- Location (Proximity) - 20 Minute flight Northwest of Antigua, 20 minute flight South of St. Maarten
- Area - 68 sq. miles
- Population - 32,000
- Capital - Basseterre
- Language - English but with a distinct accent and West Indian idioms.
- Currency - Eastern Caribbean Dollar and US dollar ---> $1 US = $2.70 EC
- Topography - Volcanic in origin
- Highest Peak - Mt Liamigua, 3792 feet
- Time - As there is no Daylight Savings Time here, we are on Atlantic Standard Time in the winter and Eastern Standard Time in the summer.
- Dress Code - Casual everywhere but not beach attire. Must wear a shirt/wrap in town. You will be more comfortable in some of the fine dining restaurants a little more elegantly dressed but formal attire is not required anywhere that I know of.
- Taxes - Hotels, restaurants and other service industries charge a 9% Government tax. No sales taxes at stores and shops.
- Tipping - Most hotels and restaurants automatically add in a 10% service charge. You may give additional tips if service warrants it.
- ATMs - All four banks in St. Kitts have ATMs in Basseterre. The National Bank has a number of others at various places around the island, but I am unsure if your card will work in them. Your best bet is to go one of the three banks on the Circus in town or the Scotiabank in Birdrock. The Marriott Casino ATM give US currency but only works with Visa, M/C and debit cards on Cirrus network. All other ATMs will give funds in EC dollars.
- Credit Cards - Most hotels, restaurants and businesses take all major credit cards although some can not accept American Express. Do not assume you can pay by credit card.
- Entry Requirements - Visitors will require a passport. It is also very important to have an exit ticket to somewhere, most preferably your country of origin, regardless of the length of your stay.
- Water - Local water is very drinkable and bottled water is readily available everywhere. As all of the water is sourced from the rainfall, please keep conservation in mind.
- Electricity - Power is 220V but most all hotels have 110V plugs instead or as well. If you have a 220 to 110 adapter, it would not hurt to throw it in your bag, just in case.
- Telephones - It's no problem calling anywhere in the world directly, however, the costs are somewhat staggering compared to North American charges. Most 800 numbers in North America won't work, and even if they do, there will still be a charge on this end. Cell phones probably won't work but the cell service is being upgraded constantly and a phone that works here will work fine on many Caribbean islands, again, with roaming charges being substantial. There are numerous payphones all over the island and phone cards are readily available at many locations.
- Television - Most hotels have cable and you can have access to many of the premium channels like CNN, kids stations, movie stations, US network stations, etc.
- Driving - Rental vehicles are readily available (cars, vans, 4x4s, scooters). Driving is on the left hand side. You will be required to purchase a temporary license for about $25US. The secret is to drive slowly and always be ready to stop short as many drivers will stop with no warning to chat with someone on the sidewalk or what have you. Also be aware of the ditches built across the road in the country as they can be devastating if you do not slow down first.
- Gasoline - Gas prices just went up for the second time since I arrived here 4 years ago and are now about $3.89US a gallon but you will be hard pressed to burn a tank of gas even if you drive continuously all week as the island is so small. Stations are located in Birdrock, just out of town by the hospital and a little further out the same way towards Ross University there is a 24 hour station. There is also a station just past Brimstone Hill Fortress and one in Cayon.
- Taxis & Buses - Taxis are omnipresent in the Circus and at most of the hotels. The Taxis all have a yellow license plate with a 'T' or a 'TA' in the front of the number. The buses that run around the island all day are passenger vans and they have an 'H' on the green license plate. They have designated routes (pretty much the main road around the island) and the rates are fixed by the Government.
- Bank Hours - Daily Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 2:00pm, except Friday when they are open till 4:00pm
- Medical Facilities - The main hospital is in Basseterre, a couple of other smaller ones in the country and numerous health centers around the island. Recompression chambers are available by air ambulance in nearby Saba. There are at least three drug stores with full pharmaceutical services in town.
- Emergency Numbers - They have 911 service here. Police - 465-2241, Hospital - 465-2551, Fire - 465-2515
- How to get to St. Kitts - St. Kitts, Antigua or St. Martin are convenient entry points, from the USA usually via Puerto Rico. From Canada, direct flights to these islands both scheduled and charter. From the UK and Europe, also scheduled and charter flights to these islands.
