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Doing Business in the Cayman Islands

As a self-governed British crown colony, the Cayman Islands is a conservative and modest society, which is reflected in how business is done.

Respect for authority and those in senior positions is vital when doing business in the Cayman Islands, and expats should be aware of the courteous attitude that dominates the islands.


Fast facts

Business hours

Office hours are 8am to 5pm and banking hours are from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Business language

The language of business is English.

Dress

Business attire is generally quite casual on the islands, but formal suits should be worn when meeting bank executives, senior officials and heads of business, as well as when attending business functions.

Gifts

Gifts are not commonly exchanged, but if giving a gift, something inexpensive is appropriate.

Gender equality

While women can be found in the workplace and more are reaching senior positions, gender inequality still exists.


Business culture in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands is a society where family and respect for authority and seniority are very much commonplace. Often the manager of a company will take on a protective position, looking out for employees beyond the professional sphere.

Greetings

It is normal practice to shake hands with business contacts. People are addressed by their titles and surnames. Business cards are usually exchanged after a meeting.

Communication

Caymanians are polite and conservative people, so confrontational behaviour or an over-familiar attitude is frowned upon.

Attitude towards foreigners

As a large part of the population is made up of foreigners, expats should expect to be welcomed and not encounter any problems.


Dos and don’ts of business

  • Don’t be late, as punctuality is valued

  • Do be courteous and polite at all times

  • Don't be over-familiar with people who have just been introduced

International Schools in the Cayman Islands

International schools in the Cayman Islands are a popular choice for expat parents looking to ensure continuity in their children’s education. Standards are generally high, and teaching staff are usually well trained.

These international schools offer a range of curricula and extra-curricular activities, and are a great option for expat parents hoping to give their children a smooth transition into life in the Cayman Islands.


International schools in the Cayman Islands

Cayman Prep and High School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.cayprep.edu.ky

Cayman International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and American
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.caymaninternationalschool.org

First Baptist Christian School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 2 to 11
Website: www.fbcs.edu.ky

St Ignatius Catholic School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.st-ignatius.com

Triple C School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.triplecschool.org

Moving to the Cayman Islands

Located between the two Americas in the Caribbean Sea, the Cayman Islands is a tropical paradise that is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and increasingly an expat hotspot.

With almost twice as many companies as people and known to be a major offshore tax haven, the Cayman Islands is a popular destination that offers an excellent quality of life for expats who can afford it.

Living in the Cayman Islands as an expat

The country encompasses three islands, made up of the Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Each island is famous for its particular features. Grand Cayman is known for its beach resorts, and scuba diving and snorkelling sites. Cayman Brac is popular for deep-sea fishing, especially for tuna, marlin and barracuda. Little Cayman, which is the smallest island, is known for its diverse wildlife.

A large portion of the population in the Cayman Islands is made up of foreigners. The biggest demographics include those from Jamaica, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Honduras. While foreign land ownership is easily accessible, immigration laws are strict on the islands.

The Cayman Islands uses its own unique currency (The Cayman Dollar) which is tied to the US Dollar. The main economic sectors in the Cayman Islands are finance and tourism, and the capital, George Town, is home to more than 600 banks, which means expats working in finance should have no problem securing work

The islands are also serviced by various efficient modes of transport, and expats should have no issues getting around.

Cost of living in the Cayman Islands

Rent is likely to be an expat's biggest expense. Finding suitable accommodation that meets both budget and taste may be challenging. Expats should therefore try to negotiate a living allowance into their employment contracts.

As the islands have a tax-free earnings policy, tax is added to everyday items, which makes them eye-wateringly expensive. Fortunately, salaries are often quite high, which offsets the exorbitant cost of living.

Expat families and children in the Cayman Islands

The standard of education in the Cayman Islands is terrific, and education is compulsory for all children, so expat parents will find the Cayman Islands an ideal place to raise a family. Public school education is free for Caymanian children as well as expat children in certain situations, but there are also a number of private and international schools located around the islands, and expat parents tend to prefer these.

Expat parents will also have no issues finding qualified medical professionals when their children are unwell, as the quality of healthcare in the Cayman Islands is excellent. With state-of-the-art facilities and well-trained staff, the Cayman Islands was one of the first countries in the world to mandate health insurance for all residents.

Climate in the Cayman Islands

The weather in the Cayman Islands can be characterised by the dry and wet seasons and by warm temperatures throughout the year. As the climate is tropical marine, the islands experience tropical rains and hurricanes between June and November. Expats should pack their umbrellas and raincoats and ensure they closely follow the storm warning systems.

