Welcome to Bermuda!

Click on graphic above to navigate the 165+ web files on this website, a regularly updated Gazetteer, an in-depth description of our island's internally self-governing British Overseas Territory 900 miles north of the Caribbean, 600 miles east of North Carolina, USA. With accommodation options, airlines, airport, actors, actresses, aviation, banks, beaches, Bermuda Dollar, Bermuda Government, Bermuda-incorporated businesses and companies including insurers and reinsurers, Bermudians, books and publications, bridges and causeway, charities, churches, citizenship by Status, City of Hamilton, commerce, communities, credit cards, cruise ships, cuisine, currency, disability accessibility, Devonshire Parish, districts, Dockyard, economy, education, employers, employment, environment, executorships, fauna, ferries, flora, former military bases, forts, gardens, geography, getting around, golf, guest houses, highways, history, historic properties, Hamilton, House of Assembly, housing, hotels, immigration, import duties, internet access, islands, laws, legal system and legislators, main roads, marriages, media, members of parliament, money, motor vehicles, municipalities, music and musicians, newcomers, newspaper, media, organizations, parks, parishes, Paget, Pembroke, performing artists, residents, pensions, political parties, postage stamps, public holidays, public transportation, railway trail, real estate, registries of aircraft and ships, religions, Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys, senior citizens, Smith's, Somerset Village, Southampton, St. David's Island, St George's, Spanish Point, Spittal Pond, sports, taxes, telecommunications, time zone, traditions, tourism, Town of St. George, Tucker's Town, utilities, water sports, Warwick, weather, wildlife, work permits.

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Bermuda Government after General Election of October 1 2020

The Progressive Labour Party took 30 of the 36 parliamentary seats

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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us).

Bermuda Parliament, established in 1620

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A General Election was held on October 1, 2020, between the Progressive Labour Party (PLP), then the Government with 24 of the 36 parliamentary seats, One Bermuda Alliance (OBA), with 12 of the 36 seats and the 2020 September 1 newly-formed Free Democratic Movement (FDM). The PLP increased its majority to 30 seats from 24. The OBA decreased its minority by 50%. The FDM got 5% of the vote island-wide but got no MPs.

Political Parties

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Global HouseBermuda is externally a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. It makes all its own laws. UK and European Community laws do not apply in Bermuda.  Newcomers from other countries can come here to work despite the island's small size and exceptionally high population per square mile but, unlike in Britain, are not allowed to gain citizenship or vote or acquire lower-priced real estate unless they they qualify for citizenship in ways no other Western country require.  In the UK, USA, Canada and elsewhere, citizenship comes after 3 (if married to a national) or 5 years, tops. But not in Bermuda, not even if you stay longer than 5 years. 

In Bermuda, only with marriage to a Bermudian and living with a spouse for over 10 years can someone not Bermudian apply for citizenship. Even children born in Bermuda are not Bermudian under Bermuda law unless one parent is.  

More information about the role of Britain in Bermuda. Her Majesty the Queen is Bermuda's official Head of State. In London, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, London, England, at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-development-office is responsible for Bermuda, other territories and agencies including UK visas, British Council and BBC World Service. The Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda is appointed by The Queen (on the advice of the British Government in London) after consultation with the Premier of Bermuda. 

His Excellency the Governor has his own Flag of Office. It is a Union Jack but in its center it has the Bermuda arms on a white disc encircled by a green garland. Uniforms for the Governor are made in London by Davies & Sons. They include a full dress blue and tropical cotton drill. It is based on old British military Field Marshals, with a white pith helmet with dyed scarlet swan's feathers plumage and Mameluke sword by Wilkinson Sword. The price of about $10,000 is met by the British Government. The official car used by the Governor  features a crown instead of a license plate, with extra large width, length and horsepower by Bermuda standards and the Governor's Flag.

The main challenge for a Bermuda Governor is to balance two sometimes contradictory functions. First, he is the primary source of information from Bermuda to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the state of affairs in Bermuda. Second, he is the voice of the United Kingdom and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advising Bermudians what they can and cannot do under British/United Kingdom laws. The salaries of the Governor, Deputy Governor and their staff are paid by Bermuda's taxpayers, NOT the British Government. Bermuda, despite its tiny size, is wealthy enough not to need the support from the United Kingdom some other overseas territories get.  

