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Bermuda Employment prospects for non-Bermudian newcomers

Unique Government restrictions apply to non-citizens on this densely populated 21 square mile island

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online

Newcomers to Bermuda

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Introduction

Bermuda has a wide range of unique restrictions applicable to all non-Bermudian newcomers that do not apply anywhere else in the world. Those seeking a "permanent" relocation to Bermuda, with all the perks that go with it should know the only way to qualify is to marry - and stay married to, cohabit with, a Bermudian spouse for at least 10 years and be of good character and constantly law-abiding. If not a Bermudian and not in a position to marry one of the opposite sex, accept beforehand that you will not be able to advance with unrestricted upward mobility based on merit alone, and will never be able to own your own property at the "Bermudian-only" prices, or vote. Nor will any children born to you and your spouse - unless one is Bermudian - ever be Bermudian himself or herself or be eligible for any local scholarship or award. 

Know in advance that all guest workers who are Bermuda Government-approved work permit holders in Bermuda irrespective of rank or seniority are required to sign a declaration acknowledging that they are not entitled to permanent residency on the Island. They may stay, if of good character and lawful, while they remain in Bermuda Government work-permit approved employment or until their work permit is revoked, possibly because a Bermudian may become qualified to do that job. Bermudians always get preference when they are appropriately qualified. 

Emigrating to Bermuda is not possible for the reason given above.

Bermuda, for those who will not marry and stay married to a Bermudian can best be described as a good place for temporary (perhaps a few years), not permanent, career and financial prospects, for those academically and/or professionally qualified who seek well-remunerated employment. With that will come a high quality of life with the ability to beat the incredibly high cost of living, a good climate and geography, nice natural environment and decent local infrastructure. But if you are not in this elite category of high income earners, you should think twice about coming to Bermuda. Any offer of employment and its duration are always subject to Bermuda Immigration work permit approval when the employee is not Bermudian. 

Married persons and those also with children must note that employment for your non-Bermudian spouse and older children may be impossible or restricted. Certain jobs - mostly non managerial and non-professional office and retail clerical areas, secretaries and receptionists, etc. are strictly limited to Bermudians only or their spouses. This is Bermuda Government Immigration policy. If your spouse has a good Business or Commerce or Economics degree or equivalent, especially a graduate degree, and is professionally qualified, his or her prospects for working in Bermuda may be better but cannot be guaranteed by the employer of the first spouse and are always dependent on (a) the employer of the second spouse; (b) Bermuda Government Immigration and (c) only if a similarly qualified and capable Bermudian is not available at the time and question and/or at any later date. If you have non Bermudian children who will be 14 years old or over while you are here, they will probably never be able to get full time or seasonal jobs as students. They can do so in larger countries with fewer restrictions. Non-Bermudians who are not spouses risk deportation if they try to employment while in Bermuda without first obtaining Bermuda Government work permit approval.

Elsewhere, we describe Bermuda in detail. 

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Accommodation - Apartment or condo or house renting

Many international companies fork out huge housing allowances to keep executives happy because they are intent on maintaining a presence in "one of the world's most important centres for reinsurance." The island attracts well-paid executives whose rental homes can come with a monthly price tag of $24,000. Foreign managers or senior executives in international insurance and finance companies typically receive a monthly allowance in the region of $5,000 and $10,000. For the lower sum, you can get a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo, but this would have no frills, probably no view, and the closer you get to Hamilton, the more you pay. Many foreigners come to the island with specific requirements. They want views of the ocean, a swimming pool, an old traditional house or a modern place. And, more often than not, they want something with easy access to Hamilton, near schools for their children. It is rare to find a place that matches every expectation. Bermuda is sophisticated but it's small and what many people don't understand when they arrive is that means there is not a large choice and therefore they have to be flexible. Many homeowners use their property today for additional income instead of investing in the stock market.  There is often very little on the market and while there is no lengthy commuting like in London or New York for the women who don't work it can be a big shock. Here they are in a strange, expensive place, on a small island and often immigration laws mean they cannot work. There is a serious lack of schooling for boys and some newcomers will have trouble with their landlords, an additional worry.

In your own best interests, negotiate this as part of an employment package. A good employer will either provide accommodation for a newcomer or should be asked to find a suitable place and secure a lease or monthly rental beforehand. Appropriate housing is extremely expensive to rent - as much as $32,000 a month - and can be very hard to find. Basic rents for a condominium or apartment range from $3,000 a month to $32,000 a month. Some good employers avoid the frustrations to newcomers of answering advertisements for places to rent, especially in their first month or two or three of employment, by putting them up for a time at employer's expense or with the expense shared, at guest houses or small hotels or efficiency units up to 20 minutes away by road. Will your employer offer you a monthly housing allowance to help pay your rent? An increasing number of international companies and some local companies do so. A local bank may offer a housing allowance up to 30 percent of an employee's salary if the job offer warrants it. In November 2013 the average rental price of a single-family property was $4,543;  a one-bedroom apartment $2,378;  a two-bedroom apartment $3,576;  a three-bedroom apartment $5,514. Average price usually means not in the best residential areas and the longest distance from town.

Apartment or condo or house leasing. If you lease instead of own an apartment or condominium or home, note carefully that you will not rent by the month but will lease for a specific, mutually-agreed time. Leases are legal and breakage of a lease should not be attempted without risk of a severe penalty. 

If an employer, not a professional newcomer employee, signs a lease, great care should be taken by the employee not to put the employer at risk. The employee will still be liable to the employer for payment of utilities, conduct and care and interior maintenance of the leased propertyNote that renting an apartment or condo for $4,500 a month will require a salary of at least $120,000 a year. 

A house renting for $11,000 a month will require a salary of $308,000 a year

To get a realistic idea of what monthly rent you can afford if you rent an apartment by yourself and get no housing allowance, take no more than 28 percent of your gross annual salary pro-rated monthly.

Another factor to remember is always to ensure the telephone number, electricity and cable TV at the property are in your name when you arrive and are disconnected from your name when you leave.  

Expatriate employees should try not to spend more than 30 percent of their gross salary on where they rent. It should be large enough to accommodate a visiting family member from overseas. 

The Bermuda Government finds unfurnished and/or furnished accommodation for its contract officers (one bedroom for a single or married person, three bedrooms for a family with two children), with rent in excess of 25% of the contract officer's salary is fully subsidized. These Bermuda Government employed contract officers are expected to remain at the accommodation provided for at least three months but thereafter may choose to move into accommodation of their own choice. Rent in excess of 25% of the employee's salary will continue to be subsidized within reason.

All accommodation for all Bermuda Government contract officers is handled by the Ministry of Works and Engineering and Housing Residential Accommodation Officer.

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Advance negotiations between employers and prospective employees after advertising of vacancies

Annual Salary and Salary Comparisons. To achieve some measure of a salary comparison between what you earn now, away from Bermuda, figure on the overall cost of living being 280% more in Bermuda than in the UK or Canada and 380% more than in the USA. Then see from which jurisdiction you will be better off.

2019 Median average income in Bermuda is US$/BDA $68,500. Highest average salaries are in the international business sector insurance or reinsurance underwriters - from $160,000 to $2 million, while the lowest averages are in the retail ($48,000), hotel ($46,000) and restaurant ($35,664) sectors. Lower salaries necessitate having an employed spouse or live-in partner. Non-Bermudians with no spousal ties to Bermudians are mostly in the professionals occupation group. Positions in that category include actuaries, lawyers and certified accountants. Finance general managers can earn $306,875. Be aware of substantial Salary Deductions (see separate heading)

Discuss all these with your employer before you sign any contract as the result of an advertised vacancy. Vacancies must be advertised appropriately in approved local and international - if applicable - media, with the government exercising final discretion in awarding of work permits.  Jobs  are based on what they are worth to the employer, not what individual qualifications or backgrounds or personalities are worth.

