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Barbados Immigration. Explore Visas, Permits, and a Barbados Passport
Living in Barbados
Living here offers the traditional Caribbean island lifestyle of white beaches and the sparkling sea. But there is so much to this beautiful island than just a vacation destination of elegant hotels.
Barbados is a small island that has worked its way up from a low-income country to a middle-income economy. The country has one of the highest per capita incomes in the Caribbean. CARICOM classifies it as a “More developed State”. There a no recent official statistics on the average salary in Barbados. Informal survey sites offer an average salary range of between BBD3,500 and BBD4,500 per month.
Bajans are rightly proud of the nearly 100% literacy rate, an indicator of the government’s approach to upskilling the population. There is free and mandatory education for all Barbadians at the primary and secondary levels.
The country has an international airport that is one of the busiest in the region. Grantly Adams International airport has direct flights to the USA, Canada, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. Although it is a busy hub, the airport is just 12kms from the centre of Bridgetown. And, with a motorway linking it to the capital, it is easy to access.
Cost of living in Barbados
Barbados’ cost of living has remained cheaper than similar Caribbean nations. While the prices of imported goods are high, this island is not only for the rich. It is the third most developed country in its region, and the literacy rate is the third highest in the world. The island’s economy is mainly built on tourism and offshore banking, creating plenty of exciting career opportunities in those fields.
Expats and locals enjoy good healthcare available, with both private and public options available.
Getting around is easy if you are living in Barbados. There is a robust public transport system, with both public and private options. Traffic congestion can be bad, especially in Bridgetown rush hour.
Vacation rentals make up much of the available rental market for apartments and houses. Importantly, you may be able to get a great value deal if you negotiate an extended stay.
Employment and business
Access to employment has made Barbados citizenship and residency more attractive. However, although migration is increasing, immigrants only make up a small minority of the population.
The island is attractive as a business destination for several reasons. There are a stable, democratic government and an educated workforce. Additionally, it offers some of the best communication services and infrastructure in the Caribbean.
We cover all your Barbados immigration options in the Visas and Permits section.
What to Do in Barbados
There is a year-long selection of exciting festivals. These festivals range from music festivals, cultural festivals, food festivals, and more. And if you love to fill your days and nights, check out the events calendar here. Browsing markets for fresh produce and surprise treasures is another favourite activity for many people living here.
Locals and visitors love getting outdoors and enjoying fishing, surfing, diving and lying on the beach. Barbados has a hilly west coast as well for those who love a hike with a view. Mount Hillaby (336 meters) is the highest point on the island.
The island is also a pleasure for golfers. There are several world-class golf courses on the island from which to choose. These include some that are attached to five-start resort hotels.
Tasting fantastic street food and rum is also a perfect way to discover and experience what it is like to live in Barbados. If you want something fancier, there are plenty of fine dining options.
There is also a wide range of spas to relax in to return to a papered life. Excercise options, including yoga, Pilates, gyms, and more, are available to locals and vacation visitors alike.
Moving to Barbados doesn’t mean you have to miss out on anything. The 11 parishes that make up the island offer an amazing variety of experience. And, whichever parish you end up in, you will add a hefty dose of sunshine to your daily life.
Is Barbados Safe?
The island has one of the lowest crime rates in the Caribbean. The friendly Royal Police Force has a visible presence around residential and tourist areas giving extra security.
While you should take standard precautions, the island is considered a safe destination for tourists and Expats. The US State department rates it as safe for travel. It is worth checking out the travel advisory page closer to your departure for the latest travel information. While Barbados currently has handled the COVID-19 epidemic effectively, the Department of State’st COVID-19 page is also worth visiting before booking travel.
At large festivals and other big gatherings, you should be aware that there may be opportunities for pickpockets and other petty criminals.
Barbados is less prone to hurricane damage than other Caribbean nations. Although it is in the hurricane belt, it has not suffered a significant impact since Tropical Storm Thomas in 2010.
LGBTQ+ visitors should be aware that the country has anti-homosexuality laws, and you could encounter prejudice.
Another thing to watch out for is that camouflage clothing is illegal. So, leave the camo at home if you are relocating to Barbados.
The country has around 1 million visitors a year, and the vast majority enjoy a safe and happy visit to the island paradise. Spending some time on reputable Caribbean forums, local travel forums, Bridgetown forums and Expat forums can be a great source of advice. Online review sites can also be a really great resource. We have some suggestions in the Useful Links section.
Also, you can visit your embassy or consulate as most countries have a diplomatic presence here.
