of Sint Maarten for a consecutive period of at least 60 months before moving to Sint Maarten.
– the taxpayer has reached the age of 50 at the time of registration in the census registry. BrightPath can assist with the registration process.
– within two months after registration in the population register, the taxpayer has registered with the competent Tax Inspector as a taxpayer who wishes to qualify for the application of the Penshonado regime. Haven SXM can assist with this.
– the taxpayer is living in a home in Sint Maarten within 18 months after being registered in the census registry.
Especially when it comes to registering at the Census, it is important to rely on the integrated services that the team at BrightPath Caribbean offers, to make your transition into the island lifestyle a smooth one.

Private Fund Foundation (PFF)

The PFF is a useful instrument for investing and protecting your capital and/or assets as well as to facilitate estate planning. It may also be interesting to invest your capital in a tax-friendly manner by using a PFF. Investing through a PFF can be advantageous, because of the following reasons:

  • Contrary to a regular Foundation, a Private Fund Foundation can make distributions to its founders and/or beneficiaries;
  • Income derived by a PFF is in principle exempt from Profit Tax, except when the profit arises from conducting a business;
  • The PFF is a safe instrument to keep the family wealth intact for future generations.
  • Please note that a single distribution, as well as periodical distributions by a PFF to a Sint Maarten resident individual, shall be subject to Sint Maarten Personal Income Tax. However, if the beneficiaries are non-residents of Sint Maarten, they will not be liable for income tax in Sint Maarten on distributions received from the PFF. However, this income might be subject to taxation in the recipient’s country of residence.

Succession Tax

If assets are inherited, received by legacy, or gifted, a succession (inheritance) tax is in principle due on Sint Maarten according to the current legislation.

To this, we would like to underscore that the PFF is a suitable option for estate planning, as it significantly reduces succession tax. Assets owned by the PFF will not be subject to transfer of ownership in case of inheritance, legacy, or gift. When it comes to distributions to beneficiaries by the PFF, succession tax is due in Sint Maarten based on the current legislation. However, if the beneficiaries reside outside of Sint Maarten, the distributions received from a PFF will not be subject to taxation in Sint Maarten. As said before, please note that such distributions might be subject to tax in the recipient’s country of residence. If a tax resident of Sint Maarten transfers assets to a PFF through inheritance, legacy, or gift, the PFF is subject to a succession (inheritance) tax at a special rate of 25%. However, if assets are received from a non-resident through inheritance, legacy, or gift, the PFF is not subject to Sint Maarten succession (inheritance) tax.

Please note that the above is how it works in theory. Practically, even though the legislation is in place, Sint Maarten does not levy a succession tax.

Other than BrightPath Caribbean, no other firm in Sint Maarten offers such an integrated suite of services, essential to a relocation including immigration, tax, and real estate all in one.  As mentioned earlier, estate planning for foreign nationals who are looking to move to the Caribbean is also a critical factor in the decision-making process.

Immigration and residency permits

As Sint Maarten’s most established immigration services provider, choose BrightPath to provide you with the reliable immigration services you need to obtain legal residency through your real estate purchase.  We recommend that our clients in collaboration with our affiliate BrightFuture Realty, to ensure that matters regarding estate planning, ownership structure, and banking have been addressed beforehand and your real estate transaction is tailored from the onset to meet the goals you have in place toward legal residency and even retirement, estate, and tax planning if applicable.

Schedule your free consultation today to learn more about immigration requirements when purchasing real estate.  Important to consider is the fact that in St Maarten United States citizens and Dutch nationals do not require a real estate purchase on the island to qualify for legal residency.  Because of the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, the United States and Dutch nationals alike, qualify for permanent residency in Sint Maarten once they can satisfy general criteria based primarily on the following factors conditional to the approval of the local immigration authorities:

  • Acceptable health insurance
  • Evidence of sufficient funds
  • Acceptable certificate of good conduct

For the context of this article, to obtain legal residency through real estate in Sint Maarten, all other nationalities will be required to invest in real estate to apply for residency.  With BrightPath, retirees can apply for legal residency before making their real estate purchase.

