BVI News

BVI scraps trade licences, work permits for foreign charters

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley

The government has announced a relaxation of measures that were previously in place for foreign-based commercial recreational vessels conducting charters or operating water taxis.

According to a statement from Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley, the government will no longer require BVI trade licenses from charter operators who are not based in the BVI and will also not require work permits for crew members working on those vessels. 

This change will become effective Tuesday, November 15. 

“We are now in the tourism season, and we recognise the importance of our marine industry,” Premier Wheatley stated. 

He said the government is formulating new policy and amendments to existing legislation that will recognise transient vessels, modify fees, and provide greater ease of access while ensuring that the economic value of locally-based charter operations is protected.

Although the Premier acknowledged that it will take some time to fully develop and implement these proposed changes, he advised that there is an immediate need to make adjustments in order to ensure that this tourism season affords all sub-sectors the opportunity to pursue a return on their investments through adjusted provisions for increased maritime traffic. 

Local marine sector not underestimated 

In the meantime, Premier Wheatley said his government recognised the important contributions of locally-based charter operators to the territory’s economy. “We in no way underestimate the value of this sector,” the Premier noted. 

The territory’s leader emphasised that there is a balance to be maintained and said this balance must offer advantages for BVI-based products and services within the BVI tourism space because of their commitment to the territory and its tourism product. 

Dr Wheatley pointed out that last season was particularly difficult for all parties, and said some sub-sectors of the tourism economy were severely impacted by the resulting reduced maritime traffic. 

He also advised that the government is happy to facilitate ease of access to neighbouring USVI operators with whom the BVI shares a strong relationship.

“They, in return, have agreed in principle to reciprocal applications for BVI boats trading into the USVI,” the Premier said.


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  1. Bvi yacht says:

    Fantastic news! We can all move to STT Thomas and operate out of there. Better flight access. Much cheaper. Less hassle.

    Like 30
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  2. Lauren says:

    Does anyone know what exactly US based boats DO need in order to resume charters?

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  3. Good move says:

    but the chances of those former BVI charter yachts that fled to STT during the pandemic returning to the BVI are very very low.

    The key issue is how many weeks of charter in the BVI is a foreign based charter yacht allowed during the 2022-23 season? Before the new laws in 2019 it was only 7 weeks.

    Like 5
    Dislike 4
  4. Hmmm says:

    The REAL question is why Sowande and other Ministers sit back and let Andrew Fahie destroy what we had in place and said nothing about it? I believe in rules, structure etc. and that is fine, but what was done regarding the charters, particularly coming from the USVI was just stupid and short-sighted, which cost BVI businesses lots of money.

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  5. UKM says:

    @Bvi yacht you are free to leave any time,but you still have to use the BVI waters to make your money. leave tomorrow and don’t pass back,Good luck.

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  6. oh boy says:

    The VIP screwed up that industry to begin with

    Like 16
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  7. Bvi yacht says:

    The foreign yachts are limited to 7 pickups in the BVI. They can pick up as many as they want from ST Thomas and then come over here to charter.

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  8. Stupes says:

    Can you read and understand?

  9. Elsa says:

    When they charter out of the USVI, you still meet them in JVD and other BVI locations, so what is the real deal. There is nothing to see or enjoy in the USVI. BVI needs to be smart about how this situation is handled. Don’t let the loud noise frighten you.

    Like 9
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  10. Good decision says:

    Good decision Premier. Let’s get more charter business going in the Territory.

    Like 8
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  11. Rubber Chicken says:

    Great first step in joining the USVI. Keep it up Sowande!

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  12. They still contribute says:

    The charter boats can pick up the guests and arrive, but they’ll still pay the daily cruise fees, national parks fees, rent moorings and spend lots of $$ at our many great beach bars and restaurants.

    Like 11
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  13. Reality Check says:

    This could easily be the death of the crewed charter industry based in the BVI. BVI Based boats have to have Trade Licenses and work permits, but if they move to the USVI they will still be able to charter here but without the hassle and expense. All of the businesses which depend on servicing these boats will suffer; taxis, provisioners,liquor wholesalers, boat washers, mechanics, etc., because these boats will be using those services in St Thomas.
    Just like the Marine Services Training Program at the college which this government has defunded, it now wants to send our bread-N-butter business to St Thomas! Thank you for your support!!

    Like 17
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  14. ridiculous says:

    This is a great move by the Premier, a forward thinking step at last, credit where it is due

    Like 7
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  15. Not the fix says:

    So make it hard for locals and easy for foreigners ….. So we need permits / licences etc taxes and foreign boats don’t ….

