How to Start a Business in St. Maarten

Discover the essential steps to kickstart your business venture on the picturesque island of St. Maarten.

St. Maarten is one of the most sought-after Caribbean islands for investment. Many foreign business owners and entrepreneurs are keen to start a business in St. Maarten. With a stable economy and bustling tourism, St. Maarten is a prime destination if you are starting your business in the Caribbean.

In case you’ve been tempted by the white beaches and crystal blue water and make St. Maarten your home, starting a business is a good first step towards obtaining legal residency on the island too.

Below is helpful information about BrightPath Caribbean and how our team of professionals can provide valuable assistance for those starting a business on the Caribbean island.

A cropped image of a person holding pen and paper

How to start a new business in St. Maarten

BrightPath Caribbean for over 10 years, has remained the most trusted and recognized corporate and immigration services provider for St. Maarten and the English Caribbean.  Our team of professionals can support you in answering key questions that will factor into your decision to start a new business in Sint Maarten and assist you with a turnkey suite of services to deploy your business and support it throughout its operating phase.

Registered Office Services and Commercial Real Estate

When considering starting a business in Sint Maarten, you must first determine if you will need to rent or purchase commercial real estate.  Businesses that require an operational license, in addition to a business and managing director license, will need to lease or purchase a commercial property in the name of the business before incorporation.  This makes the efficiency of an integrated team such as that of BrightPath Caribbean and affiliate BrightFuture Realty, impactful to your budget and timeframe to coordinate both the real estate and the incorporation simultaneously and seamlessly.

If you would like to incorporate your business while remaining abroad, BrightPath can facilitate that service too, offering you registered address services on an annual basis.  This means that for an annual fee, all business correspondence and registrations can be received and handled by our dedicated office team.  This will save you unnecessary rental fees and is particularly useful for businesses that offer professional services, such as accountants, consultants, artists, and designers, that understandably prefer to keep their residential address separate from their business address.

Tax Advisory, Accounting, and Bookkeeping

For many years, BrightPath Caribbean has relied on our referral partners at Haven SXM for their expertise in tax advisory services.  They in turn rely on the leadership of Erik van Engelen, who holds a postgraduate degree in Business Economics and obtained his Post Master’s as a Certified Auditor, in addition to many years of senior management experience in the same field.  Erik and his team are essential to the integral component of any business decision for any prospect or actual business owner requiring professional tax advisory services.  Under the guidance of HaVen SXM, the Team at BrightPath Caribbean can establish your business in Sint Maarten, Private Fund Foundation, or legal business entity in a tax-compliant manner to fit your current and future financial plans.

Once your business or private fund foundation has been established and registered at the local authorities, our team remains in close collaboration with HaVen SXM for you to receive the necessary monthly and annual administrative and tax services to ensure your business’s compliance with the local tax reporting requirements.

Deciding on your Company Structure

Depending on the type of business you are planning on incorporating it is very important that you know from the beginning your options and consult with an expert to decide on the best corporate structure.

In St. Maarten, when it comes to business entities you have a  few options that can go from an incorporated business entity to a private fund foundation.  For standard business operating purposes, the two most popular options are a Besloten Vennootschap (“B.V.”), or Naamloze Vennootschap (“N.V.”), As an initial requirement, BrightPath ensures all legal entities must be registered with The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) and at the local tax authorities are done so in a manner that is correct and compliant with local authorities.

If you are a foreign national incorporating a company in Sint Maarten, most likely you will be doing it with a B.V. or an N.V.  which are the equivalents of a Public Limited Liability Company (“PLC”) and Private Limited Liability Company (“LLC”), and they tend to be quite similar. Tax law and tariff apply in the same way, and which entity you choose is not relevant to the core business. Company calling times for shareholder’s meetings are slightly different, as well as audit compliance and voting rights.

Do I need a B.V. or an N.V.?

Key Characteristics 

  •  There is NO fiscal difference between an LLC (NV) and PLC (B.V.), The choice of entity for your core business objectives is not significant, as both entities are subject to the same tax laws and tariffs.
  • The only difference is that the LLC (NV..) can have bearer shares and the B.V. not. It is important to know that our local banks do not cooperate with companies having bearer shares.
  • The period of calling up the shareholders for a meeting is 10 days for an LLC (N.V.), and 5 days for a PLC (BV), and a distinction can be made on voting rights in an LLC (N.V.), that is NOT possible with a PLC (B.V.).
  • There may be more stringent publication and audit requirements to adhere to for a large LLC (N.V.), being an entity with at least twenty (20) employees employed, the value of the assets being more than five (5) million NAF, and the net turnover is at least ten (10) million guilders.

sint maarten business structure NV and BV


Why work with BrightPath Caribbean

Having BrightPath by your side when starting a business in Sint Maarten is like having a trusted navigator guiding you through uncharted waters. While the process of obtaining a business license may appear straightforward, the nuances and intricacies can vary greatly depending on the nature of your business. BrightPath will not only provide valuable insights into different business structures, requirements, renewals, and tax considerations but will also offer a clear and comprehensive overview of your project, laying a strong foundation for your entrepreneurial journey.

