Working in Antigua

Those who choose to move abroad to Antigua get to enjoy the laid back, beach lifestyle in one of the Caribbean’s safest and most stable countries. The Land of 365 Beaches appeals to many, thanks to its citizenship by investment program and special tax incentives for foreign investors. Bundle all of these positive qualities together and you won’t have many negatives for your pros and cons list. Then again, you may want to have a job as a source of steady income while you’re there. This is a slight reality check for some. If you are hoping to carry a job while in Antigua and Barbuda, this is what you’ll need to know.

Work Permit

In order for an expat to work abroad in Antigua, his/her employer must first be able to prove that there were no local candidates who fit the bill. This can be a slightly more difficult process than it is in many other countries, since Antigua has such a small population (90,000). Your employer must not only apply for the work permit on your behalf, but must also be able to prove that interviews have been conducted among the local population and demonstrate why they were not suitable for the job. The types of jobs that typically become available to foreigners based on this process are high-level positions such as senior managers and accountants. Other possible prospects could lie in tourism, teaching, and medicine.

In order to be approved for said work permit, your employer must apply through the Ministry of Labour on your behalf. Any and all paperwork necessary for submission should be handled by your employer and will include the filled-out application form and fees based on the nature of the position.

The work permit, once approved, is generally valid for one year. This can be renewed annually, as long as your employer can continue to prove that you are essential in that role. The application can only be processed if you, the applicant, possess at least three months valid stay stamped in your passport by the Immigration Department.

Documentation

The required documentation is mostly standard, with a couple of extra specifications. It includes proof of a valid passport, any degrees or certifications qualifying you for the position, clean police record, a copy of your return airline ticket, the payment receipt for the application of the work permit, copies of the ads that were placed for the position in local media, and finally a letter from your new employer verifying that he/she will be responsible for you while you are in the country. Once you’ve acquired the work permit, you are considered a temporary resident of Antigua and Barbuda.

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Starting a Business in Antigua

You can choose to start a business in Antigua as a means of income as well. Thanks to the Small Business Development Act of 2007, Antigua offers incentives such as concessions, technical assistance, and credit guarantees for those looking to make such an investment. Such incentives include: exemption from or duty-free entry of such items and materials needed (vehicles, furniture, building materials, etc.), reduction of property tax up to 75 percent for land and/or buildings used for business purposes, and exemption from paying income taxes on profits for up to five years.Consumer Resource Guide

Requirements to be approved for such incentives under this act include: having no more than 25 employees, having citizens of Antigua and Barbuda as majority owners, annual sales do not exceed EC $2 million, and capital investment doesn’t exceed EC $3 million.

If you’re going into this endeavor as a non-citizen of the country, the requirements are a bit different. These include: exports making up over one-half of the production of the business, a minimum investment of EC $500,000, at least 50 percent of the employees must be citizens of Antigua, and at least 40 percent of goods and services used for production coming from businesses located within Antigua and Barbuda.

In either of these cases, apply with an Approved Small Business Application and return it completed along with a verified business name, a business plan with a financial statement and proof of citizenship or a passport.

Job Landscape

The biggest industry in Antigua is tourism. In the past, the country has relied on sugarcane exports, but this has proven to be much less efficient than tourism. Here’s the overall breakdown of the workforce:

  • Unemployment Rate: 11%
  • Minimum Wage: EC $8.20/hour ($3.03 USD)
  • Major Industries:
    • Tourism, construction, light manufacturing (items such as clothing, alcohol, and household appliances)
  • Labor Force:
    • Agriculture (7%)
    • Industry (11%)
    • Services (82%)

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Photo Credit: Ron Kroetz via Flickr

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