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Airfare

Most employees from overseas have incoming airfare paid by employers for themselves and their spouses or children as part of a contract of employment. Employers have the right to and often hold return airline tickets for the initial life of a contract or until the tickets expire, whichever is sooner. Some employers will also pay some or all of annual vacation and compassionate leave fares, not just at the beginning and end of a contract.

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Arriving and settling in 

Arrange to be met, if on a Work Permit. You may detained at the airport for a while longer than other passengers and may have your suitcases searched thoroughly by Immigration and Customs officials. See list of airlines and airport. Your first impressions will include seeing how colorful and bright the houses are, in pastels; the turquoise color of the sea and the prolific vegetation. Your first impressions of the City of Hamilton will be interesting. Newcomers from the UK or Ireland will not find any typical UK or Irish high-street-style stores except for a Marks and Spencer. Newcomers from USA or Canada will not find any American mega stores like Wal Mart, K-Mart, Target and more. Bermuda has none of these huge retail outlets. No stores are allowed in Bermuda unless they are at least 60% owned by Bermudians. As you walk down the street, it’s quite the norm for people to nod good morning or good afternoon, or whatever. Tell Bermudian shop assistants "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" before they assist you, it's the custom. Don't expect Bermudians to have a British accent. The most common local accent is not at all like the sing-song of the Caribbean islands 1,000 miles to the north. Instead it is similar to American or Canadian accents.

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Air mail, surface mail and packages  

In normal conditions, from North America or Europe can take more than a week to arrive and is sometimes delayed for longer. Most of the incoming mail comes from the USA. Some mail from the USA is being imported by Federal Express by arrangement with the US Postal Service, but by no means all.  The local Post Office has no control over incoming airmail, only outgoing airmail. 

Always use first class air mail or courier service or secure electronic mail. There are several courier services operating to and from Bermuda. Cheaper services are not reliable.

Only car ships - no freight ships or scheduled aircraft - go between the Caribbean and Bermuda. Surface mail - when available from the USA and Canada, no longer available by letter or parcel to or from Bermuda and the UK -  can take many months, especially when misdirected/directed to places with no passenger shipping or airline connections to Bermuda.  Mail problems usually occur more frequently from October to March when, in more normal circumstances, air services from the USA to Bermuda are fewer in number and with smaller aircraft.  Because of this, regular air mail from the USA for Bermuda has been sent to London first, then redirected to Bermuda on British Airways on the three days a week winter service. To help avoid such problems, all Christmas airmail to Bermuda residents and visitors should be sent no later - and ideally much earlier than December 8.

Airmail stampOutgoing - going overseas - Christmas mailing of cards, letters and parcels. No information about this appears on the Bermuda General Post Office website. Instead, details are printed annually in a printed brochure from Post Offices. Deadlines apply, varying hugely by country. As merely a few examples,  the deadline in 2003 for Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa, etc was October 3; for Europe October 17; the UK November 7 and USA November 17. The brochure will give details of deadlines for all countries.

Packages sent to recipients from Bermuda by courier are treated in a different way to regular airmail. Recipients must always give their full physical postal addresses, postal codes and telephone numbers. Costs will include:

The overall effect is that a US$39 pair of trousers from a good US retail store like Land's End could end up costing the recipient over US$90.

 If parcels received from abroad by post contain gifts valued at over $30, a customs duty will be payable.

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Alcoholic drinks 

Fun in Bermuda 2Hugely expensive. A 1-liter bottle of rum or Scotch whisky or rum or vodka or other spirits costs from US$ 27 locally, even more than in UK. 

Beer by the case is more than twice the US price - about $40. 

There is a very high Bermuda Government import duty on all liquor. 

Wines are very substantially more than in the USA or Canada and more than in the UK.

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Animal imports

See Pets.

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Annual Licensing of a car 

Costs are the highest in the world by a very wide margin for private cars. Up to 10 times more costly than in the USA or Canada and appreciably more expensive than in the UK. For more information see under "Annual Vehicle License Fees" in http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=253&&PageID=477&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true. Unlike in the UK, in Bermuda new smaller environmentally-friendly cars do not have free annual licensing. Plus, in Bermuda only one car per household is allowed, with new ones at about twice USA prices. Tourists may may only rent tiny  2-seater electric cars and visitors who have driver's licenses in their home countries cannot use them in Bermuda to drive cars belonging to their Bermuda-based relatives or friends. Nor is car leasing allowed. 

Automobile Insurance. Based on a reputable local insurance company written quote of $1,894.26 annually for comprehensive coverage with a deductible, for a very small car. Actual premiums can vary wildly. Rates can vary considerably in Bermuda, where Only a Bermudian insurance company can insure a vehicle. For a list of Bermudian insurers see under "Insurance Companies, Local" in Bermuda Employers

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Annual vacation (holidays) 

Employees are entitled at present to two weeks of annual paid leave after a full year of employment. Bermuda has the American pattern of holidays or vacation, not British. Holiday laws in Britain do not apply in Bermuda. Britons and Europeans should not expect and will not get long annual vacations of 4-6 weeks. 

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Applicable Laws and Regulations & legal system

Local, not British UK. Bermuda laws only apply. The UK legal system does not apply in Bermuda even though it is a (nominal) British Overseas Territory. No UK/British laws apply. A classic case is Bermuda's Constitution. Unlike other constitutions, its Human Rights and other provisions cover Bermudians only, not those who are not even if they are born here and do not have a Bermudian parent.

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Bank accounts

All expatriates working in Bermuda will want to establish an account with one of these banks. Many larger Bermuda employers in other areas of commerce will pay salaries directly to bank accounts. Bermuda banks are often much more sophisticated in their services than banks in rural parts of Canada, Caribbean, UK and USA, etc. But they are expensive and don't give the same legal protections - such as FDIC insurance - to depositors as they do in Europe and North America. They are also much more expensive.

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Bermuda Employment Laws and Employment Rights

A summary:

Under the Employment Act 2000, employees are entitled to legislated benefits from employers. They include two weeks holiday (vacation) after one year; no unauthorized docking of salaries or wages; a written contract after one week's employment; a 40-hour week; time and a half, or time off, after 40 hours, with possible  exemptions; paid Public Holidays; a rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours each week; 8 days paid sick leave per year; unlimited time off to attend ante-natal classes for pregnant employees; 8 weeks paid and 4 weeks unpaid maternity leave after one year; statutory notice period; bereavement leave of 3 days unpaid or 5 days unpaid if traveling abroad; disciplinary procedure; time off for court duty, voting, meeting of Government Boards, Bermuda Regiment, Reserve Police, Senate or House of Assembly; notice of 1 week if weekly paid, 2 weeks if bi-weekly paid, 1 month in any other case; employers cannot sack employees for complaining about their treatment; an employees can take an employer to the Employment Tribunal for unfair or constructive dismissal.

