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Work Permits for Jamaica

If you thought working in Jamaica meant working in the tourism industry, think again. After years of economic decline, employment in Jamaica is becoming a more attractive prospect for expats and has a promising future. 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 need for qualified personnel from abroad to help bridge certain gaps in expertise. These gaps were caused, among other factors, by the large number of Jamaican emigrants, who left the nation behind in search of a new life elsewhere. In fact, according to some estimates there are more Jamaicans who have emigrated abroad than there are resident in the country.

Anyone wishing to take up gainful employment in Jamaica has to apply for a work permit. Exemptions include — among others — those 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.

Finding a Job

There are two main methods for finding a job in Jamaica. Firstly, you can browse the classified sections of the two major newspapers, the Jamaica Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer. Both are available online and in print. Alternatively, you can take a look at online job search portals, such as Caribbean Jobs, Jamaican Medium, or Jamaican Jobs Online. Remember to have your application letter and CV to hand when applying for these jobs.

Obtaining a Work Permit for Jamaica

Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS). Luckily for expats, you are required to apply through your employer, and therefore most of the bureaucratic workload falls to them. 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 some steps you have to take yourself.

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, which depends on your chosen industry (please see the list on the MLSS website)
  • a cover letter written by your employer, detailing the reasons for the application, a job description, the duration of your contract, 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 in the form of a Tax Compliance Certificate

If everything is in order, your employer should receive notice of the approval of your application in four to six weeks’ time.

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 more information on visa legislation and the application process, see our article on moving to Jamaica.

Business Etiquette in Jamaica

Doing business in Jamaica is all about relationships and contacts, rather than following the rules. Jamaicans value politeness and formality, and they will expect respect when it is due, so don’t try to be too friendly or informal straight away — it’s important to be professional. Although tact is an important part of business etiquette, Jamaicans will be direct when necessary and will encourage you to do the same.

Bargaining and negotiating are common, so don’t put your best offer up right away, and punctuality is important, although don’t be surprised if the Jamaicans themselves are late. Although the temperature and humidity in Jamaica is almost always high, conservative dress is appropriate for the professional world, although it is more acceptable to dress casually if you are meeting outside of a work environment.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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