A Relocation Guide to the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Island government provides many different options for individuals and families seeking long-term or permanent residency in the Cayman Islands.
To help you choose the most suitable direction for you and your family, here is a comprehensive guide to the different programs, their key features, and key requirements:
Taking pride in a quality of life that’s second to none, the Cayman Islands provides a safe, secure, and stable destination whether for business, for pleasure – or as more and more global citizens have been doing over the years – for permanent residency.
Cayman immigration laws state that: “Persons who have been legally resident in the Cayman Islands for a period of at least eight years may be eligible for Permanent Residency. They may be able to apply for permission for themselves, their spouse and their dependents to reside permanently in the Cayman Islands.”
Additionally, the government has also provided “residency by investment” options that cater specifically to affluent individuals, private investors, and senior executives who are seeking long-term residence in the Cayman Islands.
There is also the recently introduced Global Citizen Concierge Programme (GCCP) which allows persons who are employed outside of the Cayman Islands and with the financial independence to work remotely, to relocate and live in the Cayman Islands for up to two years.
As your real estate advisor, ERA Cayman Islands can help you choose the most favorable property investment that will cater to your needs, as well as connect you with our legal partner who is a leading expert on Cayman law. You can be assured of comprehensive yet bespoke professional services based upon your unique requirements and circumstances, with only your utmost convenience in mind.
Residency by Investment Programs
According to immigration laws, the following options are available to foreign nationals who qualify as “persons of independent means and investors” and are seeking permanent residence in the Cayman Islands:
Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means
- Requires an unencumbered cash investment of at least CI $2-M (approximately US $2.4-M) in developed real estate in the Cayman Islands.
- Lifetime grant of residency stamped on the applicant’s existing passport.
- Spouse and children (up to age 24) can be included as dependents on the Certificate, making them legal residents as well.
- Ability to seek a “variation” to obtain the right to work in the local economy (also applies to spouse where applicable).
- This is the only residency by investment option which “fast tracks” a person to citizenship and becoming Caymanian. Under this Certificate, once a person (and their spouse, if applicable) has been legally and ordinarily resident for 5 years, they can be naturalized as a British Overseas Territory Citizen (BOTC) and subsequently obtain a Cayman Islands passport. This naturalization is the key step in becoming Caymanian — commonly referred to as “Caymanian Status” — which can be achieved at the 10 years of residency mark under this Certificate. The usual pathway to Caymanian Status on grounds of residency (outside of this option) is 15 years.
- Once BOTC is obtained, the applicant is generally eligible to pursue U.K. Citizenship and passport.
- There is no physical presence requirement under this option if there is no desire to pursue citizenship and simply remain a lifetime resident. However, there are complex rules with respect to physical presence if citizenship is desired which our legal partner can advise on.
- CI$ 100,000 (approximately US$ 120,000) one time grant fee + CI$ 1,000 per added dependent.
Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means
(25-Year Residency Grant)
- Requires an unencumbered investment of CI$ 1-Million (approximately US$ 1.2-Million), of which CI$ 500,000 (around US$ 600,000) must be in developed real estate. The balance can be in raw land or other local investments, such as shares in a local business. Other supporting documents to prove financial standing will also be required.
- 25-year grant of residency stamped on existing passport.
- Spouse and children (up to age 24) can be legal dependents, making them legal residents as well.
- No ability to work in local economy and generally suitable for wealthy retirees. In certain circumstances, holder can attend strictly to their overseas business from their Cayman residence.
- Unlike the CI$ 2-Million investment option (lifetime grant), there is no ability to obtain British Overseas Territory Citizenship or Caymanian Status under this option, unless other forms of residency are sought in the future.
- Physical presence requirement of one month in aggregate per year.
- CI$ 20,000 (approximately US$ 24,000) one time grant fee + nominal dependent fees.
Certificate of Direct Investment
(25-Year Residency Grant)
If a person makes an investment of over CI$ 1-Million (approximately US$ 1.2-Million) in an employment-generating business in the Cayman Islands and that individual exercises substantial management control over the business, they may be entitled to apply for a Certificate of Direct Investment.
At least 30% of the employees of the business must be Caymanian, unless it can be shown that overriding circumstances require otherwise. Furthermore, the applicant must show that they are an experienced business professional with an entrepreneurial background specific to the type of business proposed.
This Certificate of Direct Investment entitles the holder to reside in the Cayman Islands for a period of 25 years and work in the business in which they have invested.
Residency by Substantial Business Presence
(25-Year Residency Grant)
This category of residency allows an individual to reside and work in the Cayman Islands for a renewable period of 25 years if they have at least 10% equity in a “suitable business” or are employed by that business in a senior management capacity.
