Guide to Doing Business
in Saba

Immigration requirements

The immigration legislation of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (hereinafter jointly referred to as: the BES islands) is based on legislation of the former Netherlands Antilles. However, the former regulations have been amended and supplemented with additional stipulations and supporting legislation. In addition, it should be noted that especially regulations regarding immigration requirements change rapidly, both due to the fact that the immigration legislation on the BES islands is relatively new and complicated and as such the legislation brings novelty problems (i.e. experience is limited and, as a result, new issues surface on a case by case basis).

The most important regulations with regard to immigration on the BES islands are:

  • The Admission and Expulsion Act BES (Wet toelating en Uitzetting BES, hereinafter referred to as: WTU-BES); and
  • The Foreign Nationals Employment Act BES (Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen BES, hereinafter referred to as: WAV-BES).

In short, the WTU-BES provides for rules regarding admission to the BES islands, regulating immigration and the WAV-BES provides for rules regarding work permits, regulating employment. More about employment law in BES islands.

The WTU-BES is applicable to foreign nationals, i.e. all persons not possessing the Dutch nationality. Please note, however, that the WTU-BES is also applicable to Dutch citizens who are not born in the BES islands or have obtained Dutch citizenship outside the BES islands. The WTU-BES and underlying legislation does not apply to:

a) Dutch citizens who are born outside the BES islands in another part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and whose father and/or mother qualifies as a so-called ‘child of the island’ (eilandskind); and
b) Certain other specified categories of Dutch citizens, such as Dutch citizens who had their permanent residence on Bonaire, Saba or St. Eustatius during a continuous period of one year directly preceding 10 October 2010 and who were born on Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten or the European part of the Netherlands.

Admission to the BES islands may be based on (i) admission by right (toelating van rechtswege), (ii) a (temporary) residence permit, and (iii) stay as a tourist (‘short stay’). It should be noted that for certain nationalities a visa is required in order to be admitted to the BES islands for a short stay as a tourist. Furthermore, in case of a longer stay, foreign nationals originating from certain countries must first apply for a provisional residence permit (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf, hereinafter to be referred to as: MVV).