International commerce, undaunted by recent events, is Bermuda’s leading source of revenue, luring vacationers to mix business with pleasure. The economic woes that have beset most of the world since 2007 have largely passed Bermuda by. Why? A mix of savvy regulation and a conservative financial environment. Bermuda remains open for business, now the islands’ main source of income. Whatever your business purpose, you can probably accomplish your mission in Hamilton, the small city with big business on its mind. The image of Bermuda — warm sun, cool sea, pink sand — is the very icon of a restful holiday for travellers. For almost 100 years, the islands have traded on their friendly welcome for visitors, most coming from our large neighbour to the west. However, hospitality no longer makes up Bermuda’s largest economic sector. For more than 15 years, international business, a mix of insurance and reinsurance, banking, trust services and fund-administration services have been growing sectors in Bermuda’s economy. It seems Bermudians are just as adept at looking after other people’s money as they are at looking after other people’s holidays. Most in the global business community are aware of Bermuda’s dominant position as a global financial centre. Bermuda’s intelligent balance in regulation has attracted the crème de la crème of North American and European business interests. Business and support services make up Bermuda’s biggest employer, ahead of the government, hospitality and construction sectors. Business activities other than local banking are concentrated in Hamilton, the city in which the offshore company as we know it today was invented almost 75 years ago by a Bermudian lawyer and banker. Regular visitors may well be aware of the positive changes that business has wrought over the past few years. Concentrated in Hamilton, economic affairs have given the 177-acre capital city an intense air of business activity. “How can this help me?” you might ask. The answer is, it already has, especially if you come from Europe or North America. Chances are excellent that a Bermudian company insures some of your risks. Insurance companies pass on a share of their risks to others. By spreading risk, insurance companies greatly increase their probabilities of surviving massive losses, such as a Hurricane Katrina or a September 11. When insurance companies buy insurance, that business is called reinsurance, one of Bermuda’s strongest industries. Close to half of all U.S. property catastrophe risk is ultimately the responsibility of Bermuda-based insurance companies, of which some 1,250 have capital of more than $157 billion and assets of more than $472 billion. The 400 companies that have operations on the ground in Bermuda — the rest live in lawyers’ and accountants’ offices — employ 1,700 people here and 17,000 worldwide. REGULATION Financial activity is regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, virtually independent of the government. The BMA enforces the laws the government makes relating to financial transactions. Bermuda has earned a reputation for regulation that is “fair but firm.” Fifty years ago, everyone in Bermuda’s financial community knew everyone else, so the rules were fairly flexible. But today the world no longer accepts such informal regulation. Accordingly, the BMA oversees financial institutions to standards at or above those set elsewhere. Some estimates place the value of assets maintained or registered in, or traded from, Bermuda at well above $1 trillion. Most are owned internationally, registered electronically and highly mobile. Bermuda’s services in this arena rely entirely on the islands maintaining a sterling reputation. TAXES Bermuda levies no income tax, although it does have a payroll tax for those who work here. It also has no capital gains or corporate taxes. The islands are by no means tax-free, however, with property and vehicle taxes, hefty duties built into retail prices, and a slew of smaller transaction and ownership taxes necessary to support a government that employs one in six working citizens and spends more than $1 billion a year. U. S. citizens are taxed on their worldwide income, regardless of where they earn it. For others, to take advantage of Bermuda’s lower-tax environment, they must work and live here. To do that they must supply a skill that Bermudians cannot. About one-fifth of Bermuda’s workforce is imported, since the economy creates more jobs than there are working locals. Guest workers are issued annual permits that limit them to doing the job at hand for a limited period of time. BANKING Bermuda has a limited number of banking licences: four, to be precise. Each serves a different sector of the community, with a certain amount of overlap. Bank of Bermuda is essentially a large branch of the international HSBC bank, its parent (6 Front St., 295-4000). Bank of N.T. Butterfield is akin to a super-regional bank, with operations in 15 countries (65 Front St., 295-1111). Capital G is a community bank and high-level financial adviser (21-25 Reid St., 296-6969), and Bermuda Commercial Bank Limited handles only high net worth and corporate clients (19 Par-La-Ville Road, 295-5678). Visitors do most of their business with Bank of Bermuda and Bank of Butterfield. Other than currency and change transactions and all the obvious advantages of cheques, credit cards and so on, a Bermuda bank account offers international connections and access to certain areas of the investment world that some larger jurisdictions deny their citizens. The financial behaviour of U.S. citizens, in particular, is greatly limited. A chat with a banking officer in Bermuda, who would be delighted to meet you, might reveal opportunities, but all