The Act applies to all employees working wholly or mainly in Bermuda, including foreign employees. Employers must set out minimum statutory entitlements, including notice of termination rights and various leave benefits (vacation, sick leave, maternity, bereavement, public duty leave, etc. They mandate that there be a written contract (“Statement of Employment”) in place setting out fundamental terms of the employment relationship. If the contract contains more favorable terms than the Act, then the contract prevails. Parties cannot contract out of the Act’s minimum requirements. It provides that an employee can only be dismissed for a valid reason, such as ability, performance, conduct or business operational requirements (redundancy); that statutory redundancy pay (“severance allowance”) must be paid if conditions of redundancy are made out (capped at 6 months’ wages).  It protects employees from disciplinary action or termination (“unfair dismissal”) on human rights related grounds or for being a whistle-blower. It defines constructive dismissal (also “unfair dismissal”) and provides compensation for same based on the employer’s unreasonable conduct. It provides for a mandatory warning process for employees engaging in misconduct (short of serious misconduct) or unsatisfactory performance and time to improve (employees engaged in serious misconduct related to the employment relationship can be summarily dismissed). It has a complaint process for breach of the statute to an Inspector and then to the Employment Tribunal, with a 3 month limitation period. Compensation is limited to 6 months’ wages or reinstatement. It shows that either side can terminate the contract for any reason and without notice during a contractual probation period (if there is one, the contract must state whether there is one or not). It gives priority to an employee’s claims for unpaid wages and accrued vacation pay in a winding up action.

The Act specifically includes that under Section 20 of the Health Insurance Act 1970 an employer must provide an active health insurance policy with a licensed insurer (or approved scheme) for all employees, their non-employed spouses and minor non-working children,  to at least the minimum “hospital insurance benefit” standard and pay 50% of the premium. Many employers provide a higher level “major medical” coverage. Note that dental insurance is not a standard inclusion in locally required Heath Care and Major Medical Insurance from a government-approved health insurer. Only certain employers have it and with varying degrees of coverage and exclusions. Newcomers should ask their prospective employers whether they are covered and for what dental benefits. Before they arrive in Bermuda, newcomers should have their teeth checked out thoroughly. The Health Council monitors and enforces employer compliance with this Act. All medical doctors in Bermuda must be licensed locally before they qualify  and - with the exception of those working at the two hospitals -  all are private. 

healthcare benefits and claims

healthcare claims

Common Law Courts.  An employee elect to pursue a breach of employment contract claim (including wrongful dismissal) in the Courts for damages. The limitation period is 6 years. The damages obtainable are dependent on common law principles derived from Court decided cases over the years.

Contributory Pensions Act 1970 authorizes the Department of Social Insurance, a unit of  the Ministry of Finance, to manage the Social insurance (government contributory pension), to which all Bermudian and non-Bermudian employers and employees contribute.

Employment (Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave) Amendment Act took effect January 1, 2020. Bermuda-based businesses must ensure that their organizations are compliant with the new legislative amendments. They

Human Rights Act 1981 prohibits discrimination and harassment in the employment sector on the basis of race, place of origin, colour, ancestry, sex (gender), marital status, disability, legitimacy, religious belief or political belief. Sexual harassment is also prohibited and made a criminal offence.

Immigration and Protection Act 1956 (as amended) provides that employees who are not Bermudian or a spouse of a Bermudian or a Permanent Resident’s Certificate (PRC) holder must have a work permit issued by the Department of Immigration to work in Bermuda. These can range from 3 months to 10 years in time (the latter subject to several stringent criteria) and are renewable. The time for processing is approximately 8 to 10 days (for “fast track” or “temporary permits”) or 6 to 10 weeks (for standard permits of 1 year or more). A work permit will not be issued where a qualified Bermudian, spouse of a Bermudian, non-Bermudian dependant of a Bermudian, Permanent Resident Certificate holder or other person with a qualifying connection to Bermuda applies for the position. Employees are generally subject under Bermuda immigration policy to a maximum of 6 years of working under a permit in Bermuda (“terms limits.”) Certain positions can be deemed “key” to a business and the holder of that position can be exempted from term limits or receive an extension of to their term limit of up to 3 additional years. Other grounds for exemption can be made out (e.g. worldwide shortage in that industry, company hardship, etc.).

Labour Relations Act 1975 & the Trade Dispute Act 1992 provide for the hearing of a labour dispute by the Minister or an Arbitration Panel/Trade Disputes Tribunal. Governs strike actions. This applies to unionized employees (note that virtually all employees of international companies in Bermuda are non-unionized).

Maternity & Paternity Leave. Women may take 13 weeks’ paid leave after childbirth if they have worked at the company for 12 months continuously before the expected date of delivery. Fathers are recognised in the Employment (Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave) Amendment Act 2019, as it provided for five days’ paternity leave. Employees applying for paternity leave will be expected to provide a medical certificate confirming the pregnancy. Paternity leave can be used only once in a 12-month period, starting on the date of the child’s birth, and may be used at any time within the next 14 weeks. The legislation also provided for employees to take a week’s holiday after their first six months of work at a company.

National Pension Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Amendment Act 2019. Legislation that will allow employees to take out a quarter of their private pensions as a lump sum on retirement was passed by MPs on Friday. The will now require non-Bermudian workers to pay into their occupational pension, along with self-employed workers. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, told the House of Assembly that there was concern that the need to make pension contributions for Bermudian but not for non-Bermudian workers had affected employment opportunities for Bermudians because the situation made it cheaper to employ overseas workers. Mr Dickinson said: “We have tried to, in our work here, be very balanced in our approach to ensure that we are not causing undue stress on employers while, at the same time, being mindful that we want to promote the culture of self-sufficiency and so encouraging people to provide for themselves in their later years by saving during the years they are earning income.” Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister for Legal Affairs, said that the One Bermuda Alliance supported the draw down part of the Bill. But he feared that the ability to do so could deprive people of a “rainy day fund later”. Mr Pearman said: “That risk will fall upon the community as a whole. So we need to map out what happens when that happens.” He said that a requirement for non-Bermudians to pay into an occupational pension fund was “thorny” and would “increase the cost of doing business in Bermuda”. He added: “Making Bermuda more expensive is not a good idea because it will lead to job losses.” Mr Pearman said that small and medium-sized businesses would be hit hardest by the change. He added: “It is those Bermudian employers who are now going to have to dig into their pockets.” David Burt, the Premier, said the legislation would not be popular among companies that had a majority of non-Bermudian staff. He added: “It’s not only the right change, but it makes sense to put Bermudians on an equal playing field with non-Bermudians.” Mr Burt also reiterated that the Government hoped to bring some of the $3 billion invested into the pension scheme back into Bermuda by allowing employees to access a portion of their funds for specific investments. He said: “We believe that people should be trusted with their money. If you like it where it is, leave it where it is."

For those who qualify under the Act for pension eligibility, the pension scheme (plan) can be offered only by approved local insurance companies, not the "exempted" or "international" variety registered in Bermuda but not "corporate citizens" as they are often referred to, inaccurately.  

The Act removed many of the anomalies and restrictions that since the 1970s for "approved private pension plans" had existed in some with 15 or more years service but had severely restricted or totally excluded others, for example all those with say 12 years service with the same employer by retirement age. The current Act creates some portability for plans of all employers and employees. But for some people close to retirement age when it came into effect, it was far too late to ensure that once they become senior citizens and retire from working, they will have an adequate income without hardship. 

Minimum contribution rates are based on pensionable earnings per year.  At January 14, 2012 Approved Pension Plan Administrators under the Act were:

Payroll Tax. Payable by employers and employees on salary and benefits; the percentage rate depends on the total remuneration payable to employees in the company. Generally tax on remuneration is around 14 to 16% of the remuneration package and the employer can claw back 5.25% from the employee

Worker’s Compensation Act 1965 provides for compensation by employers to workers who are injured on the job, regardless of fault. If negligence on the part of the employer is involved, the employee can sue in the Court for damages.

