Emerald Consult

British Virgin Island

The British Virgin Islands are the most well-known offshore territory of the former British Empire. It is estimated that more than 700,000 companies are registered in this jurisdiction, which makes almost half of all offshore companies in the world. The British Virgin Islands are considered to be a record-breaker in terms of stability and prosperity in the Caribbean region. This makes sense: the BVI were the first to become a traditional offshore territory after adopting the first revision of International Business Companies Act back in 1984.

The pillars of the BVI’s economy are tourism and finance. Major features of the country that are important for international company incorporation, assets protection and residence include:

  • As a traditional offshore territory, the British Virgin Islands do not charge taxes on business profits (corporate tax) or on incomes of private individuals (income tax), as well as VAT and sales tax. There is just one mandatory payment: the annual duty calculated based on the maximum authorized number of shares issued and company incorporation date.

  • The official language of the country is English, and the national currency is the US dollar
  • The British Virgin Islands do not offer the simplest conditions for offshore company incorporation. A prospective owner, director or shareholder has to submit the documents proving their identities and addresses to a registered agent of the company, along with a certificate from any bank where they have been clients for more than six months. Nevertheless, the quality of incorporation and banking services in the BVI does not draw any criticism
  • Confidentiality levels for international companies in the BVI are quite high: despite 26 signed agreements on information exchange, all of them are virtually ineffective, because the country does not have a single beneficiary register, while the data on them are supposed to be stored in the official offices of companies or in bank safe deposit boxes. However, in 2013 under the pressure of the British prime minister the BVI government initiated public debate of the idea of creating a single public register of owners. The debate will continue through the end of 2014. Very few experts believe that this idea will gain traction, but it is a possibility. In this case, the British Virgin Islands will cease to exist as a traditional offshore territory

The cost of a comfortable life in the British Virgin Islands is comparable to its former metropolitan country, but safety levels are considerably higher. However, this country does not have official programs to obtain permanent residency or a second citizenship. This does not mean that no one can receive resident status in the BVI, but it mostly entails marriage to a citizen or a significant investment. Sufficient investment amounts will have to be discussed with the government of the country.