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bonairehomes
03-30-2015, 01:03 PM
Good News for American Passport Holders!

We have just received some exciting news from the Immigration Office concerning visitation and residency for American Passport Holders: The Immigration Office of the RCN has informed us that USA passport holders willnow be afforded the same visitation and residency right as Dutch passportholders who are NOT originally from the Antilles.

NOTE: This has been confirmed to me verbally by employees of the Immigration Office, but I have not yet seen written confirmation of these changes.

Visitors: American Passport holders will now be allowed to visit Bonaire for up to six months in any 12 month period. The old visitation rule limitingstays to 3 months out of six months no longer applies. PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR AIRLINE TO VERIFY THEY ARE AWARE OF THIS RECENT POLICY CHANGE.

Prospective Residents: American Passport holders will now be allowed to apply immediately for “resident” status “by rule of law” which will allow them to apply one time for a Bonaire Residency permit that will remain valid for five years. This new policyapplies to both “first-time” applicants for residency AND for those who are in the process of renewing their residency permits.

NOTE: These new rules have just been released and the Immigration Department is still in the process of implementing these new rules and posting the updated information on their website, so please be patient.

If you arean American Passport holder you can now start your application for a “five year”permit using this application form available on the website of the RCN:
http://www.rijksdienstcn.com/rijksdienstcn.com/up1/ZyahqpxIS_MBES08_EN_aanvraag_verklaring_rechtswege.pdf (http://www.rijksdienstcn.com/rijksdienstcn.com/up1/ZyahqpxIS_MBES08_EN_aanvraag_verklaring_rechtswege.pdf)

SevetS
03-30-2015, 04:43 PM
Thanks for this update, Bob. Very welcome news that the stay limit has been adjusted, subject to confirmation. Do you take this to mean that new applicants for residency with US passports no longer need to (re-)apply for residency every year for first 5-6 years as we understand the case to have been previously?

We had heard something similar from a restaurant owner last week. Had been hoping that the 6 month max per year would also be lifted, provided one left the country and re-entered after 3 or 6 months. Do you or your contacts at Immigration think there is any chance of that being changed, too?

bonairehomes
03-30-2015, 05:18 PM
Sevet -

As a US passport holder you apply for residency ONCE and if your application is approved you get a residency card (sedula) that's good for FIVE years. Under the current system, once you get your sedula for FIVE years, all you need to do when that sedula expires is to go to Bevolking and get a new sedula. You DO NOT need to submit another application EVER (assuming you don't get arrested or something like that). This is what the local expats call "permanent residency". I would expect it to be the same under the new system but I don't know.

I believe this change has been made as the result of a court case where it was argued that US passport holders in the Netherlands Antilles, and subsequently the BES islands are considered to be in "the Netherlands" for as are therefore covered by the provisions of the "Dutch-American Friendship Treaty" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAFT_(treaty), which provides for preferential treatment of US Citizens for some residency and business purposes.

Again, some of this is an educated guess on my part, and it is all subject to further verification.

SevetS
03-30-2015, 06:35 PM
Great info. Thanks again! For those having trouble with the original DAFT Wiki link, try this version: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAFT_(treaty)

kob
03-31-2015, 07:35 AM
I can confirm what Bob posted above ... was at IND yesterday for my first 1-year renewal and was told that I could apply for the 5-year residency immediately as a result of the new law. I did not (for lack of time before my current sedula expires), but got the forms and will do so next year !!

bontalkpcom
03-31-2015, 03:08 PM
Can anyone confirm what the "required documents" are? I am concerned about the ... "legalised certificate of good conduct, for the last 5 years, issued by the competent authority where you have lived for the last 5 years (not older than 3 months);" For anyone who presently has a temporary residency is it sufficient to get a certificate of good conduct at the Governors Office just like when renewing the temporary residency each year. I ask because of the timing to get the certificate of good conduct and having it not be older than 3 months when applying for certificate of admission by operation of law. Also if somehow it gets screwed up and you have to go back to the old rules the five year unbroken temporary residency might be violated.

kob
04-01-2015, 07:22 AM
I was told that the documents that I brought to IND for my 1-year renewal were sufficient for the new 5-year renewal ... in fact, she asked me on the spot if I wanted to do the 5-year renewal instead of the 1-year renewal. I declined only because I am going off island in mid-April and my current sedula expires at the end of April, so I did not want to take a chance on missing the end of April date. I will certainly do the 5-year renewal next year.