Employment (Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave) Amendment Act took effect January 1, 2020. Bermuda-based businesses must ensure that their organizations are compliant with the new legislative amendments. They

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Bermuda Government

Island's largest single employer by a considerable margin, with over 5,800 jobs in 21 square miles. 

This includes all branches plus quangos and facilities like Bermuda International Airport, Bermuda Land Development Corporation, Bermuda Ministry of Education, Bermuda Police Service, Bermuda Regiment, Bermuda Weather Service, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, and more. Be aware of its priority policies to employ qualified Bermudians first, qualified spouses of Bermudians second; qualified non-nationals third; and to limit in time the Work Permits of non-nationals in the fourth category, to, generally speaking, no longer than 6 years. In all other countries, these racial guidelines and regulations apply only in the public sector. But the Bermuda Government applies them in the private sector as well.

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Bermuda restrictions and limitations applicable to non-Bermudians

The cost to companies of bringing someone to Bermuda is very high and once here the cost to the new employees of traveling abroad is very high. It’s hard for them to make a career move because they can’t stay here forever. Spouses may not be able to get work and could be frustrated, with repercussions. Children, even when born in Bermuda of non-Bermudian parents, will never qualify for scholarships available locally, or be eligible for citizenship. Life on a very small island with limited resources and a limited-by-immigration controls labor pool tends to drive up prices.

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Bermuda Vehicle License holders renting cars abroad may have difficulty

Newcomers who obtain Bermuda car licenses should know in advance that when they go abroad on vacation or business they may have difficulty renting a car in certain countries. The Royal Gazette has reported how some Bermuda driving-licence holders have had problems.  Where and when this has happened is because Bermuda has always declined and has never reversed this to date -  to participate in those international road traffic conventions that provide for reciprocal recognition of driving licences between countries and states. Sometimes, car rental companies abroad assume that a Bermuda licence is acceptable. However, this might not reflect the actual legal position in the country, which can have very bad consequences. These can include being denied access to a car that was being relied upon for a trip, or prosecution overseas for driving without a valid licence. Most seriously, someone could find themselves personally liable for a major compensation claim abroad in the event of an accident, and it transpiring that insurance was invalid because of the driver not having a valid licence. Bermuda licence holders have had such problems in Massachusetts, Azores and Canada, among other places. These risks will increase from January 1, 2021, when Britain will be no longer subject to European Union driving-licence laws as a result of Brexit. At that time, British licence holders may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive within the EU. This increased scrutiny of British licence holders may have a knock-on effect on scrutiny of the holders of Bermuda licences as a British Overseas Territory. Unfortunately, Bermuda driving-licence holders cannot get an IDP because Bermuda is not signed up to any of the international conventions. If and once Bermuda signs the international road traffic conventions then Bermuda licence holders to drive throughout most countries in the world. In return, Bermuda will have to reciprocate by allowing new residents to use foreign driving licences for the first six months of residency, and to allow visitors to use their foreign licences — eg, if they borrow the car of a local family member they are staying with. It would not require Bermuda to introduce car rentals. But in the meantime there will likely be opposition from driving-licence instructors and taxi drivers who benefit from the red tape stopping people from driving in Bermuda short term with a foreign licence.  It needs to be noted that visitors who are denied the right to rent cars in Bermuda will likely go to a Caribbean island instead where there are no such problems.

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Better Business Bureau

None in Bermuda, unlike in the USA.

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Births

Expatriates (all non-Bermudians) should note that when any of their children are born in Bermuda, they are not Bermudian unless a parent is as well. See Citizenship notes. Being born in Bermuda may entitle them to British Overseas Territory Status until they are 18 if they are not British, but being British does not confer citizenship of Bermuda. Persons who are British but are not also Bermudian are regarded as foreigners in Bermuda - like any other nationality - and may not vote or own property or switch from job to job or be eligible as teenagers for educational scholarships or own local businesses in the same way Bermudians can.

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Boats

See under "Boats" in Watersports.

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Cats

See Pets.

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Cell or mobile phones

Most are the USA type, not European type. Their use is as common in Bermuda as it is in USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe. If you are from North America, bring your cell phones which should work here with a local cellular account. But if you are from a country with a GSM system, be sure to bring or buy a GSM cellphone. UK newcomers should not bring their GSM mobile phones (cell phones) until they have double-checked that they can be used in Bermuda. 

All Bermuda cell phone users pay a direct or indirect monthly Government licence fee for a mobile line.

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Children

Unlike in the UK, USA, Canada, etc. Bermuda does not provide any kind of financial allowance to non-Bermudian parent or parents when a child is born. Unlike in the USA, Canada, UK, etc where a child is deemed to be a citizen when born there, a child born in Bermuda is not and will not be deemed a Bermudian unless one of the parents is Bermudian. See Citizenship

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Citizen's Advice Bureau

None in Bermuda, unlike in the UK.

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Citizenship

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Climate & weather 

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Commuting

Traffic is heavy. If you live in the easternmost parishes - St. George's or Town of St. George area - or westernmost parishes such as Sandys  - both 11 miles from the City of Hamilton - and need to be at work there by 8:30 or 9 am, leave from where you live no later than 7:30 am. Traffic is often that bad. It is often even worse for western parish dwellers if traffic breaks down on Harbour Road So are the late afternoon rush hours from 4:30 to 6 pm. If you are on a scooter or moped instead of a car and value your life, do not follow the irritating and dangerous Bermuda habit of overtaking stopped or slowing car traffic and going to the front of the line. 4-wheeled vehicles, not those with 2 wheels, have the right of way. 

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Computers & digital equipment

Newcomers should bring desktops,  laptops or iPads, notebooks, etc with them when they first arrive. Make sure you ask your new employer beforehand to check for you to see if you will be expected to pay Customs import duty on at at the airport on arrival. If so, ask for this to be reimbursed as the import duty will be be 35% of the value. Be sure to bring a receipt with you from the supplier of the equipment. After you've arrived and  become a resident, if you travel abroad and come back with laptop or notebook computers, etc. know that Bermuda Government import duties (averaging 35 percent) will levied by the Government on your arrival.  The local costs of computers and peripherals are about three times higher in Bermuda than USA and more than twice UK prices. Also note that Bermuda prices are usually without lots of extras including a printer, scanner, choice of software options and more.

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Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Issued regularly by the relevant department of the Bermuda Government.

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Consumer Protection Act 1999 and Sale of Goods Act 2002 apply

This became law in Bermuda on December 1, 2000. A few areas covered by the Act are truth in advertising; unfair business practices; product recalls; product safety; unconscionable consumer representations and penalties for non-compliance, for regular and disabled or physically handicapped visitors and locals. Customers in Bermuda are often perplexed about why guarantees aren't always honored. A lot of retailers aren't buying into the manufacturers warranty because their customs duty doubles. They pay duty when they ship it in and they pay duty when they ship it out. Some companies do buy into the warranty to a point. They don't buy the full coverage. Guarantees or warranties are often far shorter in Bermuda than in North America or UK. A case in point is for automobiles where most warranties are usually for one year only, not three except in specific cases. 

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Cost of living

Bermuda is the most expensive place in the world in which to live, visit, work and retire. Overall, the cost of living in Bermuda is nearly three times more than in most of the UK or Canada and well over times more than in the USA. Visitors from the USA tell this author that what costs them $25 back home will cost them, on average, over US $100 here in Bermuda. Food alone is usually double or triple the price in the USA, United Kingdom, etc. As merely one example, fresh whole milk is over US$ 3.30 for half a gallon in Bermuda but only 99 pence (US $ 1.53) for 2 liters in the United Kingdom or the USA. Duties average 30 percent at wholesale level (but are much higher for boats and cars) and are often pushed up by local (Bermudian or mostly Bermudian) retailers, making most goods much more expensive than in the USA from where most were exported.

