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The BVI and Cayman Islands: At a glance
How do these two jurisdictions differ from each other at first sight? Let’s look at the following comparisons.
Both the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands are renowned globally as tax havens, being British Overseas Territories situated in the Caribbean Sea.
Moreover, both jurisdictions boast independent legal and judicial systems, adding to their allure for investors and businesses alike.
The business landscape in the British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is famous for its exceptional stability in political and economic aspects, making it one of the most sought-after offshore jurisdictions globally.
Specifically, the ICIJ revealed that 40% of the world’s offshore companies opt for BVI to start their business.
In addition, according to the FSC’s Statistical Bulletin, an impressive record of over 374,890 Business Companies (BCs) were on the Register as of September 2022.
How about the Cayman Islands?
The Cayman Islands is another standout choice thanks to its reputation as a top offshore financial hub for international businesses and the ideal location for offshore investment funds.
This jurisdiction projects a quite similar legal system to the British Virgin Islands. This is because both are founded on the English common law system.
A Cayman Islands LLC is one of the most common business structures in the country. This model can be used for many purposes such as investment funds, joint venture companies, private equity transactions, securitizations, and more.
Similar benefits these jurisdictions offer
When comparing these two jurisdictions, it’s important to note some key similarities. Beyond their renowned reputations, both regions present various advantages for your offshore enterprises, such as:
Both countries impose no corporate tax, capital gains, gift tax, inheritance tax, sales tax, or value-added tax.
As long as your offshore company conducts business outside its territories, you don’t have to pay these taxes. Your dividends, interests, and royalties are also tax-exempt.
BVI Business Companies and the Cayman Islands Exempted Companies are flexible corporate structures.
There’s no requirement for corporate directors to be ordinarily residents of the country. Consequently, you don’t have to hire a nominee director for your company.
Fast registration system
You can form a business company in the BVI or an exempted company in the Cayman Islands in only 2 to 3 working days.
No capitalization is required for your company. You don’t even have to hold an annual shareholder meeting or submit financial records.
Both jurisdictions offer a high level of privacy. This means the information of your directors, shareholders, and officers will not be open to public access.
Easy business banking
Due to the strict control over business banking in these countries, you will need to rely on offshore banks or EMI alternatives to maintain business finances.
In several cases, companies from BVI are more likely to get approval for EMI and have higher success rates with offshore bank applications.
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With the numerous benefits that these jurisdictions offer, how do they manage to maintain their reputation in terms of regulatory compliance and other aspects? The answer lies in their adherence to economic substance regulations.
How economic substance rules affect the two jurisdictions
Relevant entities in BVI and Cayman Islands are now subject to Economic Substance Rules. These are regulations implemented to make sure that companies operating within the jurisdiction have genuine economic activities and substance.
The rules encourage companies to conduct real business operations rather than just being used as vehicles for tax purposes.
Economic substance in the BVI
The in-scope entities for economic substance rules are BVI companies and BVI limited partnerships (with or without legal personality).
The BVI investment fund businesses are exempt from these requirements.
Economic substance in the Cayman Islands
The entities covered by these regulations include companies registered under the Companies Law but incorporated outside of Cayman, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships.
Exemption cases are domestic companies, investment fund businesses, and non-tax-resident companies.
What are the factors that make them different?
Despite the shared benefits, these jurisdictions differ in many aspects. The criteria listed below could serve as contributing factors that influence your final decision.
The annual fee for the Cayman offshore company is higher than in the BVI and most jurisdictions.
The annual costs for a BVI Business Company can range from US$350 to US$1,200, depending on the number of authorized shares. On the other hand, the annual fee for a Cayman-exempt company varies from US$850 to US$3,132.
The BVI is an excellent option if you’re looking for the ideal place to protect your company’s privacy.
Due to its strict legislative framework, the BVI offers more confidentiality protection than the Cayman Islands.
In the BVI, stamp duty on transactions to or by your business company is free of tax (e.g. transfers of property or assets, shares, debt obligations, or securities). Do note that you still have to pay tax for your land-ownership transactions.
For the Cayman Islands, no stamp duty is payable on transfers of shares. However, you shall pay stamp duties on certain documents at a nominal rate.
You are required to audit your investment funds in the BVI and the Cayman Islands. BVI companies, however, are exempt from domestic audit requirements.
There are no custodial obligations in the Cayman Islands. In contrast, the BVI corporations must have a custodian, albeit you can request an exception.
About to start an offshore business? This manual covers all you need
to know when going offshore:
About to start an offshore business? This manual covers all you need to know when going offshore:
To wrap up: which jurisdictions should you choose?
Both the BVI and Cayman Islands offer remarkable opportunities for offshore company formation and business growth.
Deciding between the two can be challenging, but it ultimately depends on your company’s specific goals and objectives. Be sure to carefully consider these factors before proceeding.
If you still find yourself uncertain and need more guidance on setting up your offshore companies, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to provide timely assistance and support!
Disclaimer: While BBCIncorp strives to make the information on this website as timely and accurate as possible, the information itself is for reference purposes only. You should not substitute the information provided in this article for competent legal advice. Feel free to contact BBCIncorp’s customer services for advice on your specific cases.
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