The governorship of Bermuda was traditionally a prestigious post for a small but important British territory granted by the British Government in London. For much of the last century it was given to a senior military officer on retirement, or a politician who had held senior office. The last of the latter type was David Waddington, Baroness Thatcher's last home secretary who as Lord Waddington was governor from 1992 until 1997. Since then the post has been held by career diplomats and sometimes comes with a knighthood for the holder when retiring and not being re-assigned elsewhere.

Bermuda is a parliamentary representative democratic dependency. The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( FCO) administers Bermuda internationally but in all other matters Bermuda is a self-governing British Overseas Territory (BOT), one of the 14  BOTS worldwide and the oldest. 

House of Assembly, Sessions House 1

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Bermuda House of Assembly or Sessions House.

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Bermuda Government Cabinet members with their Ministry Portfolios

Premier from July 19, 2017:  Hon. David Burt, JP,  MP, 41 in 2020. The Premier decides all Cabinet appointments.

Premier David Burt and familyThe Premier of Bermuda is the political leader and head of government. The post of Premier in Bermuda is the equivalent to Chief Minister  in other British Overseas Territories or Prime Minister in politically independent British Commonwealth of Nations. It is the highest political level that can be attained within the British colonial system. The Premier and Cabinet (consisting of all the most senior ministers) are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to the Legislative Assembly, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate. Phone (441) 295-4623. Highest paid Cabinet member, on an annual salary of $224,092 in 2011/2012. Has use of a Bermuda Government car, GP1, a BMW 750Li. Also gets health insurance, a pension, a parking space at Sessions House and a credit card. Appoints other Cabinet Ministers each of whom earns in excess of $171,000 a year plus expenses, gets use of a Bermuda Government car, a Toyota Camry, health insurance, a pension, a parking space at Sessions House and a credit card.

Premier the Hon. David Burt, MP, JP, and his family. Married to Kristin. They have two children. He attended Saltus Academy but left at a young age to seek a fresh challenge, heading to Florida Air Academy and qualifying as a pilot. Later, he attended and graduated from George Washington University, where he obtained a bachelor of business administration in finance and information and a master of science in information systems technology. He was awarded the university’s presidential administrative fellowship. The Progressive Labour Party’s leader had been the Shadow Minister of Finance since 2012 and is a former party chairman. He is a lifelong Pembroke resident and runs an IT and small business consulting firm called GMD Consulting Limited. He has served on the Tourism Board and the National Training Board, and also filled the position of director at the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. 

All Cabinet Ministers are appointed by and answer to the Premier. He can extend or reduce their Cabinet responsibilities, at her/his discretion. They must be either elected Members of Parliament or members of the Senate. They are referred to as Ministers in the British way because they control and administer and set the policy for their portfolios. They are paid a regular and pensionable salary - far more generous than in the private sector - as Members of Parliament or Senators with an additional sum if they are also a Cabinet Minister. The benefits enjoyed by Cabinet Ministers on top of their six-figure salaries include use of a car, health insurance, a pension, a parking space at Sessions House and a credit card. All Cabinet Ministers and members of the Legislature are entitled to participate in the Government employment health insurance scheme, as well as the Ministers and Members of the Legislature pensions fund. Ministers are afforded cars. Ministers are issued credit cards that are governed according to Government’s Financial Instructions. They are subject to the standard audit process of the Government. 

2020. October 11. Under fire new senator and Cabinet member Rolfe Commissiong was sacked by the Premier today after just two days in the posts. Rolfe Commissiong was appointed the Senate leader and community affairs and sports minister by David Burt on Thursday, despite being forced to stand down as a Progressive Labour Party election candidate after he admitted an “inappropriate” remark two years ago. News of the appointment of Mr Commissiong, the former MP for Pembroke South East, who stood down from the contest for the seat in August to avoid a “distraction” from the PLP campaign, sparked fury from campaign group Social Justice Bermuda and the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance. Mr Burt added: “Whilst it is not for me to judge any conduct or to determine the outcome of any further action which may be taken, I am compelled to act now.” He said: “The appointment of the Government Leader in the Senate and of the senator who must, under the Constitution be a member of the Cabinet, will be made in due course.”

2020. October 9. The Premier announced his new Cabinet and Senate teams. He dropped the community affairs and sport minister and the recently appointed transport minister from the front bench. Lovitta Foggo, who held community affairs and sport, and Neville Tyrrell, who took over transport after Zane DeSilva left the tourism and transport portfolio, will return to the back benches in the House of Assembly. 