This magical country has several options for residency and permanent residency. Some of these visas offer a pathway to Barbados citizenship and a Barbados passport. Be aware; entry requirements vary depending on the length and purpose of your stay.
But, before you commit to a long-term move to Barbados, it may be a good idea to visit to do some research. Visiting will allow you a chance to talk to locals and Expats on the ground.
They’ll be able to give you a first-hand report on the pros and cons of living in Barbados. You’ll be able to see, hear, smell and taste to get a real feel for life here. Here you can get a view beyond online forums and reports on web pages. Once you’ve made up your mind, you can explore more permanent Barbados immigration options.
CARICOM state citizens can live and work in Barbados with a Skilled National Certificate. These citizens do not need to apply for a work visa or get authorization to work. However, if you want naturalization and citizenship, you’ll need to follow one of the available pathways. Please see the “How to get Barbados citizenship” section below.
For information and definitions of types of visas and permits, see our article.
The citizens of many countries can travel here without needing to get a tourist visa before they travel. To see if you need a tourist visa, please use the Visa HQ tool to the right.
If you do need a tourist visa, it is issued for either 3 or 6 months. You may need to apply for the visa before travelling to here if you come from a country that requires a visa. The cost of a visitor visa is US$107 for a single entry and US$211 for a multiple entry visa.
Regardless, you’ll need a passport that is valid for the duration of your trip and a return ticket home.
The government recently created this Barbados residency permit aimed at remote workers, freelancers, and digital nomads. You can get a 12-month residency permit that allows you to live and work in Barbados. Your employer cannot be a company registered in the country.
You’ll need to show that you earn an income of more than USD50,000 from sources outside the country. This proof is in the form of a self-declaration that you make as part of the application.
The visa is renewable for two additional 12-month periods. The Welcome Stamp allows you to bring your family with you. You’ll need to show that you have health insurance for everyone. The application fee for the residency permit is US2,000 or US3,000 for a family application.
You can get a student visa to cover the duration of any approved study course. You’ll need a letter from the school and to show you have enough money to cover your living expenses. There are restrictions on any paid work.
To explore other student visas options, please see our comprehensive article on the best study visas around the world.
Person of Independent Means Visa / Retirement Visa
You can apply for residency if you can prove that you will not burden the country. The immigration department does not publish an exact figure for precisely what this entails. Using a qualified and trusted local immigration lawyer would make this application much more straightforward.
There are two options. You can prove that you have income from sources outside the country.
Alternatively, you can show that you will invest a significant amount into the economy by starting a business.
For Other Passive Income Visa Programs Around the World, See Our Article.
This visa is perfect for retirees. If you are looking to spend your retirement abroad, this is an excellent option to explore.
To find out if retiring abroad is for you, we have all the information you need to select a Retirement Visa.
Special Entry Permit (SEP)
There is an excellent Residency by Investment program available.
There are two ways to access the scheme:
- You have more than USD$5 million of assets.
- You are retired and own a property in Barbados.
Please see the Investment Visa section for the full details of the SEP.
Barbados Residency Through Your Family
If your spouse is a citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible for residency. If your spouse is a citizen, you can apply for citizenship after being resident for seven years. Please note that your marriage must be locally recognized. Gay marriage is not legal here, and so gay marriages from other jurisdictions are not recognized.
If your child is a citizen or permanent resident, you may apply for a parent residency visa.
Barbados Work Visa
All immigrants who want to work locally need to register with the immigration department before they start working. There is a short-term work visa/permit that is valid for up to eleven months. This visa also covers training or internship visits.
For a more extended stay on the island, you require a long-term work visa/permit. This work visa is valid for a maximum period of three years.
The application fee for this Barbados work visa is B$300, and you’ll need to submit several documents with the application. There is a fee for the work visa, but it is not a fixed amount. The visa cost depends on the category of work and the duration of your stay.
Barbados’ work visa requirements include a medical check, a police certificate of character, and proof of any qualifications. Finally, you need a detailed cover letter explaining the nature of the employment or business and the duration of the work. Your employer will need to show that no resident or Barbadian national can fill the position.
Your local employer must apply for the work permit; you cannot apply for your own work permit. An exception is if you own the company. In this case, you can apply.
There is a special category of work visa for entrepreneurs. If you want to set up a new business locally, you can live and work in the country. You’ll need to show you have enough money to set up the business and cover your living expenses. You’ll also need any applicable business licences and memberships.
Please see our article on Startup Visas to see other opportunities for Entrepreneurs and founders.