- Immigration - A 6 month valid passport is required for all non-nationals. Most EC countries, as well as the USA do not require visas. A cash departure tax of US $20 or EC $53 is payable per person upon departure.
Real Estate-Related Information
- A Foreigner needs an Alien Land Holding License to own real estate/property on St. Kitts, except in Frigate Bay and, under certain circumstances, property purchases on the SE Peninsula, which are exempt. This should take about 1-3 months for approval once all the paperwork has been submitted. We can recommend local attorney's who can help you with this process.
- Real estate closing costs are calculated as a percentage of the purchase price of the real estate property and are estimated as follows:
- Legal fees (estimated) 2%
- Alien Land Holding License 10% (where applicable)
- Total 12%
- All beaches are public and have at least one established access.
- Fully serviced real estate land lots in St. Kitts start from US$80,000, depending on the size and location.
- Real estate construction costs vary. US$150 per square foot of roofed area depending on location, design and quality of finish. A 2,000 square foot house takes about 10 months to build.
- There is a good Government water supply below the 800' contour. Water costs approximately EC $10 (US $3.70) per 1,000 gallons.
- Electrical charges for an average family in a 3 bedroom property heating water with electricity is roughly EC $800 (US $300) per month.
- Cable TV (42 channels) costs EC $125 (US $40) per month.
- Grounds maintenance for 0.5 acre costs approximately EC $320 (US $120) per month.
- Property management costs approximately EC $405 (US $150) per month.
- A 3 bedroom property with pool (not on the beach) rents short-term for US $2500 to US $3000 per week in high season, US $1200 - US $1500 per week in low season. Rental commissions vary from 15% to as high as 25%. Long-term rental (3 months plus) from US $1500 to US $3500 per month and normally attract a 10% commission.
- Maid services start at EC $15 (US $4.05) per hour.
- Property insurance (fire, hurricane, earthquake) costs 1% of the sum insured.
- There is no personal Income Tax or Inheritance Tax at this time. House Tax ranges from US $800 to US $3,000 per annum.
- The EC dollar is tied to the US dollar at a fixed rate of $2.70EC to $1.00US. You can also have foreign currency accounts at most of the banks, thus keeping your funds outside foreign currency controls.
- St. Kitts & Nevis have an excellent reputation as an offshore financial center with up-to-date legislation covering the formation of IBC's and asset protection trusts.
- An Economic Citizenship Program (Citizenship by Investment Program) exists providing the possibility to qualify for citizenship through investing over $400,000US in pre-approved real estate projects. Foreign individuals can obtain citizenship of the Federation of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis if Cabinet is satisfied that such person has invested substantially in the Federation.
Additional General Information About St. Kitts and Nevis
Saint Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis form an island federation located in the northern part of the Lesser Antilles chain of islands in the Eastern Caribbean. St. Kitts, with an area of 68 square miles (168 square kilometres) has a population of about 34000. It is located at 17°15′ North latitude and 62°45′ West longitude. This places St. Kitts approximately 1300 miles from Miami (3 hr. flight), 2000 miles from New York (4 hr. flight), and 4000 miles from London (8 hr. flight). Nevis, with an area of 36 square miles (93 square kilometres) has a population of about 9500. The two islands are separated by a channel which is two miles wide. St. Kitts and Nevis are four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT -4). Average air temperature is 79°F (26°C) and humidity 71.5% with extremes in temperature and humidity tempered by breezes from the north-east trade winds. The average sea water temperature is 80°F (27°C). Average annual rainfall is 55 inches (1397 mm).
St. Kitts and Nevis is a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth of Nations. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is head of State and is represented on the islands by a Governor-General. Basseterre is the capital of St. Kitts and at the same time, the administrative capital of the Federation. The capital of Nevis is Charlestown.
The legal system is based upon English Common Law served by a High Court of Justice, a Court of Appeal, and Her Majesty's Privy Council in London. St. Kitts & Nevis have agreed to be included in the Caribbean Court of Appeals Circuit.
