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Work Permits for Jamaica

If you thought working in Jamaica did not expand beyond producing rum and being employed in hotels, you need to think again. After a number of years of economic decline, employment in Jamaica is becoming more and more interesting for expats. Our guide offers a comprehensive overview.
Although the importance of agriculture has declined over the years, many Jamaican products are still known worldwide.

How Does It Exactly Work?

While Jamaica is a country with a lot of potential and a ready and willing workforce, it also recognizes the occasional need for qualified personnel from abroad to help bridge certain gaps in expertise that were caused by, among other factors, the large number of Jamaican emigrants, who left the nation behind in search of a new life elsewhere. In fact, it is estimated that three of the largest Jamaican diaspora communities abroad are more numerous than Jamaicans in Jamaica.

Anyone wishing to engage in gainful employment in Jamaica has to apply for a work permit. Exemptions are rather rare, notable instances include coming to Jamaica with a Jamaican spouse, journalists, and directors, inspectors or auditors of Jamaica-based branches of companies. Please note that for the last two, the span of time they may work on their project is limited to 30 and 14 days per calendar year, respectively.

Obtaining a Work Permit for Jamaica

Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. Luckily for expats, the application and additional bureaucratic steps are mainly your future employer’s duties. This means that if you find an employer in Jamaica who is willing to hire you, chances are that things will go smoothly from here on out. You are not completely off the hook, though: there are still several steps you have to take yourself. The actual application will be handled by your employer, however.

The required documents for your work permit application include:

  • a completed and signed work permit application (you as the employee only have to fill out part one, that is, questions 1-29)
  • the application fee of 14,400.00 JMD at the time of writing
  • a cover letter written by your employer, detailing the reasons for the application, job description, duration, and the fact that no suitable applicant could be found within Jamaica
  • your resume
  • certified copies of your credentials
  • your police record
  • two passport-sized photographs
  • two copies of your passport
  • a completed application for taxpayer registration

If everything is in order, your employer should receive notice of the approval of your application in four to six weeks’ time. They will then have to pay an additional work permit fee before you eventually receive your actual permit.

Please keep in mind that your work permit is not an exemption from the requirement of applying for an entry visa, in case you need one. For further info on visa legislation and the application process, please see our article on moving to Jamaica. Should you change your place of residency from one parish to another, you need to inform the Ministry of Labor and Social Security about your move.


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