Marketing U.S. Products and Services - Bahamas Business Guide

Bahamian government policy prohibits foreign investors from opening retail and wholesale outlets, commission agencies engaged in the import export trade; real estate and domestic property management agencies; domestic newspaper and magazine publication; domestic advertising and public relations firms; nightclubs and restaurants, except specialty, gourmet and ethnic restaurants; restaurants operating in a hotel, resort complex or tourist attraction; security services; domestic distribution of building supplies; construction companies, except for special structures for which international expertise is required; personal cosmetic beauty supplies; shallow water scale-fish, crustacean, mollusks and sponge-fishing operations; appliance service operations; and public transportation. However, a wide variety of distributorship, joint venture, and franchise opportunities involving Bahamian partners are available.


There are a number of American franchises in The Bahamas. Most franchises are successful because they appeal to both the local community and the three million plus tourists who visit The Bahamas. Although Bahamian government policy prohibits American foreign retail chains from opening outlets in The Bahamas, various distributorship and franchise arrangements are possible.


Goods intended for sale to the general public are normally purchased by local wholesalers, several of whom specialize in particular lines. The usual business practice is for the wholesalers to make purchases directly from their counterparts in Florida, which is why such a large proportion of third-country products are imported into The Bahamas through the United States. Most wholesalers and some retailers, however, are willing to make direct purchase arrangements. In some cases, Bahamian retail outlets or wholesalers will enter exclusive distributorship arrangements with foreign firms.


International investors are encouraged to establish joint ventures with Bahamian partners. The Bahamian partner must have the majority ownership. The choice of a Bahamian partner is left to the discretion of the investor. Joint ventures between international investors and Bahamians are eligible to access funding from The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB). However, the equity of the overseas investor may not be borrowed from the BDB or from the domestic capital market. Bahamians may, however, borrow a percentage of their contribution from BDB or the domestic capital market. An established joint-venture is not debarred from accessing BDB funds.


Companies seeking to establish a representative office in The Bahamas must first obtain a business license. Licenses are issued following application to and approval by The Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) in the office of the Prime Minister. The BIA can be contacted at:

Bahamas Investment Authority Office of The Prime Minister P.O. Box CB-10980 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242) 327-5970 Fax:(242) 327-5907


Advertising for any legal item or service, whether sold in The Bahamas or in the United States, can be purchased freely in any local newspaper or publication. Leading local publications include:

Bahamas 'The Nassau GuardianBahamas ' (circ. 15,000, morning daily) P.O. Box N-3011 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242) 323-5655, (242) 3232-6492, or (242) 323-5656.

Bahamas 'The TribuneBahamas ' (circ. 15,000, afternoon daily) P.O. Box N-3207 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242) 322-1986 Advertising Manager Tel:(242) 322-2768 Fax:(242) 328-2398.

Bahamas 'The Freeport News-Bahamas ' (circ. 5,000, morning daily) P.O. Box F-40007 Freeport, Bahamas Tel:(242) 352-8321 Bahamas 'The PunchBahamas ' (circ. 25,000, weekly tabloid) P.O. Box N-4081 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242) 322-7112 Fax:(242) 323-5268

Bahamas 'The Bahama Journal Bahamas ' (circ. 5,000, weekly) P.O. Box N-8610 Nassau, Bahamas Tel: (242) 325-3082

Radio and television advertising can also be purchased on local radio and television stations. The sole television broadcaster is the state-owned ZNS (channel 13). This station, and its Nassau radio stations ZNS-1, ZNS-2, and ZNS-FM, can be contacted at:

Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas P.O. Box N-1347 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242) 322-4623 or (242) 322-4480 Advertising Sales Director:(242) 322-8962

There are three independent FM radio stations in Nassau: 100-Jamz (operated by Bahamas 'The Tribune-Bahamas '); Love-97 (operated by Bahamas 'The Bahama Journal-Bahamas '); and 94-More FM. 100-Jamz P.O. Box N-3207 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242) 328-4771 Fax:(242) 356-5343 Love-97 FM

P.O. Box N 3909 Nassau, Bahamas Tel: (242) 356-4960 Fax: (242) 356-7256

94-More FM P. O. Box N-7030 Nassau, Bahamas Tel: (242) 361-2447 Fax: (242) 341-2448


Businesses intending to market goods or services to The Bahamas government or businesses seeking to enter the Bahamian commercial market are advised to seek the advice of the American Embassy in Nassau at an early stage. The Government has a fair and open procurement process for purchasing supplies, equipment and services. The Embassy's Commercial Office offers a number of services tailored to specific businesses seeking local distributors, including the Commerce Department's "Goldkey Service," for modest fees. Visitors can also speak, by appointment, with a trade specialist in the Commercial Office, located in the Embassy in downtown Nassau on Queen Street. The office can be contacted at:

Economic-Commercial Section American Embassy Nassau American Embassy Nassau P.O. Box 9009 or P.O. Box N-8197 Miami, FL 33159 Nassau, Bahamas Nassau telephone:(242) 322-1181 or 323-7180 and fax:(242) 328-3495


As in the U.S., most business transactions may be carried out without an attorney. Persons wishing to consult or retain local counsel, however, are advised to contact the Commercial Office for a copy of the office's "Attorneys List."



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