The documents were the good conduct letters from the Governor's Office, the documentation of residency from the Civil Office, copy of our deed to our home, copy of our passports & financial statement. Also bring your passport so they can put the new visa sticker in it.

Sunshine
04-01-2015, 05:21 PM
Is there still a requirement under the new process that you purchase a house, or is a lease sufficient? If US passport holders are to be treated as Dutch passport holders currently are treated, and can apply for immediate residency, are Dutch passport holders currently required to own a home on Bonaire or can they simply lease a home and apply for residency? Thank you, Bob, for posting this helpful info! Also, if you are still required to own a home, is there a minimum value? I see different amounts on different threads.

kob
04-01-2015, 07:21 PM
On the list of required documents in the new application, it lists "proof of accommodation in the public bodies". That would appear to confirm that a long-term lease (at least 1 year?) is acceptable and that you don;t need to own a home. I would confirm that with IND.

bonairehomes
04-02-2015, 10:57 AM
Sevet

As a visitor to Bonaire you are now able to stay up to 6 months out of any 12 month period. If you want to stay MORE than six months a year you will need to apply for residency. This will not change, and is the standard procedure in most countries throughout the world.

If you only stay six months a year, or less, you are considered a visitor/tourist who doesn't use the local infrastructure much and so you are usually not subject to local income taxes, etc.

If you stay six months and one day, or more, most countries consider you a "resident" and then you need to request resident status. Once you are granted resident status, the local government assumes you ARE using the local infrastructure and services, and as a result you are subject to local income taxes and so on.

In the case of Bonaire some of the benefits from being a resident are significant, such free health care, and lower property taxes, the downside is that you now have to pay local income taxes.

There's no "free lunch".

mpement
04-02-2015, 11:22 AM
Sevet

As a visitor to Bonaire you are now able to stay up to 6 months out of any 12 month period. If you want to stay MORE than six months a year you will need to apply for residency. This will not change, and is the standard procedure in most countries throughout the world.

If you only stay six months a year, or less, you are considered a visitor/tourist who doesn't use the local infrastructure much and so you are usually not subject to local income taxes, etc.

If you stay six months and one day, or more, most countries consider you a "resident" and then you need to request resident status. Once you are granted resident status, the local government assumes you ARE using the local infrastructure and services, and as a result you are subject to local income taxes and so on.

In the case of Bonaire some of the benefits from being a resident are significant, such free health care, and lower property taxes, the downside is that you now have to pay local income taxes.

There's no "free lunch".

This is true, but income from Pensions and Rents are excluded from taxation. As we are retired and live on our pension and investment income we have no "wages" to declare when we file our local Tax return and owe no tax here on the island.

SevetS
04-02-2015, 12:23 PM
Thank you both!

Bruce Z
04-10-2015, 11:46 AM
1st question, yes, one 5 year visa, no more annual renewals. Finally. Second question, nothing official but I doubt it. 6 months is kind of a standard international limit on staying non-resident for tax purposes. It's just one factor but a good indication of intent. Stay over 6 months and it looks like your permanent home. So being able to stay up to 6 months in a year is way better than 3, and makes having a vacation home here much more doable, but staying over 6 months looks like tax residency. Which may or may not be a bad thing from an income tax standpoint, depending on the type and amount and source of income you have. Being tax resident also means your home here is taxed at 0.345% of value (grondbelasting) vs. non-resident rate 1.15% (vastgoedbelasting.)

kob
04-10-2015, 06:27 PM
Being tax resident also means your home here is taxed at 0.345% of value (grondbelasting) vs. non-resident rate 1.15% (vastgoedbelasting.)

Thanks for the great info, Bruce. We bought our home in 2010 as non-residents and we became residents in mid-2014. Will the adjustment in tax rates happen automatically? Or will we need to go to the Belastingdienst and file some kind of form for the adjustment?

