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An offshore company is not a new term. In fact, it has been well-known as a powerful tool for many successful entrepreneurs and investors who are well perceived by its advantages and values.

In this blog, we will tell you everything about an offshore company, including what an offshore company is, its great benefits that have attracted numerous business people, and how to set up your desired offshore company.

1. What is an offshore company?

Let’s get started with the definition of an offshore company.

Offshore company meaning. An offshore company is a company incorporated or registered in a jurisdiction that is different from where its investors reside. Note that this type of company is different from an onshore company. Want to know the difference between offshore and onshore companies? Find out more

In a simplistic manner, an offshore company’s meaning indicates nothing more than a company that is established in another country. Let’s take a quick example:

You are living in Singapore and you incorporate an International Business Company (IBCs) in Belize to do business, so that is an offshore company.

How do offshore companies work? The key feature is that offshore companies commonly shall be prohibited from conducting any economic activities within the incorporated jurisdictions.

Law amendments in each offshore country, notwithstanding, can bring different bonuses and barriers to an offshore company registered in that particular jurisdiction. Choosing an offshore jurisdiction in which their company incorporated is allowed to do business inside the territory is possible, but as usual, that company can be required to suffer local tax along with many compliance obligations.

Misconception . Some people feel confused due to the misconception about the offshore company – which is said to be a tool for tax evasion or hiding money from the government. It, however, is not such case. Offshore companies are legal since they are governed by the jurisdiction regulations where they are incorporated or registered.

2. What are offshore company benefits?

“How can I benefit from an offshore company?” is a typical question. Not only does an offshore company take advantage of a favorable tax regime offered by most offshore landscape, but also there are more possibilities when it comes to incorporating an offshore company.

Here are some advantages of going offshore:

Tax optimization. This seems to be the top reason why people opt for offshore business. By forming an offshore company, foreign investors can be entitled to gain a deduction of tax burden. Thanks to business-friendly taxation laws of certain jurisdictions, these companies are tax-exempt or just need to pay a modest rate of tax on their corporate income.

Hong Kong is a typical example. It is among the most desired territorial taxation systems for foreign investors. If your company’s profits are derived from trading activities outside Hong Kong territory, it will not be subject to pay profits tax.

Asset protection. Besides offshore company tax advantages, another appealing reason for moving offshore is wealth protection. The act of moving your assets to offshore corporations and legal business structures abroad will add a stronger protection layer for your wealth from unexpected liabilities.

To achieve it, a wise choice is to seek a well-reputed jurisdiction to incorporate your offshore company or to hold your assets. Obviously, the soundness in both politics and economy is a worth-considering factor as well.

Widely preferred in the world as the best destinations to go for asset protection, some offshore centers that offer favorable laws regarding financial privacy include the BVI, Belize, Seychelles, Cayman Islands, Nevis and so forth.

Brief reviews of such highlighted countries will be mentioned in Part 3.

Minimal maintenance requirements. Not only do offshore companies offer simplicity during the setting-up process, but they also are offered more flexible regulations in the post-registration stage.

There are fewer requirements in terms of annual reports and financial accounts with the Companies Registrar (providing that they do not carry out business activities inside the jurisdiction whey they register). In addition, maintaining an offshore company is easier in comparison with onshore companies.

Note that the level of information required by the registrar of companies in each offshore jurisdiction could be not the same.

Our advice is that do examine whether you can fulfill that jurisdiction’s requirements after you have determined your suitable jurisdiction for offshore company formation

A guideline of full steps on how to set up an offshore company will be discussed in Part 4.

Guaranteed privacy. Generally, it is a must for companies to register and maintain the company profiles and data with the Company Registrar. However, you can feel secure as all information of identity would be kept confidential.

Offshore countries shall not disclose the company’s beneficial owners, directors, and shareholders to the public, except in certain cases like a court order or international arrangements between related overseas jurisdictions.

On account of many potential benefits, offshore company setup has become an effective and efficient solution for tax planning strategies of many small and medium-sized enterprises.

3. Where should you set up an offshore company?

Try to search for the ‘offshore company’ on the internet, and you definitely can find out a variety of offshore countries available for what you need. Each option may have its own advantage, thereby sometimes bringing you to get in a muddle over which one is better.

BBCIncorp lists out some popular countries where you should take into account for your offshore company incorporation:

  • Belize: If you are looking for an offshore jurisdiction with a competitive price, fast incorporation and ease of banking needs, so do not miss out on Belize in your consideration list.
  • Cayman Islands: Located in the western Caribbean Sea, this is a very common choice for most foreign investors who are seeking tax-free benefits.
  • The British Virgin Island: BVI and Cayman Islands share many common features. But a plus is that the incorporation cost in the BVI tends to be much more affordable than that in the Cayman Islands.
  • United Kingdom: The UK is ranked in the top 10 nations worldwide for ease of doing business by the World Bank. A large network of tax treaties (with 130 countries) is also an advantage to consider this country.
  • Seychelles: The country is positioned as a place of favor for manufacturing and trading between Africa, Europe and Asia. Incorporating a Seychelles IBC is an option to go among many choices of tax haven.
  • Hong Kong: Startups, SMEs, foreign investors are big fans of Hong Kong. Two key highlights to urge business people to move: Two-tier profits tax system in Hong Kong, and its strategic location as a gateway to Mainland China.
  • Singapore: This is a promising destination for offshore seekers, especially fintech enterprises. Its reputation, supportive trading platforms and a friendly tax regime are persuasive reasons leading Singapore to a top of choice.