such activity has to be reported to the authorities in your home country. INSURANCE Bermuda now ranks with New York and London as a global insurance centre, although the majority of its business is wholesale, i.e., Reinsurance or “captive” insurance, which is a type of self-insurance that Bermuda pioneered. Other than playing a role in insuring millions around the world, the main contribution made by Bermuda’s insurance industry is in keeping costs down for visitors. While Bermuda is not exactly inexpensive, it would be a great deal more costly were insurance and reinsurance companies not footing over half the government’s annual budget. TRUST Services Trusts are a core service of the Bermuda economy, with dedicated companies owned by banks, accountants and law firms. Once the exclusive preserve of the super-wealthy, trusts allow assets to be passed down the generations, donated to charities or managed for other purposes, with minimal interference from governments and others. Trust services can be expensive, however, and only really benefit those with significant assets or income. Most countries around the world recognise the legal independence of a trust, into which assets may be injected that stop being the property of the person or company that established the trust. This loss of control — assets are managed by trustees for the benefit of named individuals or organisations — usually cannot be revoked. If such a mechanism sounds attractive, a conversation with a trust provider, listed in the Yellow Pages, will quickly bring you up to speed on costs, benefits and limitations. FUNDS Collective investment schemes such as mutual funds and hedge funds, are well served in Bermuda. Funds can be operated or administered here. At last count, more than $200 billion of fund assets were based in Bermuda. These range from money market funds operated conservatively by banks to private hedge funds and commodity funds on the outer edges of the risk curve. Again, Bermuda funds are not for everyone. Every country has different rules about how their citizens may invest, almost all of whom are taxed on income from such funds. The best starting point is a conversation with one of the banks or a representative of one of the larger public funds. BERMUDA STOCK EXCHANGE The Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) is the pre-eminent all-electronic offshore exchange for the listing of mutual and hedge funds, unit trusts and limited partnerships. Many companies that are listed on one of the larger U.S. or European exchanges maintain a secondary listing in Bermuda to facilitate ownership by international shareholders. OFFSHORE COMPANIES Those doing business internationally often find a Bermuda company useful in their corporate architecture. The islands’ tax neutrality, location, international air connections and familiarity with corporate affairs can make a Bermuda company the ideal business solution. Applications to form a company are handled by local attorneys, who subject applicants to close scrutiny before passing them on to the BMA, which vets them for suitability to join Bermuda’s exclusive club of 14,000 international companies and partnerships. Like any well-managed business centre, Bermuda has extensive company legislation and rules of operation, which make a Bermuda attorney both the best starting point and often a sensible continuing relationship. Sta ying in touch Visitors can buy SIM cards and prepaid telephone minutes or rent mobile phones to keep in touch. Many overseas GSM phones work in Bermuda. Check with your service provider. Hamilton is in every sense a modern business venue. Wi-Fi hot spots abound here and at the airport, while banks trade global currencies with much greater ease than in the U.S. or U.K. Moving Forward So where does one sign up for a new start in Bermuda? Well, first you have to get there. Though it was once just a remote Atlantic outpost, these days Bermuda is accessible readily to the modern traveller. Providers offering daily service to the island include Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and USA 3000. WORK IT If working here is a concern, you may find your worries fading away like the sunset if you do things right. If you are a partner in a business or are employed by one of the many international companies with offices in Bermuda, life will be a breeze. Otherwise, it may be more challenging but not impossible. However, there are things to consider. In order to work in Bermuda, you must secure a work permit if you’re not a citizen. All permits are specific to the tenure of the position, and you’ll be requiring a new one if you decide to leave your job for a new one — which is not recommended and allowed only once. If you do stay with one company, work permits usually expire after six years, with no automatic renewals; a new application must be processed. Seasonal or part-time work is unlikely, as jobs of that sort probably will not warrant a work permit. You may find that doing business here is a much smoother affair. Since Bermuda charges no taxes on worldwide business activities, many companies incorporate in Bermuda. Setting up a business is possible only if you have a local partner who will own 60 percent of it. You’ll find many such partnerships in restaurants, retailers and other small businesses. One of the more blatant differences between Bermuda and so many other countries, including the U.S., is that for the most part no income, capital gains or corporate taxes are charged to citizens or companies, with the exception of a 16 percent payroll tax. For more information about working in Bermuda, visit www.immigration.gov.bm. Home Sweet Home If you fancy yourself a top-notch investigator and do your research, living