The British Virgin Islands, BVI for short, is a thriving offshore financial services center. As of this writing, there are more than 600,000 incorporated business entities registered on the islands, with 5,000 more added every month. Clearly, BVI offers key strategic benefits to these incorporators. In fact, there are several advantages to setting up a BVI offshore company.
The islands are politically and economically stable and have enjoyed this status for several years running. An independent territory of the United Kingdom, it nevertheless retains full control over its internal affairs. It has modern and responsive financial services legislation. As a result, BVI business companies operate under a clear and consistent legal framework. There is a robust service infrastructure as well as state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities. BVI is ideally located to serve as a valuable bridge in the global financial sector. Its flexible corporate structure means it can cater to a wide range of international business incorporators.
There are several factors that have to be taken into account when trying to decide on an ideal offshore jurisdiction. Of course, ‘ideal’ only means the right location for you. Another individual with his or her own set of assets and financial goals may well decide on a different location. There is no one offshore financial center that will be perfect for everyone.
However, there is one basic criteria that any offshore location must possess in order to even be considered. That is stability. Given the option, no one would knowingly put their assets where there is a constant threat of war, or where street riots are commonplace. Economic stability is important too. Your assets will be more secure in a jurisdiction with a sound economic policy and a stable currency. Somewhere with a low inflation rate and no restrictive exchange regulations.
The British Virgin Islands is one such jurisdiction. As an independent territory of the United Kingdom, it has enjoyed a long and stable political history. It is responsible for its internal governance and has demonstrated a consistent ability to conduct its affairs responsibly. The financial services sector has brought considerable wealth to this tiny Caribbean nation. As a result, BVI residents enjoy a high standard of living. You want this economic and political calm in the offshore jurisdiction you plan to locate your assets and/or business. In and of themselves, they already provide an added layer of protection for your interests.
BVI has taken the lead in enacting groundbreaking legislation in the field of offshore financial services. As a matter of fact, a number of other offshore jurisdictions pattern their industry regulations after the BVI International Business Companies (IBC) Act of 1984. This includes countries such as Seychelles and Santa Lucia. Such is the influence of this former British colony in the offshore financial services industry.
Not one to rest on its laurels, however, BVI has recently enacted a new version of the 1984 IBC Act. This 2005 update tackles the challenges faced by the offshore financial services industry in the new millennia. It specifically addresses the issue of the distinction between international, or offshore, and domestic companies. Past legislation and practice have resulted in the unfair discrimination against the latter, while the former received preferential treatment. The 2005 Act gets rid of this distinction and the discriminatory practices that emanate from it. There is now only one unified type of company in the British Virgin Islands – the BVI Business Company. BVI company formulators and investors now have access to domestic opportunities. At the same time, local companies are no longer restricted to operating in the domestic market. What offshore investor or local business owner will not relish the thought of an expanded market?
This is just one example of the kind of flexibility that characterizes BVI financial services legislation. BVI business company owners benefit greatly from the country’s vigilance in regulating and supervising its financial services sector. At the same time, there are no restrictive fiscal policies that hinder their freedom to engage in legitimate business. With its modern and advanced offshore corporate legislation, BVI is poised to remain an industry leader for years to come.
Great Britain remains responsible for BVI’s defense, internal security and external affairs. However, it has no control over matters that involve the administration of the islands’ offshore companies and trusts. Lawsuits against island-business entities fall squarely within the jurisdiction of BVI courts and not under British authority. This includes claims from international tax authorities and private foreign creditors.
BVI has steadfastly insisted on the independence of its courts. Additionally, it has a proven track record of defending the legal interests of its offshore clients. Legislation is carefully applied so that the government can exercise sensible regulatory supervision when needed. At the same time, the courts fiercely guard the privacy of clients transacting legitimate business as international BVI companies. BVI’s regulatory systems cover the entire range of financial services offered within its jurisdiction. This would include services such as trusts, banking transactions, corporate operations, insurance and other such services. This comprehensive and consistent legal framework is a definite advantage of setting up a BVI Business Company.
As a leading international financial center, BVI can boast of having a long talent roster of financial services professionals. This would include bankers, financial planners, asset protection experts, accountants, and other professionals in similar fields. No doubt they are attracted to BVI because of the professional opportunities that can be found in a leading offshore financial services center. Additionally, the government makes sure they are welcomed and accommodated by making it easy for them to secure working permits. Plus, the island lifestyle, azure skies and the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea are likely added incentives as well.
BVI enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in the world, which is now holding steady at 97.8 percent. In addition, the government has allocated considerable resources to educating its local population for careers in the financial services industry. The continued growth and expansion of the financial community has led to the development of connected service sectors. There are several world-class hotels in BVI, as well as seminar facilities and conference centers. This service infrastructure support the current and future needs of the thriving financial services sector.
BVI is in a time zone sweet spot. This means it is strategically located to serve as a conduit among the different regions in the global financial market. It shares a time zone with New York City, a stalwart in the financial world. Its physical location is quite ideal as well. Most world-wide courier services offer a next-day service to the islands from major business centers in the U.S. It usually takes no longer than two days from other financial hubs in Europe and Asia.
BVI’s telecommunications infrastructure is state-of-the-art and offers reliable and consistent connections. Keep in mind that a country’s banking and financial systems rely on its communications facilities. BVI invested heavily on its telecommunications infrastructure to bolster and support its financial services sector. As a result, you’re never more than a mouse click or a (toll-free) phone call away from your assets and your offshore company.
It’s easy and quick to set up and run a BVI business company. The owner, director and shareholder of a BVI business company can be the same person. They can be individuals of any nationality or even corporations. Meetings of shareholders and/or directors can be held anywhere in the world – even online, if this is preferred. There is no obligation to file reports or audited records. There is a minimal amount of information contained in a BVI business company’s public profile. The management structure can be as simple or complex as you, the company owner, want it to be. This flexible corporate structure opens up the BVI financial services sector to several different types of incorporators. It also helps to fuel the growth of this important revenue source for the British Virgin Islands.
In the final analysis, the choice of an offshore financial center depends on your specific set of requirements. Although BVI has numerous advantages as a financial services center, your unique set of assets and financial goals will still be the determining factors in the final choice.
BVI’s steadfast political and economic standing is certainly a plus, no matter what your other criteria may be. An offshore jurisdiction that does not meet this basic requirement should not even be on your list of possible locations. BVI business companies operate free from restrictive fiscal measures. At the same time, however, the financial services sector is well-regulated and supervised. There is a reliable service and telecommunications infrastructure that provides ample support to the sector. BVI is strategically located and serves as a vital link in the worldwide financial network. You can organize your BVI business company in virtually any manner you desire. This corporate structure flexibility is another reason there are currently more than 600,000 registered business entities in BVI today. With 5,000 more added each day, you’ll be in good company.
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