Advantages of Barbados Passport and Citizenship
Barbados citizenship has many benefits, not least a Barbados passport. The passport was ranked 24th most powerful in the world, with visa-free access to 160 countries globally. This ranking makes the Bajan passport the strongest in the Caribbean.
What makes a powerful passport? See our article for all the things you should consider.
The Barbados passport application is available online, with all necessary passport application forms. It outlines the documents required for the application. You can also schedule an appointment from the same link.
Barbados nationality law allows you to have dual citizenships. This law means you can take on Barbados nationality without giving up your old citizenships. You will need to ensure that your old nationalities allow dual and multiple citizenships. This law means you can have a Barbados passport in addition to your old nationality.
The Barbadian government announced in 2019 that they would be expanding the pathways to citizenship. The legislation is due to go before parliament as soon as is practical. The change will include:
- Citizenship being available to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Barbadian citizens.
- Permanent residents being eligible for citizenship after three years of ordinary residence in the country.
- Permanent residents who have lived in the country for more than seven years will be “grandfathered” into citizenship.
- The amount of time for citizenship by marriage will be lowered.
- The Barbados residency by Investment program and Citizenship by Investment programs will be expanded.
- People with highly desired skills will have a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship.
Keep up to date with Barbados Immigration Law – click here to sign up to our newsletter. We’ll keep you updated on any changes to the relevant immigration law.
If you are a Bajan national and you return home after living abroad, there are tax and duty benefits. The government grants these concessions on things like motor vehicles and personal household effects. Think of it as a welcome home from the government!
You can make a declaration of renunciation and give up your Barbados citizenship.
How to get Barbados Citizenship
Citizenship by birth
If you were born in the country, then you are most likely a citizen. This right is through the principle of Jus Soli (or “right of soil.”)
Those born after 29th November 1966 (when the country became independent) have automatic citizenship at birth.
Barbados citizenship by descent
There are three options for Barbados citizenship by descent. In all of these situations, your citizenship status is regardless of when or where you were born.
- Your father was a Barbados citizen, and your parents are married.
- Your mother is a Barbados citizen.
- Children born abroad to diplomat parents.
Your birth must be registered with the nearest Barbadian diplomatic representative.
Citizenship Through Marriage
If your spouse is a citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible for residency. If your spouse is a citizen, you can apply for citizenship after being resident for seven years. Gay marriage is not legal here, and so the government does not recognize gay marriages from other jurisdictions.
Citizenship Through Residency and Naturalization
After seven years of being a legal resident, you can apply for Barbados citizenship through naturalization. You must show that you have spent at least five years living in the country during those seven years of residency.
Reasons for citizenship to be refused
The government requires criminal, character and reputational checks. If you have been declared bankrupt, you must have a discharge declaration for those bankruptcies.
Barbados Residency by Investment
The residency by investment visa program is called the Special Entry Permit (SEP) or Special Entry Residency Permit (SERP).
This residency permit is aimed at high net worth people. You’ll qualify in one of two ways.
- You have more than USD$5 million of assets.
- You are retired and own a property worth more than USD150,000 in Barbados.
The cost of the SEP ranges from USD3,500 to USD5,000.
This permit gives you indefinite leave to live in Barbados. Once you have a SEP, you can purchase annual (USD$1,500) or permanent (USD$15,000 – USD$20,000) work permit. The work visa gives you full employment rights.
Your spouse and dependants have the same rights as you once your SEP is issued. There is a visa application fee of USD$150 per family member.
The Special Entry Residence Permit (SERP) is available for those who invest more than USD$2,000,000 into the local economy. You’ll need to fund the investment from outside the country and not use a loan or mortgage.
The SERP is valid for five years and is renewable. Again, the SERP allows you to purchase a work visa, and the visa covers your family and dependants.
There are no residence requirements for the SEP or SERP. You can come and go from Barbados as you please. Just be aware that if citizenship is your goal you’ll need to meet the five-year residence requirement.
Citizenship by Investment
There is no Citizenship by Investment program that allows instant citizenship. However, the SEP gives you a clear pathway to citizenship by naturalization after seven years (please see the Citizenship section for more details.)
Please see our article for other options for Citizenship by Investment and Residency by Investment in the Caribbean and around the world.
Do you have experience moving to Barbados? We’d love to hear from you about why you chose to move to Barbados and the pros and cons of living and working in Barbados. We’d be very interested in your experience with Barbados visas and residency permits, Barbados citizenship, Barbados nationality, and Barbados passports. Please contact us to share your Expat story here.
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