Guide to Doing Business
in St. Maarten

Foreign nationals

Contrary to Dutch citizens, foreign nationals require a (temporary) residence (and work) permit in order to legally reside (and work) in St. Maarten. Under the regime of the LTU, having sufficient means of support, e.g. holding a job with a certain minimum income, is a prerequisite for receiving a residence permit. For reasons, which concern the public order or the public interest, economic reasons included, as on the grounds of the applicant’s lack of sufficient means of existence, a (temporary) residence permit may be rejected.

Residence permit

The applicant of a residence/work permit must remain outside St. Maarten pending the application procedure. Otherwise the application may be rejected.

When eligible for a (temporary) residence permit, a security deposit (waarborgsom) needs to be paid by the applicant, which varies depending on the country of origin. The security deposit is returned to the foreign national upon final departure from St. Maarten.

The application process of a residence permit has to be handled within a reasonable term. In order to comply therewith, the authorities are under the obligation to decide within four months.

In the case of relocation outside St. Maarten and/or obtaining residence outside St. Maarten for more than a year due to circumstances that are within the foreign national’s control, a (temporary) residence is terminated. As then, a re-entry permit would be required.

Work permit

The National Ordinance on Labor by Foreigners (Landsverordening Arbeid Vreemdelingen, LAV) provides for rules with regard to the granting of permits for the employment of foreigners. A (temporary) work permit may be denied for reasons concerning protection of the local labor market.

A work permit is granted for a definite period, and can also be linked to the duration of a project. In principle, all (local and foreign) employers who wish to employ a foreign national in St. Maarten must apply  for a work permit. This does not apply to the following:

  • Persons having a residence permit for an indefinite period;
  • Person married with a Dutch citizen;
  • Person who have been residing in St. Maarten at least five successive years prior to reaching majority and based on a residence permit for residence with parents/guardian for;
  • Dutch citizens who are not born in St. Maarten.

According to the LAV an application for a (temporary) work permit must be decided upon within a period of six weeks. If the authoritative body fails to do so, an administrative procedure can be followed to object this indecision.