well in Bermuda will be as easy as 1-2-3. Keep in mind that to purchase a house on the island you will need to be either a citizen of Bermuda or very wealthy. Out-of-towners may purchase property only in limited and expensive ranges, and they must buy from other foreigners. The average home price on these islands is above $1 million. You will also need a Licence to Acquire Property, which costs 22 percent of the purchase price (15 percent for a condominium). Add stamp duty to that total. Buying a house in Bermuda will not guarantee permanent residence. If you’re planning on house hunting, do yourself a favour and hire a good real estate agent who can provide you with the most up-to-date listings and information on rules and regulations. For more information on the cost of living in Bermuda, please visit www.e-moo.com. VA-VA-VROOM On an island where the residents don’t live life in the fast lane, you may want to skip a car. You may have a car, of course, but it won’t be the most efficient or most fun way To get around, and the import duties that will have to be paid are high. Plus the government prohibits more than one car per household. Do as the natives do and hop on a world-class bus. They’re always on time and run as frequently as every 15 minutes. With cooling air conditioning, Bermuda’s buses offer a clean and safe option for getting around. Some routes don’t operate on Sundays or holidays, so check the schedules. For those who intend to travel by bus on a daily basis, it may be a good idea to purchase a booklet of 15 tickets for $7.50. Or you can buy passes that allow travel in all 14 of Bermuda’s zones. An unlimited one-day pass is just $12; two-day, $20; three-day, $28; four-day, $35; one-week, $45; and monthly, $55. Cash fares are $3 up to three zones, $4.50 up to 14 zones, and get cheaper by using tokens or tickets. To pay cash you must have exact change, as drivers do not make change or accept bills. Buy tokens at branch post offices or the Central Bus Terminal on Washington Street in Hamilton. All routes, except the 6, begin and end there. To check schedules or make any other inquiries about buses in Bermuda, please call 292-3851 or visit www.gov.bm. Ferries also make for a fun ride and they get you quickly from either end of the island to Hamilton, where the ferry terminal can be found at Front Street, between Queen Street and Par-la-Vie Road. Fares, tokens, tickets and passes are the same rates as for buses. If you get an unlimited pass, it can be used on buses or ferries. (295-6575; www.seaexpress.bm) Becoming Bermudian So how does one actually become a Bermudian? Well, it’s a highly coveted status that doesn’t come easily. Many foreign locals have lived here for many years as residents and without the benefits citizens enjoy, like the right to vote. Obviously, the easiest way to become a Bermudian is to be so lucky as to be born on the islands of Bermudian parents. If either Mum or Dad were born Bermudians, then you too could be eligible for citizenship. Foreigners married to islanders must have been married to the same Bermudian for at least 10 continuous years, and during that marriage they must have resided in Bermuda for at least seven years. Married couples also would have to have been living with their Bermudian spouse for the two years immediately before the application for citizenship and be someone of good character and conduct. Try and be kind to everyone you meet in Bermuda, as your application for citizenship will be public knowledge. So public, in fact, that news of your desire to be a “true” Bermudian will be printed and published in a local newspaper, and your neighbours and peers will be invited to share their opinions by written statement to the Department of Immigration if they feel you do not deserve the honour of becoming a citizen. Bermuda CableVision 19 Laffan St., Hamilton Tel: 292-5544 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.cablevision.bm CableVision is Bermuda’s most advanced video and broadband network, spanning the islands. Customers are cared for by an integrated team of technical specialists and live customer representatives available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Choose from 11 tiers of television with over 160 channels from around the world; plus broadband at 4 Mbps, 6 Mbps or 8 Mbps; high-definition DVR; Pay- Per-View; and more. To order, call 292-5544 or e-mail info@cablevi sion.bm today. Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) Washington Mall, Church Street, Hamilton Tel: 292-7212 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.bsx.com Established in 1971, the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) is now the world’s leading fully electronic offshore securities market, with a current market capitalisation (excluding mutual funds) in excess of $330 billion. There are 550 securities listed on the BSX, of which almost 300 are offshore funds and alternative investment structures. The success of the BSX lies in its innovative approach to new products and markets and its ability to offer a “commercially sensible” regulatory environment. The exchange specialises in the listing and trading of capital market instruments such as equities, debt issues, funds (including hedge-fund structures) and derivative warrant programmes. The BSX, recognised by the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a designated offshore securities market, is a full member of the World Federation of Exchanges and is located in an OECD member nation. In recent developments, the BSX was granted Approved Stock Exchange status under Australia’s Foreign Investment Fund taxation rules; Designated Investment Exchange status by the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority; and, in