British Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands, often called the British Virgin Islands (BVI), is a British overseas territory, located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands make up part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, the remaining islands constituting the U.S. Virgin Islands. British Virgin Islands government publications had traditionally continued to commence with "The Territory of the Virgin Islands", but recently, more legislation now simply refers to the Territory as the "British Virgin Islands".

The British Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke, along with over fifty other smaller islands and cays. Approximately 15 of the islands are inhabited. The capital, Road Town, is situated on Tortola, the largest island which is approximately 20 km (12 mi) long and 5 km (3 mi) wide. The islands have a total population of about 22,000, of whom approximately 18,000 live on Tortola.

The general advantages of the British Virgin Islands over many other offshore financial centres can be elaborated as follows:

  • US dollar is the official currency in the BVI - therefore, by definition, there can be no currency controls and no artificial manipulation of money supply by the local government.
  • BVI are a British Overseas Territory, which provides for an outstanding political stability. The country also maintains a low international profile and a clean reputation, thus avoiding the pitfalls experienced by some more publicised and less scrupulous offshore tax havens.
  • BVI has an independent judicial system based on English Common Law. Laws and regulations are routinely developed in consultation with the private sector. Offshore financial services sector contributes a very significant part to the country's gross domestic product. Therefore, an inherent and pronounced interest exists both with the government and with the general public to maintain and develop the country's status as a competitive offshore financial centre.
  • BVI is an independent country with a fairly high standard of living. Therefore, it avoided entering any information-sharing agreements with foreign countries or organizations for exchange of financial aid. Client confidentiality is robustly enshrined in the BVI corporate and business legislation.
  • A BVI Business Company (“BC”) is exempt from the BVI income tax, the same exemption applies to all dividends, interest, rents, royalties, compensations and other amounts paid by a company, and all capital gains realised with respect to any shares, debt obligations or other securities of the company. No estate, inheritance, succession or gift tax is payable with respect to any shares, debt obligations or other securities of a BVI BC. All transactions and instruments relating to transfers of any type of property of assets, shares, debt obligations or securities to or by a BVI BC are exempt from the stamp duty, with a sole exception for land-ownership transactions in the British Virgin Islands, in which case stamp duty remains payable.
  • A British Virgin Islands Business Company has separate legal personality and the same powers as a natural person.
  • Confidentiality is one of the key features of the BVI Business Company as details of the company beneficial owners, directors and shareholders are NOT part of public record. Register of Members, Register of Directors and all Minutes and Resolutions by the Company are kept only at the offices of the Registered Agent in complete confidentiality. Certainly, though, these files are available for inspection to Company shareholders.The only documents held on public record are the Memorandum and Articles of Association, but these normally do not contain any indication as to the actual shareholders, directors or the beneficial owners of the company. At the same time, if the owners of the company so wish, the Register of Directors and/or the Register of Members may be filed with the Registrar of Companies. Such step may be desirable if a complete certainly must be achieved and showed publicly as to the actual identities of the Company managers or members - but, again, this is purely optional.
  • A BVI Business Company requires a minimum of only one owner, one shareholder, and one director. All of them can be one and the same person. Apart from the director, the company does not need to appoint any operating officers. The management structure of the BVI Business Company may be designed in accordance with the widest variety of requirements. The shareholders, directors and officers of a BVI Business Company may be individuals or corporations and of any nationality. The shareholder's or director's meetings need not be held in the British Virgin Islands and there is no requirement for an Annual General Meeting. Meetings can be held by telephone or other electronic means; alternatively, directors as well as shareholders may vote by proxy. Where a Business Company has only one member who is an individual and that member is also the sole director, such sole member / director may specifically appoint a reserve director to act in his place in the event of his death.
  • BVI Business Companies do not have an obligation to prepare or file financial accounts. However, records must be kept that are sufficient to show and explain the Company's transactions; and will, at any time, enable the financial position of the Company to be determined with reasonable accuracy. Such records do not have to be kept in the British Virgin Islands and the location for keeping such records can be freely determined by the owners of the Company, and there is no requirement whatsoever to file or otherwise make public any commercial or financial records of the Company.

Our BVI office was opened in May 1999.

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