    Like 17
  16. Jumping for joy! says:

    Yesss! We’ve been vocal about streamlining the system but this is much better decision , thank you

    Like 3
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  17. USA register says:

    So register your boat and run your business in the USVI and just use the BVI resources …. meanwhile BVI days boats sit quiet

    Like 11
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  18. awesome says:

    Great move, now to streamline the VISR/customs/immigrations requirements and we have the best place to charter in the world!

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  19. Madea says:

    Great news – so the drug smuggling industry wont be breaking law not having a trade licence and work permits now!

  20. rastarite says:

    USVI customs recently required all BVI boats coming into the USVI waters to buy an expensive bond ($1500+) to protect against illegal immigrants, smugglers etc. It was just one more fee to get back at BVI operators. Now the BVI, in its wisdom, is allowing foreign flagged boats access to BVI without work permits or trade licences. This will strangle local operators, especially local water taxi operators and day trip boats. What is to stop USVI water taxi boats entering the BVI and picking up BVI visitors for day trips and water taxi work. So exactly how are you going to protect locally-based charter operations?

    Like 11
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  21. Nope says:

    So we need trade licence and work permits …… but they don’t …. that don’t make sense

  22. Smh says:

    This is bulls*%t. Have anyone ever looked into what it takes to operate a charter service in the US if foreign based. Pretty sure you have to obtain certain documents which in line with trade licenses and work permit. You can’t open or operate any business in the US without a business license and most times you have to be a US citizen or belonged. Why we always bending backward for everyone else. This places sickens me. Things like this is why we are in the situations we’re in.

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  23. No more complain says:

    We taking back our Business. We are the sailing capitol of the world.. We have to keep it that way. This the right move.

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  24. Hmmm says:

    The fees are different for BVI based boats vs foreign boats

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  25. rastarite says:

    Higher fees for foreign flagged boats is a MUST. Or water taxis and day charter boats will be in trouble…

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  26. Foreign says:

    based charter yachts were limited to 7 weeks of charter per year in the BVI waters regardless of where the guests board the yacht up to 2019. After the 7th week then a BVI Trade License and work permits were required for the yacht and crew to continue charters in the BVI. The new law in 2019 abolished the 7 week limit so ALL foreign based charter yachts were required to obtain a BVI Trade License and work permits for any charter in BVI waters. That’s why so many charter yachts left the BVI in 2020 never to return.

    Like 2
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  27. Jim says:

    You know why this happened?


    We were losing millions of dollars. Millions

    It took the government a year to realize that dollars were being sucked away and the number of charters lost was incomprehensible

    BVI. Always playing catch up from behind and doing it yesterday

    Effin brilliant

  28. @elisa says:

    Bull phucking shitte.

    USVI HAS EVERYTHING And much more. We killed it tourism while bvi was wailing and shut down. All the boats and crews you turned away came to us and loved it. They’re here now and won’t go back.

    Tired of the fees, taxes, permits, racism, prejudice, and the ignorance that is the bvi

    USVI welcomed the charter boats and we have them. To stay

  29. Rubber Duck says:

    About as dumb a move as this government of buffoons has made.

    BVI charter boats will have to have trade licenses and work permits to do charters in BVI waters and foreign yachts won’t need them. ?

    In what possible way does that encourage boats to remain here and not move to the USVI to be near the airport, have passengers avoid the ferries and the long queues at customs etc.


  30. @rubber duck says:

    So a bvi water taxi can then come and go into the usvi without penalty? Explain the fairness. Then those companies should have a green card to operate in US waters. Only fair if you’re doing business there.

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  31. Ashamed of government says:

    Am I reading and understanding correctly? This sounds like a pile of Fu…k. Government is disenfranchising it’s people for others. This indeed shows the level of competence of our government officials. Can a charter vessel from the Bvi go to st Thomas and take people to st croix?

    Why is government so bothered by what outsiders say. The charter industry will pick right back up because the BVI has what the tourists wants. Now government played in their hands because they will come to stt, stay there and sail to the Bvi and back without spending a penny.

  32. Vision required says:

    This man could be on a podium smiling talking all that bull. Lord, when is election. How is my husband going to support his family now. I cry for the BVI.

    “Where there is no vision , the people will perish” indeed.

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  33. Elsa says:

    When and why would this decision improve the charter industry in the BVI. There is no reason to do so now.

  34. Ann says:

    Actually that was only if the charters started and ended in BVI…

  35. Anonymous says:

    Great News. I can get my operation back in business. Before I felt like I was being kicked while I was down after hurricane Irma and the pandemic almost ruined me.
    Thank you Dr Wheatley.

    Like 1
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