The Virgin Islands, often called the British Virgin Islands (BVI), is a British overseas territory, located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands make up part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, the remaining islands constituting the U.S. Virgin Islands. As an offshore financial centre, the British Virgin Islands enjoys one of the more prosperous economies of the Caribbean region. The “twin pillars” of the economy are tourism and financial services.
Economically however, financial services associated with the territory’s status as an offshore financial centre are by far the more important. 51.8% of the Government’s revenue comes directly from licence fees for offshore companies, and considerable further sums are raised directly or indirectly from payroll taxes relating to salaries paid within the trust industry sector (which tend to be higher on average than those paid in the tourism sector).
Legislation: BVI Business Companies Act, 2004 (No. 16 of 2004) (“the BVI BC Act”).
NOTE: The BVI BC Act replaces the existing regimes, which govern the IBC’s and the BVI Domestic Companies known as CAP 285. Important features:Below is a summary of some of the important features of BVI IBC under the Order: Type of company:Business Company or BC, being tried and trusted corporate vehicle designed exclusively for conducting international business. The BC can take the form of a company limited by shares;
Jurisdiction: The BVI is a British Protected Territory or Crown Colony. It became self-governing in 1967 and is a member of the Commonwealth. The legal system, courts, etc is that of the United Kingdom.
The Authority: Matters pertaining to the conducts of offshore businesses and regulation related thereto including issuing of licenses are governed and supervised by a supervisory authority called BVI Financial Services Authority.
Who can incorporate: Registered Agent as licensed under Company Management Act 1990. Time to incorporate: In most cases including reservation of name, a BC can be incorporated within 2-3 days.
Companies authorised to issue Registered Shares only
Companies authorised to issue Registered Shares and Bearer Shares
Shelf company availability: Yes. We always have a number of already existing companies for sale. These companies are “clean”, that is to say, they have never traded or engaged in any transaction whatsoever. We deliver to our clients a certificate of non-trading whenever we sell these companies. For further details please contact anyone of our personnel.
Taxation: An International Business Company does not pay any tax on its world-wide profits to the British Virgin Islands authorities.
Minimum annual government fee: US$350.00 for BC with authorised capital of US$50,000.00 or less and US$1,000.00 for IBC with authorised capital of more than US$50,000.00.
Disclosure of beneficial owner: BVI adopts money laundering legislation under which all licensed service providers are required to know the identity of their customers before accepting a transaction. Not to do so would be an offence under the legislation. Therefore disclosure of beneficial ownership will be made to trust company, bank, insurers, etc. but not to the Authority.
Bearer shares: Shares may be in registered or bearer forms. However higher maximum registration fee and annual fee are as listed above applicable and by 2010 all bearer shares must be held by authorised custodian.
Standard minimum paid up: None but our standard company comes with a standard paid up of US$1.00.
Standard authorised capital: None.
Permitted currency of capital: Any currency although in most cases the US$ is prevalent. Minimum number of shareholders: One and there is no residency or nationality requirement.
Minimum number of directors: One and there is no residency or nationality requirement.
Corporate directors: Yes.
Local directors: No.
Company secretary: No.
Public record of directors & shareholders: No.
Location of directors and shareholders meeting: Anywhere.
Telephone board meeting: Yes.
Access to Double Tax Treaty: Has treaties with the UK, Japan and Switzerland. They have limited benefit and are not applicable to offshore business.
Requirement to file account: Only to licensed IBCs like bank, insurers, trust companies. Nevertheless an IBC is required to maintain account which shall accurately reflect its financial positions.
Requirement to file annual return: No requirement to file annual return.
Change in domicile: Domicile in and out yes.
Local registered office address: An IBC must have at all time a registered office in BVI which shall be maintained at the office of a licensed management company.
III. MEANING OF AN “IBC” An IBC, being an offshore company, is a company that cannot:
1. The Segregated Portfolio Company (“SPC”) was used in the BVI under the Insurance Act, 1994. The BVI BC Act allows mutual funds and other types of companies to be incorporated as SPC’s and enhances BVI’s ability to compete for offshore business with other jurisdictions offering this type of service. The SPC is subject to FSC’s approval.
2. Restricted Purpose Company (“RPC”). Despite its name, the RPC has full capacity to do any act and carry on any business whatsoever.
|Type of company||BC or Business company|
|Common or civil law jurisdictions||Common law|
|Shelf company availability||yes|
|Time to incorporate||24-48hrs|
|Min. annual duty or franchise fee||US$350 or US$1,100.00|
|Annual return filling fee||nil|
|Disclosure of beneficial ownership||To Registered Agent|
|Bearer shares||Yes but subject to higher fee and custodianship|
|Standard minimum paid up capital||None|
|Standard authorised share capital||None|
|Permitted currency of capital||any|
|Minimum number of shareholders||1|
|Minimum numbers of directors||1|
|Public record of directors||no|
|Public record of shareholders||no|
|Location of directors meeting||Any where|
|Location of shareholders meeting||Any where|
|Telephone board meeting||Yes|
|Access to Double taxation treaty||No but BVI currently has tax treaty with the UK, Japan and Switzerland.|
|Requirement to file account||No|
|Requirement to file annual return||No requirement to file annual return|
|Change in domicile||Yes|
|Local registered address||Registered Agent|
|Who can incorporate?||Registered Agent|
|Corporate Registration Efficiency||Incorporation can be done in 2-3 days.|
|Availability of Name||Names are not easily available.|
|Confidentiality||Details of shareholders and directors are not public records and greater degree of confidentiality is achieved using nominees.|
|Political Stability||Excellent. BVI is a UK’s Crown dependency and has enjoyed economic and political stabilities.|
|Maintenance Cost||One of BVI’s key successes is the fact that it is competitively priced.|
|Legal System||Based on English legal system.|
|Regulator||The BVI FSC is an excellent regulator.|
|Location||BVI is very remote and is not well connected by flights. In addition the islands are battered by typhoon every year so travelling is off limit in some months.|
|Exchange Control||Very liberal.|
|Rate of Tax||Zero tax rate.|
|Double Tax Treaty Access||A few limited tax treaties.|
|Local Banking Services||A few major international banks have presence|
|Time Zone||If you are from Asia BVI is not in your convenient time zone which means that calls must be made at odd hours of the evening.|
|Reputation||Undoubtedly BVI is the most successful IBC jurisdiction, clocking at least 40,000 IBCs a year.|
Click the link below to see the banking option we have for BVI Company.
How can I get more information on company formation in British Virgin Islands?
Please contact us if you wish to open a company in British Virgin Islands and we will be pleased to discuss your BVI offshore company formation matters in greater detail.