Premier's Senate appointments

The Premier appoints five in the Progressive Labour Party of the eleven Senators. The Governor appoints 3 who are independent, not in the PLP or OBA and the OBA picks three.

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Bermuda's Members of Parliament in House of Assembly

The House of Assembly, Bermuda's Parliament, first convened on August 1, 1620, in the town of St. George, Bermuda's first capital. Only the legislative assemblies of the United Kingdom and Iceland pre date it. The dress code for all Bermuda legislators was relaxed in July 2000. Now men may wear Bermuda Shorts or safari or Nehru suits and women trouser suits. The Bermuda Government has 9 appointed (not elected) Parish Councils, 2 elected municipal Corporations each with their full slate of aldermen and councilors like much larger cities and towns abroad and 108 Government Boards in which there are 800 part time members (none of them full time civil servants, all reporting to a Member of Parliament).

All elected Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament  are required by law to be both Bermudian and British men and women  who are Government or Opposition backbenchers. Their salaries are more than in many places far bigger than Bermuda. They are popularly elected to terms of up to five years by the registered voters of Bermuda - mostly Bermudian. (Some non-Bermudians who were Commonwealth citizens in 1979 were given the vote but are not Bermudian. Since 1979 there have not been any further voting concessions to non-Bermudians, nor have any non-Bermudians been allowed to become Bermudians unless they have qualified to do so by (a) marriage, (b) a wait of 10 years after marriage and (c) have remained both married and living/cohabiting with the same spouse at the time of their marriage at least 10 years earlier).

Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament pay at least 12.5 per cent of their gross salaries into The Legislature Pension Fund. Government matches contributions, to make a total of 25%. Pensions are paid out based on a formula pertaining to the number of years in which contributions were made.

The Bermuda Government is Bermuda's biggest employer by far. It employs more than 14% of Bermuda's entire adult working population and is also easily Bermuda's biggest real estate property owner. Many buildings house the legislators and civil service. The Government controls things which in many other countries are privatized. Typical examples are in airports, tourism, transport. All first world countries have privatized them wholly or partly, but not in Bermuda. Government has 38 quangos and public funds.

Bermuda has more politicians per voter than anywhere else in the world.  A Constituency Boundaries Commission, appointed in late 2001 recommended reduction of members from 40 to 36. It was approved and was in place for the July 2003 General Election  Bermuda now has 36 Members of Parliament  in 21 square miles for a total of 43,000 voters, or 1 legislator for every 1,194 voters. In comparison, in the European Union overall, there are 736 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) for 350 million voters throughout the EU, equivalent to 1 MEP for every 470,000 voters. In the United Kingdom, there is massive over-representation (but not nearly as pronounced as Bermuda) with 646 MPs for a population of 60 million, or 1 MP for every 64,000 voters, with 18 MPs in the whole of Northern Ireland. Germany, with a population of 82 million, has 600 members of parliament; Japan, with a population of 127 million, has 470 legislators; Russia, with a population of 144 million, has 450 legislators; and USA, with 293 million, has 430 congressmen and women' Other examples include St. Lucia, with 14 parliamentarians in its 240 square miles; Barbados, also in the Caribbean, with 28 elected members in its parliament and 12 senators, in its 166 square miles and with a population of 266,000.

House of Assembly recently

House of Assembly recently

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Bermuda social rank definitions and explanations, UK-style

Short form meaning
Dame Dame of the Order of the British Empire, female equivalent of Knight (Sir). In the UK, there are various ranks of Dames
Hon Honorable, solely for current and former Cabinet Ministers
Sir Knight of the British Empire. In the UK, there are various ranks of Knights
JP Justice of the Peace, not a magisterial post. In Bermuda, they do not dispense summary justice but they can deal with local administrative applications. They can be called by the Bermuda Police to execute warrants. JPs are appointed solely by the Bermuda Government; are not required to have a formal legal education in order to qualify for the office (the vast majority of them do not); and are usually Cabinet officials
MP Member of Parliament (elected)
OBE Officer (higher than Member) of the British Empire
MBE  Member of the British Empire, after nomination by Premier
Senator Member of the Bermuda Senate, appointed by Party Leader
Wor Worshipful, title of Mayors of  City of Hamilton and Town of St. George's

On recommendation of the Bermuda Government (Premier's Office) to the UK. For government service. Unlike in the UK, in Bermuda there have never been any Bermuda Government-nominated recommendations for a Dame or Knight who is not in government but is instead in international or local private-sector business.

