EXPORTING TO BERMUDA
President Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) in January 2010, with the goal of doubling exports by 2014. The U.S. Consulate is committed to helping U.S. companies start or expand their exports to Bermuda. The United States is Bermuda’s primary trading partner, providing approximately 71% of imports in 2015. In this section, you’ll find a quick description of Bermuda as an export market and some suggestions for getting started. The Economic/Commercial section encourages you to read the 2016 Country Commercial Guide (PDF – 656KB) for a complete picture of how to do business in Bermuda.
Getting Started In the U.S.
- Visit the Export.gov to get an overview of economic conditions and opportunities in various countries. Access the U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library containing more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, authored by our specialists working in overseas posts.The Library Includes:
- Country Commercial Guides (read latest “Doing Business In” guides)
- Industry Overviews
- Market Updates
- Multilateral Development Bank Reports
- Best Markets
- Industry/Regional Reports
- Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center for advice and support on exporting. Contact a Trade Specialist Near You.
- Contact your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Starting a business can be a challenge, but there is help for you in your area. SBDCs are partnerships primarily between the government and colleges/universities administered by the Small Business Administration that aim at giving educational services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
- In Bermuda, the U.S. Consulate encourages U.S. vendors interested in exporting to Bermuda to contact any of the island’s 30 plus wholesale distributors for assistance.To find a good partner, the U.S. Consulate recommends contacting the Department of Consumer Affairs at http://www.ca.gov.bm/, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce at http://www.bermudacommerce.com/, or the Economic/Commercial Section of the U.S. Consulate General Hamilton, or visiting the Bermuda Yellow pages online: http://www.bermudayp.com/.Bermuda law prohibits direct sales by non-Bermudians, however, sales representatives are permitted entry on a case-by-case basis with a Salesperson’s Permit. The permit holder may enter Bermuda multiple times within a certain time period to engage with potential customers. For more information on the Salesperson’s Permit, please contact the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce at http://www.bermudacommerce.com/. Please note, travel into Bermuda for the purpose of business is closely monitored by Bermuda Immigration and proper documentation (i.e., Salesperson’s Permit) must be issued prior to entry into Bermuda.
- Opening an Office in Bermuda
To establish an office in Bermuda, the U.S. Consulate recommends contacting a local attorney to determine the appropriate procedure, as documents may need to be submitted to a multiple government departments, including the Tax Commissioner’s Office, the Ministry of Finance, the Bermuda Monetary Authority, and/or the Registrar of Companies.The Bermuda Government requires a detailed business plan, registration of the business name, and a business license. Once the government approves a business plan, businesses should contact a local accounting firm for further assistance.Bermuda has over 100 professional associations for a variety of business services, such as accounting, real estate, I.T. services, and legal assistance. To view these organizations please go to: http://www.netlinkbermuda.com/.The Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) encourages foreign direct investment and helps companies set up operations in Bermuda. An independent, public-private partnership, we connect business to industry professionals, regulatory officials, and key contacts in the Bermuda Government to facilitate jurisdictional decision-making. The agency also assists existing business to grow and flourish on the Island. To learn more about Bermuda as a world-class financial centre or connect with a BDA representative, go to our website, www.bda.bm.
Investing in Bermuda
The Department of Statistics lists the top five investment sectors in Bermuda as international business; real estate and rental activities; financial inter-mediation; business activities; and education, health and social work.
The Government of Bermuda (GOB) welcomes foreign direct investment and continually seeks to develop innovative new financial services and products that manage risk and facilitate the efficient flow of capital. Incorporating a company in Bermuda is a relatively straightforward, well regulated and efficient process.
For potential investors in Bermuda, establishing a joint venture is the same as establishing a local company. Local companies must meet the requirements of the 60/40 rule whereby Bermudians:
- are the owners of at least 60 percent of the shares in the company
- exercise at least 60 percent of the total voting rights in the company, and
- make up at least 60 percent of the directors of the company.
When forming a joint venture or local company, parties must adhere to Bermuda’s strict standards and regulations. Most businesses in Bermuda are limited liability companies with 100% ownership by one person. The Bermuda Monetary Authority is the integrated regulator of the financial services sector in Bermuda and screens all potential foreign investments. Businesses are strongly advised to contact a local law firm or accounting firm for assistance (see http://www.bermudayp.com/ for listings).
Those considering investment in Bermuda may wish to register with the U.S. Consulate General at HamiltonConsulate@state.gov. The U.S. Consulate also suggests contacting the Bermuda Monetary Authority, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and Business Bermuda Development Agency.
The Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) encourages foreign direct investment and helps companies set up operations in Bermuda. An independent, public-private partnership, we connect business to industry professionals, regulatory officials, and key contacts in the Bermuda Government to facilitate jurisdictional decision-making. The agency also assists existing business to grow and flourish on the Island. To learn more about Bermuda as a world-class financial centre or connect with a BDA representative, go to our website, www.bda.bm.
If you are a current U.S. investor in Bermuda, the U.S Consulate wants to stay in touch. Contact the Economic/Commercial Section at the U.S. Consulate General, Hamilton by sending an email to HamiltonConsulate@state.gov to set up a meeting or for more information.
Working In Bermuda
In this section you will find information on work permits, travel advisories, and anti-corruption tools.
The GOB requires those seeking to work in Bermuda to secure a work permit prior to arrival on the island. Non-compliance may result in denial of entry into the country. The prospective employer is responsible for securing work permits for their non-Bermudian employees. For information on obtaining a visa to visit or work in Bermuda, visit the Bermuda Immigration website.
For Americans traveling to Bermuda on business, the U.S. Consulate strongly recommends the company/individual contact Bermuda Immigration to see if a work permit is required.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is an important anti-corruption tool designed to discourage corrupt business practices in favor of free and fair markets. The FCPA prohibits promising, offering, giving or authorizing giving anything of value to a foreign government official where the purpose is to obtain or retain business. These prohibitions apply to U.S. persons, both individuals and companies, and companies that are listed on U.S. exchanges. The statute also requires companies publicly traded in the U.S. to keep accurate books and records and implement appropriate internal controls.
More information on the FCPA can be found here: http://www.fcpa.us/
A party to a transaction seeking to know whether a proposed course of conduct would violate the FCPA can take advantage of the opinion procedure established by the statue. Within 30 days of receiving a description of a proposed course of conduct in writing, the Attorney General will provide the party with a written opinion on whether the proposed conduct would violate the FCPA. Not only do opinions provide the requesting party with a rebuttable presumption that the conduct does not violate the FCPA, but DOJ publishes past opinions which can provide guidance for other companies facing similar situations.
Please click on the DOJ Opinion Procedure for more information.