Barbados - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution and Sales Channels
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Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) is located about a 30-minutes drive from the capital city of Bridgetown.  BGI handles commercial passenger and freight aircraft and serves as a subregional hub.  Direct flights from North America, Europe, and Latin America facilitate tourist and business travel to other islands of the Eastern Caribbean.  Barbados facilitates express cargo services from FedEX, UPS, and DHL.  Barbados is 3½ hours away from Miami, Florida, 4 ½ hours from Atlanta, Georgia, and 5 hours from New York and Boston by air.  The Bridgetown Deep Water Harbor handles daily bulk exports, ocean-going freighters, and containerized cargo vessels, as well as the largest cruise liners that operate in the region.  Wholesalers are the major importers, although some retailers import products directly from manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers in the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Usually, retailers only import goods with a high turnover rate directly from the United States.  Distribution agreements are common because manufacturers often grant countrywide or regional exclusive distribution agreements.

Using an Agent to Sell U.S. Products and Services

Although the use of an agent or distributor is not required, it is highly recommended.  A strong local representative can place product and generate sales that otherwise may not materialize.

The Department of Commerce, through its U.S. Commercial Service Caribbean Regional Office in the Dominican Republic, can help U.S. exporters find agents and distributors through the following fee-based services:

  • International Partner Search (IPS): This service helps U.S. companies find local partners and licensees abroad.  The IPS provides a report on up to five qualified overseas agents, distributors, manufacturer’s representatives, joint venture partners, licensees, franchisees, or strategic partners who have examined a U.S. company’s materials and have expressed an interest in the company’s products, services, or licenses, or have expressed an interest in otherwise partnering with the company. 
  • International Company Profile (ICP):  This service consists of a background report on a prospective international buyer or partner.  The ICP includes information on the company’s management, operating history, and an assessment of the competitiveness of your product or service and the strength of the industry in your target market.
  • Gold Key Service (GKS):  This service consists of a survey of potential representatives or customers based on the client’s requirements, as well as four to six pre-arranged appointments per day with these prospects.  It also includes a welcome kit, hotel reservations (at preferential rates), escort to appointments by the Economic Officer or Commercial Specialist, a car with driver, and complimentary office space (if requested).

Please contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center, the U.S. Commercial Service Caribbean Regional Office in the Dominican Republic (Tel: 809-567-7775 ext. 7249, E-mail: ), or the Political/Economic/Commercial Section in the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados: (Tel: 246-227-4052, Email: for further information on these services.

Establishing an Office

The Barbados Companies Act allows the formation of several types of companies.  Under this act, a foreign company may register locally and receive a certificate of incorporation.  This is sometimes a prerequisite for eligibility for some government tenders.

Companies must first register with the Corporate Affairs and Intelletual Property Office (CAIPO).  To register an international business company (IBC), the cost of filing the application with CAIPO is $375 ($750 Barbados dollars) and $15 ($30 dollars) to reserve the name of the company prior to incorporation.  An IBC is required to obtain a license from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in order to operate.  This is a fairly routine procedure and costs about $125 ($250 Barbados dollars).  The cost of share certificates, a company seal, and other secretarial documentation required to commence operations usually does not exceed an additional $125 ($250 Barbados dollars). 

By law, a locally registered attorney will be required to draft and file Articles of Incorporation.  Attorneys’ fees are usually quoted at about $1,500 to $2,800 ($3,000 to $5,600 Barbados dollars) depending on the legal structure of the company and are negotiable. 

The Articles of Incorporation must conform to the Companies Act.  Among the requirements is that the corporation’s principal officer must be at least 18 years old, be of sound mind, and must not have been declared bankrupt.  Any number of shares may be issued.  Shares must be fully subscribed and paid for before they are issued. 

The CAIPO publishes an official notice of the formation of the company in the Official Gazette.

A full listing of company types and the fee schedule are available from Invest Barbados and the CAIPO.


The government of Barbados is open to investment by franchises.  There has been some noticeable improvement in the franchise environment on the island.  Franchises such as Burger King, KFC, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Payless Shoe Source, Starbucks, and Subway acquired licenses and are currently open for business.  Some opportunities also exist for franchises in travel and tourism, beauty and health, entertainment, education, management and human resources services, and other non-food franchises.  The Barbados Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment evaluates the potential competitive impact on non-franchised local businesses and must approve all franchises.  Franchise holders pay an initial registration fee of $5,000 ($10,000 Barbados dollars) and annual renewal fees of $1,000 ($2,000 Barbados dollars).  All franchises must be registered with the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment in order to operate legally and repatriate profits and capital.  Process franchises, such as those used in manufacturing or design, must also be registered so that royalties can be remitted abroad.

Direct Marketing

The use of direct marketing has been increasing in Barbados.  Some local stores publish catalogs and local banks utilize direct mail to advertise promotional offers to existing customers.  Electronic marketing has become prominent in advertising goods and services in the country.  Many businesses use social media, text messaging, email marketing, and online advertising to target potential customers and clients.  The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) can be helpful in arranging this type of activity.  There is also a cadre of advertising, marketing and public relations companies and professionals that offer these services.

There is considerable joint venture and licensing activity in Barbados and it is welcomed.  From time to time, the government also pursues public-private partnerships in certain key sectors.  The BIDC and Invest Barbados can assist with more information on this type of activity.

Express Delivery

Barbados facilitates express cargo services from FedEX, UPS, and DHL.  Other air cargo services are also available

Due Diligence

Some companies have experienced problems collecting on accounts in a timely fashion.  It is important that any prospective exporter thoroughly investigate the prospective local agent or importer.

The U.S. Commercial Service can assist by providing an International Company Profile (ICP) on the prospective local agent or importer.  The ICP is a commercial and financial report on the local company’s background.  Exporters should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center for more information.