FAQs

Have questions about living and working in these offshore destinations? Chances are others do too! Here is a listing of some of the most popular questions we encounter.

FAQs on working in Bermuda, the Caribbean and other offshore locations

Frequently Asked Questions

Are these opportunities contract or permanent?

The majority of the positions we fill are considered permanent, in that they are salaried, staff positions with full benefits, vacation time and other aspects most commonly associated with full time employment.  However in order to be employed in these locations, you must be issued a work permit by the local government and those permits often have a term of 2 or 3 years.  Most of the employers are looking for an initial commitment of 2-3 years.  If things are going well at that point, the work permit can often be renewed.

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Is it possible for my spouse/children to relocate with me?

Yes, although there can be some challenges associated.  In general, most work permit applications have a section to include a spouse and/or children as dependents on the permit.  Many of these Islands do not recognize common-law marriage so it's preferred that you are legally married.  Bringing a child or two is sometimes workable but can be more challenging from both a work permit approval and cost of living standpoint.

The Bermuda Government normally won't grant a work permit to anyone with more than three dependents due in part to an already crowded school system.  In some Caribbean locations there may be more flexibility - but generally these opportunities aren’t ideal for large families.

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Can my spouse find work there too?

The answer to this is… maybe.  It partially depends on what he or she does.  In most locations, employers must give preference to local citizens prior to hiring an expatriate.  In Bermuda there are several areas of employment that are held for locals only and therefore expatriates generally won't be considered for those roles.  However there are other areas where the need is greater such as Accounting, I.T., Office Administration, Bookkeeping, Financial Services, Insurance, Medical professionals, etc.

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Can I leave my spouse/children behind?

If you want to take advantage of the low or no income tax, it is not really practical to leave immediate family behind.  Canadians seeking to enjoy a lower tax rate in these locations generally must be able to qualify for what Revenue Canada refers to as "non-residency" status.  This essentially means being able to demonstrate that your primary place of residence is no longer in Canada and that you have severed primary residential ties.  Having a spouse living in Canada is considered a significant residential tie.  A qualified Accountant with expertise in expatriate tax services can provide professional guidance in this area.

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Are the salaries really tax free?

Yes... and no... we do business in several offshore locations - some with no income tax and others with very low tax.  For instance, in Bermuda, there's a small 5.5% (maximum) payroll tax deduction.  In the Cayman Islands, there isn't any personal income tax.  The tax benefits are certainly one of the major incentives to work in these locations.

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So the taxes are low or non-existent, but what’s the cost of living like?

This is one of the most common concerns we hear from individuals considering a move to the Islands.  The cost of living in these locations is generally quite high but this needs to be kept in context.  For instance, in Bermuda the cost of rental housing is high but this is offset by lower overall tax deductions and other expenses that one can typically do away with (for instance, most find that ownership of a car is generally not necessary in Bermuda).  The salaries in the area do tend to reflect an increase in living expenses.


Please bear in mind, there are literally thousands of expatriates working in these jurisdictions - they aren't doing it solely for the warm weather and good of their health!  While it's not a get rich quick scheme, most people find that they are able to come back after a few years with significant savings.

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What taxes and deductions will come off my paycheque in Bermuda?

There is no income tax in Bermuda but there is a payroll tax that may be deducted from your pay.  The maximum rate that can be deducted from an employee is presently 5.5% with the remainder of the payroll tax paid by the employer.  Other deductions that may or may not be applied include social insurance (approx $30/week) and health insurance (anywhere from approx $200-600/month depending on coverage selected/required and whether or not you have a spouse/dependents included).  These numbers can vary by employer.


One other related item to keep in mind is that there is no sales tax in Bermuda.  While some sticker prices may appear more expensive at first glance, you should keep in mind that the price tag reflects the total price, not the price before taxes.  If you're from Ontario for instance, you won't be paying an extra 13% sales tax.

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What sort of relocation assistance is provided?

It varies from company to company but generally flights, along with the costs associated with bringing a reasonable amount of personal items are covered.  Temporary accommodation is normally provided when you first arrive.

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Will I need to sell my house?

No.  Although many people choose to sell just to simplify things, it’s not an absolute requirement.  If you own a house, you have the option of renting it out to a third party.  This will allow you to qualify as a Canadian non-resident for tax purposes without giving up your home.  What you can't do is keep your house available for your own use - so you generally need to either sell or rent it out.

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Are customs and import duties charged when I arrive?

Import duties do apply in the majority of these locations however most who have made the move with proper planning have found the duty fees to be quite reasonable.  Some employers may assist with customs charges as part of their relocation package.

Personal clothing is admitted to Bermuda duty free providing it is used. Books are also duty free.  Other items may be subject to duty charges of up to 25% of their current value (depreciated cost rather than price at time of purchase).

You may find it makes more sense to travel light and purchase goods locally, perhaps at a moving sale, rather than pay import duties on top of shipping fees.  Moving sales are fairly common on the Island. As so many international workers are continuously coming and going it's quite easy to purchase quality used goods at reasonable costs locally.

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Banking in Bermuda?

You may be surprised to learn that despite Bermuda's high ranking in international business there are very few banks that operate on the Island.  There are four major banks operating in Bermuda - The Bank of Bermuda (HSBC), Butterfield Bank, Clarien Bank and Bermuda Commercial Bank.


Opening an account is very straight forward but it is advisable to bring a reference letter from your bank back home.  The Island offers a full network of ATM machines and credit/local debit cards are accepted in most locations.  The American dollar is accepted at par but no other international currency is accepted except for bank currency exchanges.  Sending money back home is fairly straight forward via wire transfers.

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What's the dress code in Bermuda like?

Bermuda has historically been a fairly conservative environment when it comes to dress codes.  Typical attire can vary somewhat depending on the company and role as well as time of year.  In general, management or senior professionals in Bermuda often wear a dress shirt and tie for men, a suit or dress and jacket for women.

 

Professional men in Bermuda often wear dress pants or slacks/khaki's along with a collared dress shirt, sport coat (particularly in the cooler months) and dress shoes.  Professional women in Bermuda regularly wear a jacket with coordinated skirt or slacks and dress shoes.

 

Bermuda is well known for the famous Bermuda-shorts, the businessman's formal dress code throughout the summer months.  While the knee-high socks and dress shoes may catch you off-guard at first, you'll soon become accustomed to them and will likely appreciate the added flexibility in the hot summer months!

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This all sounds great but what about the infamous Bermuda Triangle?

You'd be amazed how often we get asked about this.  All we can say is, after 20 plus years and hundreds of successful placements, we've never lost anyone! (Well, not that we know of anyway!!!!)

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