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>>You are here: British Virgin Islands (the BVI)
  British Virgin Islands (the BVI)
BVI Offshore Company Overview

International Business Company's ('IBC's') are companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands ('BVI') under the International Business Companies Act, 1984, but whose business is to be conducted outside the BVI, and which may not do business with any person resident in the BVI.

BVI IBC's are a very popular and widely used offshore companies because of their administrative ease, flexibility, taxation exempt status and the fact that they are widely accepted and understood by the international financial community. BVI IBC's may not own real property in the BVI, other than the lease of an office, and may not carry on banking or trust business (unless licensed under the Banks and Trust Companies Act, 1990) or insurance or re-insurance business (unless licensed in the BVI to carry on that business). Otherwise, BVI IBC's may engage in any activity that is not illegal under the laws of the BVI subject to any restrictions in their Memorandum of Association.

The British Virgin Islands are a small group of islands in the Caribbean Sea located 60 miles east of Puerto Rico. The BVI has excellent airline connections with Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan, which is a major hub for American Airlines. The BVI financial services industry enjoys the advantages of having responsibility for its internal self-government, while maintaining the political and economic stability associated with being a British Overseas Territory.

The BVI has an independent legal and judicial system based on English Common Law, with a right of final appeal to the Privy Council in London. Policies and legislation are developed in close consultation with the private sector. Offshore business can be carried out in a tax-free environment.

Key Corporate Features

General

Type of entity:

IBC

Type of law:

Common

Shelf company availability:

Yes

Our time to establish a new company:

2 weeks

Minimum government fees (excluding taxation):

US$300

Taxation on foreign income:

Nil

Double taxation treaty access:

No

Share capital or equivalent

Standard currency:

US$

Permitted currencies:

Any

Minimum paid up:

US$1

Usual authorised:

US$50, 000

Directors or Managers

Minimum number:

One

Local required:

No

Publicly accessible records:

No

Location of meetings:

Anywhere

Members

Minimum number:

One

Publicly accessible records:

Optional

Location of meetings:

Anywhere

Company Secretary

Required:

Optional

Local or qualified:

No

Accounts

Requirement to prepare:

Yes

Audit requirements:

No

Requirement to file accounts:

No

Publicly accessible accounts:

No

Other

Requirement to file annual return:

No

Change in domicile permitted:

Yes

BVI General Information

The British Virgin Islands consist of 60 islands and cays having a total land area of 150 sq km. The BVI lie to the north west of the United States Virgin Islands and are separated from them by a channel only five kilometres wide. The neighbour with the largest land area is Puerto Rico, 96 km to the west. Except for Anegada, which is a flat, coral island with little soil, the islands are hilly. The BVI's greatest tourist attraction is their superb beaches.

» Population
The largest and most heavily populated Island is Tortola, which has about 16,000 inhabitants. The capital, Road Town, is on the southern shore near Sir Francis Drake Channel. Tortola is connected by a bridge to Beef Island. There are a further 4,000 inhabitants who reside on the other islands, 3,500 of which are in Virgin Gorda which is noted primarily for its unusual and interesting scenery and rock formations.

» Political Structure
The British Virgin Islands were discovered by Columbus who is said to have been so impressed by their large number that he named them 'Las Virgenes' in honour of St. Ursula and her 11,000 attendant virgins. During the 16th and part of the 17th centuries the Islands harboured Dutch and English Buccaneers.

In 1672, Britain claimed Tortola. Simultaneously, Denmark asserted her sovereignty over St. Thomas and St. John; then in 1773 Denmark purchased St. Croix from France. The Danish Islands were sold to the United States in 1917 for US$ 25 million. Relations between the United States and British Virgin Islands are good. The British Virgin Islands is an internally self-governing colony with a ministerial system of Government operating under a Constitution adopted in 1967. The Governor, appointed by the Crown, remains responsible for defence and internal security, external affairs, the civil service, the administration of the courts and finance. He continues to reserve the legislative powers necessary for the exercise of his special responsibility. However, on other matters he is normally bound to act in accordance with the advice of the Executive Council. This consists of the Governor as Chairman; two ex-officio members (the Attorney General and Financial Secretary); the Chief Minister, appointed by the Governor as the elected member who appears best able to command a majority in the Legislative Council; the Deputy Minister; and two other ministers appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. Elections are held at intervals of not more than five years.

