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British Virgin Islands

Introduction

The British Virgin Islands (BVI), officially simply "Virgin Islands", are a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, to the east of Puerto Rico. The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a British Crown Colony boasting approximately 40 islands, which are situated in the Caribbean about 60 miles east of Puerto Rico.

The capital, Road Town, is on Tortola, the largest island, which is about 20 km (12 mi) long and 5 km (3 mi) wide. The total area is 153 km2 .

Population:

The islands had a population of about 28,000 at the 2010 Census, of whom approximately 23,500 lived on Tortola. For the islands, the latest United Nations estimate (2016) is 30,661.

The majority of the population (82%) of the BVI are Afro-Caribbean, however, the islands are also comprised of the following ethnicities: mixed (5.9%); white (6.8%), East Indian (3.0%).

Language:

The official language of the British Virgin Islands is English, although a local dialect known as Virgin Islands Creole (or Virgin Islands Creole English) is spoken in the Virgin Islands and the nearby islands of Saba, Saint Martin and Sint Eustatius. Spanish is also spoken in the BVI by those of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent.

Political Structure

British Virgin Islanders are British Overseas Territories citizens and since 2002 are British citizens as well.

The territory operates as a parliamentary democracy. Ultimate executive authority in British Virgin Islands is vested in the Queen, and is exercised on her behalf by the Governor of the British Virgin Islands. The governor is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British government. Defence and most foreign affairs remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom.

Economy

As an offshore financial centre and a tax haven with an opaque banking system, the British Virgin Islands enjoys one of the more prosperous economies of the Caribbean region, with a per capita average income of around $42,300.

The twin pillars of the economy are tourism and financial services, as tourism employs the greatest number of people within the Territory, while 51.8% of the Government's revenue comes directly from the financial services associated with the territory's status as an offshore financial centre. Agriculture and industry account for only a small proportion of the islands' GDP.

Currency:

The official currency of the British Virgin Islands is the United States dollar (USD), the currency also used by the United States Virgin Islands.

Exchange Control:

There are no exchange controls and restrictions on the flow of currency in or out of the territory.

Financial services industry:

Financial services account for over half of the income of the territory. The majority of this revenue is generated by the licensing of offshore companies and related services. The British Virgin Islands is a significant global player in the offshore financial services industry.

In 2000 KPMG reported in its survey of offshore jurisdictions for the United Kingdom government that over 45% of the world's offshore companies were formed in the British Virgin Islands.

Since 2001, financial services in the British Virgin Islands have been regulated by the independent Financial Services Commission.

As such the British Virgin Islands is frequently labelled as a "tax haven" by campaigners and NGOs, and has been expressly named in anti-tax haven legislation in other countries on various occasions.

Corporate Law/Act

The BVI is a British Dependent Territory which became self-governing in 1967 and is a member of the British Commonwealth. Since introducing its International Business Company (IBC) legislation in 1984, the BVI offshore financial service sector has expanded rapidly. In 2004, the IBC Act was replaced by the Business Companies (BC) Act and further enhanced the jurisdiction’s population.

Governing corporate legislation: The BVI Financial Service Commission is the governing authority in the British Virgin Islands and companies are regulated under the Business Companies Act 2004. The legal system is Common Law.

Type of Company/Corporation

The British Virgin Islands is the most popular offshore jurisdiction with favourable business regulations, a prosperous economy and stable political situation. It is known as a stable jurisdiction with a very good reputation.

One IBC Limited provide Incorporation service in BVI with the type Business Company (BC).

Business Restriction

A BVI BC cannot trade within the British Virgin Islands or own real estate there. BCs cannot conduct the business of banking, insurance, fund or trust management, collective investment schemes, investment advice, or any other banking or insurance industry-related activity (without an appropriate license or government permission). Moreover, a BVI BC cannot offer its shares for sale to the public.