Want to delve more into these landscapes? The blog Best Offshore Company Jurisdiction For Foreigners gets you covered.

4. What are steps involved in an incorporation process?

One of the driving forces that leads to the popularity of the offshore company is its ease of incorporation. The offshore company setup process is very straightforward and easy.

Despite the fact that each offshore jurisdiction can show differences in terms of requirements, we can outline the fundamental steps of this process as the followings:

Step 1: Choose a suitable jurisdiction & business structure

The most fundamental criteria when choosing the jurisdiction is to go with the best-suited option for your needs. You may feel confused due to so many choices and do not know which one is the best.

And should it be the case, you are advised to take into account some factors that assist you to pick the most well-matched one to your company plan, key of which include: jurisdiction reputation, taxation, company structure, residency situation, banking needs, compliance requirements, et cetera.

You got in mind some names, but don’t know which one is right? Here is the Comparison Tool for 18 different nations that will help you. Check it out!

Step 2: Select a company name

Naming requirements are crucial when deciding on your company name. Specific required criteria for a company name can be varied among jurisdictions. Therefore, please well examine the eligibility of your chosen company name to get approval.

Step 3: Fulfill due diligence requirements

It is in need to understand your offshore location’s KYC process to fulfill all the needed requirements. Please note that if a corporate body is going to be your company’s shareholder, further documents must also be submitted.

After you have done all the required documents, deliver them to the Company Registry of the jurisdiction that you choose and proceed to register your company.

A step-by-step guide to the process of offshore company formation can be found here: How to set up an offshore company

5. What are uses of offshore companies?

An offshore company can be used for different purposes. Particularly, ease of administration with an offshore company is preferred by most e-commerce players. Internet traders can also use offshore corporate structures to keep its domain name in existence as well as control the internet sites.

For other business sectors, you can also explore the usefulness of having an incorporated company in overseas jurisdictions. Counseling business and international business prefer offshore structures by dint of its corporate flexibility and tons of tax benefits available.

In another scenario, entrepreneurs in relation to holding businesses are more likely to go offshore to obtain better confidentiality or minimize certain types of tax (capital gains tax exemption for example). Learn more: Offshore holding company: How to use & Where to consider

Such businesses are very typical examples of how an offshore company can be used for.

Anonymity is a big plus, so an offshore company is also often recommended for those concerning cryptocurrency trading or foreign exchange transactions. Some popular offshore management vehicles for crypto-based companies include international business company (IBC), limited liability company (LLC) or a foreign trust.

Need an in-depth guide to Offshore Company For Cryptocurrency? Learn more with BBCIncorp!

6. How have offshore company landscapes been changed?

The offshore industry has been changed a lot. This is resulted from the practices of the EU and the OECD during recent years. To align with the accepted EU standard, there has been a massive transformation with regard to the taxation and company legislation in some landscapes where we often called “offshore” jurisdictions. What are the remarkable changes?

Removing ring-fencing. This is one of the very first responses that many countries considered when it comes to the adjustments of preferential tax regimes.

Gone are the days when an International Business Company in many traditional financial hubs like Belize or Saint Vincent and The Grenadines are ring-fenced. These days you can find that both residents and non-residents get the right to start business with this type of company in Belize, and they can trade with local residents as well.

Many things have changed, including tax policy for Belize IBCs. The Income and Business Tax (Amendment) Act, 2018 stipulated IBCs doing business in the country shall now be levied the income tax. Evidentially, the tax rates on foreign incomes other than passive income will range from 1.75% to 6%, depending on your incorporated type of business.

Economic substance rules. This is the second striking change.

A large number of companies are reaping benefits from a favorable tax regime, but importantly they have no economic substance in the jurisdiction. The debates arose as people need more transparency and clarification for the legality of offshore structures. Many well-known offshore business centers have been increasingly taking step by step to implement the economic substance regime.

Generally, economic substance requirements are applicable for certain businesses such as pure equity holding companies, financial services, banking and insurance businesses, regulated businesses and so forth. The economic substance rule was enacted in many offshore jurisdictions such as Belize, The Cayman Islands, The BVI and many others.

Further legislative adjustments to the offshore industry can also be found with the presence of the Beneficial Ownership Act in several countries. In-scope companies in places where this rule came in force must verify the identity information of their beneficial owners to the competent authority via their registered agents.

Those are some key changes to the offshore sector that you should take into account. The advice for you is, please spend time to examine the system of law in relevance to your offshore business case in the jurisdiction for the best understanding and compliance before moving.

The Bottom Line

Yes! We have just walked through many offshore company benefits, the procedure of going offshore, and some insights into recent extensive changes to offshore jurisdictions.

A large number of entrepreneurs and investors have been flocking to places deemed the best jurisdictions to start their business: Belize, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Seychelles, Nevis and many others.

Depending on your company goal, you can generate different ideas when coming to where to incorporate your offshore company. Still, considering which country to move or what steps to proceed for your offshore company formation can require great efforts. A wise choice to save your time and resource is to seek trusted incorporation services for a hassle-free process.

Interested in internationalizing your business and keeping your assets safe? Wonder about how an offshore company can optimize your company’s tax burden? Wish to get in-depth guide to offshore company formation in our 18 global serviced countries?

Drop us a message now to clarify your queries!

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