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Business BVI Guides

Location

Government

AREA

CAPITAL

COORDINATES

TIME ZONE

57.08 mi2

Road Town

18*30’N 64*30’W

Atlantic Standard Time

The British Virgin Islands, a series of small islands and cays located a few miles east of the US Virgin Islands and about 95 km (59 miles) east of Puerto Rico. It is part of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. The North Atlantic Ocean lies to the east of the islands, and the Caribbean Sea lies to the west.

The BVI is a self-governing overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, with the Queen as the Head of State, represented locally by the Governor. The Governor is responsible for external affairs, defence and internal security, the Public Service and administration of the Courts. The ministerial system of government is led by an elected Premier, a Cabinet of Ministers and the House of Assembly. The Cabinet consists of the Premier, four other Ministers and Attorney General as an ex officio member. The Cabinet is responsible for formulating and implementing policy. The House of Assembly consists of 13 elected members, of which nine are tied to electoral districts and four “at large” seats.

Tortola, where the main airport and the capital Road Town are located is the largest island. Other main islands include Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke which can be accessed from Tortola by ferry, private boat and airplane (with the exception of Jost Van Dyke). There are two main ways to get to the British Virgin Islands. The first is to fly directly to The Terence B. Lettsome International Airport on Tortola (daily flights from Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands). The second is to fly to Cyril E. King airport in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands (with direct connections from the mainland United States) and then take the ferry to Tortola. There are other connections from North America and Europe via regional and local airlines out of St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbados.

Geography and Climate

TEMPERATURE (Average)

HIGHEST POINT

RAINFALL (Average annual)

28*C / 82*F

Mt. Sage (1,709 ft ASL)

43 in/1,105mm

The British Virgin Islands, comprising of around 60 islands with the exception of Anegada which is flat and composed of limestone and coral, most of the islands are volcanic in origin and have a hilly, rugged terrain. The highest point is Mount Sage at 521 metres (1,709 ft) above sea level located on Tortola.

Legal System

The BVI has an independent legal and judicial system, based on a combination of English Common Law and local statutes, orders and civil procedure rules. Lower level disputes and petty crimes are resolved in the Magistrates’ Court. More serious matters are dealt with in the Supreme Court (officially known as the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, of which the BVI is a member state). Appeals from the Supreme Court lie to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and the final appeal lies to the Privy Council. The British Virgin Islands hosts the Commercial Court of the East Caribbean Supreme Court which serves the expanding needs of commercial litigation in the Territory and the Eastern Caribbean. The commercial court hears commercial matters from nine Caribbean nations and territories, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent, St Lucia and the BVI. The court officially opened on 30th October, 2009 (although it was in operation since May 2009) and specialises exclusively in domestic and cross-border commercial and insolvency matters. The BVI is now a centre for the resolution of domestic and international disputes. The British Virgin Islands’ Arbitration Act 2013 came into force on October 1st, 2014, making provisions for a modern arbitration centre. The BVI International Arbitration Centre provides neutral, efficient and reliable dispute resolution services. The state of the art facilities offers a variety rooms for hearings and meetings, video and audio conferencing, interpretation and translation services and concierge services.

The Territory has a tropical climate, with year round trade winds and average temperatures of about 28°C. Rainfall averages about 1,105 mm (43 in) per year with the wettest months on average September to November and the driest months on average are February and March. The islands are in the hurricane belt, with the season running from June to November, usually peaking in August, September, and October.

Hurricane Irma

Society

POPULATION (2017)

EMPLOYED PERSONS (2016)

MINIMUM WAGE

31,196

21,182

$6 per hour

Population and Labour Force

On September 6th, 2017, the British Virgin Islands was hit by the strongest hurricane to date in the Atlantic region. The Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour and gusts of up to 255 miles per hour caused catastrophic damage to the islands. The Territory’s infrastructure was severely damaged, therefore in the immediate aftermath, electricity, water, and communication services were were severely hindered. The hurricanes caused varying levels of damage to most of the educational and health facilities, post offices, and fire and police stations. the financial services sector was in a position to continue operations almost immediately from outside the Territory. However, the tourism sector did not fare as well. Major destruction was recoded for hotels, villas, restaurants, and yachting inventory. In the two years post-disaster, significant progress has been made in rebuilding the Territory. The Government is in the process of implementing its Recovery to Development Plan which has included major repairs to the road, telecommunications and electricity networks, social services infrastructure such as schools, health facilities, and emergency shelters. Government services have been restored, businesses have rebuilt, and major hotels are reopening.

The population of the British Virgin Islands is estimated at over 30,000 residents. The majority of persons are of Afro-Caribbean decent. Minority ethnicities include Caucasians, East Indians, Middle Eastern, and Asian. The major force driving population growth has been immigration mainly to meet the shortage in local labour supply. Approximately 68 percent of the employed are foreigners thus accounting for a diverse and varied labour force. The Government sector is the major employer followed by the tourism industry, the financial services sector and the construction sector. There has been an increased demand for labour in the construction sector as the country rebuilds post hurricane Irma. Labour relations in the BVI are governed by the Labour Code, 2010. This comprehensive piece of legislation provides for the framework for the settlement of disputes, health and welfare in the work place, basic conditions of employment including pay, overtime, vacation and sick leave, benefits including the requirement retirement benefits. It also sets out the requirements for foreigner employment under the work permit regime. Social Security is a compulsory insurance plan to which employers, employees, selfemployed and voluntary contributors contribute. Benefits are paid out when certain contingencies arise including: sickness; maternity; and employment injury. An age benefit is paid out from 65 once the minimum contributions have been made (10 years). Trade unions are virtually non-existent and work days lost through industrial action are very infrequent. The government has set a minimum wage of $6 per hour.

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Profile for Business BVI

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

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