Company Name Restriction

Any name in a language other than English must be translated to ensure that the name is not restricted. A BVI BC’s name must end with a word, phrase or abbreviation that indicates Limited Liability, such as "Limited", "Ltd.", "Société Anonyme", "S.A.", "Corporation", "Corp.”, or any relevant abbreviation. Restricted names include those suggesting the patronage of the Royal Family or the Government of the BVI such as, "Imperial", "Royal", "Republic", "Commonwealth", or "Government". Other restrictions are placed on names that have already been incorporated or names that are similar to those that have been incorporated to avoid confusion.

Company Information privacy

Details information of the Directors and Shareholders are not on public record. Your company's Register of Shareholders, Register of Directors and all Minutes & Resolutions are only kept at the Registered Office with complete confidentiality.

The Memorandum and Articles of Association of your company are the only documents held on public record in the BVI. These do not include any indication of the actual shareholders or directors of the company.

Incorporation Procedure

Just 4 simple steps are given to incorporate a Company in BVI:
  • Step 1: Select basic Resident/Founder nationality information and other additional services which you want (if any).
  • Step 2: Register or login and fill in the company names and director/ shareholder(s) and fill in billing address and special request (if any).
  • Step 3: Choose your payment method (We accept payment by Credit/Debit Card, PayPal or Wire Transfer).
  • Step 4: You will receive soft copies of necessary documents including: Certificate of Incorporation, Business Registration, Memorandum and Articles of Association, etc. Then, your new company in BVI is ready to do business. You can bring the documents in company kit to open corporate bank account or we can help you with our long experience of Banking support service.
* These documents required to incorporate company in BVI:
  • Passport of each shareholder/beneficial owner and director;
  • Proof of residential address of each director and shareholder (Must be in English or certified translation version);
  • The proposed company names;
  • The issued share capital and par value of shares.

Compliance

Capital:

In the BVI the standard authorised share capital is US$50,000. Upon incorporation and annually thereafter, there is a duty payable on the amount of share capital. US$50,000 is the maximum amount of capital allowed whilst still paying the minimum duty.

Share:

Shares can be issued with or without a par value and do not need to be fully paid on issue. The minimum issued capital is one share of no par value or one share of par value. Bearer shares are not permitted.

Director:

Only one director is required for your BVI company with no restriction placed on nationality or residence. A director may be an individual or corporate entity. Due to the high level of confidentiality in the BVI, the names of the directors do not appear on public record.

Shareholder:

BVI company requires a minimum of one shareholder who may be the same person as the director. Shareholders may be of any nationality and may reside anywhere. Corporate shareholders are permitted.

Beneficial Owner:

Disclosure of the beneficial owners is not required in the BVI and the share register may be inspected only by shareholders of the BVI company.

Taxation:

Your International Business Company is exempt from BVI income tax, capital gains tax and withholding tax. Your company will be exempt from all BVI inheritance or succession taxes and BVI stamp duty if the properties are located outside the BVI.

Finance statement:

There are no requirements for annual returns, annual meetings, or audited accounts. Only the Memorandum and Articles are required for public records. The Registers of Directors, Shareholders and Mortgages and Charges may optionally be filed.

Local Agent:

Each BVI company must have a registered agent and registered office in the BVI, provided by a licensed service provider. Secretary company is not obligation to appoint.

Double Taxation Agreements:

Double taxation does not apply in the BVI because of total exemption from taxes. However, BVI is a party to two very old double tax agreements with Japan and Switzerland, which were applied to the BVI through the provisions of two UK treaties.

License

License Fee & Levy:

The BVI Registry will apply a filing fee of US$50 in respect of the filing of the initial register. The information that is required to be filed on the register of directors stated in the 2015 Act, as follows: full name, and any former names, date of appointment as a director, date of cessation as a director, usual residential address, date of birth, nationality, occupation.

Penalty:

New and existing companies, must file its register of directors with the BVI Registry, the register will not be available for public inspection. A new company must file the register of directors within 14 days of the appointment of a director.

Failure to comply with the relevant deadline of the new requirement carries a penalty of US$100 and an additional penalty of US$25 per day after the deadline.

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