Methods of Payment
Generally, Bahamian companies provide payments in advance for goods and services. Cash in advance, check, and wire transfer are typical, and international credit cards are common. Most goods are delivered free on board to freight forwarders in Florida and companies will assume responsibility for costs incurred locally. Letters of credit are a common method of payment for established businesses.
Some local companies also maintain accounts in the United States or U.S. dollar-denominated accounts in local banks for settling transactions. Central Bank policies allow local businesses to hold up to $100,000 on local U.S. accounts without Central Bank approval. Approval is required for accounts that retain more than $100,000 in any foreign currency.
For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide available at https://www.trade.gov/trade-finance-guide-quick-reference-us-exporters.
The financial sector of The Bahamas is highly developed and consists of savings banks, trust companies, offshore banks, insurance companies, a development bank, a publicly controlled pension fund, a housing corporation, a public savings bank, private pension funds, cooperative societies, credit unions, commercial banks, and the majority state-owned Bank of The Bahamas. These institutions provide a wide array of services via several types of financial intermediaries. The Central Bank of The Bahamas, the Securities Commission, Insurance Commission, the Inspector of Financial and Corporate Service Providers, and the Compliance Commission regulate the financial sector.
The Central Bank regulates all dealing in, gold, foreign currency, foreign exchange, and securities in order to support the value of the Bahamian dollar, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar.
Non-Bahamians who are gainfully employed in The Bahamas for a year or more are regarded as “temporary residents.” Such individuals are eligible for certain exceptions that permit them to retain foreign currency accounts, as well as existing non-Bahamian assets, and to remit and repatriate assets on leaving The Bahamas. For further information, see the Central Bank of The Bahamas website.
Foreign Exchange Controls
The Bahamas maintains a fixed exchange rate policy, which pegs the Bahamian dollar one-to-one with the U.S. dollar. The controls ensure adequate foreign exchange to support the fixed rate parity. For the tourism-dependent economy, the peg removes issues of rate conversions and allows for unified pricing of goods and services for tourists and residents. To maintain this structure, individuals and corporations residing in The Bahamas are subject to capital or exchange controls.
Exchange controls are not an impediment to foreign investment in the country. The government requires all non-resident investors to register with the Central Bank. It allows non-resident investors to finance their projects via foreign currency transfers and to convert and repatriate profits and capital gains freely. They do this with minimal bureaucratic formalities and without limitations on the inflows or outflows of funds.
Foreign exchange controls prohibit international banks from investing in domestic securities, and they generally are not permitted to hold Bahamian dollar balances except for the purpose of facilitating the payment of local expenses. Foreign investors seeking to open a non-Bahamian currency-designated account in one of the commercial banks in the country must first register and receive approval from the Central Bank of The Bahamas.
U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks
Citibank is the only U.S.-owned commercial bank operating in The Bahamas, but there are longstanding relationships between many of the resident Canadian and U.S. financial institutions and their subsidiaries. Royal Bank of Canada, First Caribbean, and Scotia Bank are the leading commercial banking institutions in The Bahamas. All major banks have strong correspondent banking relationships and maintain access to the U.S banking system.
The Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank) supports U.S. exports through export credit insurance, guarantees, and loans.