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

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)


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.”