Foreign Investment Registration
The Government of the RMI requires all non-citizen investments to obtain a Foreign Investment Business License (FIBL). A non-citizen investment is defined as having any level of its equity held by a non-citizen (i.e. foreign citizen corporation, joint venture, partnership or other legal entity).
Where to obtain FIBL from?
The FIBL can be obtained by making application to the Registrar of Foreign Investment in the Office of the Attorney General using the prescribed form.
In cases where the proposed investment is not a Reserved Activity (i.e. not in an economic sector or business activity reserved solely for citizen investors), every effort is made to issue the FIBL within 7 working days of application. In cases where it is unclear that the proposed non-citizen investment is a reserved activity, the registrar can request additional information from the applicant or the Registrar shall clarify the position by seeking the written opinion of the Secretary of the Resources and Development, who shall have sought the views of the appropriate Ministries and Agencies.
If the Secretary is unable to clarify the position or form an opinion, the matter shall be finally determined or clarified by a Foreign Investment Panel composed of the Secretary of Resources and Development, the Attorney General and a representative of the private sector appointed by the Cabinet/Majuro Chamber of Commerce. Decisions as far as possible shall be taken within 15 days from the date the matter is referred to the said panel.
Once issued, the Registrar can only modify, suspend or revoke the FIBL under certain, specific circumstances e.g. the application is found to contain false or fraudulent information etc.
The FIBL provides a non-citizen investor the right to invest in the Marshall Islands as long as the investment stays within the scope of the business activity (or activities) for which it is granted. Once obtained, the non-citizen investor must comply with the laws and regulations of the country, the same as any citizen investor.
Registration of Business Enterprises
The Government requires non-citizen investments to either incorporate as a domestic limited company in the RMI or register as a foreign equity. Incorporating a domestic limited company can be completed at the same time as obtaining FIBL. Instructions regarding the incorporation process are included in the FIBL application and are the same as those required of citizen investors. The application is submitted to the Registrar of Companies in the Office of the Attorney General. Investors that do not wish to incorporate domestically are required to apply to the Registrar of Companies to register their enterprise as a foreign entity i.e. limited company, partnership, sole proprietorship.
Restrictions on Foreign Investment
There are certain sectors that have been reserved for citizens in Marshall Islands. These sectors include:
- Small scale agriculture for local markets
- Small scale mariculture for local markets
- Bakeries and pastry shops
- Motor garage and fuel filling stations
- Land Taxi operations not including airport taxis used by hotels
- Rental of all types of motor vehicles
- Small retail shops with a quarterly turnover of less than US$1000 (including mobile retail shops and or open air vendors and take outs)
- Laundromat and dry cleaning other than services provided by hotels/motels
- Tailor/sewing shop
- Video rental
- Handicraft shop
- Delicatessen, Deli Shop or Food Take-Out