All things considered, when making such an important decision as investing in real estate and obtaining legal residency in Sint Maarten, relying on a team or professionals all under one roof is available only with BrightPath Caribbean.


  1. Can I obtain a mortgage as a non-resident to purchase real estate in St. Maarten? Yes, non-resident buyers in St. Maarten can typically access mortgage financing for up to 65% of the property’s purchase price or appraisal value, whichever is lower. While legal residency is not mandatory for mortgage financing, obtaining residency may allow access to mortgages with a smaller downpayment.
  2. What are the benefits associated with the ‘Penshonado Regime’ in St. Maarten? The ‘Penshonado Regime’ or Retiree Status offers an attractive 10% Personal Income Tax rate on qualifying foreign income for individuals aged 50 and above who meet specific criteria, including residing outside St. Maarten for at least 60 consecutive months before relocation. The regime requires registration with the Tax Inspector within two months of census registry registration and living in St. Maarten within 18 months thereafter.
  3. How can a Private Fund Foundation (PFF) in St. Maarten benefit estate planning and asset protection? A Private Fund Foundation (PFF) provides avenues for capital investment and asset protection, facilitating estate planning in a tax-friendly manner. Benefits include exemption from Profit Tax on income (except business-related profits) and the ability to distribute funds to founders/beneficiaries. Moreover, assets owned by a PFF are not subject to transfer of ownership taxation upon inheritance, legacy, or gifting, potentially reducing succession tax liabilities.

Contact us today for a free consultation and let us guide you throughout the process!


Why hire a professional for your immigration and relocation needs?


Moving is tough – all of us who have made that big jump and relocated to another country can confirm it’s not the easiest experience. Change is often difficult. Do you know what’s even more difficult? From our experience at BrightPath, we would say that finding the right advisors to guide you in the decision-making process is often like finding a needle in a haystack. So, if you’re considering emigrating to the Caribbean, here are some tips to take into consideration if St Maarten is on your relocation radar:

1-No office, no thank you! – Needless to say, if you’re considering entrusting someone with your immigration process, you should definitely adopt this policy. The days of handing over your most private and confidential documents to someone who’s not licensed and doesn’t have a storefront (and reputable) business operation are a “no-no”. Save yourself a horror story and rely on this one as a rule of thumb.

2-Check for references – check, check, and check some more. Just because your friends took the big leap and did it themselves, doesn’t mean you should too. COVID-19 has caused changes to procedures, requirements, and timeframes. Make sure that you do your research, manage your expectations, and look online for reviews and credible feedback on available immigration services providers.

3-Rely on a team of experts – It’s important to sort out the best in their industry and rely on their specialty only. What does this mean? It means your real estate agent is your real estate specialist (period). Your banker is your banking specialist (period). Your tax advisor… well, you get the point. So, guess what? Your immigration specialist, is your immigration specialist (PERIOD).

4-Do it right and do it once – If you’re a US national obtaining legal residency on the island, in most cases it’s usually a one-time matter when applied for properly. Although other islands in the Caribbean may be actively promoting “live and work here” immigration programs targeting US nationals, St Maarten is unique in that The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty streamlines the residency process for Americans. What does this mean? That in most cases, your residency permit, once approved is for an indefinite period of time – no annual renewals and no additional fees. Once and it’s done. Even better is the fact that you get to keep your US passport and your rights as a US citizen. Applying for legal residency on the island of St Maarten does not have an impact on your US passport holding status.

Do you have any questions?


How much do I need to invest to become a resident in Sint Maarten

BrightPath specializes in immigration services for persons who wish to relocate to Sint Maarten and the English Caribbean.  Along with our affiliate, BrightFuture Realty, we offer integrated relocation services, and our head office is based in St Maarten. Our network expands throughout the English Caribbean region. BrightPath’s immigration and relocation services are also available on the islands of Dominica, St. Kitts, and Antigua, and the country of Belize.

Minimum Investment to Become a Resident

St Maarten has remained throughout the years one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean for American, Canadian, and European nationals alike.  The French flair of Saint Martin and the variety of nightlife and entertainment of the Dutch side (Sint Maarten) offer many an island appeal, filled with activities, the safety of a low crime rate, and dazzling properties with ocean views that remain comparatively low in price to other locations.

