Please see our advice to help you with the exciting move ahead, and most importantly, get settled into your new Cayman life!
Whilst moving to a new country can be stressful and it may take you some time to get used to the ‘island way of life’, the good news is that Cayman is well set up to support the arrival of expatriates. The first thing that needs to happen is – you need to be offered a job and the permit process will begin. You cannot move to Cayman until the work permit has been approved but things can move very quickly once this is in place.
The Cayman Islands, although a UK Overseas Territory, is its own country with its own culture and way of life. Cayman lacks the usual hustle and bustle of major cities and you will find many friendly faces to help make your transition stress-free. There are some cultural differences, you will drive on the left, learn to use roundabouts, negotiate the local dialect and quickly learn about the relationship between Cayman and Jamaica. The opportunities in Cayman are endless and the biggest hurdle by far is getting the job and organising the move. The best piece of advice Affinity can give you is be patient, get organised and ask lots of questions to pave the smoothest path to your life in the Caribbean.
When you have the green light from WORC (who will award you a work permit), you need to organise your relocation. There are excellent moving/real estate service providers to help you, and many companies are adept at supporting new employees. The first questions to ask your Affinity Recruitment consultant is how will your new company support your move? Is there a relocation package? Can you get a short-term let organised through the company? Will they provide a hire car or hotel in those first few days? The answers vary but often, especially in the financial services industry, there will be significant moving support.
The fantastic thing about moving to Cayman is that 50% of your work colleagues have also moved and can share their experiences, and the other half provide amazing insight into their island, the culture and the best places to eat, dance, relax!
Once you know you are moving, think about what you really need to bring with you and what you need at the other end, once you have unpacked. We have detailed the important documents you need to bring and some helpful tips below.
If you are bringing children with you, one of the first things to ask your employer about is schooling, right at the beginning of the process. Some schools will only finalise a student place when a work permit has been awarded, so this is a high priority once that paperwork is through, so you need to know as much as you can up front, scope out the schools, their fees and availability and go once your permit is approved. Similarly, if you want to bring a partner with you, find out from your employer what their rights will be, if they are coming as a dependent on your permit and therefore what the process is if they want to seek employment once they arrive in Cayman.
If you are bringing pets, make sure you understand the protocols and standards for your animals as these vary depending on where you are coming from. It’s also worth getting to know the procedures for traveling off island, if you want to leave Cayman with your pet in the future, either if you travel or repatriate home.
- Before travel ensure you have evidence of any professional memberships, and copies of your employment contract, university/college degree and immigration documentation.
- Obtain references and copies of your bank statements from your bank and any records with credit companies. This will make it easier to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands.
- Obtain a letter from your auto insurance carrier stating your no claim record, as this will help with securing a more economical rate with an on-island auto insurance carrier should you wish to purchase a vehicle.
- Bring your driver’s license
- Bring any health or dental records that are important, especially if you are on any prescription medication.
- Employees do not incur income tax in the Cayman Islands; however, prior to your departure it’s advisable to research the tax implications of moving to the Cayman Islands within your home country.
- GSM mobiles work in the Cayman Islands. You can choose to either have them unlocked before your departure or this can be done on island for a fee ranging between CI$25 – CI$75.
- There are several telecommunication companies in the Cayman Islands, which offer a wide range of mobile, landline and internet services.
- Most banks are open Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4pm and Friday to 4:30pm. Some branches are open for a short period on Saturday. You will need a letter from your employer and a copy of your permit to open an account.
- Businesses and retail stores are closed on Sunday, with the exception of bars, restaurants, and some shops that cater for the tourist market.
- The healthcare system in the Cayman Islands is a good standard. If you are on medication, get a bumper prescription from your doctor in your home country before you move, to give yourself time to settle in without the pressure of finding a new doctor.
- Health insurance is a legal requirement, so ensure you discuss what this entails with your new employer for you and your family/partner. You will make contributions as well as your employer.
- You will be required to pay into a pension and your employer will also pay into the scheme. There are quite strict pension laws so make sure you understand what this entails during your contract negotiation.
- You can move items from home to Cayman without paying import tax, as long as it’s done in the first six months of your arrival on island. Many homes come fully furnished, but some people prefer to bring their own household items or personal items that don’t fit into your airplane cargo. Shipping options include air and sea – sea being much more cost effective for bulky items.
- Many food items are readily available in Cayman, the supermarkets/grocery stores are particularly well stocked with products from around the world but if you have a particular penchant or dietary need, then consider bringing supplies with you (as long as they can be brought in), just until you can establish where you can buy your favourite foods etc.