For expats who can afford it, this tax-free haven may be the ideal destination. With its laid-back lifestyle, sundry outdoor activities and beautiful scenery, the Cayman Islands offer one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean.


Fast facts

Population: Around 78,500

Capital city: George Town

Neighbouring countries: The Cayman Islands is in the Greater Antilles, which comprises countries such as Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Geography: The Cayman Islands is in the western Caribbean Sea and the islands are the peaks of a massive underwater ridge, known as the Cayman Ridge (or Cayman Rise). Caymans Islands consists of three islands; the Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Political system: The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory with its own elected Legislative Assembly. The elected government exercises executive and legislative authority, but the British appointed Governor may step in and exercise complete executive powers in consultation with the elected Premier of the Cayman Islands.

Major religions: Christianity

Main languages: English

Money: The Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD) is divided into 100 cents. The US Dollar is also widely accepted. ATMs are available on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, but are concentrated in George Town.

Tipping: Most restaurants and hotels automatically add a 10 to 15 percent service charge to the bill, otherwise a gratuity of the same amount is expected. At hotels, a 10 percent government tax is also usually added to the cost of your room. Taxi drivers expect a 10 to 15 percent tip as well.

Time: Local time is GMT -5

Electricity: Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. American-style two-pin plugs are standard.

Internet domain: .ky

International dialling code: + 1 (345)

Emergency contacts: 911 is the all-purpose emergency contact number for fire, police and medical services. Their medical facilities are up to date and equipped to deal with most problems, however, some complicated medical matters may require local stabilisation and transport to facilities in Miami.

Transport and driving: Drive on the left-hand side. It is easy to hire a car, but drivers must be over 21 to hire a rental car and must provide a valid international licence and passport, as well as purchase a driving permit from island authorities. Public transport on Grand Cayman includes taxis, limousines and buses, which travel through all the main districts. Cayman Airways provides air transfer between islands, and the only interisland boat charter is through private hire.

Weather in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands experiences a tropical marine climate, so expats can always expect warm weather. Temperatures rarely drop below 70°F (25°C) year round, and there are two main seasons: dry and wet.

The dry season lasts from November to April (winter), while the wet season lasts from May to October (summer). In addition, the hurricane season falls in the wet season, from June to November.

Dry season temperatures hover in the mid-70s (25°C). It is the most popular season on the islands because of the hot, sunny weather, but the humidity can be overwhelming and some find the heat oppressive.

Few people come in the rainy season, as possible hurricanes are a further deterrent during this time. Be that as it may, it is the warmest time of year and often reaches well above 90°F (30°C).

Expect thunderstorms, tropical rains and hurricanes come June/July. While severe hurricanes have caused property damage, flooding and power cuts, there has been little injury thanks to the effective storm warning systems, emergency services and disaster preparations on the islands. There have been earthquakes recently, but again little damage and no injuries have resulted. 

 

Public Holidays in the Cayman Islands

 

2023

2024

New Year's Day

1–2 January

1 January

National Heroes' Day

23 January

22 January

Ash Wednesday

22 February

14 February

Good Friday

7 April

29 March

Easter Monday

10 April

1 April

Discovery Day

15 May

20 May

Queen's Birthday

19 June

Constitution Day

3 July

1 July

Remembrance Day

13 November

11 November

Christmas Day

25 December 

25 December

Boxing Day

26 December

26 December

Embassy contacts for the Cayman Islands


Cayman Island embassies

  • British Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also represents the Cayman Islands): +1 202 588 6500

  • British High Commission, Ottawa, Canada (also represents the Cayman Islands): +1 613 237 1530

  • British High Commission, Canberra, Australia (also represents the Cayman Islands): +61 2 6270 6666

  • British High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa (also represents the Cayman Islands): +27 12 421 7500

  • British Embassy, Dublin, Ireland (also represents the Cayman Islands): +353 1 205 3700

  • British High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand (also represents the Cayman Islands): +64 4 924 2888


Foreign embassies in the Cayman Islands

  • United States Consular Agent, George Town: +1 345-623-8173

  • Canadian High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica (also responsible for the Cayman Islands): +1 876 926 1500

  • Australian High Commission, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (also responsible for the Cayman Islands): +1 868 822 5450

  • Embassy of Ireland, Washington DC, United States of America (also responsible for the Cayman Islands): +1 202 462 3939

Cost of Living in the Cayman Islands

The cost of living in the Cayman Islands is relatively expensive. This is largely because of the tax-free salaries that push VAT up on everyday items, leading to a high cost of living. Be that as it may, earnings tend to be sky high to offset this.


