Bermuda is the latest country to roll out the red carpet for the world’s remote workers.

Trying to offer an alternative work environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bermuda has launched a ‘Work from Bermuda’ one-year residential certificate.

The certificate costs US$263.

Premier David Burt is encouraging those working from home to explore the option of working remotely from Bermuda for the next year. In a press release, he said Bermuda had successfully managed the coronavirus pandemic, which allows its residents and visitors more flexibility than in other jurisdictions.

“As a holder of a residential certificate, you will be a long-term visitor in Bermuda and we are ready to share our vibrant culture and unique brand of hospitality to cure the coronavirus blues,” Burt said. “No need to be trapped in your apartment in a densely populated city with the accompanying restrictions and high risk of infection; come spend the year with us working or coding on the water.”

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A ‘Work from Bermuda’ certificate holder is entitled to reside in Bermuda and work remotely for a full year. A certificate holder’s dependent family members can also stay on the island with proof there are sufficient means to support them. A separate application and fee is required for each dependent family member.

As COVID-19 has accelerated the trend towards working from home, Bermuda is targeting remote workers, self-employed digital nomads and university students engaged in remote learning.

At a time when many expatriates are leaving and tourism has ground to a halt, the measure aims to grow the population and economic activity, ensure greater job security for Bermudians, and market Bermuda to the rest of the world.

Bermuda’s insurance industry believes the initiative has struck a chord. John Huff, president and CEO of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, said there has already been significant interest from the global insurance industry and insurance association members, adding, “The potential for this opportunity is extraordinary.”

Huff said, “There are a number of C-suite executives, risk professionals and advisors who currently have the ability to perform their roles remotely and are already familiar with the benefits of Bermuda and would welcome the opportunity to work from here.

“Whether they choose to base themselves from Bermuda for the entire year or simply to wait out the stress of COVID-19, the perfect work-life balance awaits them.”

For those who would like to swap their palm beach Zoom background for the real thing, the 12-month ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp’ might be another option. Introduced in July, it allows visitors to work remotely from the island for one year. The stamp costs US$2,000 per person or US$3,000 for families.

The visa enables people “to come and work from here overseas, digitally so, so that persons don’t need to remain in the countries in which they are”, said Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

Visa holders can leave the island and return as often as they want during the 12 months.

On the dedicated ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp’ website Mottley writes: “We recognise more people are working remotely, sometimes in very stressful conditions, with little option for vacation. Our new 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, a visa that allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.”

The remote workers participating in the scheme will not be subject to Barbados income tax. However, they must maintain medical insurance while in the country. Their dependent children may attend private schools or pay a stipend to attend a public school.

Like in Bermuda, the one-year certificate can be extended for a second year,  but it will be subject to a new application.

Both Bermuda and Barbados said the respective certificate or visa will be approved or denied within five working days. Applications can be submitted online via dedicated websites.

In both countries, qualifying applicants are not allowed to work for local companies or individuals.

There is currently no comparable temporary residence certificate in Cayman that would allow someone to live in the islands and work remotely for a company based somewhere else.

While avenues exist to relocate to Cayman quickly by creating an exempt company and obtaining a work permit or by settling in Cayman’s special economic zone, these options are typically prohibitively expensive for ordinary workers and freelancers.

In Europe, where EU citizens are already allowed to settle and work in all member states, Estonia started accepting applications for a “digital nomad visa” in an effort to attract non-European entrepreneurs and workers to the country.

The government there said it aims to remove the legal uncertainty and ambiguity of working while travelling. Digital nomads often skirt the law by working while visiting a country with a tourist visa. Since 1 Aug., “eligible location-independent workers can apply for the chance to come to Estonia to live for up to a year with peace of mind that they can legally work”, the government said on its e-residency website.

Applicants must either have a work or freelance contract with, or be a shareholder of, a foreign-registered company. The monthly minimum income requirement for applicants is EUR3,504 (US$4,100) gross of tax.

The digital nomad visa is an extension of Estonia’s e-residency programme. Estonia is the first country to offer a government-issued digital identity that gives entrepreneurs legal status and access to the country’s digital business sector without having to be physically present.

The programme targets non-European entrepreneurs, who want to enter the EU market and establish and run a company there without having to obtain a residency certificate.

Work from Bermuda certificate

  • Allows holders to live and work remotely in Bermuda for 12 months
  • Not allowed to work for local companies and individuals
  • Applicants must have sufficient means to support themselves and family members
  • Family members are subject to their own applications and fees
  • After the 12 months, certificate holders can apply for a one-year extension
  • Cost: US$263

Barbados Welcome Stamp

  • One-year visa allows holders to live and work remotely in Barbados
  • Unlimited exit and re-entry during that time
  • Not allowed to work for local companies and individuals
  • Applicants must have sufficient means to support themselves and family members
  • Children are allowed to attend public schools for a fee
  • After the 12 months, visa holders can apply for a one-year extension
  • Cost: US$2,000 for individuals, US$3,000 for families
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  1. I really hope Cayman implements a program like this as I would be happy to take advantage. One note about fees, however: Barbados has got it wrong. A fee of a few hundred dollars (like Bermuda) is reasonable, but $2k? he point of the program is to drive the local economy by luring expats and their ongoing spending to the islands, NOT to drive revenue through visa fees.