Are you starting a business in the U.S. Virgin Islands?  Do you have questions about how to apply for a business license?  Most businesses are required to apply for and obtain some form of license or permit to operate legally.  Domestic and foreign corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorship engaging in any business in the U.S. Virgin Islands must apply for and obtain a business license from the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs ("DLCA"). 

The licensing and permitting requirements, however, are different based on the type of business you plan to establish, as well as its location, the type of customers you will serve and to what extent additional government regulations are applicable. For example, businesses selling prepared food are required to have a health certificate from the Virgin Islands Department of Health. The sale of alcoholic beverages is restricted to bars and other clubs. These establishments must get approval from the Department of Licensing & Consumer Affairs.  Also, the professions listed below must be certified by their respective board to practice in the Territory:

• Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors;
• Barbers, Beauticians and Manicurists;
• Construction Contractors;
• Electricians;
• Plumbers;
• Public Accountancy;
• Real Estate Appraisers;
• Real Estate Commissioners; and
• Social Workers

Licenses are assigned according to the U.S. Standard Industrial Classification and the fees are set by either the Legislature of the Virign Islands or by the Commissioner of Licensing & Consumer Affairs.  Depending upon the type of the business you are conducting, several licenses may be required.  Annual license fees typically range from $50 to $1000 depending on the type of business.

Business License Checklist
1. Register your trade name and/or corporate entity with the Corporate and Trade Name Division of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. Applicants may be required by DLCA to submit a copy of their articles of incorporation. Likewise for the license application.

2. Know the law. Take a good look at licensing sections of the Virgin Islands Code (Title 27) to be sure your are in compliance with all of the licensing, tax, labor, and health laws.

3. Favorable tax clearance letter. New businesses and annual renewals are required to obtain a favorable tax clearance letter from the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue before they can get the license. There is a special form for this request from the V.I.B.I.R., LIC1. Fill out this application well in advance of applying for the license because this report must be submitted to DLCA with the application for a business license.

4. Complete the DLCA business application following the instructions.  If you want to conduct business in St. Croix and St. Thomas, you must file separate applications for each of the islands.  You must have a license for each field of business activity for which a license is prescribed.  If you plan to engage several types of business, you may file a single application with all types of activity contemplated.  Applicants engaging in certain types of business activity in St. John as well as St. Thomas may be required to file separate applications.  The application is made on forms from DLCA.

5. Review and Approvals. Prior to submission to DLCA, all completed business license applications have to be submitted to other government agencies for review and approval. A new or renewal applications may be required to secure approvals from the following agencies or departments:

  • Department of Planning and Natural Resources;
  • Department of Public Works;
  • Virgin Islands Fire Service;
  • Department of Health, Division of Sanitation and Environmental Health; and
  • Such other departments that the DLCA Commissioner may require.

When a license application has been completed and accepted by DLCA with the fees paid, they will issue the business license.  Remember, you can’t start doing business until your application is accepted and approved!

If you need assistance with the licensing of your new business or have other corporate and business matters, the attorneys and staff at BoltNagi PC is ready to help you. BoltNagi PC, one of the largest law firms in the United States Virgin Islands, has experienced legal professionals, including corporate compliance officers that assist companies conducting business or seeking to do so in the U.S. Virgin Islands.