Cost of accommodation in the Cayman Islands 

Accommodation will likely be an expat's highest expense, but the prices vary dramatically depending on the area. Accommodation in George Town, the capital, is likely to be the most expensive, owing to its proximity to amenities. Other sought-after areas, such as Seven Mile Beach, are also eye-wateringly expensive due to their popularity with tourists.


Cost of education in the Cayman Islands

The cost of education varies depending on the type of school a child attends. For non-Caymanian students, public schools charge more than they usually would for local students. Still, this is considerably less than the fees of private or international schools.

Private and international school fees range between schools, but are generally quite exorbitant. Some schools offer sibling discounts, and most private schools require annual fee payments.


Cost of living in the Cayman Islands chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for October 2022 in George Town.

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

KYD 2,167

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

KYD 1,508

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

KYD 4,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

KYD 2,650

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

KYD 3.85

Loaf of white bread

KYD 4.04

Chicken breasts (1kg)

KYD 7.57

Rice (1kg)

KYD 5.83

Dozen eggs

KYD 4.76

Pack of cigarettes

KYD 9

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

KYD 10

Coca-Cola (330ml)

KYD 1.82

Cappuccino

KYD 4.75

Bottle of beer (local)

KYD 6

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

KYD 100 

Utilities

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)  

KYD 0.32

Internet (average per month)

KYD 109

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

KYD 288

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

KYD 1.24

City-centre bus/train fare

KYD 2

Petrol (per litre)

KYD 1.43

Accommodation in the Cayman Islands

There is a large selection of apartments and condos available for long-term rent in the Cayman Islands. Expats will find that costs vary substantially, depending on location and proximity to areas such as George Town and the Seven Mile beachfront. Many places come with facilities such as tennis courts and pools.

Rental accommodation is relatively easy to find, and annual leases are generally available. During the tourist season (November and February) it can be more difficult to secure an annual lease. Monthly costs vary depending on whether the place is furnished or unfurnished and its location and size.


Types of accommodation in the Cayman Islands

There are various types of accommodation for expats to choose from when renting, including houses, condominiums, apartment complexes and rooms/apartments in larger houses. The most common types of properties available are two- and three-bedroom condos and townhouses, which are popular for long-term renting.

Household goods can be purchased locally, while most landlords provide a full range of crockery, cutlery and other household items if the place is furnished. Most accommodation in the Cayman Islands is furnished.


Finding accommodation in the Cayman Islands

There are real estate agents situated across the islands who can help househunters. Alternatively, there are many websites advertising property online, which can be useful for expats. Expats should act quickly when signing a lease, as competition for rental properties can be quite fierce.


Renting accommodation in the Cayman Islands

Those working on the island for two to three years more often than not rent property rather than buy. Thanks to the transient nature of expat stays on the islands, the property market is well run.

Once expats have decided on suitable accommodation, they must approach the landlord as soon as possible to negotiate a mutually beneficial lease agreement.

Making an application

The first step in the rental process after finding the desired accommodation is to file an application. Prospective tenants can either do this directly with the landlord or via an estate agent. The landlord or agency will perform various checks, after which a lease is signed between the landlord and tenant.

Leases

A standard rental contract is usually valid for a year, with the option to renew at the end of the initial term. In the Cayman Islands, tenants can sometimes negotiate shorter lease agreements, but this is typically at the discretion of individual landlords. If the property is furnished, a full inventory of items will need to be drawn up and signed.

Deposits

Tenants will have to pay a deposit, usually equivalent to one month’s rent, in addition to the first month’s rent to secure the rental agreement. This deposit belongs to the tenant and must be paid back at the end of the lease. Unless the landlord deems it necessary to make use of some or all of the deposit for breakages, outstanding rent, or utilities that the tenant may be liable for as per the contractual agreement.

Utilities

Renters need to carefully check the terms of their lease to determine which utilities are included and what additional expenses they would be liable for. Usually, utilities such as gas, water, electricity and internet usually aren't covered by the landlord, but this varies between properties.

Education and Schools in the Cayman Islands

The education system in the Cayman Islands is generally of an excellent standard, and expats will be pleased to know that the islands have a number of schools to choose from. Education is compulsory from the age of four to 16 for all children living on the islands, and is free to all Caymanian children and those who qualify as residents.

Expats who are employed by the government will have the option of sending their children to a public school, provided there is space. But if they are employed in the private sector and earn a certain amount per month with two dependants on their permit, then the child is to attend a private school.