A “suitable business” is one that has a physical presence, with at least 4 employees working within the Cayman Islands for a minimum of 9 months per year.
The business must fall within one of these approved categories:
- fund administration
- brokerage services
- investment and fund management services
- financial trading (including foreign exchange, securities, and derivatives)
- captive insurance or reinsurance management services
- reinsurance underwriting
- investment banking
- actuarial services
- insurance claims management
- family office
- hedge fund administration
Outside of the aforementioned “residency by investment” options, it is possible to quickly obtain legal residency with the right to work in the Cayman Islands by establishing your own offshore business and obtaining a “work permit,” which is the local the equivalent of a work visa.
The business must undertake to operate only outside of the Cayman. Following successful licensing and permit approval, the individual may apply for permanent residency after 8 years or convert to one of the above residency options at any time.
Special Economic Zone
The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was created for knowledge-based industries and has developed into an inspirational, entrepreneurial technology hub. The Zone has stripped away the red tape and financial constraints normally associated with setting up an offshore Cayman company. It enables international companies to have genuine offshore physical presence and to generate active business income from the Cayman Islands.
The Zone enables businesses to take advantage of Cayman’s tax neutrality and jurisdictional advantages, which include no corporate tax, no income tax, no payroll tax, no capital gains tax, and no sales tax. The Zone also affords businesses a series of special concessions granted by the Cayman Islands Government.
Not surprisingly, a rapidly increasing number of international players in the internet and technology sectors, as well as in media and marketing, biotechnology and life sciences, commodities and derivatives, maritime and aviation services are establishing offices in the Zone as part of their global tax mitigation plan.
- Zero corporate, capital gains, sales, payroll, or income taxes (from a Cayman perspective)
- Import-Export duty concessions
- Fast tracked set-up of operations
- 5-year work/residence visas granted in 5 days (exempted from advertising to locals which is a requirement in the local economy)
- IP-shielded offshore, with UK IP protection extended in many cases
- Strategic location and time zone for easy access to global markets
- A technology hub conducive to collaboration and networking
- Sophisticated, pro-business environment
Whether involving a multinational corporation or an innovative tech start-up, the Zone is an ideal, tax-neutral platform from which to operate.
Exempted Trade & Business License
If the person is providing administrative support to their overseas company from the Cayman Islands, that would be a legitimate business purpose we could license. The person can then can obtain an annual work permit and work towards Permanent Residency after 8 years, or convert to one of the previously mentioned residency options at any time.
Global Citizen Certificate
The Global Citizen Concierge Program is a new initiative that allows approved “digital nomads” who are employed outside of the Cayman Islands and are financially independent, to live and work remotely in the Cayman for up to two years.
Applying for a Global Citizen Certificate does not require that you earn Cayman citizenship, but is a way for individuals to live and enjoy the Cayman Islands for a longer period of time while supporting themselves with income earned entirely abroad.
The Certificate is available to anyone who can demonstrate their existing (and anticipated ongoing) employment outside of the Cayman Islands.
Program Criteria include:
- Proof of employment with an entity outside the Cayman Islands
- Meeting the annual salary requirements
- Proof of legal existence of employer/ company
- Bank reference
- Proof of identity
- Police clearance
- Proof of health insurance
The GCCP Certificate becomes valid upon initial entry into the Cayman Islands.
Once approved, one must arrive within 3 months of the date the approval is granted, after which they may come and go as they please.
However, they are required stay in Cayman for a total of 90 days per 12-month period. All quarantine regulations at the time of travel must also be strictly observed.
It must be emphasized that if approved for the GCCP, the remote work should be done exclusively for companies and individuals that are not registered in the Cayman Islands.
In addition, should the remote employment be terminated within the validity period, the Certificate shall automatically expire on the date of termination.
Learn more about the Global Citizen Concierge Programme.
Find your Dream Property here
Should you be interested in becoming a Cayman Resident through investment in real estate, here are the current properties available starting from the minimum investment of CI$ 500,000 and upwards:
Contact us Directly
If you would like to find out more about buying real estate in the Cayman Islands or relocating, please contact us at:
+1 (345) 945 6000 (Cayman)
(727) 216 7981 (US)
Our legal partner can also assist you in the areas of Business Structures, Employment and Labor, Hedge Funds, Intellectual Property and Technology, Notary Services, Patents, Private Equity, Property Development, Real Estate, Trademarks, Trusts, Estates and Wealth Preservation, and Venture Technology.