Second citizenship

Banks in the Caribbean

It’s important to choose a reliable bank to buy property, make a contribution to a fund or open a business account in the Caribbean. But it is difficult to assess the banking system in isolation from the investment climate in the region.

In the article, we will talk about the top banks in the eastern part of the Caribbean coast and financial institutions that regulate and support the economy of the region.

Banks in the Caribbean

Caribbean banking system

The Caribbean region covers 35 islands and continents. There are 11 countries in the eastern Caribbean Sea: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

In 1983, these countries united to form the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). As in the Schengen area, there is freedom of movement and goods between the participating countries.

Caribbean countries on the map
Marked in red — countries that enjoy full membership. Marked in blue — associate members but are treated as full members for many of the Organization's activities

In 2001, the OECS created the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. It is one of four currency unions in the world along with the European, West African and Central African ones.

By the end of 2021, 8 countries signed an agreement on participation in the Union: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Unionization gives an advantage to small Caribbean states with similar economies. There is a general system of mutual assistance and redistribution of resources. Such an approach helps the countries to survive economic crises with minimal losses. The countries of the Union act from a unified position at the international level.

The financial system of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union consists of national and international banks, credit insurance companies and national development funds.

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank regulates all financial activities in the territory of the Union, that is, it acts as a regulator for the countries of the Union. Its main goal is to ensure the stability of the common currency, the East Caribbean dollar.

EC$
the Eastern Caribbean dollar symbol

The gove ing body of the Central Bank is the Board of Directors, which forms the Monetary Council. On the recommendations of the Monetary Council, the issue of the Eastern Caribbean dollar is carried out. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank controls the maintenance and accumulation of international foreign exchange reserves.

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank

Basseterre is the capital of St Kitts and Nevis. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank headquarters is located in the city

The Eastern Caribbean dollar

The single currency has been operating in the Caribbean since 1965, when the first association of the Eastern Caribbean states appeared

Using a common currency is an economically viable strategy for small states. This allows the countries of the Union to achieve low inflation rates of about 2%. Close economic ties with the USA ensure the development of the financial sector of the member countries of the Union.

All commercial banks of the member countries of the Union are licensed by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. They provide monthly, quarterly and annual reports on their financial condition.

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank annually awards the Union commercial banks which have shown the most stable financial performance.

Licensed Caribbean Banks list

Member country of the UnionLicensed banks
Anguilla1. National Commercial Bank of Anguilla Ltd
2. Scotiabank Anguilla Ltd
Antigua and barbuda1. ABI Bank Ltd
2. Antigua Commercial Bank
3. Bank of Nova Scotia
4. Caribbean Union Bank Ltd
5. Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank
6. CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd
7. RBTT Bank Caribbean Ltd8. Royal Bank of Canada
Dominica1. Bank of Nova Scotia
2. FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd
3. National Commercial Bank of Dominica
4. Royal Bank of Canada
Grenada1. Bank of Nova Scotia
2. FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd
3. Grenada Co-operative Bank Ltd
4. Republic Bank (Grenada) Limited
5. RBTT Bank of Grenada Ltd
Montserrat1. Bank of Montserrat Ltd
2. Royal Bank of Canada
Saint Kitts and Nevis1. Bank of Nevis Ltd
2. Bank of Nova Scotia
3. FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd
4. RBTT Bank (SKN) Ltd
5. RBTT Bank Caribbean Ltd
6. Royal Bank of Canada
7. St Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank
Saint Lucia1. 1st National Bank Saint Lucia Limited
2. Bank of Nova Scotia
3. Bank of St Lucia Ltd
4. FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd
5. RBTT Bank Caribbean Ltd
6. Royal Bank of Canada
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1. Bank of Nova Scotia
2. FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd
3. Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ltd
4. RBTT Bank Caribbean Ltd

The World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bаnk do not provide services to individuals and legal entities. Their goal is economic support and the formation of a financial policy for the Caribbean region.

Since 1947, the World Bank has financed more than 12,000 development projects through interest-bearing and non-interest-bearing loans and grants.

US$2.6 billion
the World Bank financial support for Caribbean countries in 2021

To fight the pandemic in the Caribbean, the World Bank finances the purchase of testing and treatment supplies. It also provides technical support for organizing online training during the quarantine period. The unemployed get financial support from the bank.

Hurricanes, severe storms and volcanic eruptions regularly damage the economy of the islands. The eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2021 required a mass evacuation of the population. The World Bank finances disaster relief.

The goal of the Caribbean Development Bank is to reduce social inequalities and poverty rates in borrowing countries by 2025. The bank takes part in projects related to the development of agricultural enterprises, the improvement of education and the support of small and micro-businesses.

Current projects focus on disaster prevention and pandemic recovery. For example, the University of the West Indies received $6 million from the Caribbean Development Bank to introduce online education technologies. This will allow the university to attract more students and ensure the continuity of education regardless of the restrictions due to the pandemic.