With BrightPath on board, you can rest assured that every aspect of setting up your business will be handled with expertise and precision.

How to proceed to incorporate a business in St Maarten with BrightPath

We highly recommend requesting a preliminary consultation with a dedicated business incorporation consultant at BrightPath.  Learn more about our team of experts here and read a summary of the skillset and qualifications of each member of our organization.  Frequently visited topics during the free 30-minute consultations are matters regarding the timeframe to incorporate, required documents to start a business, associated service charges, one-time and recurring government costs, as well as matters specific to the business you would like to start in St. Maarten.  Because the initial consultation is free of charge and we generate a detailed cost estimate with all costs directly associated with the start of your business, along with required documentation, within one business day from the moment of consultation, BrightPath is regarded by many as the most efficient and transparent service provider to incorporate your business in St Maarten.

Work permits and immigration for Managing Directors

When setting up your business in Sint Maarten, it is important to consider where you will source your key personnel.  Sint Maarten has an experienced labor pool, especially in the field of hospitality and tourism, including food and beverage professionals.  BrightPath’s immigration services team has substantial experience in the topic of work permits and the intricacies involved in successfully applying and securing the relevant approvals at both the Labor Department and Immigration Department.  Work permits can only be applied for by the employer, this means that a person, independent of the company that offered them employment, cannot initiate the process on their own.  Except for Dutch and United States citizens, the decision for a work and residency permit cannot be awaited while on the island.  This is important to consider because timeframes to process the application and ensure receipt of the required documents.

Set up your Consultation and Get Started

BrightPath Caribbean is the leading business consultant and immigration service in St. Maarten. We have helped numerous clients acquire work permits, residency permits, and start a business in the Caribbean. If you’re looking forward to living in Sint Maarten, reach out to us for a free Consultation.


  • What are the key steps and requirements for starting a business in St. Maarten? To start a business in St. Maarten, you need to determine if you’ll need commercial real estate, obtain necessary licenses, decide on a company structure (e.g., B.V. or N.V.), and ensure tax compliance. Additionally, working with professional services like BrightPath Caribbean can streamline the process.

  • What are the differences between a Besloten Vennootschap (B.V.) and a Naamloze Vennootschap (N.V.) in St. Maarten, and how do they impact business operations? Both B.V. and N.V. are common business entities in St. Maarten, but they differ in shareholder meeting notification periods, voting rights, and bearer share options. While tax laws apply similarly to both, understanding these distinctions is crucial for foreign nationals looking to incorporate a company in St. Maarten.

  • How can BrightPath Caribbean assist with immigration and work permits for managing directors in St. Maarten? BrightPath Caribbean’s immigration services team has experience navigating the intricacies of securing work permits and residency approvals for key personnel, particularly in fields like hospitality, tourism and management. We can assist employers through the application process, ensuring compliance with local regulations and timely receipt of necessary documents.

Do you have additional questions?

Contact us today for a free consultation!


Retirement Plan 101: Here’s How You Can Retire in the Caribbean

For a major part of our lives, we continue to work, spend, and save for others. Spouses, children, family, and friends are always the center of all our financial decisions. We work, earn, and then spend without thinking about what we want in life. Amidst this, we hold off our retirement planning, and when the time comes, we find ourselves in underprepared and confused.

But at the back of our minds, we all wish for peaceful retirement life. As we imagine relocating to the Caribbean to spend the rest of our life soaking in the sun, sipping Pina Coladas, and enjoying the beach, we wonder if it’s actually doable.

The answer is: Yes!

It’s possible for almost every American – even those without substantial savings – to enjoy a comfortable retirement in the Caribbean at $24,000 a year. However, you’ll need to start acting on your dreams right away!

To help you find your way to the Caribbean wonders, we have compiled this retirement planning guide. Take a look and find out your best course of action to move to the Caribbean.

