06 May, 2010


My interest was piqued this morning when I heard on the news that two young men had been arrested for conducting a business without a licence.  There was no information released on the facts in this matter.  I have no knowledge of the special circumstances affecting the men or their business.  What I say here is not intended to advise anyone or their advisers.  If you have any doubt whether you are required to obtain a business licence to cover some activity that you do in Anguilla, you should obtain appropriate legal advice, and not rely on what I am about to say here. 
I have previously written on this issue, as you can read by checking my earlier post of 29 January 2008.  The bottom line of that post was that the law of Anguilla does not require every business conducted in Anguilla to be licensed.  The law only requires “places of business” where specified businesses are conducted to be licensed.  This is what the law says:
Obligation to obtain licence to carry on certain trades, businesses, occupations and professions
3. Every person carrying on any trade, business, occupation or profession set out in the Schedule shall take out an annual licence in accordance with the provisions of this Act in respect of each premises or place where such trade, business, occupation or profession is carried on, and shall only carry on such trade, business, occupation or profession from such premises or place.
The meaning of the words in the section is clear.  If you have a place of business at which you do one of the businesses set out in the Schedule to the Act, then you are required to obtain a licence in respect of the place in question.  The Act does not say words to the effect that “no business shall be carried out in Anguilla without a licence”.  The words above cannot be stretched to bear this meaning.  
A ‘place of business’ is not defined under the law.  However, the meaning of the words is clear enough.  A place is a spot, a space on the ground, a location.  The businesses that are required to be licensed are listed in the Schedule to the Act. 
A place of business is by implication a place dedicated to doing business, a place to which you invite members of the public to do business with you.  If you do your business of designing Christmas and greeting cards on the computer in your bedroom, your bedroom does not become a ‘place of business’.
If you conduct your business from three different locations, then you are required to obtain three different licences. 
If you have a licensed business place, then you must carry out your business from there.  You cannot have a licensed shop, and then open an unlicensed branch and claim that your licence covers that unlicensed branch.
If however, your business is of a type that does not require any contact in person with members of the public, and you in fact have no contact with the public at a particular place of your own, then it is clear that the words of the Act do not apply to you. 
If you conduct your business from your home, or from a pay phone, or from the computers in the public library, ie, if your business is of a type that does not require a dedicated ‘place’ of business, then the Act does not require you to have a licence to conduct your business. 
If I conduct my business in private, without inviting members of the public to come to my residence, then the Act does not apply to me.
Let us take a few practical examples.  The Schedule lists these occupations:
32. Consultant/Arbitrator ............................................................................................... 1500.00
57. Hairdresser ................................................................................................................. 600.00
66. International Trader .................................................................................................. 1500.00
       Each of these occupations can be carried out at a place of business as defined above.  The places where I carry out the business would need to be licensed.  Equally, they could be carried out without a place of business.  I would not need a licence then to carry out the business.
A consultant who lives in Anguilla and is consulted on the telephone or in the homes or businesses of her clients is not required to be licensed.  The St Kitts consultant engineer or attorney at law who flies in to Anguilla to do a particular job for a client, is not required to take out a licence in respect of his hotel room.
A hairdresser who visits clients at their homes or hotel rooms is not covered by the wording of the Act. 
An international trader who uses her computer at home or at the Library and who does not have a ‘place of business’ is not compelled by the Act to have a place of business, and is not required to have a business licence.
A heavy-equipment operator who keeps his equipment near his home, and takes contracts to do work on different construction sites from time to time has no place of business, and is not required to take out a licence.
I hope the police arrested the right persons.  Otherwise they could be in trouble under the law.  Mind you, remember to take advice from your attorney before acting on what I have written here.


  1. Does this apply to work-permits as well? One could imagine a self-employed web professional whose customers are off-island (site being here or not?), or published authors, or whatever. Are they required to have work permits?

  2. It depends on who you ask.

    About 15 years ago there was some kind of computer-genius convention here and a whole lot of these high income computer geeks wanted to move to Anguilla. They can work anywhere there's an internet connection, they would have sold nothing locally, made money and spent it here. We had a chance to have a whole new, low-impact "development" that was non-seasonal.

