View Full Version : How to open new bank account on Bonaire?

05-21-2016, 07:46 PM
Hi All,

we are purchasing a new apartment on Bonaire and wondering what we need to open a local bank account to pay our Bonaire bills online. We won't be applying for residency quite yet (still have some years to go before we hit retirement age!)

I don't suppose you can open a bank account from the USA online in Bonaire?


05-22-2016, 11:05 PM
When I did this, they wanted to see me in person.

05-29-2016, 05:39 PM
No, cannot online. They will want to see you in person, with your passport (if you don't have a sedula) and you will likely need a reference letter from your US bank. MCB wanted 2 bank reference letters several years ago when we opened our accounts and I had to get them to accept 1 because I only dealt with one bank ... they accepted a reference letter from a Bonaire business I did business with for several years in lieu of the second bank reference.

05-30-2016, 11:26 AM
Thanks for that help KOB and jezlock!

06-01-2016, 12:59 PM
Anthony, you can find a complete list of what you need to open a local bank account as a non-resident at http://www.bonairehelpdesk.com/?page_id=424. These requirements are the result of bank regulations, so they apply to all banks in Bonaire. In general, dealing with banks is more bureaucratic than in the States.
Doug Searle

06-02-2016, 10:16 AM
Thanks Doug!

06-02-2016, 10:21 PM
We just returned from Bonaire and opened an account during our trip. You will want to contact the bank well before you go and make an appointment. When we went into RBC they were booking over a month out. You also need to ensure your letter of reference is Attention to the bank. A "To whom it may concern" is not good enough. You will also need your passport for ID.We wanted to open an RBC account as we have an account with them in Canada bu were unable to do so during our 2 week stay. We ended up going with Banco di Carrib. They were very helpful and friendly and even accepted our "To whom it may concern" addressed letter under the condition we send them a proper one addressed to them when we returned home. The account was open the next day and we were able to make a deposit. Obtaining a debit card and online banking would take another 2 weeks. We opted just for online banking for the time being and they mailed us the security token to our address in Canada.

All in all we're very happy!

Andy Z
06-03-2016, 06:47 AM
We will need to open a bank account soon, so all this information is really helpful. Thanks :)
Are all the banks on Bonaire pretty similar in terms of services provided, interest rates etc? Or in other words - would you recommend any particular bank?

06-03-2016, 09:51 AM
We will need to open a bank account soon, so all this information is really helpful. Thanks :)
Are all the banks on Bonaire pretty similar in terms of services provided, interest rates etc? Or in other words - would you recommend any particular bank?

Andy, Banks are similar in the red tape required to do business with them, but they differ in interest rates and especially in fees. Most of the websites (listed on the Bonaire Help Desk page (http://www.bonairehelpdesk.com/?page_id=424)) will provide you with a list of fees. Personally, I have only done business with MCB, which I chose because my employer uses them and because they seem to have the most ATM locations. I have been satisfied with their service. Perhaps others can give you their experiences with other banks.

Andy Z
06-03-2016, 10:30 AM
Thanks :)
So far everyone I've been dealing with (notary, architect etc.) seems to have their accounts in MCB, hence why I was wondering if it's just a coincidence or is there a reason for it.

Andy Z
09-04-2016, 12:50 PM
I'm coming to Bonaire in 2 weeks time and I've been trying to book an appointment to open an account in MCB but no one replied to my emails. Does all staff in the bank speak English? I'm hoping that maybe I will have more luck arranging an appointment over the phone, but my Papiamentu and Dutch are pretty much non-existent other than few basic sentences and words.
I'll be on the island only for a week, so I guess chances of arranging an appointment once I'm there are pretty slim.

09-05-2016, 12:51 PM
Private message couldn't be sent

09-05-2016, 12:53 PM
Send me a private message and I will give you the email address of the person you need to contact. She responded the next day to me.

Andy Z
09-06-2016, 07:16 AM
I've just sent you a private message, but it's not showing in my Sent folder. Please let me know if you got it. Thanks :)

09-06-2016, 02:33 PM
Private messages sent but they don't show in my sent file.

09-06-2016, 03:19 PM
I just sent you a PM about an hour ago...if you sent me a PM i didn't get it either

Andy Z
09-06-2016, 03:22 PM
Got both PM's. Thank you! Much appreciated :)

09-06-2016, 03:30 PM
I sent it an hour ago....check again and if not, I will resend

09-06-2016, 03:43 PM
If you want a sent message to be saved you have to set it so in your Account Settings....