Start Saving

Despite many reports suggesting that the cost of living in the Caribbean is lower than in the U.S, one cannot overlook the importance of saving. You need some financial stability to be able to buy a property in the Caribbean, acquire a residency permit, and lead a comfortable life. You may also want to start a business in the Caribbean, so having a small egg nest will be good.

Hire a Retirement Consultant

The next step is to hire a retirement consultant in the Caribbean. Here’s how the consultant will help you:

  1. Help you find the best possible retirement destination in the Caribbean for you
  2. Assist you regarding the application process, compiling documents, and local laws
  3. Facilitate you to buy a propertyor start a business as you live in the Caribbean

An image of a St. Maarten villa

Pick a Location

With the help of your retirement consultant and a little research, you can find the best place for you in the Caribbean to make a home. You can move to St. Maarten for cultural diversity and economic stability, Anguilla or St. Kitts and Nevis for a laidback and quiet life, or Belize to enjoy the Caribbean life in the full-swing.

Acquire Residency Permit and Settle

Acquiring a residency permit in the Caribbean is a bit complex owing to the varying laws of all the Caribbean countries. However, with the help of an expert consultant, you’ll be able to easily apply and get successful in the quest. Another way to retire in the Caribbean is via residency by investment program. It will fast-track your process and help you settle in the Caribbean quicker than other routes.

What Can We Do?

We at BrightPath Caribbean have helped numerous ex-pats retire in the Caribbean. As an experienced and competent retirement consultant, immigration agency, and business incorporation service, we offer end-to-end relocation services to our clients in the Caribbean. You can get in touch with us to kn

Here’s How You Can Acquire a Work Permit in the Caribbean

Over the last few years, the Caribbean has become a top destination for tourists and foreigners looking to work abroad. Offering a laid-back life, numerous economic opportunities, and a whole lot of political stability, many people have relocated to the Caribbean to start a new life.

So it’s only natural if you are also tempted to try and find a job in the Caribbean that lets you enjoy an unmatched work-life balance. But before you start, let us tell you that having a work permit in the Caribbean is mandatory for anyone looking to work in any of the 30 Caribbean countries.

Confused about this information? Let us break it down and simplify it for you.

What is a Work Permit?

A work permit is a legal document that allows employers in Caribbean countries to hire foreign nationals. In the case of a self-employed individual or someone looking to start a business in the Caribbean, a work permit is the first step to starting your company in the Caribbean.

Varying from one country to another, a work permit can be granted from three months to three years. You’ll need the help of a local Caribbean consultant to guide you regarding your options.

How to Acquire a Work Permit in the Caribbean?

Now that you know what a work permit is, let’s talk about how you can acquire one:

Learn About the Petitioner

The first step is to find out who will be the petitioner for your work permit application in the Department of Labor Affairs. For example, if you’re acquiring a work permit in St. Maarten, your employer will have to file the application on your behalf. For other countries and self-employed individuals, the applicant can themselves become the petitioner.

Cropped image of a person signing a paper

Understand the Laws

Despite Caribbean countries having similar cultures and lifestyles, the laws are very different. So if you’re moving to St. Maarten to work, you’re required to stay abroad during the application process. If you’re seeking to acquire a work permit or residency in St. Kitts and Nevis, you have to abide by different laws. Hiring a competent immigration consultant is always wise to navigate through Caribbean immigration laws.

Compile the Documents

Most Caribbean countries will require employers or applicants to attach passport copies, passport size photographs, birth certificates, employment certificates, and proof of exceptional skills that are locally unavailable. Further, a consultant can guide better regarding additional documents required by each sovereign Caribbean state.

Apply and Wait

Depending on the country you’re seeking a work permit for, the application and approval process takes about a few weeks. From one week to six weeks, different Caribbean countries have different processing times for work permit applicants. Once you have applied, all you got to do is wait.

Start With Us Today!

Whether you’re an employer looking to hire a foreign national or a self-employed individual, talk to us at BrightPath Caribbean for immigration consultancy. We can help you acquire a work permit, a residency permit, and relocate to the Caribbean with ease.

Here’s How You Can Start a Business in Dominica Right Away

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? If the answer is yes, Dominica offers a host of opportunities for you to get started. With flexible government policies that incentivize businesses and low operating costs, the Commonwealth of Dominica is quickly becoming the jurisdiction of choice for entrepreneurs looking to start or relocate their businesses.

If you’re looking for company incorporation in the Caribbean, get in touch with BrightPath Caribbean.

Do you want to know how to start a business in Dominica? It’s not as hard as you might think. This blog post will outline the steps you need to take to get your business off the ground. We’ll also provide some tips on how to make your business successful. So, if you’re ready to start your own company, read on!