* Also on recommendation of the Bermuda Government ( Premier's Office) to the UK. For government or other service.

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Bermuda Vital Statistics

Bermuda size & population 20.75 (Twenty point seven five) square miles in total. 63.908 residents in 2019. Women then outnumbered men by 2,398.
Resident population density per square mile 3,097 (Three thousand, zero nine seven). Third highest in the world
Government Code of Conduct for legislators None. There is a voluntary code, with no legislative teeth. It is ignored by some. No equivalent of the UK's Ethical Standards in Public Life Act.
Number in Cabinet 13. Same number as USA, equivalent in Bermuda to 0.63 (Point six three) per square mile. They have "The Honorable" before their name. 
Number of elected legislators in House of Assembly and their salaries 36. Equivalent to 1.93 (One point nine three) per square mile. They have "MP" for Member of Parliament after their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn well in excess of $100,000 a year, plus unlimited expenses. 
Number of appointed politicians in Senate 11. Also salaried. Equivalent to 0.53 (Point five three) per square mile. They have "Senator" before their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn this plus what is shown above under "Number of elected legislators." 
Number of registered voters per Member of Parliament 1,297. On date of last General Election. Contrast this with no fewer than 72,810 and no more than 80,433 per member of parliament in the UK in 2018 and approximately the same in the USA per congressperson and Canada.
Number of Government Boards About 122. All require the approval of the Premier who controls all Public Information. See Bermuda Government Boards separate website shown at the end of this file.
Number of Police About 465, over 20 per square mile. Plus, there are Reserve officers. Bermuda has more police per square mile and per population than anywhere else in the world
Number in Bermuda Regiment and its Coastguard 600 members, mostly Bermudian men, also some women, mostly part time, all now volunteers. Conscription of Bermuda-born males ended a few years ago. 
Registered voters who can participate in a General Election About 46,750. Total number of registered voters in the last General Election, about 60% of the entire resident population. Varies from year to year.
The Bermuda Society  

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Bermuda Constitution

A written document 96 pages long, it went into effect on June 8, 1968. 

Non-Bermudians should be aware that Bermuda is the only place in the developed Western world where Bermuda's constitution and Human Rights laws, provisions and rights apply to Bermudians only. Both of which effectively mean that any attempt by a non-Bermudian to legally challenge a termination of employment and/or residence in Bermuda will be very expensive to pursue and unlikely to succeed.

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2020-2021 Bermuda Government Budget - see https://www.gov.bm/sites/default/files/Budget_Book_Combined_2020_0.pdf 

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Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission

Bermuda has enacted legislation for government, not the private sector or an independent entity, to introduce, control and financially benefit from casino gambling, at government-approved hotels. 

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Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority (BCCA)

Responsible for the regulation and safety oversight of aviation in Bermuda and all aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry. Previously known as the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation, which was established in 1931, the new BCAA became a newly formed Authority on October 1st, 2016. Bermuda is a United Kingdom Overseas Territory and though it is regulated by the UK Department for Transport, the safety oversight system is separate from that of the UK. The regulatory requirements are established as the Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements (OTARs), which are in full compliance with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Bermuda’s Aircraft Registry is extensive and ranks 10th in size when compared to the 191 signatory States to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The current Registry includes a mix of both private aircraft and commercial aircraft operated under Article 83 bis Agreements.

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Bermuda Financial Policy Council

Created to advise on the development of Bermuda’s financial stability framework. Members of the council include Mr Burt, Sir Andrew Large, the former deputy governor of the Bank of England and the CEO of the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Other members are government-approved. The council is supported by the Ministry of Finance and the BMA.

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Bermuda Government Boards

The over 108 boards of political appointments acceptable to the Premier include, at the top, a reference to the relevant Act of Parliament and all members of that Board. They advise their respective Ministers - who may use his or her discretion instead of accepting their recommendations.