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Credit Cards

Available from local banks but bring your own. If you are from the USA or Canada or Europe or Australia or UK, etc, it is recommended you retain your current credit cards from those countries for as long as practicable.

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Criminal Injuries Compensation

Covers only dependents, low by international standards. In other countries - but not Bermuda - compensation can be significant for criminal injuries or death. In the USA, families of victims of September 11, 2001 in New York received up to US$5 million. In Bermuda, on July 3, 1996, when 17-year old Canadian tourist Rebecca Middleton - see by name in Bermuda Laws at www.bermuda-online.org/legal.htm - was tortured, raped repeatedly, sodomized, knifed 32 times and murdered, her family had to wait 10 years before being awarded in 2006 the nominal sum of US$2,300.

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Cuisine

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Customs Duty-free allowances

When arriving in Bermuda. Confirm this with your Bermuda employer.  Will your employment contract allow you to ship all your household goods including furniture at your employer's expense? If so, bring as much as you can of everything you may need but not any cars or pickups or trucks or two-wheeled vehicles or mopeds or scooters.

Returning to Bermuda after vacation or visits abroad. Bermuda limits its citizens and residents returning home  to $200 per household (no longer per person) in duty-free allowances per trip, with a 35% import duty slapped on everything in excess, including shoes, clothing, etc. Until 1989 it was US$400 a person, reduced in 1990/91 to US$250 a person before they pay duty on items they bring.  Visitors - non-residents -  have an allowance of $30 over and above their personal effects (see below). Items brought in by visitors and residents that are not within their duty free category incur an import duty of 35%. Produce receipts from a retail store satisfactory to the Customs Department of actual purchase price of the items or be prepared for the Customs Department to assess items for your payment of duty at much higher Bermuda prices. This is applied vigorously. To avoid being arrested and having goods confiscated, do not try to import goods into Bermuda without paying the duty. If at a hotel and with nothing illegal and with no items to declare, visitors may be waved through. If at a private home, you may be inspected. Visitors may bring in, duty free for personal use only while they are in Bermuda, their clothes and articles like cameras, golf bags, 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 0.454 kilos (1 pound weight) tobacco; 1 liter of liquor or wine and a $30 gift allowance. If they bring in any more in gifts or their value, they can be charged a heavy rate of duty - 35% of value - unlike in USA, Britain and Europe, where it does not matter whether your gifts are for yourself or a member of your family or associate or a complete stranger.

Why are Bermuda Customs revenues are so high? Because they are the second- biggest source of revenue for the Bermuda Government, after Payroll Tax.

Compare the following:

Normally, in the USA, for visitors or returning residents, the  duty-free allowance or exemption from Customs Duty is $400 per trip, but from November 4, 2002, it was raised from November 4, 2002 to $800 (from $400) for those who have not used the exemption in 30 days.

Note very carefully Illegal Imports. Bermuda operates a sensible strict ban on all illegal narcotics, in the Bermuda Government's Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 and Misuse of Drugs (Controlled Drugs) Order 2001 enacted on August 1, 2001. To avoid arrest for illegal narcotics like liquid ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. don't import them. There is a zero tolerance policy..

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Departure Taxes

Apply for every holiday or vacation or visit beyond Bermuda, payable by every resident. Was $30 until August 2015, now $78 since early 2016.

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Disability benefits

There are none in Bermuda for non-Bermudians, except to some Bermudians whose complete lack of real estate and any regular income qualify them.

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Dogs

Subject to permission of landlord. See Pets. 

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Dress Code

Suits or Bermuda shorts with appropriate jacket and socks.

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Driving Licenses

Newcomers who work in or retire to Bermuda will need to obtain Bermuda driving licenses. They cannot use those from their own countries, There are no reciprocal arrangements with the United Kingdom or Canada or USA or any Caribbean island for mutual recognition of driving licences. Many countries - but not Bermuda - have such reciprocal arrangements. It means that when Bermudians or non-Bermudian newcomers go to the UK to work or study, they are not allowed to have the same arrangements there as do those holding driving licences from Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Canada, Cyprus, European Union countries, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and Switzerland.  Even with overseas driving licences, newcomers must take and pass full Bermuda written and driving tests that Bermudians have to pass before they can drive a car or motor cycle or scooter or auxiliary cycle in Bermuda. It is up to Bermuda to make similar reciprocal arrangements and so far this has not been done. Bermuda does not yet have the same driving license standards for international businesses based here and their employees imported from overseas as the major international business countries.  

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Education

If you have children, you have a choice of a public or private school. At a public, or Government-run, school, your child will be educated in a multi-racial environment. Unless you are from Bermuda, you may not know that Bermuda is mostly black. There may come a time when only private schools will accept children who are not local citizens. This has already happened in the Cayman Islands.

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Electricity & Gas (cooking)

Electricity in Bermuda is provided solely by the Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCo). It is a government-approved monopoly. It does not have off-peak rates. In addition to published monthly charges, it imposes a significant fuel surcharge tax not published but very real. The voltage system is 120 volts, 60 cycles - same as in North America. If from there, bring small electrical appliances (hair dryers, shavers, etc.) for your stay. Some larger appliances use 220/240 volts, smaller ones and lights use 110 volts. If from the United Kingdom, note that none of the UK-produced consumer appliances will work properly or at all in Bermuda. If returning to the UK from Bermuda after a 6 or 9 year employment contract or earlier, try to sell or give away your US-type appliances before you go.

Electrical power is NOT hydroelectric or solar or nuclear or wind generated. Solar and wind-power are being contemplated long-term. In the meantime, fuel oil -  by far and away the most expensive way to produce electricity in the developed countries - is used exclusively. It is piped directly into the central electricity generating plant owned by the utility on Serpentine Road in Pembroke Parish, west of the City of Hamilton, via a mile underground pipe from the oil docks terminal at Ferry Reach, St. George's Parish. Fuel oil attracts a very high Bermuda government import duty. This adds appreciably to the high cost of electricity locally. As a comparison, in a New England state, the average family with children might use about 6,400 kWh on an annual basis (including room air conditioning in the summer) for approximately $63 a month). In Bermuda, the cost could be $475. 

There is no central heating in most Bermuda homes and apartments. Some winter days and nights can be damp and chilly for non Bermudians accustomed to seasonal central heating. Some homes have a fireplace, while others may have a ductless split heat pump system with reverse cycle heat during the winter and air conditioning in summer. If not, electric heaters and separate air conditioning units for winter and summer comfort levels are available commercially.

Gas: not local, imported in 100 lb cylinders when kitchen stoves use gas, not electricity.

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Exemptions from overseas taxes may not apply

You may not be exempted from your own home country's taxation policies when you work in Bermuda.  Americans, Canadians, those from the Philippines and United Kingdom citizens  have discovered.  If you're a citizen of the USA, or US resident aliens or US long-term Bermuda residents, you may be able to claim a percentage (subject to a maximum) of your Bermuda earned income if, before and so long as you file your Foreign Earned Income Exclusion - Form 2555 and tax return, as recognition by the USA of the much high cost of local living and higher rate of local taxation overall in countries beyond the USA. If you don't file properly, you get no exclusion.  Also note IRS Contribution limits and that for a US belonger and taxpayer in Bermuda who qualifies, there is a Section 529 Savings Plans for College incentive. Be aware that the Bermuda Government has signed tax information exchange agreements with many countries which gives them the right to demand certain information from both the Bermuda Government and your Bermuda bank and/or depository.