Bruce Z
04-11-2015, 10:34 AM
It's better to go to BCN and bring your sedula and tell them you are now full time residents. I don't know what other information they require but be sure when you get your bill that it says GB and not VGB. If VGB you'll need to go in a prove this is your permanent place of abode.

kob
04-12-2015, 04:54 PM
Thanks, Bruce ... I am sure the form from the registrar showing legal place of residence on Bonaire will help. After all, that's what's used when you renew your sedula. Stay tuned !!

bonairehomes
04-13-2015, 12:10 PM
Correction to Bruce's Property tax rates:

- The tax rate on your home if you are a resident is 0.345%. This is called "Grondbelasting" or GB for short. This tax is billed by the Island Government (Openbaar Licham of Bonaire), and they are two or three years behind with their billing.
Your proof of residency consists of your sedula, plus your proof of registration that you get from the Bevolking showing the property as your registered address.
- The tax rate on your home as of 2015 if you are a NOT resident is 0.84%. This is called "Vastgoedbelasting" or VGB for short. This tax is billed by the RCN (local branch of Dutch Government) and they have billed this tax for 2014. They have just started sending the 2015 bills.

The amount of your taxes is calculated by taking the "tax value" of your house less a standard deduction of $70,000 and multiplying that amount by the tax rate for either the GB or VGB, whichever applies.

kob
04-13-2015, 04:06 PM
Thanks, Bob

Dee
04-29-2015, 06:10 AM
Hello, I have a question. I already have my residency papers approved for this year and have been in the process for 5 years now so this is my last year, but havent been back to have my picture taken for my sedula. Will I be able to get my permanent residency when I get my picture taken?
Also curious if I can get my full residency now, will I have to have my good conduct letter from the police on bonaire? I am confused on the process now.

Thanks for any help on that matter.

kob
04-29-2015, 07:23 AM
Hi Dee ... I'm no expert, but you will probably not get your permanent residency when you get your photo taken for your sedula. The photo is taken & your sedula is made at the Civil Office (red building around the corner from Kooymans). The paperwork authorizing your residency is done at IND, so I would go to IND and ask them about the new process.

We were offered the new permanent residency when we were in the middle of renewing in early April. We were told that the paperwork we had (good conduct letter, residency documentation, etc.) for the 1-year renewal was sufficient for the permanent residency as well.

However, we opted for the 1-year this year because we were going off island in mid-April and would have had to do some new paperwork and make a new appointment. Didn't want to do that because our current sedulas would have expired before we could get another appointment. In any event, we'll do the new process at next renewal.

Good luck !!

Dee
04-29-2015, 11:22 AM
Thanks Kob, I thought so, this sedula is for 2015 ( I am late in picking it up) and it is actually my last year before I could file for "permanent". It figures with my luck I paid all that money for 4 years now!! hahahha but I am glad they changed the rules. It makes sense to go to IND, now that I think about it, I suppose they are still trying to figure out the process and how much to charge.

bontalkpcom
04-30-2015, 12:31 AM
I'm curious too about what the fee for this will be. My current residency doesn't expire until Jan 2016. I usually make my renewal appointment for late November.
I wonder if there is any advantage in applying for permanent before my temporary runs out? Would I need a new Good Conduct letter or would my present temporary residency be sufficient? Anyone who has actually done the new permanent residency care to share their experience?

kob
04-30-2015, 07:41 AM
You would likely need a new Good Conduct letter ... I believe that the requirement is that it needs to be dated within 90 days of your application. I was told by IND that all the current 1-year renewal documentation is sufficient for the new permanent one, but there is a different application MBES-08.

I had the same question about fees ... if you find out anything, please post.

Dee
04-30-2015, 04:16 PM
Thank you for the info Kob, I am thinking that I need to wait until my renewal January 2015 and get all the documents together for the very last time!! whooo hooooooooo. You are right about the good conduct letter - it has to be within 90 days of application.

bonairehomes
05-02-2015, 09:01 AM
Dee -

If your good conduct letter is less than six months old, you can reapply for the five year status RIGHT NOW using the docs you have. You may need to pay another fee, and fill out a different application form, but you can just resubmit your last documents as long as they are less than six months old. This is what I did in January.

I am pretty sure that the good conduct letter is good for six months not 90 days.

Good Luck!

Dee
05-02-2015, 02:29 PM
Wow, that is great information!! I need to look at my docs and we may have to make a quick trip if they are still good... I hate it when i need an excuse to go bonaire!! hahahaha

Bruce Z
05-28-2015, 09:31 AM
I checked with the tax office and the rate for Vastgoedbelasting (property tax for non-residents) is still 0.69% (0.6% plus 15% local surcharge) for 2014, same as 2011-2013, and will go to 0.805% (0.7% plus 15% local surcharge) for 2015 forward.


