Moving to the Cayman Islands

A Relocation Guide to the Cayman Islands

Updated Feb. 21, 2024

The Cayman Islands government offers a diverse array of options for individuals and families pursuing long-term or permanent residency in this highly modern, yet uniquely charming and serene territory.

To assist you in navigating these choices effectively and finding the best fit for your needs, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide outlining the various programs available, their distinctive features, and the essential requirements for each.

  • Residency by Investment Programs

    • Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means (Lifetime)

    • Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means (25 Years)

    • Residency by Substantial Business Presence (25 Years)

    • Certificate of Direct Investment (25 Years)

  • Work Permits

    • Special Economic Zone

    • Exempted Trade and Business License

Residency by Investment Programs

With a commitment to offering a quality of life that stands above the rest, the Cayman Islands presents itself as a secure, stable haven for both business and leisure pursuits, as well as an increasingly popular choice for those seeking permanent residency.

According to Cayman immigration laws, individuals who have maintained lawful residency in the Cayman Islands for a minimum of eight years may be eligible for permanent residency. This status extends to their spouse and dependents, permitting them to reside permanently in the Cayman Islands.

Moreover, the government has established “residency by investment” avenues tailored to affluent individuals, private investors, and senior executives aiming for long-term residency in the Cayman Islands.

For foreign nationals qualifying as “persons of independent means and investors” seeking permanent residence in the Cayman Islands, the following options are available under immigration laws:

Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means

(Lifetime Residency)

Key Features:

  • Requires an unencumbered cash investment of at least CI $2 million (approximately US $2.4 million) in developed real estate within the Cayman Islands.
  • Grants lifetime residency, endorsed on the applicant’s existing passport.
  • Allows inclusion of spouse and children (up to age 24) as dependents on the Certificate, granting them legal residency.
  • Provides the opportunity to apply for a “variation” to gain permission to work in the local economy, applicable to the spouse as well.
  • This is the sole residency by investment option that expedites the path to citizenship and acquiring Caymanian status. Upon holding the Certificate for five years, the applicant (and their spouse, if applicable) can be naturalized as a British Overseas Territory Citizen (BOTC), paving the way to obtaining a Cayman Islands passport. This streamlined process accelerates the attainment of Caymanian status, typically achieved after 10 years of residency under this Certificate, as opposed to the standard 15-year pathway.
  • Upon acquiring BOTC, the applicant generally becomes eligible to pursue both U.K. citizenship and a passport.
  • No physical presence requirement exists under this option for those solely seeking lifetime residency. However, intricate regulations regarding physical presence apply if citizenship is sought, and our legal partner can provide detailed guidance on this matter.
  • Involves a one-time grant fee of CI $100,000 (approximately US $120,000), with an additional one-time fee of CI $1,000 (approximately US$1,220) per dependent added to the Certificate.

Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means

(25-Year Residency Grant)

Key Features:

  • Requires an unencumbered investment of CI $1 million (approximately US $1.2 million), with CI $500,000 (or approximately US $600,000) designated for developed real estate. The remaining balance may be allocated to raw land, pre-construction property, or other local investments, such as shares in a local business.
  • Applicants must demonstrate either a continuous source of annual income of US $150,000 or maintain a deposit of US $500,000 with a locally licensed institution.
  • Grants a 25-year residency stamped on the existing passport.
  • Allows inclusion of spouse and children (up to age 24) as legal dependents, affording them residency rights.
  • Does not permit employment in the local economy, primarily suited for affluent retirees. However, in certain cases, holders may manage their overseas business affairs from their Cayman residence.
  • Unlike the CI $2 million investment option (lifetime grant), this option does not facilitate obtaining British Overseas Territory Citizenship or Caymanian Status, unless alternative forms of residency are pursued in the future.
  • Holders are expected to reside in the Cayman Islands for a minimum of 30 days per year.
  • Entails a one-time grant fee of CI $20,000 (approximately US $24,000), along with an additional annual fee of CI $1,000 (approximately US $1,220) per dependent.

Residency by Substantial Business Presence

(25-Year Residency Grant)

This Certificate, valid for 25 years and renewable thereafter, grants the holder (along with qualifying dependents) the right to reside in the Cayman Islands and work within the businesses they have invested in or where they hold senior management positions. It was created to incentivize businesses and family offices to establish and prosper in the Islands by offering their essential personnel a streamlined route to residency.

Unlike the first two pathways, this option does not necessitate a personal real estate investment. However, due to the nature of this category, the annual residence requirements are higher, with a minimum of 90 days mandated.

Within this option, there are two subcategories, determined by the scale of the proposed business and the feasibility of remote work from home:

(a) The first sub-category entails the following requirements: (i) Ownership of a minimum of 10% share in an approved business category. (ii) Demonstration of substantial business presence through the acquisition or leasing of commercial real estate, as well as employing at least four full-time workers, each residing for a minimum of 9 months annually.