December 2007, was granted Recognised Stock Exchange status by the U.K.’s HM Revenue and Customs. CCS Group Limited Mintflower Place, 8 Par-la-Ville Road, Hamilton Tel: 294-3400 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.ccs.bm CCS Group is a full-service information technology company providing services in Bermuda since 1982. Today CCS has a complete portfolio of communicationstechnology products and services to meet the needs of enterprise-level customers as well as small- and medium-size businesses. Areas of expertise include consulting, IP telephony, infrastructure and security for local- and wide-area networks, software and development, storage area network and networkattached- storage solutions, and structured cabling. Guaranteeing your project will be delivered with the high level of service and dedication imperative from a technology partner — no matter the size or communications dependence — CCS can accommodate almost any company’s IT needs. Electronic Services Limited 26 Harvey Road, Paget Tel: 236-3885 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.electronic services.bm Electronic Services Limited is an audiovisual company with more than 30 years of experience. The firm provides technical support and equipment to major hotels, small properties and corporate offices in Bermuda. Electronic Services Ltd. Has worked with many large overseas production companies and meeting planners to provide custom services for clients with conventions and video conferences in Bermuda. Noah’s Ark #3 Marsh Lane, Devonshire Tel: 236-1533 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.noahsark.bm Noah’s Ark is Bermuda’s premier location for all your companion pet and aquarium needs and is ranked Best in Bermuda. We are a family run business that has been trading for over 15 years. We take pride in offering Bermuda’s best selection of quality pet foods along with all of the fun and practical items to keep your pets healthy and happy. Our aquarium department is the largest on the island and we are the only retail source for horse and large animal feeds and hay. North Rock Communications Washington Lane, Hamilton Tel: 540-2700 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.northrock.bm North Rock Communications is Bermuda’s premier telecommunications provider, with more than 10 years of outstanding service. Corporate and residential customer offerings make North Rock your telecommunications one-stop shop, featuring wireless and wired Internet access, local and long-distance calling, hosting services, collocation facilities and more. Winner of Bermudian Business magazine’s Best ISP award three years in a row, North Rock is known for high-quality products and unmatched service. Teeter Tots Nursery 49 Church St., Hamilton Tel: 295-6387 E-mail: email@example.com Teeter Tots Nursery, in business for over 13 years, has a convenient location in the city of Hamilton. Teeter Tots operates all year, the facility is air-conditioned, and all teachers are qualified and very caring. The nursery believes in teaching the whole child, not just teaching academics. TeleBermuda International Limited Victoria Place, 31 Victoria St., Hamilton Tel: 296-9000 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.telebermuda.com TeleBermuda International Limited (TBI) is a leading international telecommunications and managed IT service provider in Bermuda. TBI offers data, voice, Internet co-location, business continuity, managed storage and IT services. Its World-Class Data Centre offers a secure and reliable facility for high-density server hosting with access to TBI’s sub-sea fibre network. Call or e-mail for more information. Also visit TBI’s Customer Care Centre in Victoria Place, 31 Victoria St., Hamilton. Unique Bermuda Horse Services Frithcote Lane / Tribe Road # 2, Warwick Tel: 747-7433 E-mail: email@example.com Unique Bermuda Horse Services offers a great experience for the experienced or inexperienced rider by catering to your needs. If you are a beginner, the staff teach you the fundamentals of riding on well-trained horses, which you can walk, jog and trot. If you are more experienced, they allow you to canter and gallop. The 90-minute trail tour is a beautiful guided ride through the back roads, trails and beaches of Bermuda. Horses are wellmannered mounts that are trail or show quality. Tours are conducted in a personalised manner by expert trainer Mike Watson, who has more than 30 years of experience in horse training. Unlimited Supplies 7 Elliott St., Hamilton Tel: 295-9229 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.unsonline.com Unlimited Supplies represents retail electronics at its best, specialising in design of home theatre, home audio and video at any level. Whether you need a single telephone or whole-house telephone, security, cable TV or CCTV systems, Unlimited can take care of it, plus audio-video furniture, the best massage chairs on the market, and brands such as Atlantic, BDI, Denon, Draper, Jamo, Klipsch, Mirage, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic, Parasound, Prepac, Samsung, Sanus, Sanyo, Sony and Swann Communications. Look for them behind St. Theresa’s Church on Cedar Avenue. Call or e-mail for more information. Also visit TBI’s Customer Care Centre in Victoria Place, 31 Victoria St., Hamilton. World Distributors Ltd. 32 North St., Hamilton Tel: 295-2329 E-mail: email@example.com In business for over 50 years, World Distributors Ltd. Is Bermuda’s only authorised Yamaha motorcycle dealer. No. 1 in service, it offers a full line of helmets, carry boxes, locks and rain suits from its 4,000-square-foot showroom. Ride Yamaha, a name renowned for quality.
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