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Expatriate Organizations in Bermuda include:

Quite a few, including:

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Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of the USA and how it affects Americans, Bermudians and those with US business connections

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Account_Tax_Compliance_Act. For how it affects those living in Brmuda see under Banking

Those likely to be affected by FATCA include US citizens and green card holders resident in the US and living abroad such as Bermuda who have foreign financial bank accounts, financial interests and other holdings; US residents for income tax purposes (those who do not have a US passport or citizenship but have resided in the US long enough to meet the substantial presence test), and others with US connections such US owned foreign entities. Also liable are US-classified foreign financial institutions and non-financial foreign entities including all those with US proprietary investments, US account holders, or other US financial dealings. FATCA cooperation is both encouraged and enforceable in Bermuda because Bermuda has signed Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) in the last few years with the United States and other countries. TIEAs, tax treaties, and Intergovernmental Agreements all aid in mutual information exchange cooperation. In cases where tax evasion, etc, is suspected or determined, the US Internal Revenue Service has profound regulatory powers (agreed on by the TIEAs and tax treaties) to request detailed significant confidential information on specified US individuals and related parties.

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Foreign Currency Purchase Tax

See http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231425&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true. All who work in or have business dealings in Bermuda or who visit should note that Bermuda, uniquely in the economies of the international business centers, has a Foreign Currency Purchase Tax (FCPT).  It applies to the purchase of all non-local currencies including the US Dollar. Now 1.5% per transaction. This includes all purchases of foreign currencies for travel and business purposes and all telegraphic (wire) transfers of monies from Bermuda to individuals and businesses abroad. In addition to bank charges built into the cost of wire transfers, the Bermuda Government charge consumers $1,000 for every $100,000 taken or wired abroad. There is no Government Receipt given for this FCPT charge. 

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Garages - private, at houses, apartments, condos, flats, to protect vehicles

Whether buying or renting, an apartment of any size or house with a garage is essential for a car or moped or scooter. Those without one should be avoided because vehicles not stored in them just do not stand up to Bermuda's salt-laden air, constant winter gales and periodic hurricanes. Do not leave your vehicle outside at night without being garaged. Even rust-proofing is only partly effective for garaged vehicles.

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Gasoline (petrol)

Bermuda, at over US9.50 a gallon, is one of the most expensive places in the world, three times more expensive than in the USA, more than double what it is in Toronto, more expensive than in London, England. 

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Gross National Income

Bermuda is Britain's oldest British Overseas Territory, self-governing, with its own laws including those on citizenship, commerce, customs duties, employment, finance, health, insurance, investments, hospitalization, immigration, taxation, trade, welfare, etc. It is not part of the European Community, unlike Britain. Despite its small size it is an important offshore business jurisdiction, the registered corporate home of many multinational business entities, particularly for insurance and reinsurance companies. The World Bank rates Bermuda as one of the top three jurisdictions in Gross National Income per capita. 

How they compare, according recent World Bank figures:

According to the World Bank:

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Health and Hospitalization Insurance

See under Bermuda Employment Laws and Employment Rights

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Homes, housing & Apartments

Also see details about 

More than a third of families’ spending in Bermuda is now going on housing — nearly double that of the US. Households spent more than $740 million on housing in 2010. The corresponding figure for housing in America is just 18 percent.

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Hurricanes

Periodic. 

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Immigration Approval required for promotions and offers of business partnerships to non-Bermudians

Newcomers should note that only in Bermuda - not in any other country - employers are required to seek approval from the Bermuda Government's Department of Immigration before any non-Bermudian can be offered a business promotion or partnership in a law office or accounting or consulting or any other kind of entity. Only in Bermuda are local citizens given such power over expatriates. Only in Bermuda can they challenge if they wish to, with official government backing, such offers of promotions or partnerships based on merit.

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Importing small animals 

See Pets.

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Insects

Newcomers are advised to be meticulous in their household cleaning, primarily for their own protection against ants (everywhere) cockroaches (everywhere), mould and mildew. Plus, the high average humidity year-round and the lack of moving air and sunlight in your rented home or apartment mean items such as leather may be affected.

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Insurance on cars, homes and contents

For Bermuda-based homes, properties, motor vehicles, etc. only licensed local Bermudian majority locally owned and managed (not merely Bermuda-based) insurers with a Bermuda-based office that can settle claims locally can legally offer this. Home insurance in particular is very expensive in Bermuda compared to rates in the USA, Canada and UK. In Bermuda, homes are insured for their replacement value, not their market value. Re motor vehicle insurance you may be able to qualify for a no claims bonus if you can produce evidence from your former insurer overseas. But when you return to or go to say the UK, your no claims bonus in Bermuda may not qualify because Bermuda is not part of the European Economic Community.

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International or exempted companies

So-called because they are exempted from having to be Bermudian. They are also based here - some are incorporated here - but do business strictly beyond Bermuda. Although they include local offices of some of the world's best-known insurance firms - those offering medical, health insurance, insurance and re-insurance - and investment firms, they are not allowed to offer their products or services in the local marketplace because they are not "local companies." Collectively they now bring in more revenue for the Bermuda Government and Bermuda generally than tourism.

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International investments bought locally

What will cost you $8 per trade in the USA, or via an overseas online investment broker, will be about US $29.95 if bought here, an accurate reflection of the differences in the cost of living.

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Internet service

Expensive by international standards. Available island-wide in ADSL or Broadband coverage and speeds.

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Libraries

In addition to the Bermuda National Library - a public library shown by name in the City of Hamilton - with its Adult, Reference, Mobile and Youth outlets, there is also the open-to-all Bermuda College Library at the Bermuda College. Phone 239-4033 or e-mail dva@bercol.bm. Persons employed at major law firms will find that they too have extensive libraries - not public, for their staff.

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Limitation on number of children who are not Bermudian 

Employers will not be allowed to import into Bermuda any prospective employer and a spouse neither of whom were born in Bermuda or do not have Bermuda citizenship or status if they have more than two children. This is a Bermuda Government Immigration policy for all in the private sector. Children born in Bermuda of non-Bermudian parents are not Bermudian.

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Littering of residential premises

The Waste and Litter Control Act 1987and its penalties may apply, but only if the litter from yours or another person's rented or leased or owned apartment or condominium or house is visible from a public place, for example, from a main road or estate road, park, etc. This type of litter should always be reported first to the Bermuda Government's Department of Works and Engineering for investigation.

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Local companies and their definition  

Must be Bermudian by law - in other words at least 60% beneficially owned by Bermudians - to trade in the local marketplace, with the option of doing so overseas too, from a Bermuda corporate base. They buy goods or services or both from overseas, mostly the USA. Many have Bermuda Government contracts. In 99 percent of cases, they operate only in Bermuda. Notable exceptions are the two biggest of the three banks, with offices in various other parts of the world; and some accounting and audit companies with Bermuda-owned local offices and international affiliates. Again, be aware of the Bermuda Government's priority CURE policies now applicable to all local and international employers to employ qualified black Bermudians first, qualified other Bermudians second, qualified spouses of Bermudians third; qualified non-nationals fourth; and to limit in time the Work Permits of non-nationals employed in the fourth category to, generally speaking, no longer than 6 years.

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Marriages in Bermuda and common law partners

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Mobile phones

See under Cell Phones as they are known in Bermuda. There are several local suppliers. The Bermuda Government levies a tax or fee (same thing) on all who have one or more.