The spoken and official language of St. Kitts & Nevis is English. Interpreters are available for other major international languages. The education system has been rated very highly by the World Bank in its report on the Access, Quality and Efficiency in Caribbean Education. With 98%, St. Kitts & Nevis has the highest level of literacy in the region and its CXC and GCE results are among the highest in the English speaking Caribbean.
The Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport on St. Kitts (IATA: SKB, ICAO: TKPK) has a runway of 8000 feet and is equipped to handle large passenger jets. Vance Amory International Airport on Nevis can accommodate smaller aircraft. Weekly direct flights are available from London Gatwick to St. Kitts. For other destinations, the islands are using Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and Antigua as their major gateways. Access from and to these gateways is by twin-engine turboprop aircraft operated by regional scheduled airlines on a daily basis and by smaller aircraft operated by local charter companies. Port Zante in St Kitts can host up to two mega-cruise ships and has a 61-berth marina for pleasure crafts and private yachts. The deep water port in St. Kitts has modern facilities which include roll-on and roll-off docks and easily accommodates large freight carriers. St. Kitts & Nevis has a state-of-the-art telecommunication system operated by Cable & Wireless, Digicel and UTS CariGlobe "Chippie". Their modern network permits smooth and prompt telephone, telex, facsimile and Internet connections throughout the world. Cable & Wireless operates an online Telephone Directory and Yellow Pages web site. St. Kitts & Nevis enjoys a 59-channel cable TV service, which provides 24 hours daily entertainment, sport and news programs from North America and England via satellite. On average, airmail letters from North America take 10 to 12 days and 7 to 10 days from Europe. Major international courier services are represented by Brinks, D.H.L., Federal Express, United Parcel Services, and Worldwide Express.
St. Kitts & Nevis has a history of political stability based on the Westminster model of government and continuity of national policy. Since St. Kitts & Nevis attained independence from Britain in 1983, it has consistently been adjudged to be among the world's freest nations by Freedom House, an independent and highly respected research organisation in the United States of America.
Sugar, which used to be the backbone of the economy, has recently been dropped completely. In its place, the Government has begun aggressively promoting tourism, light manufacturing and international financial activities.
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, The Eastern Caribbean Home Mortgage Bank, and The Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange have their headquarters in St. Kitts. Three international banks are represented in St. Kitts (Bank of Nova Scotia, First Caribbean International Bank, and the Royal Bank of Canada) and two in Nevis (Bank of Nova Scotia and First Caribbean International Bank). Banks maintain deposits in XCD, USD and GBP.
The legal profession is represented in St. Kitts & Nevis by Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court. They alone have the right to practice before the Courts of St. Kitts & Nevis, and alone may give advice on local law within the Federation. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one of the five major international auditing firms, is represented in St. Kitts.
The Confidential Relationships Act of 1985 prohibits the disclosure of any information obtained in the course of business; and applies to banks and professionals as well as to Government officials.
Certain businesses need licences and applicants should seek advice locally on each occasion.
The Federation and the United States of America have entered into an Investment Guarantee Agreement.
St. Kitts Real Estate and Nevis Real Estate Taxes
There is a tax on land located in the Federation, this tax is charged at various rates depending on the size and nature of the land concerned.
In Special Development Areas, such as the South East Peninsula on St. Kitts, there is a tax of 0.5% of the assessed market value of the land, or land and improvements.
A house tax is charged at the rate of 5% of the annual gross rental value for residences in St. Kitts or Nevis with a 25% rebate for properties that are occupied by their owner solely as residence. The minimum annual rental value is XCD 600 (USD 222) in St. Kitts and XCD 48 (USD 18) in Nevis.
St. Kitts Real Estate and Nevis Real Estate Closing Costs
St. Kitts real estate and Nevis real estate stamp duty is 10% for free hold properties and 10% for condominiums. Stamp duty is payable by the seller only.
St. Kitts real estate and Nevis real estate legal fees are approximately 2% of the gross purchase price.
St. Kitts real estate and Nevis real estate alien land-holding licence is 10% of the gross purchase price (where applicable). Properties in Frigate Bay and the following designated areas are exempt from this licence.