The Vanuatu Foreign Investment Promotion Act provides the framework for investors wishing to establish or purchase an existing business in Vanuatu. Under this act, the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) reviews and assesses foreign investment applications. A foreign investor should not commence business without VIPA approval.
The VIPA Board responsible for the review of all applications comprises various individuals, including senior officials from the following government departments / ministries: Labour, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Customs and Inland Revenue, Lands, Finance and Economic Management, Immigration, Trade and Business Development, Industry Trade and Commerce.
An Application Form must be completed, which includes details of the intended business name, entity, proposed location, value of investment, individual investor(s) details, accompanied by a business plan / summary with three year profit / loss projection and evidence of at least Vt5M financial resources. In addition, there are specific requirements in respect of activities with potential environmental impact implications and ‘reserved’ business activities – see below.
Applicants are required to provide details of residency and work permits required (for non-citizens) as well as a clear training plan for Vanuatu citizens.
Each business owner is also required to provide personal details as well as a recent Police Clearance and complete a Statutory Declaration, certifying that the information contained in the Application Form is correct.
Various investments are reserved solely for citizens of Vanuatu eg, road transport operators, public taxis and bus services, door to door sales. There are also reserved activities open to foreign investors if their operation exceeds minimum thresholds eg, tour agents / operators, guest houses / bungalows.
If satisfied that the business is of benefit to the country, the Board will issue an FIAC (Foreign Investment Certificate of Approval).
The certificate may also entitle any / all of the following, as specified:
- number of residency permits;
- number of work permits;
- business licence category/ies;
- granted a lease of land.
Whilst the Board may grant the above, investors must make application to each appropriate authority, for registration and / or issue of applicable permits / licences and comply with the requirements of other acts, as applicable, including renewal / filing of returns etc as required.
- If a land lease (the only type of land title ownership presently available) is to be acquired, careful attention is required and approval for a transfer of leasehold title can take considerable time - expert professional advice is recommended.
- Reductions in import duty are available to specific industry sectors eg, fishing, manufacturing, mining, tourism. Application is normally required to the respective government authority for recommendation to the Department of Customs.
For details of residency and work permit fees click here.