    They were honest enough, and perhaps stupid enough, to apply for work permits. Hubert simply ignored all of their applications for so long that they all went somewhere else. None of them were turned down. None of them were given an explanation.

    Very sad.

  3. ...Answered my own question. If you're an alien, and you do *anything* to earn money, no matter where it comes from you *must* get a work permit, and pay into Social Security(?) if you reside on Anguilla. Thus an author writing a book must get a work permit. And so on.

    One presumes that interest on foreign deposits and debt, capital appreciation, and so on, are so beyond its ability to tax that GOA just gave up on that, but with this whole "tax-harmonization" thing going on, plus the giant increase in local government employees in the past decade, there will be significant incentive to try anyway. Can't wait for *that*...

    Welcome to libertarian paradise.

  4. ...and here I thought it was the quasi-proctological "survey" that the Statistics Department required them all to fill out that sent all those cryptography geeks off to less privacy-invasive environs. Privacy being their actual business, and all. (Seriously: *Ireland*? *California?* *Really*???).

    Meanwhile the economic downfall of Anguilla proceeds apace. Not for nothing will she soon be called "Athens of the Northeast Caribbean", and for entirely the wrong reasons.

  5. In addition to chasing away computer geeks we are dismantling the second economy in Anguilla by sending away all the work permit holders at the expiry of their permit, especially those with higher qualifications. Consider we have 2000 work permit holders each one of them must rent a home from a belonger, each one must have a car for transport and buy food and supplies from our local stores, paying electric bills and easily US$ 2,000,000 in work permit fees. 2000 is the number of tourists that visit our island every week in high season. We had 2000 LIVING here, spending here, contributing to our economy.
    Now that we are chasing them all away, the apartment owners can't pay their mortgages, the shopkeepers blame the chinese for having less business and the government blames the world economy for having no money.
    If there were qualified people for those jobs in Anguilla, don't you think the businesses would hire them instead of bringing in much more expensive external labour? I am not talking about indian and chinese construction workers.
    An african country did the same thing years ago, sending all the indian merchants away because they owned all the businesses. Then they realised that no one locally could run proper businesses. They begged the indians to come back to no avail. Scarcity of product and ridiculous inflation now prevail there. It is the same xenphobic mentality we now see in Anguilla. Away with the foreigner unless he visits only for a week. Watch what happens.

  6. This is very interesting and helpful and I suspect clears up rather wide spread misinformation and misunderstanding among the general public regarding this topic. Along the lines of governmental fees, I wonder if you might offer your thoughts on the legality, advisability and implications of the recently announced proposal of the government to implement a specific fee under the Villa Rental Business Act of 2006 to be imposed on Alien Landholders who elect NOT to rent their personal residences.

  7. The Anguilla Constitution guarantees to everyone equal protection under the law. Unless you're a foreigner:


    "Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc.
    14. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (4), (5) and (7) of this section, no
    law shall make any provision which is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.
    (2) Subject to the provisions of subsections (6), (7) and (8) of this section, no
    person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue
    of any written law or in the performance of the functions of any public office or
    any public authority.
    (3) In this section, the expression (a) “discriminatory” means affording different
    treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective
    descriptions by race, political opinions, colour, creed, sex or place of origin,
    whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or
    restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or
    are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of
    another such description.
    (b) “public authority” means any statutory body or company or association in which the
    Government of Anguilla has an interest and which performs a public function or
    (4) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any law so far as that law
    makes provision—
    (a) with respect to persons who do not belong to Anguilla"
    -- http://tinyurl.com/34tohel

    So much for the law. Property tax in Anguilla is so low as to be laughable. Our new Government seeks to impose a reasonable annual property tax on -- well -- those who aren't voters, the vast majority of whom are relatively wealthy.

    If this were happening, say, in Vanuatu or Moldavia, where we could look at it unemotionally, could we honestly believe that it were wrong?

    The former tax regime here was based on continual growth to finance government services. In other words, a Ponzi scheme. It's not working so good.

