Rivermate | Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba flag

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Freelancing and Independent Contracting

Understand the distinctions and regulations for freelancers in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Difference employees and contractors

In Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES Islands), understanding the legal differences between employees and independent contractors is crucial for businesses. Misclassification can lead to penalties and unintended liabilities.

Control and Dependency

Employees and independent contractors differ significantly in terms of the level of control exerted by the hiring entity. Employees are subject to significant control over their work schedule, location, and methods. They are typically provided with tools, equipment, and training by their employers, who dictate how tasks are performed.

On the other hand, independent contractors enjoy greater autonomy. They set their own schedules, use their own tools and equipment, and determine their work methods. The hiring entity dictates the results expected but not the specific means of achieving them.

Economic Dependence

Economic dependence is another key differentiator. Employees typically receive a fixed salary or wages, and their income security is directly tied to the employer. Independent contractors, however, generate income from various clients and are not solely dependent on a single entity.

Integration into the Business

The level of integration into the hiring entity's business structure also distinguishes employees from independent contractors. Employees are typically considered an integral part of the organization, performing tasks essential to its core operations. Independent contractors, however, provide specific services without being deeply embedded within the business structure.

Importance of Written Agreements

While the factors above provide a general framework, it's crucial to carefully analyze the working relationship in each specific situation. A well-drafted written agreement outlining the nature of the services, control, and compensation can help clarify the classification. However, the written agreement itself doesn't determine the legal status; the actual working relationship takes precedence.

Independent contracting

Independent contracting in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES Islands) offers flexibility for both businesses and skilled individuals. However, understanding the specific landscape is crucial to navigate the legalities and maximize benefits.

Contract Structures

In the BES Islands, independent contractor agreements should clearly define the scope of work, deliverables, timelines, compensation structure, and termination clauses. A comprehensive independent contractor agreement should include:

  • Services Provided: A detailed description of the specific services the contractor will perform.
  • Deliverables and Timelines: Clear expectations for project outcomes and completion deadlines.
  • Compensation: Whether a fixed fee, hourly rate, or performance-based structure, with details on payment terms.
  • Confidentiality: Obligations for the contractor to safeguard sensitive business information.
  • Termination: Procedures for ending the agreement, including notice periods and potential consequences.

Negotiation Practices

Negotiating independent contractor agreements in the BES Islands requires balancing interests. For businesses, it's important to clearly define project scope and desired outcomes, set realistic deadlines and milestones, and establish a fair compensation structure considering market rates and project complexity. Independent contractors should negotiate a rate that reflects their expertise and experience, ensure clear deliverables and timelines to avoid scope creep, and request advance payments or milestones to manage cash flow. While direct communication is valued, the BES Islands may have a more collaborative negotiation style. Be prepared to discuss terms openly and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Common Industries for Independent Contracting

Several industries in the BES Islands frequently utilize independent contractors:

  • Tourism and Hospitality: Freelance tour guides, event planners, and digital marketing specialists.
  • Construction: Architects, engineers, and specialized contractors for specific projects.
  • Information Technology: Software developers, web designers, and IT consultants.
  • Creative Services: Writers, photographers, graphic designers, and marketing consultants.

Businesses gain access to specialized skills and expertise without the overhead costs of full-time employees. Independent contractors enjoy flexibility, control over their work schedule, and the potential for higher earnings. However, businesses remain responsible for ensuring independent contractors comply with relevant regulations and hold the necessary permits for their work.

Intellectual property rights

Independent contractors and businesses in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (BES Islands) need to carefully navigate intellectual property (IP) rights. The ownership of creative works, inventions, and other forms of IP can become contentious if not clearly defined in the contracting agreement.

Default Ownership and Presumptions

The Dutch Civil Code, which applies to the BES Islands, generally states that the creator of the work holds the IP rights. However, there are exceptions and nuances:

  • Work Made for Hire: If the work is commissioned and created within the scope of the contractor's employment for the business, ownership may transfer to the business. This should be explicitly stated in the agreement.

Contracting for IP Ownership

To avoid confusion and protect both parties, an independent contractor agreement should explicitly address IP ownership. Here are some key considerations:

  • Specifying Ownership: The agreement should clearly state who owns the IP rights to the work product created by the contractor.
  • Transfer of Ownership: If ownership is to be transferred to the business, the agreement should outline the scope of the transfer (exclusive or non-exclusive rights) and any compensation involved.
  • Licenses: If the contractor retains ownership, the agreement can specify a license granting the business permission to use the IP for a specific purpose and duration.

Confidentiality Considerations

Protecting confidential business information is another important aspect of IP rights for independent contractors. The agreement should include a confidentiality clause restricting the contractor's use or disclosure of sensitive information acquired during the course of the project.

Tax and insurance

Freelancing and independent contracting in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES Islands) come with certain tax responsibilities and insurance considerations.

Tax Obligations

As a freelancer or independent contractor in the BES Islands, you are considered self-employed for tax purposes. This means you are responsible for filing income tax returns and paying social security contributions.

Income Tax

Income from freelance work is subject to income tax in the BES Islands. The filing deadlines and tax rates are established by the National Ordinance Income Tax BES.

Social Security

Self-employed individuals in the BES Islands are required to contribute to the social security system (SZV). These contributions cover old age pension (AOV), widows and orphans benefits (AWW), and basic health insurance (ZVK).


For detailed information on tax filing procedures and social security contributions in the BES Islands, visit the website of the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN). It is also recommended to consult a tax advisor familiar with BES regulations for personalized guidance.

Insurance Options

Securing various insurance options, while not mandatory, can provide valuable protection for independent contractors:

Public Liability Insurance

This type of insurance protects against financial losses if your work causes injury or damage to a third party or their property.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Professional Indemnity Insurance covers financial losses if a client suffers because of negligence or errors in your professional services.

Health Insurance

The BES Islands offer basic health insurance through SZV. However, independent contractors may consider supplemental private health insurance for more comprehensive coverage.

Insurance Considerations

The specific insurance needs will vary depending on the nature of your freelance work and risk factors. It's advisable to consult with a registered insurance broker in the BES Islands to explore suitable coverage options.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.