How to choose a top bank for opening an account in the Caribbean

Investors become clients of commercial banks in the Caribbean to keep savings in world currency, buy real estate and reduce losses on foreign exchange transactions.

Check license. When choosing a bank, we recommend that you clarify if there is the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank license.

Read customer reviews. The reputation of a bank can be checked by customer reviews. For example, clients of the Hamilton Reserve Bank in St. Kitts and Nevis respond positively to the quality of service and privacy. The bank is popular with investors who participate in the citizenship program.

Check membership in the Association. Membership in the Caribbean Association of Banks provides additional benefits. The organization was founded in 1974 by the heads of governments of the Caribbean countries. The main goal of the Association is to provide quality banking services in the region by local banks.

The Association lobbies the interests of member banks in making changes to the laws on the financial activities in the region. Members of the Association exchange information on new banking technologies.

How to open a bank account in the Caribbean

Citizens, residents and foreigners can use the services of Caribbean banks. Opening an account by a non-resident will take longer. In addition, not all banks work with foreigners.

Online submission of documents is available for everyone. But a foreigner needs to provide more documents to get an application approval. For example, to open a bank account in Antigua and Barbuda, you need to attach two letters of recommendation from another bank or from a highly qualified specialist such as a lawyer or a doctor.

Account opening period and service cost for individuals in US dollars

CountryAccount opening periodService costMinimum sum to activate an account
Antigua and Barbuda2+ weeks$7+ per month$400+
Grenada2+ weeks$3+ per month$200+
St Kitts and Nevis2+ weeksFree of charge$200+
St Lucia2+ weeksFree of charge$100+
Dominica10+ days$4+ per month$100+

Account opening period and service cost for legal entities in US dollars

CountryAccount opening periodService costMinimum sum to activate an account
Antigua and Barbuda2+ weeks$10+ per month$400+
Grenada2+ weeks$3+ per month$200+
St Kitts and Nevis2+ weeksFree of charge$200+
St Lucia2+ weeks$5+ per month$100+
Dominica10+ days$4+ per month$200+

By default, a current account is opened in the main currency of the Caribbean region — the Eastern Caribbean dollar, EC$. Currency accounts are available in US dollars, euros, British pounds sterling, Canadian dollars, Australian dollars, Singapore dollars, Hong Kong dollars, Swiss francs, UAE dirhams and Japanese yen.

The national currency is pegged to the US dollar. 1 Eastern Caribbean dollar is always equal to 37 US cents.

Caribbean banks list in Antigua and Barbuda: how to open an account

All banks in Antigua and Barbuda provide services to foreigners, but require additional documents, e.g. letters of recommendation from other banks.

Banks in Antigua and Barbuda which are members of the Caribbean Association of Banks

  1. Antigua Commercial Bank 
  2. Caribbean Union Bank Ltd.
  3. Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank Ltd.
  4. Global Bank of Commerce Ltd.

Learn which documents individuals and legal entities provide and how much the banking services cost from our article on “How to open a bank account in Antigua and Barbuda”.

Caribbean banks list in Grenada: how to open an account

There are 18 banks in the country, two of which are members of the Association. Canadian and American banks also opened branches in the country: these are the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Sterling International Bank and Trust Corporation. Both international offices are licensed by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. We talk about the country's banks in the article “3 of the best banks in Grenada for investors”.

Banks in Grenada which are members of the Caribbean Association of Banks

  1. Grenada Co-operative Bank Ltd.
  2. Republic Bank (Grenada) Ltd.

Banking services in Grenada are available to clients from other countries. If you send documents by mail, they must be translated into English, apostilled and notarized. We talk about the list of documents and tariffs for services in the article “How to open a bank account in Grenada”.

Caribbean banks list in St Kitts and Nevis: how to open an account

The Hamelton Reserve Bank is popular among investors. It is not a member of the Association but has established itself as a reliable partner in the implementation of the Caribbean citizenship by investment program. We talk about other banks in the article “5 best banks in St Kitts and Nevis for investors”.

Banks in St Kitts and Nevis which are members of the Caribbean Association of Banks

  1. St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Ltd.
  2. The Bank of Nevis Ltd.
  3. Caribbean Credit Card Corporation Ltd.

All banks on the islands provide online banking services free of charge. The cost of other account transactions in all banks of St Kitts and Nevis can be found in our article “How to open a bank account in St Kitts and Nevis”.

Caribbean banks list in Saint Lucia: how to open an account

Saint Lucia is a record-breaking country in terms of the number of banks that are members of the Association. We tell more about each bank in the article “10 best banks in Saint Lucia for investors”.

A popular service of Saint Lucia banks is the maintenance of salary projects for legal entities. This service is also available to foreign companies.