  8. May 10 @ 4:53 is exactly right, on the surface it seems logical to get ride of foreign workers in favor of local jobs. But this underscores gov's failure to understand the economy.

    Its a very sad slope all are sliding down.

  9. In "progressive" Minnesota, of all places, there's a lone, anonymously-funded billboard with George Bush's picture on it. The caption reads "Miss me now?". Leftists are howling about it, but the Great Unwashed Middle in Flyover Country are starting to slowly nod in stony silence.

    Maybe someday there'll be a billboard like that with Victor's picture on it?

    Just sayin', "the devil you know", and all that.

    Seems to me that if the Front had just offered all those Special Deals to *everyone* instead of just Friends of The Front, they's still be running things, and like Texas vs. California, Anguilla would be growing instead of crashing. With apologies to the accidentally eponymous, "progressive" is not progress, folks.

    OTOH -- and to gore everybody's oxen "fairly" -- maybe there's room for conservative/libertarian economic thought on Anguilla now. People whose economic sympathies are with Friedman's Chicago or Cowen's George Mason, or even von Mises' Auburn, instead with, say, The New School for Social Research... :-)

  10. Yes, yes most persons concerned with the issue of the “fee for not renting” are familiar with the section of the constitution which Anonymous of May 11, 2010 8:59 AM so educationally provides.
    (1) Determining constitutionality is often not as simple as it appears.
    (2) There is often a difference between that which is legal and that which is advisable as well as between short and long term outcomes. The most salient issue may not be legality but rather the multifaceted, long range ramifications of such a fee.
    (3) The analogous reference to Vanuatu or Moldavia is inapplicable.
    (4) In terms of government “imposing a reasonable annual property tax on…those who aren’t voters, the majority of whom are relatively wealthy”…
    This is NOT a property tax. It is a fee, a penalty if you will, for alien landholders who elect not to rent their personal residences. In many cases, their ALHL’s explicitly prohibits them from doing so.
    Financial capability to pay a tax does not mean the payer finds such to be equitable or palatable. No one likes to feel discriminated against, regardless of legality. Many “relatively wealthy” people continue to judicially manage their funds.
    (5) When the fees for RENTING alien owned villas were substantially increased about 5 years ago, the government stated 3 goals:
    (a) Discourage alien owned villa rental as such was (mis)perceived as competing with resort business.
    (b) Create a competitive advantage for Anguillan villa owners who would pay no rental fee.
    (c) Increase governmental revenue.
    …and now the government wants to impose a fee upon alien landholders for NOT renting?
    (6) The small picture here is enhanced governmental revenue. The big picture poses more significant questions…
    (a) I am told that for some time now the real estate market in Anguilla has been nearly at a standstill and that values are depressed. Perhaps this is an exclusive function of the wide spread recession—or perhaps for Anguilla, “the bloom is off the rose.” The transfer tax on property has been reduced as an incentive for potential buyers. How about this advertisement: “Welcome to Anguilla. Please consider a vacation or retirement residence here in Rainbow City. By the way, if you purchase here and elect not to rent your personal residence, we will penalize you with a fee of 250% of your property tax. Incidentally, taxes for alien property owners were whimsically increased by our new government 333% this year. And, here is a complimentary copy of a section of our constitution which you will note provides absolutely no protection for you from discrimination (in terms of taxes or otherwise) for at least your first fifteen years in Anguilla.”
    (b) The potential revenue from transfer tax/ALHL fees dwarfs that to be derived from a “fee for not renting.” Like it or not, the appeal of Anguilla as a choice for the purchase of a residence is subjectively based. Any governmental action which discourages the transfer of property (even if only existing dwellings) is of potentially significant cost to the government, homeowners and the overall economy.
    (c) While some may describe property taxes as “so low as to be laughable”, one must consider the entire configuration of taxes in Anguilla and compare such to competing locations; some of which incent investors.
    (d) Is this “fee for not renting” the top of a slippery slope in which those not protected by the constitution are to increasingly subsidize a government funded by what has been described as a “Ponzi Scheme?” If so, what will be the long range consequences?
    (e) The new government clearly does not understand that what it says and does in Anguilla no longer remains only in Anguilla. Regardless of wealth, most persons who invest in a residence anywhere hope to someday recoup their investment. Any governmental action which impacts the real estate market in Anguilla should be scrutinized in terms of long range impact. The attitude of the new government toward all but native Anguillans of “Come here and go away” may not have a happy ending.

