Guide to Doing Business
in Bonaire


Under the BES Business Establishment Act (Vestigingswet BES), any person or legal entity that intends to do business on the BES-islands, requires a business license, which should be applied for at the Executive Council (bestuurscollege).

The applicant needs to fill out a form with standard data (e.g. personal details, type of business, the education he has received, investment need and financial means at disposal). The Chamber of Commerce and Industry checks if the application is complete and gives the applicant the opportunity to complete it if it is not yet completed. Then, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is heard about the application. If the Executive Council is of the opinion that there is no objection to grant a business license, then the license can be issued.

Do note that there is a maximum processing time of eight weeks after the application for a business license has been submitted and such application complies with all the requirements set; if this period expires, the permit is granted to the applicant automatically by law. The Executive Council shall, within two weeks after issuing, publish a list with businesses to whom a business permit has been issued by law. After that, the Executive Council, if necessary, still has eight weeks’ time to attach conditions to the business license. However, the entrepreneur may already start with his business during this time.

If, according to the Executive Council, there is an objection against issuing the business license and that objection is based on the fact that the entrepreneur evidently does not have sufficient skills or evidently has insufficient resources, the Executive Council can, upon motivation, deny a business license within eight weeks of submission. In such case it is essential that the Executive Council observes the decision period, because otherwise the license will be granted automatically by law anyway. The Executive Council can refuse the issuance of a business license to protect the public interests, but the Minister of Economic Affairs must have agreed to such refusal.

All moratoria in business licenses that existed based on the former Netherlands Antillean regulations regarding establishment of certain enterprises, have expired (there may still remain some moratoria based on other local ordinances, such as a moratorium on dive centers, following the Island Decision on Underwater park Bonaire).

For some businesses, further regulation exists and permits are required (e.g. financial sector, trust sector, hospitality, broadcasting, telecom).