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Researching a move

AskResearching a move

I have been slowly researching a move to Tortola. I’ve made several trips to the USVI over the years but only spent one day in Road Town. Within the next year (low season) I will be making an exploratory trip. I will be looking into a possible job at Peebles Hospital. After reviewing the great information on your website, I wonder if you could provide some additional information for the following:
1. Do businesses accept checks from US banks/credit unions? If not, I assume I have to close out my US bank account and move everything to a Tortola bank?
2. Would it be more cost efficient to buy a new car on the island versus shipping a car from California?
3. If I am employed on Tortola, is my income reported to the BVI or to the US? My tax advisor mentioned something about having to report my income to the US for a maximum of 303 days.
4. Regarding the work permit and the documnets needed upon arrival, why do I need a return airfare if I am not planning on returning to the US…..ever? This would be a permanent move for me.
5. The website link does not work. Has it been changed?
6. Do I have to continue to renew my work permit if I become a property owner (i.e. permanent resident)? If I choose to continue to rent, how do I become a permanent resident? Do I apply for dual citizenship?
7. Regarding the health tests, one of the requirements is a TB test. I have tested positive since early 1970s as I used to work in the hospital and was exposed to TB in treating patients. My chest xrays are clear though and no signs of active disease. Would I be turned away just because the test is positive?

Any other resources would be appreciated!

Thank you so much!

Debi Davis

AvatarStephen Leslie France replied 7 years ago

Hi Debi,

You have some intricate questions and I will answer best I can, then put this to the BVI masses who may be able to provide more substantial answers.

1. Some businesses do accept US checks, but most new residents get a Tortola Bank account and transfer their funds across.

2. This really is based on the car type e.g. if your car is a cost effective, gas saving type of vehicle, then you will probably want to hold on to it to save money in the long run. Another aspect to consider–which is talked about a lot–is your brakes. Many people prefer manual cars over automatic due to the hilly terrain here. Your brakes wear a lot if you use an automatic vehicle.

3. Your income is reported to the BVI (unless I’m mistaken). I don’t know about reporting income to the US and the legalities as I’m from the UK. Will try to get an answer for you on this…

4. It is a standard requirement as a fail-safe. Everyone that emigrates to the BVI is required to do it – even us Brits…

5. Where did you find this? IF this is in our Newbie guidebook, please let me know where.

6. Permanent Residency can be applied for after 20 years. Before this, you must continue to renew your work permit annually.

7. I will have to get an answer on this for you…

AvatarKate replied 7 years ago

Re: Question 7 – TB tests aren’t noted as being positive or negative. They are measure in terms of your reaction and there is an acceptable scale/range. This might help –

AvatarAndrea replied 7 years ago

As it relates to number7, my husband tested positive and was required to do a chest xray and blood test. They came back normal and he was granted a work permit.

AvatarAnonymous replied 7 years ago

Hi, I had the same concern before doing the TB test since I know i will have a positive mantoux test. What i did was have the manyoux test done within a month of my planned trip here in bvi then my attending requested for an xray. When the x ray was clear, he place din my medical certificate that even though the manyoux was positive, my xray is negative for PTB and I was asymptomatic. He also advised me to bring my x ray plate which I am glad I did because when i had my medical here, they asked foru x ray and did not have to undergo further tests.

AvatarMarylou replied 7 years ago

It has been 10 years since I lived there but I visit annually.
1. When I lived there I had my US account and one at First Bank which is also a US bank in Tortola. It is easier to have a local account but I maintained my US account as well for many reasons including the fact that I had US income that was deposited in that account. At that time the banks were not charging a foreign transaction fee and I often used my US debit card.
2. Will you have money to pay cash for a car? You have no credit in the BVI. You should get a car with excellent brakes and preferably 4 wheel drive because the hills are treacherous in the rain and the roads are sometimes in bad condition. BVI roads are not as well maintained as in the USVI and have hairpin turns. Don’t get something fancy that you will worry if it gets dinged because it will get dinged.

3. Tax laws are complicated but your income will not be reported to the US. If you don’t pay US social security tax you will not have credit for those years or income. You will pay BVI SS.
Persons must meet one of two qualification tests to claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. A person must meet either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test. There are time limits and travel restrictions.

6. You should research buying property in the BVI. It is not easy or inexpensive and can take a long time, unless you are buying with a BVIslander. Owning property does not allow you to work. You always need a work permit to work. I think there are now 5 year term limits.
Here is a link to read about the process of buying.

The USVI and the BVI are vastly different IMHO so delay a decision to permanently relocate until you have spent some time there. Live and work there for a year if you like it, and then decide.

AvatarDebi replied 7 years ago

Regarding my question #5 about that website, I did find it on your website: . It is listed under the section titled, “Before departing for the BVI,”.

AvatarDebi replied 7 years ago

Regarding my question #6, I will be 61 yrs. old this month, so at some point I will retire. Any problem with residency for retirees?

AvatarEsther replied 7 years ago

I have lived as an expat for 6 years and would never recommend closing your US bank account. Certainly open one here, just have 2.
A friend has recently shipped in a vehicle and didn’t have to pay the full tax/duties that day. I think it’s a new thing that you can pay in instalments. Make sure that the vehicle is common here otherwise you will have trouble getting parts.
You do need a return flight when you first get a work permit but not after you have completed your first year and are then just renewing.
If you fail the tb test but have a clear X-ray, you will be fine.
In general terms, I hope that you are fit and healthy because I have found that the health care here is generally poor.
Good luck x

AvatarEmily replied 7 years ago

In respect of question 3 it is likely that you will still need to file US tax returns. The BVI goverment has recently published some useful guidance on this for US passport holders which you may find helpful.

AvatarStephen Leslie France replied 7 years ago

TAKEN FROM THE BVI COMMUNITY BOARD – Geli Maynard – In response: No, there should be no problem as the enquirer is not seeking work status. He/she will need to present proof of adequate financial means to live here, and after 6 months of regular immigration stamps he/she can apply for an annual entry permit, which is simply a stamp in his/her passport, renewed annually, which states that he/she is entitled to live here providing no work, not even charity work, is undertaken. The applicant will have to submit him/herself to the regular medical tests and also post an immigration bond.

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