On Bonaire, if you want to go into business, you will need one or more permits or licences. Those permits are issued either by the Local Government (OLB) or the Central Government. Every entrepreneur must have a licence to establish a business (vestigingsvergunning) before the business may open its doors to the general public. Moreover, you might need several additional permits, depending on the operations listed in the Commercial Register. Common permits and licences are: the environmental permit (milieuvergunning), the licence to sell alcoholic beverages and operate a catering or hospitality establishment (Drank- en HORECAvergunning), the restaurant licence (restaurantvergunning) and the street trader’s licence (ventvergunning).

The licence to establish a business (vestigingsvergunning)

This licence is based on the Act pertaining to the establishment of businesses (Wet vestiging bedrijven BES) (for the current legislation, click here). Every company that does business on Bonaire must have a licence to establish a business. There are 3 requirements, in all, that you must comply with if you wish to qualify for a licence:

  1. You must have sufficient knowledge of the operations you are going to perform.
  2. You must have sufficient capital for the operations you are going to perform.
  3. Your operations may not conflict with public interest.

These rather subjective requirements are set by law but, in reality, they rarely lead to problems. The operations we mentioned are the activities listed in the Commercial Register.

More information about the exact steps and conditions needed for obtaining a licence to establish a business are available in this White Paper (link to white paper on Licence to establish a business). (will follow soon)

Other permits and licences

You may need, in addition to the licence to establish a business, more permits and licences before you can start a business. It depends on the activities you have recorded in the Commercial Register. Drop by the Chamber of Commerce’s Business Affairs Desk to find out exactly what you need to apply for. We would be only too happy to help!

Frequently asked questions about permits and licences

  • How do I know which permits or licences I need to apply for as a business?

    You have registered your business in the Commercial Register. One of the questions you were asked was: “Which activities will you actually perform?” It is an important question because the answer is an indicator of the permits or licences you do (or do not) need to apply for.

    At the Commercial Register, we often see business owners who want to do “everything” so they want to register 50 activities (varying from carpenter to gardener, from car rental company to restaurant/café proprietor). It is all permitted, but there is a downside: you see, you need to apply for licences for very many of those activities if you list them in the Commercial Register: it can be quite expensive and require lots of time and energy to arrange it all.

  • I am going to add an activity; must I apply for a licence for that too?

    That depends on which activity you are talking about. It is very likely that you won’t need an extra licence for giving advice about online marketing. But if you want to open a café or restaurant, you will need a licence to sell alcoholic beverages and to run a catering or hospitality establishment, so seek information from the Business Affairs Desk if you intend to add an activity.

  • I want the Business Affairs Desk to advise me on a permit; how do I get in touch?

    The Business Affairs Desk is a division of the Chamber of Commerce’s Business House (Ondernemershuis). You can visit them on Kaya Amsterdam #23. Moreover, you can always send an email and ask questions at: bedrijvenloket@kvkbonaire.com or ring us on line +599 7175595. Don’t hesitate to visit us; we would be very happy to help and answer your questions, give you specific information and help you fill in the forms if necessary.

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