British Virgin Islands (BVI)
The British Virgin Islands are a British dependency located in the Eastern Caribbean, about 80 kilometres East of Puerto Rico. English is the official language and the official currency is the United States Dollar. The Government is stable and promises to remain that way. There is a good commercial and professional infrastructure and the Government is actively encouraging the development of the offshore finance business and has now upgraded the Companies Registry by installing state of the art technology.
BVI became the clear market leader for corporate services in the Caribbean after the introduction of the International Business Companies Act in 1984 which created the International Business Company (IBC). This IBC became the industry preferred offshore company and was particularly popular in the Far East due to the extensive marketing of the jurisdiction particularly by lawyers who moved from Panama during the Noriega regime and set up offices in the BVI. The BVI Business Companies Act 2004 has now superceded and updated the IBC Act so the IBC has now become the BC (Business Company).
A BVI Business Company has the following characteristics:
Taxation - They pay no taxes in BVI
Shareholders - A minimum of one shareholder is required and either registered or bearer shares may be issued. No details of the shareholders appear on the public file but a register of shareholders must be kept at the registered office address of the company in BVI. From January 2005, it should be noted that any bearer share certificates issued must be lodged in safe custody with an approved custodian. A higher annual Government licence fee of USD 1,100 is payable by companies whose statutes permit the issue of bearer shares even if there are none in issue.
Directors - A minimum of one director is required and corporate directors are permitted. Details of the directors do not appear on the public file.
Timeframe - Incorporation can be achieved within 24 hours however, it does take approximately 1 week for documents to arrive from BVI. We do keep shelf companies in stock available for immediate purchase.
Restrictions on Name and Activity - Names must end with one of the following words, or abbreviations thereof - Limited, Corporation, Incorporated, Societe Anonyme or Sociedad Anonima. The following words, and their associated activities, cannot be used: Assurance, Bank, Building Society, Chamber of Commerce, Chartered, Co-operative, Fund, Imperial, Insurance, Municipal, Mutual Fund, Royal and Trust.
Local Requirements - As a matter of local company law the company MUST maintain a registered office address within BVI and must also appoint a BVI resident as registered agent. We would generally provide these services as part of the domiciliary service fee.
It is now an offence punishable by a US$10,000 fine for companies to fail to keep financial records sufficient to show and explain the company’s transactions and determine with reasonable accuracy the financial position of the company i.e accounts. There is no requirement to file the financial records publicly or to have the accounts audited. This is not a change to the requirements in BVI but it is now rigorously enforcing the existing regulations and has increased the fine for non-compliance. There is a general trend towards accountability and transparency throughout the world and in many offshore jurisdictions accounts preparation is already required by law. Where we are providing directors we will prepare accounts with costs being for the account of the company. Where we do not act as directors we do encourage the accounts to be prepared and can assist upon request
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Diclaimer: The above is intented to provide a brief guide only. It is essential that appropriate professional advice is obtained. XpertAdvice will be glad to assist you in this respect. Please do not hesitate to contact us.