Move & Opening a Bu...
 
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Move & Opening a Business

(@Kristinap2010)
Posts: 9
Active Member
Topic starter
 

My father-in-law is wanting to open up an excursion business, he has already purchased several boats and will be bringing them down towards September. My sister-in-law lives on island currently and has been helping as much as she can. We still have some questions though, such as what are the regulations on transportation? Can he ship buses/taxis there and provide his own transportation to/from the cruise ships? He is working on locking down a contract with the cruise ships now and is hoping to start at the beginning of peak season. Are there any specifics we should know about starting up a business there i.e. laws, regulations, licenses we will need to acquire?

My husband and I will be moving in November/December since we cannot fly our dogs until then. If anyone has suggestions or knows anyone who is willing to rent their house to us with two dogs and two cats please let me know (I know this will be tough to find). Rent is not an issue as long as we find a place that will allow our dogs (certifiably trained). We are hoping to eventually buy a place if/when his business starts generating profit.

I have done a lot of research and will continue to do so, but I am hoping to get some feedback from people who have either done this themselves or know of someone who has, or anyone who just has any information to provide us. He is dead set on doing this and yes we have the means to support ourselves for awhile until the business takes off (hopefully). Any information is greatly appreciated!

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 5:56 pm
(@STTsailor)
Posts: 699
Prominent Member
 

I don't know anything about nautical business but I can tell you one thing. USVI is NOT a business friendly environment. The beurocracy level here is high. Local government doesn't make anything easy. Even paying estimated taxes is more difficult than on mainland. Business license, permits, inspections take time and money. Documents get lost all the time. Lots of stuff has to be hand delivered. Documents get processed in an order established based on relationships, than skin color and finally chronology of submission. Local beurocrats are hungry for power and are very pleased to show the businessmen who is a he BOSS.

It is fairly typical for 3 Rd world relations. One has to be very patient, keep up a good face and offer smal tokens of appreciation to get anything done.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 6:17 pm
(@caribstx)
Posts: 546
Honorable Member
 

I don't even know where to begin...so many things to consider.

All I can say is...I hope you have a lot of patience!

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 6:20 pm
(@ms411)
Posts: 3554
Famed Member
 

No, he cannot provide his own transportation to and from cruise ships. He has to develop a relationship with taxi drivers and either have a list of ones he can call, or go into contract with one or several.

You need to speak to an attorney or business consultant here on the island. The situation is much too complex to advise on a forum.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 6:24 pm
(@Kristinap2010)
Posts: 9
Active Member
Topic starter
 

Super helpful thank you!
Obviously he needs to physically be there while trying to set everything up and it will take a lot of time.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 6:28 pm
(@ms411)
Posts: 3554
Famed Member
 

There are expediters who can advise you/him before he gets here, and who may be able to get the process started. Not sure why he would contact ships without at least having a Biz license.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 7:14 pm
(@Kristinap2010)
Posts: 9
Active Member
Topic starter
 

There are expediters who can advise you/him before he gets here, and who may be able to get the process started. Not sure why he would contact ships without at least having a Biz license.

He has a friend who is high up with one of the cruise lines. It will be a contract with contingencies (or so I think). We have contacted the VISBDC for assistance. I just wanted to see if there were any entrepreneurs on here who had some good advice for us. He will be moving to STT later in the summer to begin the paperwork and handle everything in person, we just wanted to make sure we have everything "lined up" and ready to go and we haven't left anything important out. Thanks again for everyone's input!

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 7:20 pm
(@IslandHops)
Posts: 929
Prominent Member
 

Rule #1 - Do everything in person. Review with the person you are handing it over to, in case there are any minor items requiring clarification or correction. And importantly, get a stamped copy.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 8:05 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
 

You may wish to contact Nancy Anderson at Moonpath Services.
She does marketing and consulting, business licenses, trade name applications, VI tax filing, etc. 340-777-6683.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 9:35 pm
(@ms411)
Posts: 3554
Famed Member
 

I would take Alana's suggestion. Even people who have lived here for decades use those services because they are well worth the money. If you have lots of free time and patience, do it in person, but you have to go in with the attitude that you are going to be so charming, crazy, or hysterical that they'll be afraid to jerk you around.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 9:56 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
 

Plus, you have to know where to go, what paperwork is required, who you need to see to get what done, in what order. Not always easy, requires, strength, stamina, endurance, a good attitude and a great deal of patience. It's good to have guidance. Well worth the cost.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 10:51 pm
(@the-oldtart)
Posts: 6523
Illustrious Member
 

For what it's worth, I lived here for over 10 years before deciding to open my own business and, as many people as I knew in government agencies, the best thing I ever did was to put all the licensing in the hands of a business consultant. For the 16 years I was in business I relied on that same person to handle annual licensing and it was money well spent.

Having, "a friend who is high up with one of the cruise lines" means absolutely nothing where local laws and licenses are concerned.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 11:05 pm
(@Kristinap2010)
Posts: 9
Active Member
Topic starter
 

Thanks everyone and yes I will be giving Nancy a call tomorrow. Keep the advice coming!

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 11:09 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
 

Another thing to consider is where you're going to locate your business.
Is it going to be dock based or will boats be on moorings?
Are you going to run it out of a resort?
You'll have to check with DPNR no matter what.

I'm not sure of mooring policies these days but you'll need permits if they're giving them out. Plus they charge by ft. for boat registrations.
All boats will need to be registered and licensed and USCG inspected and the captains will need to be duly USCG licensed as well.

Sept, Oct. Is the height of hurricane season so you'll need an action plan in the event of a storm and very good insurance.
Definitely get guidance on these matters.

When hiring captains, get people with local knowledge and good reputations.
I've seen too many inexperienced people who don't know what they're doing run up on rocks and reefs. Damage to a boat and corals is expensive.

 
Posted : March 17, 2016 11:58 pm
 NJoy
(@NJoy)
Posts: 46
Eminent Member
 

Different Island but a great contact for "General Information" from a company that pulled it off on another Island and appears to be thriving: Email: info@12metre.com

They run a sailing business in St. Maarten and have Cruise Ship business sales from Carnival Cruise Ship Line.

They have a established relationship with selling the day-trip cruises they sell to Carnival passengers. There are on the Carnival's list of recommended activities passengers can purchase while in-port.

Maybe they can give you insight of things to consider for operating on another Island in USVI. Just "General Information," for business logistics information because I am sure there are many moving parts that would be specific for USVI compared to St. Maarten.

Different Island and different rules, laws and regulations.

 
Posted : March 18, 2016 4:09 am
(@stjohnjulie)
Posts: 1061
Noble Member
 

All good advice already. I just wanted to add, be humble, all the time. There is no 6 degrees of separation here. You might get angry at the person who cuts in line at the grocery store, open your mouth to them, and then have to beg them for your tax clearance letter the next day at the VIBIR. If you come here and act like you know it all, or have an entitled/elitist attitude, you are going to have a really hard time. Developing relationships takes a lot of time (years) but it is worth the time and effort in most cases. Also, don't expect ANYTHING to happen on schedule.

 
Posted : March 18, 2016 7:02 am
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