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Bermuda Government Debt

2019 Bermuda Government Dept2019. February 23. The Bermuda Government is to suspend payments into the sinking fund, a home for money set aside to pay down long-term debt. In his maiden Budget Statement yesterday, Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said it did not make financial sense to borrow money in order to set it aside for future debt payments. Not paying the contribution allows the Government to project a surplus of $7.38 million, rather than a deficit of about $57 million if the payment had been made. Mr Dickinson said yesterday that the sinking fund has a balance of $214 million. In the coming fiscal year, $180 million of it will be used to repay maturing debt. “The Government will suspend making mandatory contributions to the sinking fund,” Mr Dickinson said. “This decision has been made in light of the following factors: (i) apart from the private placement notes referenced above, the next maturity of government debt will occur in 2022; (ii) the interest expense associated with borrowing to fund the mandatory sinking fund contributions will be greater than the investment return generated on those funds; and (iii) the Government is forecasting continued operating surpluses which it intends to contribute to the sinking fund or use to make open market purchases of its existing indebtedness.” The medium-term projection accompanying the Budget Statement shows no plans to make a contribution to the sinking fund in any of the next three fiscal years. The Government Loans Act 1978 requires that an amount equal to 2.5 per cent of public debt outstanding is paid into the sinking fund each year. 

The law gives the finance minister discretion to suspend payments for 12 months or to draw on the fund to make interest payments. As the debt has burgeoned over the years, from $277 million in 2008 to about $2.46 billion today, mandatory sinking-fund contributions have grown with it to a high point of $64.2 million in 2018-19. The last time the Government made no contribution to the fund was in 2009-2010, when Paula Cox, the finance minister of the time also drew on the fund to pay interest on long-term debt. Since then, contributions to the fund have totaled more than $345 million. The repaying of the $180 million in maturing debt in 2019-20 will reduce annual interest costs to the Government by $12.1 million, Mr Dickinson said. The net debt will rise close to the $2.5 billion debt ceiling, but will not break through it, Mr Dickinson said. By the end of March 2020, net debt is forecast to be $2.457 billion. Future surpluses will be committed to paying down debt, the finance minister added. Interest payments on the debt will amount to $116.5 million in 2019-20, down from $124 million in the previous year, but still costing the public purse the equivalent of $319,000 per day. Interest will also eat up 10.4 cents of every dollar the Government takes in the next fiscal year. Revised estimates for the current fiscal year, which ends on March 30, show that the Government took in $1.08 billion, which was $10.6 million, or 1.1 per cent less than it projected in last year’s Budget. Current account expenditure, which excludes debt servicing costs, was nearly $932 million, which was $2.85 million, or 0.3 per cent more than projected. The result was a deficit of $102.58 million for 2018-19, revised upwards from the last year’s projection for a deficit of $89.7 million. For 2019-20, revenue is forecast to rise by $39 million from the revised estimate for this year to $1.12 billion, while expenditure will be down by $2.1 million from this year’s revised total to $929.86 million. 

The biggest contributor to government coffers will be payroll tax, which is projected to bring in $466.1 million next year, up $5.5 million from this year’s revised estimate, followed by customs duty, expected to generate $235 million, compared to $224.5 million this year. Mr Dickinson announced a freeze in expenditure at 2018-19 levels and added that spending cuts would be difficult to achieve. “While there has been some success in reducing costs, it has become increasingly difficult to implement further reductions under the current government structure and the across-the-board expenditure cuts in previous budgets,” Mr Dickinson said. “With 51.5 per cent of the current account expenditure, excluding debt service, representing employee costs and 34.1 per cent relating to grants and contributions, there are very few other expenditure types that can be reduced and have a material impact on the level of spending.” However, the Government has set up an Efficiency Committee, to seek further opportunities for savings, “either by way of increased efficiencies or by making structural reforms in the way in which services are delivered and institutions are structured”, Mr Dickinson added. The finance minister said: “The EC has highlighted how savings and greater effectiveness can be obtained by the Government in the areas of financial assistance, purchasing of materials, inventory management, and handling of staff vacancies. The EC has also emphasized the critical importance of developing a detailed overall strategic plan to guide the spending priorities of the Government over the medium to long term.” The most expensive ministry by far is health, whose projected expenditure for next year is $241.55 million, more than $100 million ahead of the next most costly ministry, education, which will cost nearly $137 million, just ahead of national security, with $135 million.

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Bermuda Government Fees and Taxes, main sources


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Authored, researched, compiled and website-managed by Keith A. Forbes.
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