All children are required to take a medical test before entering a public or private/international school. The school year begins in September.


Public schools in the Cayman Islands

Public schools in the Cayman Islands are based on the English model and follow the Examinations Council curriculum, which is similar to the English GCSE system, making assimilation easier for many expat children.

For English-speaking expats, public schools are a viable option for their children, as the language of instruction is familiar.


Private and international schools in the Cayman Islands

There are various private and international primary and secondary schools on the islands that follow either the American or British system. Some of the schools are faith-based. Many of the schools are located in George Town on Grand Cayman.

While there are a number of private and international schools across all three islands, expats will find that space is often limited and there are long waiting lists. Early applications should therefore be a priority.

Admission and enrolment procedures vary between schools. Tuition for private and international schools is usually expensive, but they tend to offer high standards of learning, good facilities, smaller classes and sundry extra-curricular activities.


Homeschooling in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Department of Education Services states that any person who is recognised as a legal resident in the Cayman Islands can homeschool their child with the approval of the Department of Education Services.


Special-needs education in the Cayman Islands

Special-needs students are accommodated as far as possible in mainstream schools in the Cayman Islands. For children whose disabilities are too severe to be accommodated in mainstream classrooms, there is a special education school called the SEN Special Day School, which caters for students with intellectual disabilities, autism disorder and multiple disabilities. 

The Alternative Education Center (AEC), on the other hand, takes in older students who are considered to have behavioural difficulties that make it impossible for them to attend regular school. The centre acts as a 'second chance programme' of sorts, tailored to the individual needs of young troubled learners.


Tutoring in the Cayman Islands

Many Cayman parents opt to have their children tutored. Tutoring is helpful in cases where children need assistance in specific subject areas such as maths or science, studying for important entrance exams, or for students with learning difficulties. An excellent tutoring company in the Cayman Islands is the Cayman Learning Centre and School.

Transport and Driving in the Cayman Islands

There are a few options for getting around the Cayman Islands, including buses, taxis and private cars. The islands are home to two international airports.

Expats will find that the roads are in good condition and that navigating the islands is relatively simple. Traffic drives on the left-hand side, and the easiest way to travel is by car.


Public transport in the Cayman Islands

Public transport in the Cayman Islands is not that extensive, but it suits the small population’s needs. Expats may be surprised to learn that ferries do not travel between the three islands because of how deep the water is. Private boats are available for hire to reach the other islands.

Buses

On Grand Cayman, a bus connects all the districts of the island. While there are some bus stops along major routes, one can flag down a passing point at any stage. Passengers can alert the driver when they need to get off. Expats should be aware that the buses look like shuttles rather than the domestic buses they may be used to.

Buses generally operate from 6am to 11pm on weekdays, with extended hours over the weekend. Depending on the location, buses leave every 10 to 20 minutes.


Taxis in the Cayman Islands

Taxis are available throughout the islands. Expats should note that taxis are not metered, but rather operate by fares set by the government. Conditions that affect the fare include – bad weather, late-night and early-morning trips, and commutes with more than three passengers. It is recommended that expats confirm the fare before getting into the taxi. Apps such as Uber and Lyft aren't available in the Cayman Islands, but the country has recently introduced the ride-sharing app, Flex.


Driving in the Cayman Islands

To legally drive on the islands, expats will need either a visitor’s permit or a valid international driving licence. If driving a privately owned car, expats need to visit the Vehicle and Drivers' Licensing Department. The paperwork required includes an expat’s passport and a domestic driving licence. A visitor’s permit will then be issued for the duration of one’s stay.

Scooters and mopeds can be rented on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman. Expats must wear helmets at all times when on a scooter or moped, and be cautious when changing lanes.


Cycling in the Cayman Islands

The well-maintained roads and naturally flat terrain of the islands make getting around by bike fairly easy. Bicycles can be rented along the beachfront. Expats should make sure to lock up their bicycles properly with a lock.

Banking, Money and Taxes in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands has one of the largest and most respected financial sectors and is home to more than 600 banks and 100,000 companies.

Thanks to its tax-free status on income, the Cayman Islands is famous as an offshore bank account host. These accounts are transparent in nature, and the islands are well known for being open about transactions, despite the opinion that occasionally flares up about 'shady' offshore accounts.

Expats will find that banking is efficient and easy on the islands.


Money in the Cayman Islands

The official currency is the Cayman Islands dollar (KYD) divided into 100 cents. It is commonly abbreviated as CI$ before the amount. The KYD is permanently fixed at an exchange rate to the US Dollar.

