The idea of moving to Jamaica holds expectations of a lush Caribbean paradise where everyday life is “no problem man” however there is much more to Jamaica than just lounging on a beach drinking rum cream. The culture and lifestyle may hold surprises for the expat or returning resident who has not done their research.
In this post we will look in detail in what is required and all that which is involved in moving to Jamaica for the two main categories of people interested in relocating to Jamaica, namely expats and returning residents.
Since this is a long post we will create a Part 1 and a Part 2 each dealing with the different category of persons mentioned above.
Part 1: For the expat moving to Jamaica
There are two scenarios for employment in Jamaica. Company employment and Self-Employment.
You have been successful in landing that new job and actively planning your move to Jamaica but before you got to this point there are a couple things to do before you could be employed.
- You or your employer has to make an application to the local Ministry of Labour, or JAMPRO outlining the reason for engaging overseas skills and the period for which the permit is required.
- The employer has to outline the steps taken in seeking the skill locally.
If you are self-employed the situation is slightly different. You have to submit a cover letter to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour. The cover letter outlines the nature and duration of the work to be undertaken. Additionally, information on the project or investment proposal(s), etc should be presented.
In either scenario you might be asked for your qualifications and/or accreditation which could include:
- Certified copies of proof of academic or professional qualifications or letters of accreditation.
- A resume outlining the details of your past professional and business experience.
- A letter of recommendation or written reference from your previous employer or evidence of your business/commercial/professional activity abroad.
- A police record which for a new applicant should be issued by the appropriate security authority in the domicile of the applicant. For renewals the record should be issued by the relevant section of the Ministry of National Security in Jamaica. Note: The submitted police record should have the date of investigation which should not exceed one calendar year prior to submission to the Ministry of Labour.
These documents would of course need to be certified by a notary public in your domicile or a justice of the peace (local) however copies can be signed off by an authorized member of staff at the ministry once the originals are presented.
Operating a small business or company
If you will operating as a business or company then you will need the following:
- Certified copy of Business Registration Certificate for unincorporated enterprises.
- Certified copy of Certificate of Incorporation and the Memorandum of Association for duly registered companies. Articles of Association are not needed.
- If you are a sole proprietor or if an enterprise is in operation for at least one year, or the applicant is applying for renewal of the Work Permit then a Tax Compliance Certificate should be submitted.
- Certified copies of pages from the passport of the applicant showing, (a) proof of identity, (b) passport number, (c) date of issue and expiry, (d) landing status in Jamaica and (e) relevant visas (where applicable).
- Two (2) photographs in the case of a Work Permit and One (1) in the case of a Work Permit Exemption.
- The Tax Payer Registration Number (TRN) form, completed and signed by whoever is applying.
- If in doubt about anything you can get in touch with the Ministry of Labour
Part 2: Preparing to relocate to Jamaica
You received the appropriate approval and documents to move to Jamaica but before boarding the plane make sure you have:
- A valid passport.
- One passport size photograph.
- Letter from Ministry of Labour, Jamaica approving work permit or granting exemption from the work permit requirement.
In the days leading up to your departure you will have to create a detailed plan and checklist so as not to run the risk of overlooking anything. Decide what items to keep and what items to dispose of.
If you choose to dispose of some items then you should determine the method of disposing of those items. A couple options are:
- Have a sale.
- Give your items away.
If you choose to sell your items then start with the sale as soon as possible because this usually takes more time than the other options. Remember that the more items you carry, the more the attendant costs such as preparation, freight, etc. An informative guide to read is international moving guidelines/checklist.
Choosing your mover/shipper
If your move is not being arranged by your employerit is critical that you to find a reliable international moving company.
Here are some points to consider when choosing your moving company:
Get at least three separate estimates for your move
Getting three separate quotes for your move from experienced and reputable international shipping companies will give you an good idea of what is a fair cost. Never go with just one estimate. This will give you the opportunity to compare prices, services and other important decision making criteria.
Keep in mind that although price is an important component, it is of greater importance that you look at the value you stand to receive from each provider. When you compare the different quotes from international movers make sure you check what is and is not included to avoid any surprises upon completion. Quotes that look inexpensive may cost you more at the end.
To recap, compare value not price. Do a comparison of the list of services you will be provided with compared to the cost also you need to ensure you compare same with same.
Check company reviews
Be sure to check company reviews and recommendations from people who have used the company’s services. You should also check local Business Associations to see if there are any complaints against the company.
Get everyting in writing
Ensure you get a properly signed contract that contains all costs that are included and excluded.
Packing and preparing for the move to Jamaica
If money is tight and you make a decision to do your own packing and preparation then make sure you have enough time and help to ensure that this is a success.
You will need some essential items like tape, corrugated paper and stretch film but packing and wrapping your items can save you 25% to 30% on your costs.
Check our article how to save money by packing yourself for some valuable information on techniques and materials you can use to save big on packing expense.
You finally arrive in Jamaica and you realize the average temperature is hot and sunny therefore there would be no need for heavy clothing. Consider keeping only a few of your cold weather items when packing in case you have to visit cooler climates again.
Seeking accommodations in Jamaica
Finding suitable accommodations in Jamaica is not usually a problem. Finding a place to live depends on where you would like to live whether that’s in the city, the outskirts of the city or the rural areas. If you happen to favor the capital or will be working in or near to the capital then there are a couple of options available depending on whether you like apartment style living or townhouses.
Either way rental for such accomodations can range from US$300 to US$1200 and you have the option in many cases to pay in U.S dollars or in the local currency.
Available areas for rental
In Kingston some of the areas of choice are:
- Cherry Gardens
- Manor Park
These areas are considered to be “uptown” hence rental tends to be on the high side however most people tend to feel more secure living in those locations.
If your taste is a little more humble then consider:
- Zaidie Gardens
- Hope Pastures
If you are moving to Jamaica for the first time its always advisable to use a real estate broker like ReMax to source suitable living arrangements for you in the area you prefer. The process typically begins by making contact with your real estate agent of choice who will then request some information from you.
Learning the language
Athough the common means of communication in the business environment is standard English, by and large the most prevalent means of communication is a native creole called Patois pronounced patwa. It is derived from a mixture of English (Scottish or Irish) and dialect from central Africa. Although it is used to a greater extent in communication, it is a spoken language not a written. Indeed many Jamaicans who speak the dialect copiously have significant challenges reading and writing the language.
Here is a good video that does a great job of teaching Patois. You won’t become an expert immediately but at least you will be able to greet your peers in the dialect (much to their amusement).