Selecting the best offshore jurisdiction and offshore company type can be complicated. Each jurisdiction has its own benefits and trade-offs. In this article, we will try to simplify the selection process and explain some of the basics of offshore companies.
Offshore Company is meant to operate outside the country of its incorporation and/or the place of residence of its shareholders, beneficiaries and directors. Offshore companies offer numerous tax and legal benefits, including but not limited to low taxation, anonymity and asset protection.
In many respects, offshore companies are similar to the regular onshore companies and may enter into contracts, open bank accounts, buy and sell property, goods and services. A typical offshore company is called an international business company (or an offshore IBC). IBCs do not pay taxes in the place of incorporation but must also operate outside of their home jurisdictions.
There are five criteria that we have developed for the best offshore incorporation. These are 1) popularity 2) reputation 3) incorporation costs 4) processing times and 5) availability of offshore banking facilities.
Popularity is one of the main criteria. The most popular jurisdictions are often the ones that have the best combination of all factors hence many choose to register companies there. At the same time, there are hidden jewels or new countries such as Anguilla that are on par or even better than other popular offshore heavens.
Related to popularity is reputation. Reputation goes beyond popularity as it reflects jurisdiction’s standing with the professional business community, various international banking institutions and government agencies. It demonstrates the quality of local corporate laws, government stability and the existence of the business infrastructure.
Incorporation and other business costs are often the main decision criteria when it comes to choosing the best offshore jurisdiction. At the same time, overall offshore company costs are already much lower than those encountered in onshore jurisdictions. Thus, one should also evaluate other criteria, presented below.
Processing times, including time to incorporate and issue various corporate documents, are another important factor. Some jurisdictions can promptly register companies, while others can quickly process and deliver original documents. Processing times depend on the effectiveness of the local government agencies and registered agents.
Another important consideration is the proximity to offshore banking facilities. Some offshore jurisdictions have a well-established banking system, with banks offering a variety of offshore account services, including online banking, debit and credit cards, merchant accounts and a brokerage facility.
Below, we present the decision criteria for selecting the best jurisdiction and corresponding offshore company types that are known to perform well in the relevant criterion.
Popularity: BVI Business Company Panama Corporation Belize IBC
Reputation: Hong Kong Limited Company BVI Business Company (BC) Anguilla IBC
Low Incorporation Costs: Seychelles IBC Belize Offshore IBC Anguilla IBC
Processing times: Nevis Corporation (or LLC) Anguilla IBC (or LLC) Seychelles IBC
Availability of offshore banking facilities: Belize IBC Seychelles IBC Anguilla IBC
Combination of all criteria: Belize IBC BVI BC Seychelles IBC Anguilla IBC
Our experience indicates that Belize is one of the best places for offshore incorporation when all relevant factors are evaluated. Belize has a sound banking system, relatively low incorporation and renewal fees and is popular with many retail clients and professional incorporators alike.
BVI is another pick, coming 2nd in our list. It is still one of the most reputable and most popular jurisdictions. Seychelles being one of the most affordable offshore places to incorporate is another pick. Anguilla is a new promising jurisdiction that occupies a 4th place in our list. For over 11 years, we provide offshore company formation and offshore account services in various offshore tax heavens.