Bahamas Residence Permits: What You Need to Know

Relocating to a new country — especially a lush, tropical one like The Bahamas — can seem like an impossible dream, but making your home in this Caribbean paradise doesn’t have to be complicated.

Whether you’re moving to The Bahamas to enjoy the glorious weather, pursue a new business opportunity, or take advantage of the relatively low taxation, there are several options open to you. If you want to be able to vote or run certain types of business, you’ll need to pursue citizenship

But if you plan to maintain citizenship in your home country and want to put down some roots, there are a number of Bahamas residence permits for you to choose from. In this post, I’ll help you explore the difference between the various Bahamas residence permits, how to obtain them and the benefits of each.

Getting a Permit to Reside in The Bahamas

Almost any non-citizen of The Bahamas can visit the country (provided they aren’t on the country’s restricted list), but initial visits are limited in length to 90 days. If you plan to stay longer or want to be able to travel freely in and out of The Bahamas, you’ll need to start considering Bahamas residency requirements.

The Bahamas Department of Immigration offers three different levels of residency permits to non-citizens, each with its own benefits and requirements:

  • Permanent residency
  • Annual residency
  • A home owner’s card

All of these options require some form of application, including the submission of appropriate documents and a fee. It’s important to note that a residency permit in The Bahamas does not entitle you to work in the country — for that you’ll need a work permit

Permanent Residency in The Bahamas

Bahamas temporary residence is fine if you just want to enjoy the country a little longer than a week-long holiday, but if you’re on the road to citizenship, permanent residency is the option you’ll need to choose. A permanent residency permit will allow you to travel freely in and out of The Bahamas, as well as work, open a business, or leverage the country’s tax benefits.

The Bahamas permanent residency program isn’t open to everyone. Before you can apply, you must fit into one of the following categories:

  • Be the spouse of a Bahamian citizen for at least five years
  • Have a Bahamian mother
  • Demonstrate financial independence AND home ownership in The Bahamas
  • Work for the Bahamian government for at least ten years
  • Be a religious or medical professional for at least 20 years
  • Work in The Bahamas for over 20 consecutive years

Assuming you qualify, the application process itself is simple:

The Bahamas Annual Residency Permit

If you’d like to stay in The Bahamas beyond the permitted visitation period, but don’t want to commit to home ownership or permanent residence, the Bahamas Annual Residence permit is your best bet. 

For example, if you’re planning a lengthy stay in the country in a rented or leased property (which would preclude applying for a Home Owner’s Card) you can apply for this permit. The annual permit is also suitable for those studying in The Bahamas.

To obtain a permit for annual residence in The Bahamas, (sometimes referred to simply as “Residence Permit” or “Annual Permit”), you’ll need to complete an application to the Department of Immigration, provide supporting documents and pay a fee. 

Application Requirements

  • Complete the application form (you can skip the questions about employment if only applying for residence)
  • Provide supporting documentation, including:
    • A copy of the bio-data page of your passport
    • Two passport-sized identical color photographs
    • A recent police background check
    • A recent medical certificate 
    • Two written character references
  • Fee: 
    • BS$100 for the head of the household 
    • BS$25 for each dependent (spouse or child under 18)

The Home Owner’s Card

If you already own a home in The Bahamas, even if your primary residence is in your home country, you may skip the application processes associated with annual or permanent Bahamas residence permits and request a Home Owner’s Card. There are no eligibility requirements — other than owning a home in the country.

Applying for Bahamas residency this way is slightly more costly than an annual permit, and you will need to visit a Department of Immigration office to complete a form. To obtain this permit, you must:

  • Request your card via a letter to the Director of Immigration.
  • Complete a form available at Immigration offices
  • Provide documentation of Bahamian home ownership and payment of property taxes
  • Provide some documentation of your identity
  • Pay a BS$100.00 application fee, as well as a BS$500.00 fee to obtain your physical card

Ready to Get Your Bahamas Residence Permit?

Now that we’ve covered the various ways you can apply for residency in The Bahamas, you can see that relocating to the tropical paradise is definitely within your grasp. Whether you’re a student, homeowner or someone looking at the other opportunities The Bahamas has to offer, there’s a straightforward way to gain legal residency.

Still have questions about residence in The Bahamas? Feel free to drop me a line.