Because of the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, Americans require proof of a minimum amount of funds of only US$ 20,000 United States dollars.  These can be in a retirement account, money market, investment or trading account, current account, or savings account, and can remain in the country of origin.  The proof of funds is supported with recent statements in the name of the applicant and if further required, a bank reference letter confirming the tenure and average balances on the account.  This makes real estate investments for Americans particularly attractive on Sint Maarten (Dutch side), because to qualify for permanent residency, Americans do not need to make one particular investment for a pre-determined amount.  Instead, Americans can invest in real estate freely from ocean-view studios starting in the mid US$100,000 range to spectacular ocean-front villas starting at US$1,000,000 with our recommended real estate agency, BrightFuture Realty.

The collaboration with BrightPath Caribbean and BrightFuture Realty makes available to persons relocating to Sint Maarten a synchronized team offering you specialized services such as tax advisory and estate planning, immigration services, mortgage and bank account opening, and real estate sale-purchase transactions with a systematic, organized, and transparent approach.  Our experience spans over a decade and is growing rapidly in demand for persons who want to transition into island life with a team of professionals who understand the dynamics of emotions as well as the necessary steps that all form a part of this change.

For persons who do not have American citizenship, having access to a transparent immigration process and temporary residency is also of great importance. On the Caribbean island of St Maarten, BrightPath can facilitate immigration programs to cater to investors and retirees alike of all nationalities.

investment real estate beacon hill sint maarten

A Property

For persons seeking to obtain legal residency through real estate as investors on Sint Maarten, a real estate purchase of a minimum amount of US$ 510,000 United States dollars is required before applying for residency under the Investor program. If you are a passport holder of the United States of America, under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, we may request legal residency before making the real estate purchase. For more information on the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty read here, and consider scheduling a free consultation with a representative of BrightPath that can provide you tailored solutions, integrating all aspects of the residency process, including real estate.

For retirees, BrightPath can provide you with tax advisory services, including an introduction to the “penshonado regime” which offers tax incentives for retirees age 50 and over who become legal residents of Sint Maarten.  For persons who are not American citizens, a real estate purchase of a minimum of US$ 255,000 United States dollars is required to secure your temporary residency which will be required to be renewed annually, without interruptions, for a minimum period of five (5) years before a request for permanent residency can be filed.  The professionalism and vast knowledge of the team at BrightPath Caribbean and BrightFuture Realty, ensure that the real estate investment and required timeframes and documentation related to your pursuit of permanent residency are a seamless and efficient process.



For American citizens that wish to relocate to Sint Maarten, under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, regardless of age, once the criteria have been met, the residency permit secured by BrightPath and granted by the Immigration and Border Protection Services bears no end date (the same is permanent) and allows the person to live and work freely on the island without required sponsorship from a particular employer.  Residency permits granted to American citizens do not require renewals or extensions.

If you are not an American citizen, a separate work permit must be obtained to secure employment in Sint Maarten. To learn more about work permits, click here.  Both the investor and retiree residency programs do not allow for employment on the island and in the case of the retiree program, employment is definitively restricted for immigration purposes.

investment real estate rice hill villa sint maarten


Thinking of retiring in the Caribbean? If your answer is yes, Sint Maarten has a lot to offer American citizens and our team of experts at BrightPath Caribbean and BrightFuture Realty are at your availability.  You can schedule your free, no-obligation, consultation here.

If you have already made an investment in St Maarten and you wish to explore legalizing your stay, contact the experts at info@brightpathcaribbean.com As the Caribbean region’s most recognized and trusted immigration services provider – with complete solutions all under one roof – rely on BrightPath to make your dream of living in the Caribbean a reality.

Whether you want to obtain more information about tax incentives in Sint Maarten for retirees, or asset protection and estate planning through private fund foundations, BrightPath Caribbean has the resources, knowledge, and experience to make your retirement in the Caribbean a breeze.



1. What are the minimum investment requirements for obtaining legal residency in Sint Maarten, particularly for American citizens, retirees, and investors?

