Living in Brunei
The small country located between Malaysia and Indonesia in the island of Borneo is considered one of the richest countries in the world, due to its oil and gas reserves. For that reason, quality of life is extremely high, with both healthcare services and education being free for the population.
Living in the country can be challenging, especially since Sharia Law started being implemented in 2014. However, the country has much to offer in terms of nature and people.
Due to the country’s small population, Brunei counts with half of its workforce composed by foreigners, especially those from Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia.
In order to obtain a work permit, the employee must first apply for a labor license from the Brunei Labor Department. The license is given on a quota basis, and after an analysis by the government if the position cannot be filled by local workers and if the foreign worker has suitable qualifications and skills.
Once the employer has received a labor license, it should submit it together with all of the completed forms and documents to the authorities. The employer is also obliged to provide a security bond covering a one-way airfare ticket to the employee’s country of origin, to ensure that the foreign worker will not overstay its visa period. The work permit is valid for a period of 2 years, after which it should be renewed.
Alternatively, foreigners can also apply for a visitor visit, for either tourist or non-remunerative business purposes. This permit is valid for a period of up to 3 months. Nationals for certain countries are obtained from applying for visa.
One of Brunei’s biggest advantages is its tax regime.
Individuals are exempt from paying personal income tax in their earnings. Furthermore, there is no payroll tax, with a contribution of 5% to the Employees Trust Fund being mandatory for resident workers.
The country also does not count with value-added tax or sales tax, making it a cheap place to buy most goods.
Brunei is a Muslim country with strict rules, especially since the establishment of the Sharia Law in 2014. Although for the most part the legislation does not affect daily life, some things need adjusting to. For example, woman should be dressed modestly, and everyone should refrain from physical contact with the opposite sex.
Another point is that the consumption of alcohol and pork is prohibited, however foreigners are allowed a quota of alcohol for private consumption. That being said, there are ways to get hold of both alcoholic drinks and pork meat illegally, as long as it is kept low profile.
Needless to say, because of scarce alcohol, the night scene in the country is minimal in terms of clubs and bars. However, it is always possible to find a party of a gathering in someone’s house. Brunei has a small expat community, composed mostly of employees of the oil industry and teachers.
Brunei is paradise for nature lovers, as it is located in the jungle. Even for those that rather enjoy non-nature options, the main capital, Bandar Seri Begawan counts with several leisure activities, from mall to cinemas.
Furthermore, being such a small country travelling around the region is very easy. In a couple of hours drive you can reach Malaysia; by boat is also possible to reach Thailand and Singapore. The country’s international airport has daily flight to all major cities around. When the country starts becoming too small it is possible to go for a quick getaway in a couple of hours.
Much like its neighbors Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, Brunei does not have 4 seasons, but rather has dry and rainy months. The temperature throughout the year varies from 22°C to 32°C , with the levels of humidity being very high.
If you think Brunei is the perfect place for you give us a call and we can help you with your visa process! We at Healy Consultants Group PLC are experts in registration in Brunei and can help you with company set-up, obtaining residency and other set up services. To talk to an expert, email us at email@healyconsultants[at]com or call us at +65 67350120.