Fast facts in the British Virgin Islands

Fast facts in the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands is a British overseas territory that comprise 4 main islands and many smaller ones.

The British Virgin Islands is a British overseas territory that comprises 4 main islan...

Fast facts

  • Composition: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and more than 60 other islands 
  • Capital: Road Town, Tortola 
  • Population: Approximately 28,882* 
  • Weather: Averages of 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 30.5C year round 
  • Main Industries: Tourism and Financial Services 
  • Language: English 
  • Political Status: Non-Sovereign, overseas territory of the United Kingdom, internal self-governing. 
  • Nationalities: Over 92 different nationalities are represented in the British Virgin Islands. The majority of the population is Virgin Islander, Jamaican, British, American, Canadian, Philippine, Brazilian and South African.

Size

  • Tortola: area - 21.5 square miles; length - 11.4 miles; average width - 3.8 miles. 
  • Anegada: area - 15 square miles; length - 10 miles; average width - 2 mile.
  • Virgin Gorda: area - 8 square miles; length - 9.6 miles; average width - 3.1 miles.
  • Jost Van Dyke: area 3 square miles; length - 3.9 miles; average width - 1.4 miles.
     

Location

The British Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico. Its geographic coordinates are 18°30′N 64°30′W.

Entry and immigration

  • British Virgin Islands legislation requires that all persons of non-British Virgin Islanders status who are engaged in any form of employment must hold a valid entry permits. For professional staff most entry permits are issued for the period of one year.
  • Casual visitors are not permitted to take up or solicit employment whilst on the island.
  • A valid entry permit will allow the holder and approved dependents to live and remain in the BVI for an extended period. The holder will have to pay a dependent’s fee, which the amount will be confirmed by immigration. This fee will be reimbursed upon leaving the island or if the dependent decides to work and will be required to obtain their own entry permit.
     

Cost of living

The cost of living is generally on par with many metropolitan areas/cities in the United States or the United Kingdom, as most commodities are imported and have to bear the cost of freight and insurance, plus customs duty if payable. As long as you are employed in the BVI you are responsible for your contribution to society. If you are an employee working in the private sector, you will not get taxed on the first $10,000 you earn per year. After that you will pay 8% toward payroll Tax – that’s a gross on salary payment to Government – and employers are responsible for a 6% payroll tax. However, you will pay Social Security (national insurance) which is 4% from employee and 4.5% from employer per month.

Banking

Bank of Nova Scotia, National Bank of the Virgin Islands, Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, VP Bank (BVI), First Caribbean International, and First Bank Virgin Islands are the main commercial banks present on the Island offering regular banking services, including online banking. The British Virgin Islands uses US dollars as its primary currency. Credit cards are accepted in most restaurants, supermarkets, and shops.

Due to regular shipping services, there are a wide range of food items, household goods, clothing, and other items available at supermarkets and retailers on Tortola. A newcomer could buy locally all that is needed to establish a home.
 

Healthcare

1 Public Hospital - Peebles Hospital; various public and private health clinics and medical centres; Medivac (medical airlift) is readily available. An International Vaccination Certificate is not mandatory in The British Virgin Islands. Peebles Hospital has surgical, x-ray and laboratory facilities; there is a private plastic surgery clinic as well several private medical centres.

Schooling

There are a number of Government and Private primary and secondary schools on the Island offering a curriculum which follows either the American or British schooling systems. There are also two colleges, a law school, and a medical school offering tertiary educational opportunities on island.

Accommodation

There is a large supply of rental units available on the islands with the costs mainly driven by location. On average you can expect to pay between US$1,000 and US$1,500 for a typical one-bedroom apartment and between US$1,500 and US$2,600 for a typical two-bedroom apartment. In almost all cases you will also be required to make a security deposit of two months’ rent, the first and last month.

Most rental units are available turnkey and are fully furnished, with dishes, linens and other household accessories.
 

Utilities

Voltage in the BVI is 110/220v. Visitors can use American appliances without an adaptor. The cost will depend on the amount used in particular for air conditioning. An average bill would be approximately US$150 per month. The average water bill for a two-person household is US$60. Depending on rental agreements, deposits for electricity and water may be required from the tenant.

The local telephone companies, LIME and/or Digicel, will require a deposit of US$425. However, if their Direct Debit facility is used, the deposit is reduced to US$120.

There is a charge for cable or satellite TV although many rental agreements include these charges in the monthly rental.
 

Vehicles

Traffic drives on the left and traffic rules follow the British pattern.

Vehicles will vary in cost depending on the type of vehicle and where you choose to purchase the vehicle (i.e. dealers, private, ex-rentals). You can expect to spend between US$5,000 and US$10,000 on a used vehicle in good condition.

Insurance is mandated for all drivers and costs will vary depending on the type of coverage taken out, i.e. third party or fully comprehensive. A reasonable expectation in this regard is US$300 - $700 a year. Registration fees for a new vehicle will cost around US$175 (new plates, annual license, etc.) whilst the annual vehicle licensing and inspection cost for used cars is approximately US$150.

You will be required to obtain a British Virgin Islands Driving License after 30 days, the fee for which will be no more than US$35 (pro-rated by date of birth).
 

Social/Recreational activities

Socially, there are many things to do in the BVI from community and church to sports and recreation. The BVI also boast a wide variety of eating establishments and restaurants, from coffee houses to elegant dining.

You can get involved with water activities like diving snorkeling, fishing, boating, sailing and swimming. There are many sports offered on island such as rugby, football, softball, tennis, squash, cricket, golf, yoga and dance. If you prefer a set routine you can join a gym which offers weight lifting, training, cardio equipment and classes. There are also several annual races every year including Half Marathon’s, Triathlons and Community events.