An offshore company is essentially a legal entity based outside the jurisdiction of the founder that engages in different business activities. A number of countries have developed beneficial policies for these types of companies and, in these offshore financial centers, companies can operate under preferential taxation regimes.
So, what are the best countries for opening an offshore company? We look at several examples and highlight the main traits and advantages for offshore company formation.
Six countries to open an offshore company
Offshore financial centers around the world all share a number of characteristics such as a fast incorporation procedure and no taxes for companies. While these traits are important, investors should also take others into consideration, such as geographical location, ease of access to other markets and special provisions that may or may not target their primary business interests.
Below is a list of six countries, some of which are known as tax havens, where investors can consider opening an offshore company.
- Belize: a country that offers stability along with a very attractive tax regime or, better said, no taxes for companies. The Belize International Business Company (IBC) is a flexible and advantageous type of company.
- British Virgin Islands: a respectable financial center and also a tax haven because of the lack of taxes, the same flexible business structure, the IBC, is available for incorporation here.
- Cayman Islands: have a reputation as one of the premier offshore centers in the world and, like Belize and the British Virgin Islands, the Islands are perceived as a tax haven.
- Cyprus: the location to look for if you are planning to base an offshore company in the European Union; investors who start an offshore company in Cyprus enjoy low corporate tax rates, easy setup, and low maintenance costs.
- Hong Kong: not a tax haven or offshore center per se, Hong Kong does have one of the most advantageous taxation systems in Asia and an offshore company in Hong Kong can be used for a variety of purposes.
- Singapore: the city-state is a reputable financial center, competing for first place in Asia with Hong Kong; one trait of offshore companies in Singapore is the fact that they can benefit from a very advantageous taxation regime (no withholding tax on dividends).
Offshore company formation
The company founders should choose the most suitable jurisdiction based on their business and banking needs, how easily they can access the chosen offshore center and the market in which they plan on doing business. For Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore lead a tight battle as a preferred location while for Europe, Cyprus is a very convenient choice.
We recommend that investors seek professional advice for company incorporation matters before deciding where to base their offshore company.