Correction to Bruce's Property tax rates:

- The tax rate on your home if you are a resident is 0.345%. This is called "Grondbelasting" or GB for short. This tax is billed by the Island Government (Openbaar Licham of Bonaire), and they are two or three years behind with their billing.
Your proof of residency consists of your sedula, plus your proof of registration that you get from the Bevolking showing the property as your registered address.
- The tax rate on your home as of 2015 if you are a NOT resident is 0.84%. This is called "Vastgoedbelasting" or VGB for short. This tax is billed by the RCN (local branch of Dutch Government) and they have billed this tax for 2014. They have just started sending the 2015 bills.

The amount of your taxes is calculated by taking the "tax value" of your house less a standard deduction of $70,000 and multiplying that amount by the tax rate for either the GB or VGB, whichever applies.

DSearle
06-26-2015, 10:58 AM
On the 5-year (operation of law) application, one of the required documents is "proof of accommodation in the public bodies." Is this requirement met by the letter from the Registration Office (uittreksel uit de basisadministratie), or is something else required?

bonairehomes
06-27-2015, 10:24 AM
D -

I think your "proof of accommodation" requires 2 documents, one is to show you have a place to live, and can be a lease (if you are renting) or deed of ownership (if you own) meet this requirement. You will also need the document from Bevolking showing your are registered on the island and the address on this document should match the address in either your lease or your deed. In English we normally call it your "proof of registration". The official Dutch name is "Uittreksel Basisadminstratie". Ain't Dutch a beautiful language?

Anyway, this document has your name, sedula number, date of birth, place of birth and current address on Bonaire. It serves as your proof that you are registered here and is proof of your current address on the island.

bontalkpcom
07-26-2015, 04:23 PM
I was at IND last week and they gave me MBES08_EN Dated January 2013. They told me the form had not been updated for the new rules. The documents they said we needed submit were 1. Filled in and signed application form. 2. Copy of a valid passport. 3. Legalised certificate of good conduct, for the last five years, issued by the competent authority where you have lived for the last five years (not older than 3 months) They said if you have been renewing your temporary residency you did not need to meet the five year requirement for letter of good conduct, just submit the yearly letter of good conduct same as renewing temporary residency. 4. Proof of accommodation in the public bodies. This could be either a deed or a lease. 5. Proof of sufficient financial resources. This could be a bank statement showing independent, sustainable and sufficient finances, or a recent tax statement showing a fixed taxable income of 20,112 USD i.e. social security or pension. We were told we did not need a the document from Bevolking showing your are registered on the island but you need this document to get your letter of good conduct so we will have it already. I don't think it would hurt to include it when you submit your paperwork to IND. The cost for filing the application is 140.00 USD (excluding the small fees for the supporting documents) and the filing is good for FIVE years.

FlaParrotHead
01-31-2017, 01:31 PM
As a US resident (retired) my wife are I are looking seriously to moving on island. We would purchase a home and be on island most of the year (maybe away 1-2 months for holidays, etc). Is there a good source of information FAQs, lists of common answered questions, etc that we can refer to rather than posting/reposting what has already been asked here - sometime searches are good, other times - they are doubtful. I know that many of these items can change from year-to-year with changes in local laws, governments, etc. We are certainly most interested in local health care, the ability to work (part time), and taxes that may be incurred against our US earnings, income, etc. I am sure those are only a few of the major areas. Thanks for pointers and ideas of where to get some of the basic/current information. B&B

Bruce Z
01-31-2017, 03:20 PM
Hi Parrothead!

I'm a US tax attorney living on Bonaire for over 7 years now and these are the issues I take care of for people in exactly your situation. While there are certain common issues, everyone's situation is unique, so I post certain general information on my website but it's better to look at your particular facts and address the issues that apply to you. PM or email me if you'd like to go over some basics. If it's OK with the moderators, this is my site: http://www.zavontax.com and the New Tax Developments section has some general info about Bonaire taxation of expats that I update from time to time.

bonairehomes
01-31-2017, 05:15 PM
Parrot Head:

Most FAQ's about moving to Bonaire, Residency and working here are all covered somewhere in the threads in this section "Moving to Bonaire"
- The residency process is still as covered in the "residency for US Pssprt holders thread"
- If you are a resident, you get to may have to pay taxes on Bonaire AND you will have to pay taxes in the US. For tax all other tax questions, see Bruce Zavon (below)
- If you are a resident, you can work here, you don't need a work permit or any other paperwork
- If you are a resident, you can start your own business here
- If you are a resident, your health care is free after your residency is approved AND you have your sedula AND you register with the health insurance office.