Banks in St Lucia which are members of the Caribbean Association of Banks

  1. 1st National Bank St. Lucia Ltd. 
  2. Berkeley Bank & Trust Ltd. 
  3. Capita Financial Services Inc.
  4. East Caribbean Financial Holding Company Ltd. / Bank of Saint Lucia
  5. Euro Exim Bank Ltd.
  6. Financial Investment and Consultancy Services Ltd.
  7. Hermes Bank Ltd.
  8. Proven Investments Limited 
  9. Republic Bank (E.C.) Limited
  10. Sagicor Finance Inc.

To open a bank account in Saint Lucia, an applicant passes Customer Due Diligence. The applicant confirms the legality of income, the absence of a criminal record and debts to other banks. Learn more about fees and documents in the article “How to open a bank account in Saint Lucia”.

Caribbean banks list in Dominica: how to open an account

Four out of ten banks in Dominica are members of the Association, but not all of them work with foreigners. For example, The Dominica Agricultural Industrial & Development (AID) Bank Ltd. provides services only to citizens and residents.

Banks in Dominica which are members of the Caribbean Association of Banks

  1. National Bank of Dominica Ltd.
  2. Dominica Agricultural Industrial & Development (AID) Bank Ltd.
  3. Commonwealth Bank and Trust Ltd.
  4. Paxum Bank Limited

All of the listed banks have mobile apps. If a citizen of another state wants to become a bank client, a letter is required stating the reason for opening an account in Dominica. All the nuances can be found in the article “How to open a bank account in Dominica”.

Banks list in Vanuatu: how to open an account

Five licensed banks operate in the country. All organizations are under the control of the Central Bank of Vanuatu.

The national currency is Vatu, VUV. Current accounts are opened in vatu. Currency accounts are available in euros, US dollars and Australian dollars.

Licensed banks in Vanuatu

  1. National Bank of Vanuatu
  2. Wanfuteng Bank Limited
  3. Bred Bank Vanuatu
  4. BSP Financial Group Limited Vanuatu
  5. ANZ bank Vanuatu

Documents required to use the bank services and rates applied in each of the five banks can be found in the article “How to open a bank account in Vanuatu”.

Vanuatu banks
The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu is the country’s central bank

Citizenship by investment in the Caribbean and Oceania 

An investor can enjoy all the benefits of top banking in the Caribbean if they get a second passport by investment. As a citizen, the investor will be able to open an account faster and get access to a full range of services. In addition, a Caribbean passport gives the freedom to travel within the Schengen area, UK and with the possibility of obtaining a B-1/B-2 visa in the USA for 5 or 10 years.

The Caribbean investment programs are distinguished by the low cost of participation and loyalty to applicants. They are chosen by cosmopolitans for whom it is important to get a second passport in 4-6 months.

Vanuatu has a similar citizenship by investment program. It is the fastest in the world as a second passport can be obtained within two to three months.

Programs in the Caribbean and Vanuatu offer non-refundable investment options, such as a contribution to the state fund, as well as returnable investments in real estate. Immigrant Invest specialists help to choose a property depending on the investor’s goals.

CountryCost of participationPassport issuance periodVisa-free regimeReturn of investments in real estate
Non-refundable contribution to a state fundRefundable investments in real estate
St Kitts and Nevis$150,000+$175,000+
in social real estate projects

$200,000+
in commercial real estate projects
2—6 months157 countriesIn 5—7 years
Antigua and Barbuda$100,000+$200,000+4—6 months150 countriesIn 5 years
Saint Lucia$100,000+$300,000+3—4 months145 countriesIn 5 years
Dominica$100,000+$200,000+2—6 months144 countriesIn 3—5 years
Grenada$150,000+$220,000+4—6 months144 countriesIn 5 years
Vanuatu$130,000+2 months135 countries

Frequently asked questions

What is the currency in the Caribbean countries?

The single currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. The national currency is pegged to the US dollar. One Eastern Caribbean dollar is always equal to 37 US cents. The national currency is used on the territory of eight Caribbean states that form the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. You can open an account in a Caribbean bank both in national currency and in US dollars, euros, British pounds sterling, Canadian dollars, Australian dollars, Singapore dollars, Hong Kong dollars, Swiss francs, UAE dirhams and Japanese yen.

What are the features of the banking system in the Caribbean?

The states of the eastern part of the Caribbean form a union and have their own currency. The main financial institution is the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. It issues licenses to all banks in the region and services the activities of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. The World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank are providing financial support to the islands during the pandemic, as well as helping to deal with the consequences of natural disasters.

Can a foreigner open a Caribbean bank account remotely?

Yes, they can. All documents must be translated into English, apostilled and certified by a notary. But not all Caribbean banks provide services to foreigners. And in some cases, additional documents are required to open an account.

What are the benefits of Caribbean citizenship for a business owner?

The speed of opening an account is one of the main benefits: citizens can receive such a service on the day of documents submission. Foreigners will have to wait up to two weeks. Also, for the convenience of settlements with employees, resident legal entities have the right to use the service of maintaining salary projects by the bank. Citizens of a Caribbean state enjoy all the benefits of banking. The Immigrant Invest company offers services for obtaining a passport of one of the Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Dominica.

Banks in the Caribbean

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