In 1974, the Central Bank was appointed the Controller of Exchange. The Regulations provide that all investments by non-Bahamians in the domestic economy be approved and the resultant currency flows recorded; that all Bahamian companies (except International Business Companies) in which non-Bahamians hold an interest be designated resident or non-resident, depending on where they will operate; that all settlements and trusts be designated for Exchange Control purposes; that, in general, appropriate residential status for individuals, firms, organizations, etc. vis-a-vis Exchange Control be conferred. They also provide for specific guidelines affecting residents who emigrate.
As an Article VIII member of the International Monetary Fund, The Bahamas agrees not to place restrictions on current transactions, such as payments for imports. In its administration of Exchange Control, although the Central Bank has set certain limits for various types of current payments ( Current Payments under Delegated Authority), it does not withhold approval for legitimate foreign exchange purchases for current transactions. In fact, in its efforts to better facilitate the needs of the general public, the Bank has delegated certain powers to some of the major banks and trust companies to act on its behalf.
Within certain limits, banks with 'Authorised Dealer' status are empowered to conduct foreign currency transactions with residents of The Bahamas; while banks and trust companies designated as 'Authorised Agents' are permitted to act as depositories for foreign securities of residents and to conduct certain transactions in securities in respect of non-resident companies under their management.
Foreign exchange transactions that fall outside the authority of the Authorised Dealers and Agents must be referred to the Central Bank, and can be dealt with either by the completion and approval of forms (available online) or through electronic correspondence to the Central Bank (email address: [email protected]). These applications include loans, dividends, profits, capital repatriation, foreign currency accounts (Guidelines for Opening and Classification of Accounts), Exchange Control designations, emigration facilities, share transactions, travel, import and sundry payment facilities exceeding the Authorised Dealer limits, gift remittances, and investment currency transactions (e.g. purchase of real estate abroad, or purchase of shares of a foreign entity). The removal of the Exchange Control Counter at the Central Bank, and the elimination of Personal Allowance Cards (commonly referred to as “Dollar Cards”) were a part of exchange control liberalisation measures implemented over the years.