Establishing a Business in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Commercial Code:  In 1965, the Government of the Virgin Islands adopted the U.S. Uniform Commercial Code which relates to various commercial transactions including sales, commercial paper, bank deposits and collections, documents of title, investment securities and secured transactions.  Copies can be obtained from the Lieutenant Governor's Office.

Incorporating in the Virgin Islands: A corporation's legal existence begins in the V.I. when it's Articles of Incorporation are filed with the Lieutenant Governor's Office in accordance with Title 13 V.I. Code.

The articles of Incorporation must contain the following:
1.  The Name of the corporation.
2.  The Purpose for which the corporation is formed.
3.  The total number of shares, with or without par value, and the class of stock the     corporation is authorized to issue.  If more than one class of stock is authorized to issue.  If more than one class of stock is authorized, a description of each class with preference, voting powers, special or relative rights, privileges as to each class thereof must be provided.
4.  The Principal with complete street address.
5.  Resident Agent of the Corporation with street address.
6.  Minimal amount of capital.
7.  Duration of corporation.
8.  Minimum of Directors (at least three)
9.  Name and Addresses of Incorporators (minimum of three)
10.  The signatures of the incorporators (notarized).
11.  The Articles of Incorporation (duplicate)
The minimum filling fee for articles of Incorporation is $150 for V.I. domestic corporations and $400 for FSC's and exempt companies.

Trade Names:  Trade names are filed with the Lieutenant Governor's Office in triplicate.  The filing fee is $25.00.

Types of Fees Collected: (due June 30 annually)

Franchise Tax (domestic corporation)                                $ 150.00 - Minimum
FSC Only, 30 year Guaranteed contract                            $ 100.00
Foreign Sales Corporation (large)                                      $ 1000.00 - Minimum
Foreign Sales Corporation (small)                                      $ 400.00 - Minimum



Business Licensing:

Domestic and Foreign Corporations, Partnerships, or Sole Proprietorship engaging in any business in the Virgin Islands must apply for and obtain a business license from the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.  Licenses are assigned according to the U.S. Standard Industrial Classification and fees are set by the Legislature.  Depending upon the nature of the business, several licenses may be required.  Annual License fees generally range from $50 to $1000 depending on the type of business.

Business License Checklist

A. Register your trade name and /or corporation with the Lt. Governor's Office.  Corporate business license applicants may be required by the Licensing Division to submit a copy of their articles of incorporation and/or for same with their license application.

B.  Familiarize yourself with the appropriate sections of the Virgin Islands Code (Title 27, V.I.C. licensing) to be sure your are in compliance with licensing, tax, labor, and health laws.

C.  New businesses and annual renewals are required to obtain a favorable tax clearance letter from the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue prior to the issuance of a new license.  The application for the tax filing and payment status report is made on forms prescribed by the V.I.B.I.R.,LIC1.  This application should be made well in advance of applying for the license as the report is required to be submitted to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs with the application for a business license.

D.  Complete the L&CA business application according to the accompanying instructions.  Applicants intending to conduct business in St. Croix as well as St. Thomas are required to file separate applications for each of the islands.  The corporation is required to have a license covering each field of business activity for which a license is prescribed .  Applicants intending to engage in more than one type of business as prescribed by law may file a single application stating all types of activity contemplated.  Applicants engaging in certain types of business activity in St. John as well as St. Thomas may be required to file separate applications.  An applicant should request clarification from Licensing Division personnel for any items which may require additional explanation.

The application for license is made on forms prescribed and furnished by the Commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs and asks for information pertaining to the principle owners and each officer, or employee who will exercise the powers to be conferred by the license upon such corporation.  The Commissioner may require that such owner or office or employee furnish information concerning his or her identity, personal history, experience, business record, purposes, record of any conviction of any offense which is a felony or crime of moral turpitude in the jurisdiction where the offense occurred, and any other pertinent facts that the Commissioner may reasonably require.

Foreign Sales Corporations are required to apply for a license but are not required to supply information pertaining to the officer or employee who will exercise the powers to be conferred by the license upon the corporation.

E.  Prior to submission to L&CA, all completed business license applications must be submitted to other government agencies for review and approval such as : V.I. Police Department for clearance of the officers and employees who will exercise the powers to be conferred by the license.

Additionally, new and/or renewal applications may be required to be submitted to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (zoning); the Department of Public Works (architect, contractor, draftsman, etc.); the V.I. Fire Service; the Department of Health, Division of Sanitation and Environmental Health and any other department which the commissioner may require, depending on the location and scope of business activity intended by the applicant.

F.  Certain license applicants, such as real estate brokers, real estate salesmen, construction contractors, electricians, plumbers, barbers, beauticians, and manicurists, certified public accountants, and draftsmen must take and pass an examination.  The examination dates are available from L&CA.

G.  Trade schools and other educational facilities must get Board of Education approval.

H.  Day care centers and nurseries must be approved by the Department of Human Services.

I.  Professional boards such as the Virgin Islands Bar Association require certification based on their own criteria.

J.  Cooperatives must register with L&CA, Licensing Division.

K.  Establishments selling prepared food must have a health certificate.  Before an application will be approved a Health Permit issued by the Department of Health is required.

L.  Sale of alcoholic beverages is restricted to bars, taverns, night clubs, hotelkeepers and other clubs.  Alcoholic beverages cannot be sold by mobile food vendors, refreshment stands or by vending machines.  All night clubs and taverns must get approval from the Alcohol Control Board.

M.  When a license application has been completed and accepted by the L&CA, and the appropriate fees have been paid, L&CA will issue the business license.  Do not Commence business operations until your application is accepted and approved by the L&CA.

If you would like more information, there is the Chamber of Commerce Business Packet which includes a list of ABC's of going into business in the U.S. Virgin Islands; Tax Laws; Business Incentives; Trade, Services & Labor Force; and Economic & Tourism Statistics; etc.  It discusses everything you need to know about starting a business in the Virgin Islands.