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Owning and operating a business in Bermuda

Non-Bermudians, who include all Britons who don't hold Bermuda Government-certified Bermuda Status and are not Bermudians by local family ties and residence, are not permitted to go into the local market place to work for themselves. They can probably do so however once (a) their Bermudian spouse - not partner - is officially given a minimum of 60% of the business entity in the local market place and (b) if/when Bermuda Immigration issues the appropriate entry and work permit for that specific business entity. However, a non-Bermudian not necessarily resident in Bermuda may, after approval by the Bermuda Monetary Authority as the relevant regulatory agency form a Bermuda-incorporated international company not trading in the local market place but solely overseas from a Bermuda base.

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Owning and operating personal transportation in Bermuda

See Bermuda Transportation for Residents. If you are not well paid by Bermuda's standards - below the average Bermuda Government salary of $55,000 - figure on at least US $19, 800 (compared to 7,300 pounds or US$ 11,600 in the United Kingdom) for a good Class A (least expensive to license) 4 or  5 door model. The cost is appreciably more than in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, etc. 

The import duty alone on a more expensive one than this can exceed $13,000. Second-hand ones can be acquired for as low as $6000, but for all cars above a Class C, factor in a further $60-$80 a month for annual licensing by the Bermuda Government. Light or pick-up trucks are not allowed in Bermuda to anyone who does not own and operate a local business. (Beyond Bermuda, they are allowed as alternatives to or as well as automobiles). Find out whether or not it will be economical or practical to ship your car back home at the end of your contract. Expect to pay about $2,600 for new scooter or moped in lieu of a car. Get one equipped with an electronic anti-theft device. 

Bermuda strictly limits the size (length, width and horsepower); type (for example, pick ups and other vehicles are confined to local businesses); number (only one per household or family); and who can drive them (licensed local residents only, never visitors). A moped or scooter may be the most practical form of transport for singles or late teens. If married with a family, you'll need both a car for family use and a moped for commuting. Pick-ups, which in many countries are the most useful form of transport, are not allowed to be owned by individuals, only by locally registered and approved businesses. If single and sharing accommodation, be aware you won't be allowed to have an automobile if someone already has such a vehicle registered at that address.

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Overseas travel to and from Bermuda by air

Cheap or discounted airfares between North America, Britain and Europe, at a cost to appeal to expatriate newcomers from these countries, are rare. For example, the cost of a round trip air ticket from Bermuda to London is nearly three times more than the cost of one from New York or Boston to London and return. Premium prices are charged by the airlines serving Bermuda to get you to far off destinations or your relatives here to visit you. No charter flights fly from Bermuda to North America or Europe - only to the Caribbean 1,000 miles to the south -  and no airlines have direct service between Bermuda and the Caribbean.

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Payroll Tax

About 16 percent of gross salary. Half is borne by employers and employees respectively.

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Pets and their importation

Bermuda does NOT have a quarantine period. You can personally import and export animals, usually from the USA but also from Canada and the UK, with sufficient notice (which can be as high as 6 months). A proviso is that they must be licensed and micro chipped and are free from any problems. For all personal importers of pets, there is a strict import and export procedure for their documentation and certification. In this context, pets include all dogs (including guide dogs for the blind, whether visiting by cruise ship or for the duration of an employment contract) and cats.

A formal application must be made in advance to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. See ApplicationForPermitToImportSmallAnimals.pdf.

This relates only to legally importing and exporting a cat or dog and licensing a dog. It does not confer permission to keep either. Permission is normally given when the animals concerned are micro chipped, are from FMD-free areas and can be disinfected and certified in advance by a kennel service approved  locally. Bermuda is one of 28 rabies-free places that have been added to the Pet Travel Scheme. For more information, visit the British/UK Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAFF). But it is the moral and possibly legal responsibility of any pet owner to go back home with any imported pets. They should never be left in Bermuda as stray orphans when you leave. The airlines serving Bermuda will give you current prices to import animals when you arrive and export animals when you leave. If you are not prepared to pay for their export too, don't import them, as Bermuda already has a problem with feral cats, wild dogs and stray chickens. 

Not all pets are suitable for Bermuda because of its humidity and dampness. Dogs are covered under the Dogs Act 2008 enacted in July 2008 which amended the Dogs Act 1978 amended September 2000.  Anyone wanting to own a dog must have their property vetted prior to being granted a licence. Whether or not you are allowed to keep a pet is at completely the discretion of landlords. There may be an added security deposit for pets. Unlawfully bred dogs can be seized. A potential breeder must apply for a Breeding License beforehand and show it to prospective buyers. Persons wishing to keep more than two dogs in any building or part of it must have a multiple Dog Permit.  Many landlords will NOT allow cats or dogs. Dog owners need yard space to exercise as dogs may not roam, they must be leashed - and always kept inside when postal employees deliver mail. Although there is a law that dogs be kept on a leash or in secure premises, it is not always obeyed. Penalties for non-compliance can be severe but not severe enough to deter some people with dogs to comply, to avoid injury to humans or cats.  Dogs are not permitted on any public beach from April 1 to October 31 of each year. 

Organizations for pet dogs are:

Organizations for cats are

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Population

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Post Office Boxes

It is strongly recommended that new residents rent a post office box from their parish post office, when one is available. This is because delivery to home addresses is often non-existent or unreliable. Also, when they do deliver mail, postal workers do not do so on weekends. 

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Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS)

Of potential interest to expatriate Britons. As yet it seems there are none in Bermuda. 

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Racial issues

Do not come to Bermuda to work or on holiday (vacation) if you are anti-black. Bermuda is 70% black and race  issues are taken personally, seriously and if relevant may lead to deportation.

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Repatriation of remains of a non-Bermudian to home country

Submitted in the event of the unexpected death in Bermuda of an expatriate who has no roots here. Before the remains can be transported home, the following specific items of paperwork are among those that will need to be made available.

Be aware that even when not prior-authorized by the then-living person or any member of the deceased's family, organs may be removed illegally from the dead person who died in Bermuda before repatriation of the remains.

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Restaurants

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Rust

Can be a major problem in the constant humidity of Bermuda.

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Senior citizens

How they rate locally versus in USA, Canada, UK and Europe in terms of discounts, pensions and services. For example, in the USA, age 62 is the earliest, but it will be 67 for those born in 1960 or later. In Britain and Europe, benefits start at 60, not 65 for men. In Bermuda, it is 65.

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Social security

Bermuda does not have a USA or Canadian or British Social Security system. Instead, what Bermuda has, that began in 1972, is a Contributory Pensions plan, (similar the UK's Old Age Pensions Act that was enacted on August 1, 1908). It is a compulsory contributory pensions plan administered by the Government for all employees of private sector employers, with employers and individual employees employed for more than four (4) hours a week each paying 50% of the premium. It pays benefits to qualifying retirees. The Contributory Pensions plan, its proper name, is exactly what it implies - a pension plan for people who contribute to it. As such, it is their entitlement, not a charity. Nor is it confined to only Bermudian employees. Non Bermudian employees are eligible and required to be covered as well and are fully entitled to whatever benefits they accrue under the plan's provisions. The Contributory Pensions plan maximum payout per month to fully eligible beneficiaries is at a far lower rate than in the USA or Canada even though the cost of living overall in Bermuda is over 300% higher.

Bermudians resident in the UK and UK nationals also living there who once worked in Bermuda and while working in Bermuda paid individually and through their employers enough contributions from 1972 to qualify presently receive their payments via the UK's Crown Agents, who charge both a commission to recipients and require them, at their additional expense, to obtain certified confirmation from a notary public or similar of where they live. The Crown Agents state, wrongly, this can be obtained from a local Police station or council office. 