For American citizens, residency in Sint Maarten can be obtained with proof of funds of as low as $20,000 USD, while investors are required to make a real estate purchase of at least $510,000 USD. Retirees need to invest a minimum of $255,000 USD in real estate to secure temporary residency.

2. How does the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty impact residency requirements for American citizens relocating to Sint Maarten?

Under the treaty, American citizens do not need to make a specific investment to qualify for permanent residency. They can freely invest in real estate, with options ranging from ocean-view studios to ocean-front villas, making the process particularly attractive for American investors.

3. What are the specific tax incentives available for retirees in Sint Maarten, and how does one qualify for them?

Retirees aged 50 and over can benefit from tax incentives under the “penshonado regime” by becoming legal residents of Sint Maarten. To qualify, retirees need to meet certain criteria outlined by the program, which can include minimum investment requirements and residency duration.

4. Can you explain the process of obtaining legal residency through real estate investment for non-American citizens in Sint Maarten?

Non-American citizens seeking residency through real estate investment in Sint Maarten must purchase property with a minimum value of $255,000 USD. Temporary residency is granted initially and must be renewed annually without interruptions for at least five years before applying for permanent residency.

5. What services does BrightPath Caribbean offer to individuals interested in relocating to Sint Maarten, and how can they assist in the residency process?

BrightPath Caribbean offers a range of services, including immigration assistance, tax advisory, real estate transactions, and more. Their team of professionals provides tailored solutions to individuals seeking residency in Sint Maarten, guiding them through each step of the process to ensure a seamless and efficient transition to island life.


Do you have additional questions?

Contact us today for a free consultation and let us guide you throughout the process!


How to open a Business bank account in Sint Maarten


Are you ready to open a business bank account in St. Maarten for your local business? There are many different ways BrightPath Caribbean can assist you with opening a bank account here on the island. We have relationships with all major banks in St. Maarten and can assist you with opening a business account from start to finish, making the process completely stress-free. Each bank has its own specific requirements, which we always consider when opening a new bank account in St. Maarten for our clients. We are also able to assist you with opening multiple bank accounts in various currencies.

Opening a Business Bank Account in St. Maarten

You can open a business bank account in St. Maarten at any of the several international banks located on the Dutch side. Whether you’re from Canada, USA or Europe, BrightPath Caribbean has all the knowledge, experience and resources to help you open a bank account in St. Maarten in just three simple steps.

To open a business bank account in St. Maarten, your business must be active, and you should have all required documents, which are outlined below. Most banks have the same general requirements, but some banks may have their own specific requirements.

Documents needed to open a business bank account in St. Maarten:

  • Articles of Incorporation of your business.
  • Excerpt from the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Shareholder’s registry.
  • Business license.
  • Director’s license.
  • Bank reference letter.
  • 2 forms of valid photo ID.
  • Proof of address (two utility bills).
  • Financial statements and/or business plan.
  • More documents may be required.

After you have gathered all of the documents above, BrightPath Caribbean can help you open a business bank account in St. Maarten quickly and easily! There is a waiting period to process your new business bank account, but once approved, you can begin using your St. Maarten business bank account right away!

Do you have any questions?


Why you should invest in Sint Maarten with BrightPath


If you are looking to explore the possibility of starting or expanding your business abroad, choose to invest in St. Maarten! Our beautiful island has the highest per capita income of the Dutch Antilles, and a robust, thriving economy – among other benefits. With professional guidance and advice, St. Maarten is an ideal place in the Caribbean for you to guarantee a consistent and secure return on your investment.

Whether you’d like to start or expand your own business or purchase an existing business on the island, BrightPath Caribbean can help you invest in St. Maarten! We are trusted professionals who are experts in investing in St. Maarten. Since we are also the island’s leading immigration service, BrightPath Caribbean can help you get residency in St. Maarten through your investment.

Besides the beautiful scenery, lovely people, and warmer climate, there are many other reasons why you should invest in St. Maarten and we’ve included some of them here.

Why you should invest in St. Maarten:

  1. The possibility of earnings in US dollars or euros.
  2. Duty-free imports and exports, and no property taxes.
  3. A growing economy, with new opportunities for investment.
  4. More than 2.5 million tourists to visit your business throughout the year.

Do you have any questions?


BrightPath Caribbean