Where to Incorporate?

The selection of the most suitable jurisdiction for either international trade or investment can often be difficult and requires very careful consideration. Most offshore jurisdictions are free from foreign exchange controls and have introduced company legislation to cater for a diverse range of international business requirements. It is important to select a jurisdiction that is well-suited to specific corporate and personal needs.

Moreover, of all the choices you make when starting a business, one of the most important is the type of legal structure you select for your company.

Not only will this decision have an impact on how much you pay in taxes, it will affect the amount of paperwork your business is required to do, the personal liability you face and your ability to raise money.

The choice among numerous offshore jurisdictions can be a complex decision. Some factors should be taken into consideration. Each offshore financial centre carries its own set of advantages, benefits and possible trade off.

When we design an offshore company structure and during the tax planning process, we always start with reviewing client’s business and residency situation and banking needs before selecting the best jurisdiction for your offshore company; a tailored made solution to your specific needs is the right vehicle to lead you to the ideal jurisdiction that fit your case.

A few list of possible domiciles taking into consideration your primary motivation for the incorporation:

If you are operating a business, and wish to import from out of EU to export/sell to the EU, Cyprus is an excellent vehicle to consider.

If you are focused on doing business within EU or selling to EU clients, we usually recommend a UK LLP, a US LLC or a Canadian Ontario LP.

If you are focused on simplicity, ease of administration, and privacy, we often recommend Seychelles, Belize or BVI, inclusive to act on your behalf as a shareholder or partner even a UK LLP, US LLC, or Canadian Ontario LP.

If you are doing business in Asia, we usually start with Hong Kong or Singapore.
If you are looking for a financial services or Forex licensed entity, we usually suggest New Zealand, Vanuatu or Bulgaria.

If you are looking for an asset management company, we usually recommend a SPF Luxembourg, corp.

If you are focused on asset protection, we might recommend Cook Islands or New Zealand Foreign Trust.

Compliance requirements

Broad range of permitted company names and suffixes to denote limited liability; Low capital requirements; The ability to hold directors and/or shareholders’ meetings anywhere in the world; The absence, or optional requirement for, the audit of accounting records;

Double Taxation Avoidance Treaties

Jurisdictions can be categorised as either treaty jurisdictions or non-treaty jurisdictions. Clients seeking to take advantage of double tax treaty relief need to establish a company situated in a treaty jurisdiction. This is essential for the minimisation of withholding taxes on the payment of dividends and royalties from contracting states. Non-treaty jurisdictions are mainly used because of the absence of corporate taxes on the profits of the company. These jurisdictions usually only require companies to pay a fixed annual licence fee.

Desirable corporate characteristics

Many offshore jurisdictions have made efforts to ensure that their company law provides features such as minimal or optional statutory filing obligations, availability of bearer shares, non-disclosure of beneficial ownership, minimum number of directors, minimum information on public file, ability to hold directors meetings anywhere in the world, lack of requirement to file audited records, flexibility in regards the amount and paying-up of the authorized capital, and similar. It is for you to decide if any of those special features (which will usually be widely advertised by the agents in the respective country) are of any particular interest for you. Apart from that, an offshore company is an offshore company – generally they are all the same. Virtually all entities that are known as “offshore companies” in the narrow tax benefit sense will have the same distinct feature. Such company is essentially relieved of any substantial tax obligation and all the reporting that usually comes with it, insofar as it stays out and away from the country where it has been registered.

Infrastructure

The infrastructure of an offshore jurisdiction is important. You would not like to place your corporate nest-egg in a country which takes ages to get through by telephone. Some of the more exotic jurisdictions sport a very laid-back attitude towards timing and work in general – this may not be helpful when something needs to be done fast and right. Factors such as quality of telecommunications and internet, physical access to the country, language, work ethics, legal system, confidentiality culture, exchange controls, quickness and variety of administrative and financial services available all can influence the smooth running of your business. Take time zone into account – dealing with a jurisdiction on the other side of the globe may constantly make you lose a day while communicating via email, or to make calls in the middle of the night. And last but not least, a violent tropical storm can take out electricity for days in some places – Bahamas spring first to mind. So, just in case, make sure you check the weather record.

Cost

A rather obvious factor; what are the registration fees and flat rate taxes? What is the incorporation fee and what are the continuing domiciliary and management fees? What are the audit and other statutory compliance requirements? More importantly, though – by taking into account all the other aspects described above – is the cost reasonable for the quality of product you are getting?