From April 1, 2019. Current deductions from wages or salaries apply under section 4 of the Contributory Pensions Act 1970. See chart below. Source: see http://www.bermudalaws.bm/laws/Consolidated%20Laws/Contributory%20Pensions%20Act%201970.pdf 

However, the system below will be changing, most likely to take effect in 2019/2020. In the 2018 Throne Speech, the Government announced that Bermuda’s social insurance system will be changed from a fixed-rate contribution to one based on a percentage of income. Contribution increases will be delayed until the actuary completes the modelling to effect this policy objective.

Category of insured person Payable weekly by Employee in BD$ Payable weekly by Employer in BD$ Total
Employed person over school leaving age and under 65  $35.92 $35.92 $71.84
Employed persons over 65  -   $35.92
Self-employed persons over school leaving age and under 65  $71.84 - $71.84
Self-employed persons over 65 $35.92 - $35.92

There is a Contributory Pensions Appeal Tribunal. See Bermuda Government Boards.

NB: When private corporate pensions are offered, they are in addition to the Government administered Contributory Pensions plan shown above.

Sports

According to the Bermuda Olympic Association, only persons who are Bermudians in their own right can represent Bermuda at the Olympics, Pan Am Games or Central American & Caribbean Games. But this qualification is unfair to persons not born in Bermuda, or born in Bermuda but not with a Bermudian parent, or a non-Bermudian spouse of a Bermudian. 

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Spouses

Non-Bermudian spouses arriving with their also not-Bermudian husbands or wives must find their own form of employment. It is not the responsibility of the employer of the husband or wife to find employment for the non-working spouse. This has to be done individually. Those from overseas who arrive married should note that in the event their husband or wife also from overseas separates from or divorces them in Bermuda, one of them may have to leave Bermuda prematurely. If they have children while in Bermuda but later separate or divorce, the Bermudian spouse will normally get preference in child custody, under Bermuda law. A non-Bermudian married to a Bermudian will have to wait 10 years to apply for and meet certain conditions to obtain citizenship. In any other country, they can obtain citizenship rights within three years. 

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Taxes, direct and indirect and deductions from salary or wage

Bermuda is often touted, misleadingly, as a low tax jurisdiction by the global media, politicians, and both local and overseas tax regime revenue authorities. This is wrong. Head hunters and recruiters often mislead potential new employees from overseas and say or imply that none of the following apply. The truth is there is a bewildering complexity of largely hidden, but every day present, cost to the residents of Bermuda in innumerable stamp duties, consumption taxes, Foreign Currency Exchange tariffs, fuel surcharges, real property and trust conveyancing taxes, estate duty fees and so on. With all these taxes assessed at point of importation, layered on to foreign exchange transactions, added to mark-ups on retail purchases and mandatory on conveyancing of real estate and contracts, all these and more so-called tax duties translate to a minimum of 25 to 35 percent average tax on every working (and non-working) adult in Bermuda. Flat tax assessments predominate these revenue raising programs which means that those in lower income brackets absorb a disproportionately higher ratio of tax to earnings. From the year 2010 there may well be even more or increased taxes on the horizon, from the effects on the Bermuda government of the economic depression of 2008 and 2009.  If so, they will hit struggling retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, downsized international businesses, construction companies, and landlords. Most likely candidates for higher taxes include foreign exchange, payroll, customs, stamp duty as well as implementing new taxes on dividends, rental income and other income sources, possibly even the introduction a new income tax regime. 

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Tax Information Exchange Agreements

This has potential income-reporting to the tax authorities of their home countries implications for all non-Bermudians living and/or working in Bermuda.

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Transferring money

Expatriates, unless they work for certain US companies, are normally paid their salaries in Bermuda Dollars.  If they wish to send money to friends of family in their home countries in a foreign currency they can do so by going to one of the local banks, paying the market price for foreign exchange conversion and either buying a draft or arranging to have the money wired. The Bermuda Government charges a 1.5% value of the amount being transferred fee for all personal and corporate foreign exchange transactions.

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Warranties

On all Bermuda-bought products, they are much lower than in North America or Europe. In the USA, some warranties on vehicles now extend as long as 10 years. Most are for 3 years. But in Bermuda, most expire in 1 year.

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Water sports

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Welfare benefits

None in Bermuda for non-Bermudians. Those who are from the UK will not find any UK-like benefits in Bermuda for giving birth to and raising children, or for unemployment and seeking work, or disability.  

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Women on their own 

Expatriate men outnumber expatriate women by 2:1. If you are an expatriate male or female know that marriage to a Bermudian does not bring you any citizenship or voting rights until you have been both married and living together as man and wife for at least 10 years and have satisfied all other conditions. Note that marriage to a Bermudian who is a homeowner does not give the non-Bermudian spouse, on divorce, any automatic rights or half-rights to any real estate because of unique-to-Bermuda real estate laws re ownership of property by Bermudians and their non-Bermudian spouses. If you are an expatriate male or female, know that Bermudian men and women don't believe in shared custody of children after separation or divorce and will invariably demand that their children live in Bermuda. Which means you'll need to fight this if you live outside Bermuda. Also know that if you divorce or separate from a Bermudian you could lose your Work Permit and residency at the request of the aggrieved Bermudian party. There are many Bermudians  who in the past have been instrumental in getting the Bermuda Work Permits of their separated or divorced spouses revoked. 

Single women who come to Bermuda to work should take due precautions. If you are female, expect lonely strangers to offer to buy you drinks.  It is very expensive to drink alcohol in Bermuda. Be extremely careful as drinks could be and often are spiked. Under no circumstances should any female accept a ride or lift from anyone she does not know. There have been some gruesome horror stories, such as the case of Rebecca Middleton (see under "Rebecca Middleton" in Legal).

Records - court cases and the lack of them, or their verdicts - indicate serious problems. Visitors and residents have been raped and murdered with no long-term repercussions to the guilty. When court cases are held, jurors who are mostly men find the accused not guilty. Single women, or those who go places alone in Bermuda, do so at their own risk. Sexual assault is the most difficult crime to prosecute in Bermuda. A man's past criminal record for this is not permitted under Bermuda law to be brought up.  A woman's defence can be turned into a character assassination of her. Bermuda shares with Britain the infamous developed world record of having less than 4% of rape allegations resulting in convictions. Unlike in the USA where this is routine, there are no specially trained rape prosecutors. (In the USA, they have improved rape convictions  to a rate now 75%). Nor is there any dedicated Rape and Abuse Support group. The British and Bermudian rate of convictions would not be tolerated in the USA.

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Work Permit violations and penalties

The Department of Immigration has wide enforcement powers on work permit violations. The Chief Immigration Officer has specific authority to impose civil administrated penalties. The objective is to introduce progressive disciplinary measures for employers who violate the Act. Two specific civil penalty regimes now apply. This includes the establishment of absolute offences which will be dealt with as ticketable offences and also non-ticketable offences wherein civil penalties will be pursued by the courts. Fines for less serious offences will be up to $5,000 for work permit violations. The courts however, have the authority to issue fines up to $25,000.

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Working from home in Bermuda

NB: Non-Bermudians who work from home for Bermuda-based employers are required to have Work Permits, if they don't already have them for their employer at their place of work. 

In the USA, Canada, Europe, etc it has long been accepted and even approved by their tax authorities that working from home, using computers and the internet or in other ways digitally or otherwise, is not a privilege but a right.  In Bermuda, it is regarded legally as a privilege, not a right. 

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Workmen's Compensation

Expect to be insured locally for this as the responsibility of your employer.

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Last Updated: May 23, 2020
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