Why live, work, invest and visit St Helena?
As a developing island, St Helena offers a unique opportunity for you to establish and grow your business.
The British Overseas Territory, located in the South Atlantic Ocean, is on a journey to become a globally-connected destination with a vibrant tourism sector and digital economy. One of the remotest islands on Earth, St Helena is subtropical, extremely safe and boasts a pristine terrestrial and marine environment.
With low levels of crime, no corruption, and links to the English Law system, the island is an ideal place for enterprise and investment across a broad range of sectors.
St Helena uses the English language and British Pound Sterling (as well as the St Helena Pound).
Property rental and purchase prices are excellent value; and relatively inexpensive labour means your investment can go further.
St Helena’s infrastructure makes the island an ideal location for investment:
- Air access since 2017;
- Modernising Company Registry;
- Landing of Google’s Equiano fibre optic undersea internet cable (August 2021) and subsequently enhanced telecommunications (likely from 2023);
- Record of political stability.
Due to the above factors and more, St Helena holds a BBB- (stable) credit rating by S&P, which deems the island investment-worthy.
Corporate and Self-Employment tax incentives
In line with the island’s Sustainable Economic Development Plan (SEDP) , various incentives are available for new or expanding enterprises, within certain sectors, that benefit the economy of St Helena.
To promote exports and encourage business activity in sectors where supply is not already saturated, a Corporation Tax reduction from 25% to 15% has been applied to goods and services directly exported (i.e. bought and used abroad), and also applied to activities which produce physical goods deemed as key import substitutes.
The import substitution activities are:
- Fishing and fish processing;
- Cultivation of honey;
- Growing and roasting of local coffee;
- Farming and butchering of meat;
- Farming of vegetables, legumes, nuts and fruit;
- Secondary processing of locally grown food;
- Distilling/brewing of liquor, wine or beer;
- Production of traditional craftwork, jewellery, upholstery and clothes.
Because Corporation Tax rates do not apply to self-employed persons, Self-Employment Tax rates have been reduced by 5% for the activities outlined above. (The Corporation Tax incentive is higher in magnitude than the Self-Employment Tax incentive to encourage incorporation of businesses.)
These incentives run from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2024.
To benefit from these incentives, businesses/self-employed persons can declare income and costs relating to the above activities as part of their self-assessment tax returns. Businesses during the year should structure accounts to track individual costs and revenues pertaining to tax-reduced activities in preparation for tax return submissions.
More information is available at https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/public-services/income-tax/ or within the Income Tax Ordinance.
Customs Duty incentives
St Helena’s Approved Investment Scheme gives investors access to Customs Duty incentives.
An Approved Investment is either a new enterprise or expansion of an existing enterprise; has a beneficial impact on the economy of St Helena; and is adequately financed. An investment is particularly encouraged if it meets the following objectives:
- Is sustainable economically, environmentally, and socially;
- Reduces the island’s dependence on imported goods (increases exports, increases and retains money on St Helena);
- Employs local people, where appropriately skilled staff are available;
- Adds to the range of products and services offered to residents and visitors;
- Offers value for money to St Helena Government in any case where grant funding and/or tax incentives are given.
More information is available within the Customs & Excise (Approved Investment) Regulations within the Customs & Excise Ordinance.
Register a company
St Helena has recently modernised its Company Registry Policy to provide you with a fair, transparent and competitive service.
To set up a company to do business on St Helena, please visit St Helena’s online company registry page
Local business support services are also available for assistance in registering your company.
Remote work and research
During the COVID-19 pandemic, St Helena has lived up to its reputation as one of the safest places on Earth – its community of 4,439 has remained COVID-free throughout the whole pandemic and is 97% vaccinated.
Apart from quarantine requirements and associated entry restrictions that have impacted the economy, the island has continued doing business as normal.
If you have the opportunity to work remotely, why not consider spending all or part of your year working in St Helena? The climate is warm, and you will be rewarded with nature, fun and friendliness on your doorstep all year round.
If you are a researcher, St Helena provides ample opportunity. It is one of few places on Earth where discoveries are still being made regularly. From the UV-glowing spikey yellow woodlouse to discoveries of new fish species, to the research into the South Atlantic magnetic field anomaly, St Helena allows specialists to unearth information previously unknown to science. To find out more, visit the St Helena Research Institute website.
Contact the Sustainable Development Team for assistance
St Helena Government’s Sustainable Development Team is responsible for ensuring development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The team works to manage income inequality, support industry that increases exports and reduces imports, and assist potential investors with the investment process.
To start your investment journey, or for more information, please send us an email at Invest@sainthelena.gov.sh.
To understand the eligibility of an investment for Customs Duty incentives, the answers to a number of questions will be inputted into an Investor Matrix that will output an estimate of the economic impact of the investment. This also provides evidence to support Approved Investment Scheme applications. To begin the application process you would be required to fill in the Investor Form.
Sustainable Economic Development Plan (SEDP) The SEDP focuses on addressing St Helena’s trade imbalance (substituting imports and increasing local production and exports) and improving quality of life. The document explores St Helena’s comparative advantages and disadvantages – as the island does not have the size of land or labour for mass-production, the SEDP identifies sectors that offer niche, high-quality products (such as award-winning coffee and premium, sustainably caught tuna) as sectors ideal for investment and development.
Investor Prospectus This document is now under review.
Strategic Assets: There are currently no state owned properties available for purchase or lease due to having recently completed the bidding process.
Investment Policy This policy was developed with the intention of opening the island to increased levels of investment and tourism, to make St Helena an ideal place to live, work and invest.
Investment Strategy This document outlines how the Investment Policy will be carried out, particularly in terms of tax, land and immigration reforms that should assist in easing the investment process.