  11. Yes, it's not fair. It's how most Anguillians want it to be. We have a populist government. They reflect, as they should, the wishes of the electorate. I repeat, it's not fair. But that's how it is. And our leaders don't care what you think about it. Please note carefully: THEY DO NOT CARE.

    There are advantages to living in Anguilla. There are disadvantages. You can accept them or you can be angry and frustrated all the time. Either way, that's how it is. You can't change it. I can't change it.

    Those who care don't matter. Those who matter don't care.

  12. May 19 has hit the nail on the head and typified that the world is no longer flat. The investor, be they residential or business, has many choices from which to place their capital. It is a beauty contest and look alone are not enough. When you create penalties for investment, be they long or short term penalties, your competition seizes on this and markets around this and capitalizes from it.

    If you create a new fee/license (penalty) for Anguillian ferryboat operators and they cannot compete with SMX ferryboats, or worse driven out of business all together, what has been accomplished in the long term?

  13. Anonymous of May 19 said it very well, indeed and I would like to expound a bit on that. It is true that the crucial issue is not one of fairness; obviously the “fee for not renting’ is unfair. The real issue is one of wisdom or advisability; whether this will be in the best long range interests of the island’ economy. Is this a healthy move for real estate values and the establishment and maintenance of trust with foreign investors?
    I seriously doubt that the governmental leaders “don’t care.” I also seriously doubt that “most” Anguillans prefer or promote unfairness or any governmental behavior that is contrary to the development and maintenance of a sustainable economy. If I am wrong and it is true that the governmental leaders “don’t care” then this would certainly call into question whether the best interests of the electorate are being served. I do know that if one asks the shop owners, the grocers, the bankers, the home builders, the resort and restaurant owners, and the typical Anguillan; they certainly and obviously “do care.”
    For many years now, Anguilla has consciously and consistently chosen a path of economic development which focuses upon an influx of foreign dollars and investments ranging from the one week tourist through residential property owners to the developers of resorts and those investing in the financial sector.
    What comes along with this is an obligation for positive investor relations, and a respect for the centrality of real estate values via governmental priorities to protect, enhance and maintain such. Behaving otherwise is not in the best interest of the electorate and merely breeds mistrust and skepticism of a location in which decisions are made on a capricious, whimsical and prejudicial basis. This is not conducive to investor trust or the appeal of Anguilla to investors. The reputation of Anguilla pervades not only investment but also tourism as the most powerful advertising is “word of mouth.” One can either accept this reality, or be constantly angry and frustrated.

  14. The person's view of may 12th is very much what is being viewed be the outside world. Anguilla has become a place to visit but you don't want to invest there,is the widely held view. POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION my be rationalized by Anguillians but not by Investors. Why would any one knowingly invest in a country where the most basic of rules change with the wind. How's this for an advertisement for investors " COME INVEST IN ANGUILLA WHERE THE AGREEMENTS SIGNED BY ONE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT BE HONORED BE THE NEXT AND WHERE YOUR HOME TAXES CAN BE RAISED BY TWO OR THREE HUNDRED % PER YEAR. OH AND JUST ONE MORE THING MR INVESTOR IN ANGUILLA DON't EVEN THINK ABOUT BECOMING A BELONGER AFTER 15 YEARS OR GETTING YOUR PERMANENT RESIDENCE ON TIME AS YOUR PAPER WORK WILL BE CONVENIENTLY MISS PLACED FOR YEARS BASICLY MR INVESTOR WHAT WE REALLY WANT IS FOR YOU TO GIVE US YOUR MONEY AND GO BACK FROM WHERE EVER YOU CAME. P.S. BRING LOTS OF MONEY SPEND IT QUICK AND GET OFF OUR ISLAND .


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