How to Start a Business in St. Maarten

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.

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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!


Disclaimer: Our articles are not intended as (legal) advice and do not take your personal circumstances into consideration. BrightPath does not accept any liability for damages resulting from using the provided information. We highly recommend you to seek personalized advice from us or before you act or fail to act because of the content of our articles. BrightPath is a privately-owned consulting firm that assists clients with filing applications for residence permits and/or business licenses at the relevant government departments. None of our directors, employees or agents hold or have held any position with the government of Sint Maarten and our service does not provide for any preferential treatment with regards to any application. All information provided and statements made only serve to provide you with a general understanding of immigration, residence and business incorporation procedures on Sint Maarten.
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