With its sheer natural beauty and well-balanced mix of local and cosmopolitan flavors, it is easy to see why St. Thomas is favored as a top destination not only for tourists, but for real estate investors looking for their own slice of Caribbean life.
To help you with your impending relocation, here are the most important things you need to know.
If you are a US citizen, once you become a bona fide USVI resident, you lose the right to vote for the president of the United State. On the contrary, USVI residents who become residents of mainland USA become eligible to vote. As a USVI resident, tax returns are filed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, known as the IRB, instead of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
For non-US citizens, standard US immigration laws and requirements apply in the USVI. Check the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for more information.
Cost of Living in the USVI
The USVI uses the US dollar as its currency. In fact, so do the British Virgin Islands, which makes excursions to the BVI, relatively easy. In general, the cost of living in the islands is substantially higher than on the mainland. Almost everything we purchase is imported. Electricity is also expensive. Real estate taxes, however, are relatively low.
Federal income taxes in the USVI are the same as they are on the mainland. If you have a qualifying business, you can avail your company of a tax beneficiary status with the Economic Development Commission (EDC). This gives both your business and dividends a tax exemption of up to 90 percent from the federal tax code.
Moving to the USVI
Packing up and moving your household and belongings to the USVI can be challenging. Here are a couple of tips to help you.
- For furniture and other large items: Hiring a moving company is your best bet. Find movers with agents in the USVI and get quotes. Instead of packing in boxes, use crates.
- Moving with pets: Pets traveling from the mainland don’t need to be quarantined in the USVI. All you need is to get health certificates from your vet 10 days before your move. Animals older than 12 weeks need to have their rabies shots administered six months before the travel date. (Double check with your vet to make sure these timelines haven’t changed!)
Import permits are required if you are bringing birds and other unusual/exotic animals. The whole application involves the Department of Agriculture and the Division of Fish and Wildlife, taking up to two weeks and a $25 application fee. Pet snakes are not allowed in the USVI for health and environmental concerns.
This is just a brief overview of relocating to the US Virgin Islands. Call me at (340) 690-9995 or send me an e-mail at barbara(at)seaglassproperties(dotted)com to learn more about moving to St. Thomas.