  • Notes: 1 KYD, 5 KYD, 10 KYD, 25 KYD, 50 KYD and 100 KYD

  • Coins: 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents and 25 cents

There are ATMs all over the islands, and US dollars are also widely accepted.


Banking in the Cayman Islands

The islands are home to a sophisticated banking system and many banks, making managing finances straightforward and accessible.

Opening a bank account

All expats looking to open a bank account will be subjected to a thorough check before the account is opened. Expats should note that some banks will not offer chequing services to a new account holder who has just arrived on the islands.

If an expat changes jobs while on the islands, they must get a letter from their new employer stating their salary for the bank.


Taxes in the Cayman Islands

While the islands are famous for being a tax haven, it is by no means completely tax free. The government relies heavily on indirect taxation, pushing up the prices of everyday items that can make the cost of living bitterly expensive. Still, there are no taxes on income, capital gains or wealth tax, which makes the islands an attractive destination for expats.

Healthcare in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands is home to a broad range of medical services, including hospitals, clinics, specialist doctors and general practitioners. The standard of healthcare on the islands is excellent. Most of the facilities are located on the Grand Cayman, but there are health centres on all three islands.

The hospitals have received recognition for their technological advancements across several specialities. Healthcare and medication can be costly, so health insurance is necessary.


Public healthcare in the Cayman Islands

Public healthcare is available in the Cayman Islands, but expats planning to use these services will still need to take out compulsory health insurance to cover them while they are on the island.

Public health services are largely cheaper than private healthcare services, but expats can expect longer queues, lower-quality facilities and fewer amenities.


Private healthcare in the Cayman Islands

Most expats in the Cayman Islands will opt to use private healthcare. Due to the high costs associated with this, expats will generally take out a comprehensive health insurance plan which will cover any specialists and emergencies during their time on the islands.

Private healthcare in the Cayman Islands is typically of a high standard, and expats can expect to find well-trained medical professionals and short waiting lists.


Health insurance in the Cayman Islands

Basic health insurance coverage is mandatory for every resident in the Cayman Islands. In fact, the Cayman Islands was one of the first countries to implement this policy. Most international health insurance policies are not accepted in the Cayman Islands, so expats will need to research local government-approved insurance companies to find a suitable plan for their specific healthcare needs.

Expats working in the Cayman Islands must ensure their employer registers them with a Standard Health Insurance Contract (SHIC) on the first day of their employment. Expats will need to undergo a medical examination to determine the level of coverage they will require. The SHIC system typically covers GP visits, hospital stays and surgical care, but the extent of coverage will depend on expats' individual cover.


Emergency services in the Cayman Islands

There are ambulances across the Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac and these can be called using 911.

While the islands are generally well-equipped to handle most medical issues, some complicated surgeries or severe emergencies may require medical evacuation to overseas hospitals. Expats should be sure to take out a medical insurance plan which will cover them for cases such as these.

Working in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands has a thriving economy, boasting an exceptionally high GDP per capita. The islands are a popular business and financial centre, based on their tax-free status on incomes and their well-developed communications infrastructure.

The two biggest economic sectors on the islands are finance and tourism. The Caymans are the fifth-largest banking centre in the world, reflected in the large number of banks in comparison to the relatively small population.


Job market in the Cayman Islands

Most of the banks located in the Cayman Islands are licenced to operate internationally and with limited domestic activity. International conglomerates include HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. An expat qualified in the financial sector is a good candidate for finding a job on the islands, especially in investments or insurance.

Management positions in construction are also usually available to foreigners, as there are not enough qualified Caymanians to fill these posts.

Tourism is another thriving sector, but finding a job as an expat can be difficult due to the industry's seasonal nature.

Teaching is also an option for expats, as many teachers are recruited from England, Canada and the US. The typical recruitment period is between December and February every year.


Finding a job in the Cayman Islands

Most expats job hunting in the Cayman Islands do so through a local recruitment agency. To work on the islands as a non-resident, expats must secure a work permit before making the move, which can only be done with the guarantee of an employer. Recruitment agencies will be able to advise expats on their prospects, potential salary and suitability.

If an expat has a work permit, they can register with the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) to access their job database.

Other methods of job searching include internet portals and social networking sites such as LinkedIn.


Work culture in the Cayman Islands

In contrast to the laid-back island lifestyle, the work culture in the Cayman Islands is rather conservative. Respect for authority and those in senior positions is vital, and expats should always be courteous and formal in the workplace.

Company structures are hierarchical rather than egalitarian, but employees' input is nonetheless valued and taken into consideration.