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What is off-shore

What is „offshore“?

Offshore (from the English offshore – „outside the shore“, „outside the border“) is one of the most known and effective method of tax planning. In the foundation of this method lie the legislations of many countries that partly or fully exempt companies, owned by foreigners, from taxation.

In what countries are the companies registered in?

Currently more than 60 countries in the world have legislations that provide tax benefits for offshore companies. Among the most known are: Panama, Gibraltar, BVI, Bahama Islands, Belize, Hong Kong.

How does an „offshore“ company work?

From the international right point of view a company is concidered an independent legal entity and operates according to the laws of the registration country. Thus, for example, a Panamian company is imposed by tax only in Panama. If the owners of this company are foreigners and the company does not operate in Panama then it receives an „offshore“ status and is officially exempted from any kind of taxation. Therefore this company is not subject to taxation in the registartion country but not in the country where it operates.

Where is it better to register a company?

The choice of a regisration country is directly connected with the planned schemes of Your company’s operation. All countries can be basically divided into two groups: first – countries that impose mimimal tax on offshore companies; second – countries that fully exempt offshore companies from any kind of taxation (in this case a company pays the government of the registration country a specific duty for the extension of the operation license. Usually not more than 300-400 USD per year).

The first group includes many European countries known as „tax asylums“ – Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and others. The second group includes Central American countries that are large offshore centers: Panama, Bahama Islands, BVI, Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands and others. Registration and service of European countries is slightly more expensive rather than the registration and the service of the companies from countries that belong to the second group. So the question “where is it better to register a company” can be answered by another question: “how important is the image of the registration country for my business and how much am I willing to pay for it?”  

Who can be the owner and the director of a company?

Owner of a company can be any legal or physical person, who is not a resident (citizen) of the registration country. The minimal amount of company owners varies from one to three in different countries. Director of a company can be any physical person who is not a citizen of the registration country. Some countries have limitations regarding the appointment of legal entities as directors of a company.

How to keep accounting report?

Keeping accounting reports is connected with the laws of registration country. Generally, offshore companies are relieved from submitting accounting reports to any kind of government agencies, so the forms of account keeping can be absolutely random. Only some countries are an exception. They demand the submission of annual audit report from offshore companies.

Where can a company open a bank account?

Your company can open an unlimited number of accounts in any bank in the world.

Who has access to company owner’s information?

The confidentiality of the information about the owners of the company is guaranteed by the corresponding laws in most offshore countries. Some of those laws provide criminal liability for disclosing the names of company owners. In case Your company is registered in one of those countries where the owner information is public, total confidentiality is then provided by the services of nominal shareholders and directors.

How much time does it take to register a company?

Depending on the country that You choose, the time of registering a new company may take from two weeks to one month. In case You purchase a “shelf” company, You can become its’ owner within one hour.  

How much does it cost to register a company?

In most countries the cost of company registration does not exceed 1000 USD (including the payment of registration fees, stamp duty for the formation of charter capital, and also professional juridical services for preparation, issue and registration of foundation documents). Providing a company with the juridical address and “official company representative” services, who is a necessary connection link between the government of the registration country and the owners of the company (these services cost 550 – 900 USD annually).

What does an offshore company offer besides tax reduction?

It would not be correct to think that tax minimization is the only advantage of offshore-business. Trust transactions with real estate are widely known, registration of vessels under offshore country flags with the purpose of receiving various benefits when working abroad, captive insurance through own offshore insurance companies and many other ways of using the advantages of offshore. According to some data more than 1/3 of worlds’ money turnover is in one way or another connected with offshore-business.In countries of Eastern Europe the special value of offshore lies in the possibility of transferring Your capital absolutely legally to politically and economically stable and safe countries.