Business Licenses for St. Maarten


If you are considering starting your business in the Caribbean, St. Maarten remains one of the busiest islands in the region for new investors. One important task is deciding which of the various Business Licenses for St. Maarten that will best suit your needs. At BrightPath, we not only assist you with new business formations, but we also guide you along the way, providing you with the necessary information for you to make an educated decision.

Below are some commonly asked questions that we frequently encounter in our day to day.

1. What kind of business entity can I create in St Maarten?

In general terms, these are as follows:

a) Sole proprietorship (in Dutch an eenmanszaak)

b) A limited liability company (NV or BV)

c) Any other entity as registered in the civil code


2. What is the difference between an N.V. and a B.V.?

N.V. is an acronym for the Dutch phrase “Naamloze Vennootschap.” Appearing after a firm’s name, it connotes incorporation meaning that the entity is the equivalent of a limited liability public company, with shares that trade on open markets—somewhat like the the American “Inc.”, the French/Latin American/Spanish “S.A.”, the U.K’s “PLC”, and the German or Swiss “A.G.”

N.V. is used in Dutch or Dutch-influenced nations: the Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, the Dutch West Indies, Indonesia, Curacao, St. Maarten, and Aruba. “Naamloze vennootschap” literally translates as “nameless venture,” which is fitting since the shareholders in a public company can maintain anonymity.

If you’re setting up a business, one option is to create a legal entity in the form of a ‘private limited company’, or in Dutch a besloten vennootschap (B.V.). The main advantage of a B.V. is that it’s an autonomous entity. This means that, contrary to the sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak), the B.V. generally speaking is liable for any debts, rather than you as an individual. As a director, you’re an employee of the BV and you act on its behalf. It’s possible to set up a B.V. on your own or with other individuals and/or legal entities.


3. Who requires a business license?

The following person(s) and/or entities require a license to conduct their business activities.

a) Dutch nationals not born on St. Maarten, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, and St Eustatius

b) Foreign nationals

c) A limited liability company (N.V./B.V.) or other legally established entities

d) A locally established sole proprietorship


4. What’s best – sole proprietorship or limited liability company?

If you’re unsure about whether to do business as a sole trader or as a private limited company, list the differences and determine what’s most important to you in your situation. Taxes may be lower for a BV, but the initial and recurring annual costs may be higher. Liability can also play an important role in opting for one legal form or the other.

Even as a sole trader, it’s possible to employ staff. The Dutch term ‘eenmanszaak’ (literally ‘one-man business’) simply refers to the legal structure, and has nothing to do with the number of people employed by your business.


For a full list of requirements on company formations or if you would like to register or incorporate your business in the Caribbean island of St Maarten with BrightPath, contact us at



Find out more about doing business in St Maarten…

Why St. Maarten Remains An Attractive Destination For Foreign Investors

Start your business in St Maarten with us!

How to open a company in St. Maarten

What do I need to apply for a business license in St. Maarten?


Our Blogposts are not intended as (legal) advice and do not take your personal circumstances into consideration. 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. BrightPath does not accept any liability for damages resulting from using the provided information. We highly recommend you to seek personalized advice from us before you act or fail to act because of the content of our Blogposts.