1.     Determine the business structure you will need

There are several business structures to choose from when starting your business in Dominica. You need to determine the best structure for your company based on its size, type of business, and ownership structure.

The most common business structures in Dominica are:

  1. Sole Proprietorship, Partnership
  2. Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  3. Corporation

Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so you need to carefully research each to determine the best fit for your company.

2.     Register your business with the government

There are a few simple steps to follow to start a business in Dominica. The first step is to register your business with the government. This can be done by visiting the website of the Companies Registry and completing an online form.

The second step is to register for value-added tax (VAT) if your business will be selling products or services. This can be done by filling out an application and submitting it to the Inland Revenue Division.

The third step is to set up a bank account for business. This can be done at any commercial bank in Dominica.

Once these steps have been completed, you can officially start a business in Dominica.

3.     Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

When you start a business in Dominica, you will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This number is used to identify your company for tax purposes. You can apply for an EIN online through the IRS website.

There is no cost to obtain an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to apply. Once you have your EIN, you will need to include it in all of your business documents and filings.

An offshore company's beach view hotel.

It can be difficult to know where to start when establishing a business in a foreign country. If you’re looking for help, we can provide a range of services to get you started on the right foot. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start a business in the Caribbean. We provide a range of services, including company incorporation, relocation to Caribbean services, and more.

Let us help you get started on your dream of owning a business in the Caribbean!

Doing Business in Belize – A Step-by-Step Guide

Belize is a small country located in Central America with just over 360,000 people. It’s been an independent nation since 1981 and has a strong English-speaking culture. The country offers many incentives to businesses, including no income taxes, no import duties, and easy foreign investment procedures. Belize also has several free trade zones that provide even more benefits to businesses. If you’re looking for an offshore location to do business, Belize should be on your list.

Are you looking for an immigration service in the Caribbean? Get in touch with Bright Path Caribbean.

Belize offers a unique and favorable environment for businesses, with a stable government, an educated population, and a pro-business atmosphere. English is the official language, and the Belizean dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, making it easy to do business in Belize. With its many Ports of Entry (POE), Belize also offers logistical advantages for firms engaged in regional trade. This guide provides an overview of the steps needed to start a business in Belize, from company registration to obtaining licenses:

1.     The process of setting up a business in Belize

If you are thinking of starting a business in Belize, there are a few things you need to do to get started. The first step is to choose a business structure. You can choose to set up a company, partnership, or sole proprietorship.

The second step is to register your business with the Belizean government. This can be done online, and you will need to provide some basic information about your company.

The final step is to get your business licensed and registered with the appropriate authorities. This will vary depending on the type of business you are setting up but may include obtaining a tax identification number, getting a business license, and registering with the police.

The exact process for starting a business in Belize will depend on the type of business you are setting up. However, most companies will require some combination of the above steps. For more information about each step, read below:

1.     The types of businesses that can be set up in Belize

Belize offers a wide range of opportunities for business setup. You can choose from a wide range of activities, including but not limited to:

  • import and export
  • tourism and hospitality
  • agriculture
  • fishing and seafood
  • manufacturing
  • information and communication technology
  • professional services

2.     What do you need to do to start doing business in Belize

You need to do a few things to start a business in Belize. The first step is to establish a presence in the country. This can be done by registering a company or forming a partnership with an existing business. You will also need to obtain a business license and tax identification number.

Once you have established a presence in Belize, you will need to begin marketing your products or services. There are several ways to do this, including advertising in local newspapers and magazines, or setting up a website and using online marketing techniques

3.     Licensing and permits required to do business in Belize

When starting a business in Belize, a few licenses and permits are needed. The most important is the business license and the tax identification number.

To obtain a business license, you will need to provide the company name, the type of business, and the address of the business. The business license costs BZD 125 (around USD 63) and is valid for one year.

The tax identification number is also known as the GST number. This is a unique 11-digit number used to track all business transactions in Belize. It costs $50 BZ D (around USD 25) and is valid for one year.

To obtain a tax identification number, you will need to provide the company name, the type of business, and the address of the business. You will also need to provide a copy of your passport or driver’s license.

An illustration of a retirement consultant in the Caribbean.

There are a lot of things to consider when doing business in Belize. In this blog post, we’ve summarized the most important steps so you can get started quickly and efficiently. But if you need any additional help, our team of experts is here to assist you. Our team of experienced professionals can help you with every step of the way, from business incorporation to immigration services and setting up a bank account. Contact us today to get started!


BrightPath Caribbean