» Infrastructure and Economy
There is an excellent daily air service between the Islands and the USA. Cruise ships call in weekly to the Islands and there are freight carriers.

The economy, one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean area, is highly dependent on the tourist industry, which generates about 21% of the national income.

In 1985, the Government offered offshore registration to companies wishing to incorporate in the Islands.

» Language
The official and spoken language is English.

» Currency
US Dollar.

» Exchange Control
None.

» Type of Law
Common Law, based on English Common Law with local modifications and local statutes.

» Principal Corporate Legislation
The Companies Act (Cap. 285) and The International Business Companies Act (Cap. 291).

BVI Company Information

» Type of Company for International Trade and Investment The BVI International Business Company.

» Procedure to Incorporate
Submission of the Memorandum and Articles of Association and a Certificate from the Registered Agent confirming compliance with the requirements of the ordinance.

» Restrictions on Trading
BVI IBC's cannot trade within the British Virgin Islands or own real estate there. Cannot undertake the business of banking, insurance, assurance, reinsurance, fund management, collective investment schemes, trust management, trusteeship, the rendering of investment advice or any other activity that would suggest an association with the banking or insurance industries. Cannot offer its shares for sale to the public.

» Powers of Company
A company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands has the same powers as a natural person.

» Language of Legislation and Corporate Documents
English.

» Shelf Companies Available
Yes.

» Time to Incorporate
2 weeks.

» Name Restrictions
Any name that is identical or similar to an existing company, or any name that suggests the patronage of the Royal Family or the Government of the British Virgin Islands.

» Language of Name
Latin Alphabet. Any name in a language other than English must be accompanies by a translation to ensure that the name is not restricted.  
» Registered Office Required
Yes, must be maintained in the British Virgin Islands, and must be maintained at the office of a licensed management company.

» Names Requiring Consent or Licence
Bank, building society, savings, loans, insurance, assurance, reinsurance, fund management, investment fund, trust, trustees, Chamber of Commerce, university, municipal or their foreign language equivalents.

» Suffixes to Denote Limited Liability
Limited, Corporation, Incorporated, Sociét?Anonyme, Sociedad Anónima or their relevant abbreviations.

» Disclosure of Beneficial Ownership to Government Authorities
No.

Compliance

» Authorised and Issued Share Capital
The normal authorised share capital is US$50,000with all of the shares having a par value, this being the maximum share capital for the minimum duty payable upon incorporation and annually thereafter. The share capital may be expressed in any currency. The minimum issued capital is one share of no par value or one share of par value.

» Classes of Shares Permitted
Registered shares, bearer shares, shares of no par value, preference shares, redeemable shares and shares with or without voting rights.

» Taxation
An International Business Company does not pay any tax on its world-wide profits to the British Virgin Islands authorities.

» Double Taxation Agreements
The British Virgin Islands has treaties with Japan and Switzerland, although they have limited benefit and are not applicable to offshore business.

» Licence Fees
Companies with an authorised capital up to US$50,000 pay US$300 per year.

Companies with a share capital more than US$50,001 pay the sum of US$1,000 per year.

Companies with a share capital that does not exceed US$50,000 and having some or all of its shares with no par value pay the sum of US$350 per year.

» Financial Statements Required
Whilst there is no requirement to file audited accounts with the authorities, a company is required to keep financial records, which reflect the financial position of a company.

» Directors
The minimum number of directors is One. They may be natural persons or bodies corporate. They may be of any nationality and need not reside in the British Virgin Islands.

» Company Secretary
A company secretary may be appointed. The company secretary may be a natural person or a body corporate. They can be of any nationality and need not reside in the British Virgin Islands.

» Shareholders
The minimum number of shareholders is One.

 


 
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