(b) The second category does not entail the aforementioned associated requirements. Instead, it mandates that the holder be employed in a senior management capacity, with a work permit carrying a minimum annual fee of US$25,000 within an approved category of business.

The grant fee is currently set at CI $5,000 (approximately US $6,000), in addition to a Work Permit fee of CI $20,925 (approximately US $25,000) per annum, if applicable. The dependent fee stands at CI $1,000 (US $1,220) per dependent per annum.

Certificate of Direct Investment

(25-Year Residency Grant)

Individuals who invest over CI $1 million (approximately US $1.2 million) in a business that generates employment in the Cayman Islands, assuming substantial management control over the enterprise, may qualify for a Certificate of Direct Investment.

The business must employ a minimum of 30% of Caymanian workers unless exceptional circumstances dictate otherwise. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate their expertise as a seasoned business professional with a track record of entrepreneurship relevant to the proposed business venture.

This Certificate grants residency in the Cayman Islands for 25 years and permits the holder to actively engage in the management of the invested business. Under this option, the holder must physically reside in Cayman for a minimum of 90 days per year.

Ongoing requirements for a Certificate of Direct Investment include the following:

  • Maintaining the real estate investment (if applicable).
  • Paying annual company and work permit fees (if applicable).
  • Submitting an annual declaration affidavit each December.
  • Ensuring compliance with minimum residence requirements if seeking future Cayman Islands and British Citizenship.

The grant fee is CI$20,000 (approximately US$24,000), with an additional annual fee of CI$1,000 (approximately US$1,220) per dependent.

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Work Permits

In addition to the “residency by investment” routes outlined earlier, another avenue to swiftly secure legal residency with the authorization to work in the Cayman Islands involves establishing an offshore business and acquiring a “work permit,” akin to a local work visa.

The business entity must commit to conducting operations exclusively outside the Cayman Islands. Upon securing licensing and permit approvals, the individual holding the work permit can pursue permanent residency after eight years or transition to any of the aforementioned residency options at their discretion.

  • Special Economic Zone

The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was established to cater to knowledge-based industries and has evolved into a dynamic, entrepreneurial technology hub. It streamlines the typically burdensome process of setting up an offshore Cayman company, removing red tape and financial barriers. This facilitates international companies to establish a genuine offshore physical presence and generate active business income from the Cayman Islands.

The SEZ provides businesses with the opportunity to leverage Cayman’s tax neutrality and jurisdictional advantages, which include exemptions from corporate tax, income tax, payroll tax, capital gains tax, and sales tax. Additionally, the Zone offers a range of special concessions granted by the Cayman Islands Government.

As a result, an increasing number of international entities in sectors such as internet technology, media and marketing, biotechnology and life sciences, commodities and derivatives, and maritime and aviation services are choosing to establish offices in the Zone as part of their global tax mitigation strategy.

Key Features:

  • Zero corporate, capital gains, sales, payroll, or income taxes (from a Cayman perspective)
  • Import-Export duty concessions
  • Expedited setup of operations
  • 5-year work/residence visas issued within 5 days (exempt from the requirement to advertise to locals, mandatory in the local economy)
  • Offshore protection for intellectual property, with the possibility of UK IP protection extension in many cases
  • Strategic location and time zone facilitating access to global markets
  • A technology hub fostering collaboration and networking
  • Sophisticated, pro-business environment

Whether you’re a multinational corporation or an innovative tech start-up, the SEZ serves as an ideal, tax-neutral platform from which to operate.

  • Exempted Trade & Business License

If an individual is offering administrative support to their overseas company from the Cayman Islands, this activity qualifies as a legitimate business purpose eligible for licensing. Subsequently, the individual can obtain an annual work permit and begin the journey towards permanent residency, achievable after eight years. Alternatively, they have the flexibility to switch to any of the residency options discussed earlier at their discretion.

Update on the Global Citizen Concierge Program

The highly successful Global Citizen Concierge Program, which was introduced to entice international digital nomads to relocate and work remotely in the Cayman Islands for a maximum of two years, has now been discontinued.

Under the Immigration (Transition) (Global Citizen Exemption) (Amendment) Regulations, 2021, the deadline for submitting applications for a Global Citizen Certificate under these regulations was set on October 31, 2022.

Consequently, no new applications are currently being accepted, and the application form is now closed.

Find your dream property here

As your trusted real estate advisor, ERA Cayman Islands is equipped to assist you in identifying the most suitable property investment to meet your needs.

If you’re considering becoming a resident of the Cayman Islands through real estate investment, explore our current property listings starting from a minimum investment of CI $500,000 and beyond:


Additionally, we can connect you with one of our preferred legal partners, Bedell Cristin Cayman, an expert in Cayman law, ensuring you receive tailored professional services that prioritize your unique circumstances and convenience.

For more information on purchasing real estate in the Cayman Islands or relocating to this beautiful locale, please feel free to contact us. We’re here to assist you every step of the way.

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