Doing Business in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is located in the Eastern Caribbean, measuring 238 square miles with a population of approximately 181,000 people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. The Anglophone Caribbean island is celebrated for its warm, hospitable and industrious people and its natural beauty that is dominated by high peaks and rain forests. It is home to the Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are the most photographed landmark on the entire island. Saint Lucia has won the title of the Caribbean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination a total of 11 times with the most recent honour coming in 2019.
Saint Lucia is an independent democratic country, guided by a written constitution that explicitly safeguards fundamental rights and freedoms to every national and non-national alike. Further, the doctrine of separation of powers is enshrined in the Constitution, including an independent judiciary where the Privy Council is retained as the highest court.
The small island developing state continues to enjoy economic, social and political stability since it obtained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Democratically held elections are conducted every five years in a free environment and in a relatively fair manner. Saint Lucia also enjoys an efficient regulatory environment and continues to enact laws that promote human equality and democratic values. Further, it continues to prioritize the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure greater international cooperation and to strengthen its position in the international arena.
Moreover, it continues to keep pace with international demands or trends by strengthening its information and communications technology (ICT). Accordingly, we benefit from reliable telecommunications services with fiber-optic trunk line, cellular and wireless services. Within the financial sector, ICT has minimized transaction time and greatly improved the overall ease of conducting business in Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia is home to a robust banking sector with the availability of both onshore and offshore banking services. The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD) which is pegged to the US dollar at $2.69. As a result, the XCD does not fluctuate creating a stable currency environment for investment in Saint Lucia.
Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) located in Vieux Fort, accommodates a number of direct flights from major carriers across North America and Europe with direct flights from London, New York, Boston, Toronto, Miami and Atlanta. In addition, George FL Charles Airport located just outside of Castries, supports inter-island commercial flights including Air Caraibes, Air Antilles, LIAT and InterCaribbean Airways.
While Saint Lucia has relied heavily on the tourism sector, the Government has made significant efforts to incentivize foreign investors in both the tourism industry as well as emerging industries including special niche manufacturing and infrastructure development – more information provided in the Fiscal Incentives Act, the Tourism Stimulus & Investment Act and the Tourism Incentives Act.
Saint Lucia has also established a Free Zone area, which is a specified location that accommodates companies that are treated as being outside of the territory insofar as Customs is concerned. Consequently, goods of foreign origin may be stored in the Free Zone until re-exportation and in certain instances until importation into the local market without the payment of the usual Customs Duties.
Incorporation and Registration of Companies
All foreign individuals and companies who intend to conduct business in Lucia are required to either incorporate their company as a domestic company or to register it as an external company under the Companies’ Act.
They are usually both very routine processes. With respect to the incorporation of a limited liability company, once the intended company name has been approved, we would proceed to file the pre-incorporation documents which are inclusive of the Articles of Incorporation and the Company Byelaws. Further, on receipt of the certificate of incorporation we would then proceed to file the post incorporation documents (inclusive of the allotment of shares).
In order to engage in trade in Saint Lucia or sell any merchandise or goods, non-national companies and non-CARICOM citizens are required to obtain a trade licence. Consequently, any company with a shareholding of less than 51% held by a CARICOM national or where the majority of its directors are non-CARICOM nationals will be required to obtain a trade license. The successful applicant would be issued a trade license by the Secretary to the Trade License Advisory Board with the approval of the Minister of Trade and Commerce. Once the license is obtained, it must be reviewed on an annual basis.
Brickstone Law provides assistance with the completion of the relevant application form and the compilation of the necessary documents. Subsequently, we provide assistance with the submission of the completed application and the liaising with the Ministry of Commerce until completion of the process.
In circumstances where workers are not Organization for Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) citizens, the Government has developed a work permit regime that requires the submission of a work permit application along with a prescribed fee. We routinely handle this process which would involve us coordinating with the authorities until completion. Accordingly, work permit holders have the right to reside in Saint Lucia for duration of the employment contract. The right to reside is also extended to the dependents of the worker, although without the right to work
In order to conduct business more seamlessly in Saint Lucia, one of the most important steps to take is opening a local bank account. Our attorneys facilitate introductions to reputable and responsive financial institutions and will provide assistance with the completion of the Bank Account Opening Forms in addition to compilation of the due diligence documents for forwarding to the bank.
About Brickstone Law
Brickstone Law is a vibrant and client-focused law firm that aims to provide practical solutions that help both corporate and private clients consistently meet their objectives while effectively managing their legal and commercial risks.
Our attorneys fight relentlessly to protect our clients’ best interests, and this is showcased by our passion, drive and continued dedication. We have represented a wide range of clients, including government entities, individuals, companies, corporations and other international business entities in prominent and complex litigation matters. Further, we are immensely committed to providing the highest quality of legal services to you whether you are a large company, a small business or an individual.