Andy Z
09-06-2016, 03:44 PM
Got it!
And thanks for the tip regarding saving sent messages :)

09-06-2016, 03:57 PM
Hi, I didn't get it..I just changed settings so please re-send & hopefully will go through this time. Thanks

09-06-2016, 03:58 PM
Thanks RoyMod

09-06-2016, 04:06 PM
I sent it to the h.....lf..e@gmail.com

09-06-2016, 04:11 PM
Got it..Thanks so much

09-10-2016, 06:10 PM
My wife and I plan on buying a home in Bonaire in the immediate near future. We will want to open a Bonaire entity to take title for various reasons and understand the extra expenses of forming a company, but we are looking for a local attorney to help with that. We will also need to open a bank account - like the origin of this thread, we've emailed the Bonaire banks without any replies. I noticed that RCB has a relationship with City National Bank back in the states and was planning to stop into their Manhattan branch tomorrow to see if they can help me get an appointment the first week of October. Any recommendations on a) a local attorney to help setup a company to buy the house and b) a recommendation for a local bank for a non-resident account ... would be greatly appreciated.

Andy Z
09-12-2016, 04:42 AM
http://www.bonairenotaris.com/ - we used their services to buy the land and will be using their services again to form a company.
Opening a bank account - we're currently gathering the documents to open an account in MCB during our visit to Bonaire next week. From what I gathered you have to book an appointment at least a couple of weeks in advance. You can find more information here: http://www.bonairehelpdesk.com/?page_id=424

09-13-2016, 07:54 PM
I formed a company a couple years ago ... easy enough process ... should cost around $1500 and take 60 days or so. One advantage here is that, for the most part, you pay no taxes until you take the money out of your company to your personal account.

Andy Z
09-14-2016, 05:59 AM
Does it mean that there is no corporate tax (or equivalent) on Bonaire? Just personal income tax?

09-14-2016, 05:07 PM
I have a "BV" company and it's my understanding from my accountant (and on my Bonaire tax returns) that I only pay personal income tax on the $$ I take out of my business account (and then only if above a certain level). The business pays no tax. For 2 years now, that has been the way I have been advised.

Having said that, if you form an "NV" company or have a sole proprietorship, you may have a different set of rules. Bruce Zavon is the guy to consult.

Andy Z
09-14-2016, 05:45 PM
Great, thank you!

09-16-2016, 11:51 AM
On Bonaire, BV's and NV's are virtually the same, and NV's only exist as "old" companies. All new companies are formed as BV's going forward. In simple terms, a BV on Bonaire is similar to an LLC in the US, and does provide you with some personal liability protections.

KOB is right if you form a BV here AND THE BV GETS PAID here for your work, you only pay taxes in the US when you take money out if the company (via payment OR loan).

Simple explanation:
- There are no profit taxes on Bonaire companies, and no taxes from the US on a Bonaire company.
- If you pay yourself a salary from a Bonaire company, you must pay local income taxes first (about 30%), and then additional income taxes might be due on that income in the US
- If your company has a profit and you pay yourself a "dividend" you pay a 5% dividend tax on Bonaire, PLUS personal income tax on the amount in the US. The additional tax you pay in the US depends in your tax rate in the US.
- If you take out a personal loan from your company it is treated as income for US tax purposes and subject to US income taxes.
- NOTE: If you are a director of your Bonairian company you DO NOT have to pay the premiums for health care insurance. You DO have to pay the health care premiums for any employees you have.
- If you own rental property on Bonaire, the rental income from your property is not taxable on Bonaire. HOWEVER, the NET income (after depreciation and expenses) is taxable in the USA as income.

NOTE: As a RESIDENT you pay taxes on Bonaire first, and most Bonaire taxes are usually tax deductible in the US. Then, if you Uncle Sam decides you didn't pay enough taxes on Bonaire you may have to pay additional taxes in the US. If you are a non-resident, in most cases you don't need to worry about the taxes on Bonaire.

I would also advise you to consult with Bruce Z if you are a US citizen before get residency on Bonaire or start a company to make sure you set things up correctly from the beginning.

12-09-2017, 05:13 PM
We started an American LLC to purchase rental property on Bonaire. I think it would be a good idea for the company to have a Bonairian bank account. Is there any major difference between the available banks? They all look like they have pretty much the same offerings.

12-09-2017, 05:21 PM
Vacation rentals or Long Term rentals?

03-23-2018, 12:40 PM
Info posted by me on this thread has gotten a little out of date. Bonairehelpdesk.com no longer posts a list of local banks on our website, but you can find such a list on the Info Bonaire website at https://www.infobonaire.com/banking/. Bonaire Help Desk does have an Info Sheet about the requirements for opening a bank account in Bonaire, which you can get here: https://indd.adobe.com/view/d7cc6393-4604-4310-9ca6-2d25b6621393.

03-30-2018, 02:25 PM
Thanks for updating this Doug and more so, thank you for your help in PM.