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Offshore Company - How to get started

Deciding whether to move or start your business offshore can be a daunting experience.

People see the words ‘offshore company’ and think of tax avoidance or that it would be a headache to set up this type of company. It is quite the opposite, offshore companies are mainly used in legal and legitimate ways for business owners to reduce costs, simplify paper work and grow their business.

There is actually a wide range of jurisdictions to choose from and they all come with their own individual benefits. If you are thinking about setting up an offshore company the amount of information available can be quite intimidating. A company formation agent, who is familiar with offshore incorporations can usually assist with the registration of an offshore company, they can also provide you with information which should help you choose the jurisdiction which is right for you and your business.

It is best to focus on the areas that are most important to you and your business needs, then see which jurisdiction offers benefits in those areas. Each jurisdiction has its own strengths and uses so research is key.

You may also find it useful to know some of the main benefits of moving or starting your business in most offshore jurisdictions:

  • Exemption from all local taxes and stamp duty
  • No disclosure of Directors and Shareholders on the public registry
  • Business can be conducted in most countries throughout the world excluding the place of incorporation
  • Director and Shareholder can usually be the same person which means you can have a one man company
  • No accounting requirements, which means all you need to do is pay an annual fee
  • High level of privacy protection – protecting your information from being displayed on public records
  • A visit is not required to most countries – the process can simply be carried out remotely

Please see below the key features / benefits of setting up an Offshore Company in the three most popular jurisdictions:

Seychelles Offshore Company

  • A Seychelles Offshore Company (IBC) is a completely tax-free offshore corporation
  • The Republic of Seychelles is an independent country
  • Can have a one man company (same director and shareholder) with no residency requirements.
  • No disclosure of shareholders and directors on the public register or to any authority
  • Share capital can be of any amount and the government fee remains the same, no additional fees
  • Business can be conducted anywhere around the world but the Seychelles
  • No filing of audited accounts
  • Legal tax exemption; no taxation on any kind of income and no accountant costs

Belize Offshore Company

  • Fast Incorporation usually done within 24 hours
  • The company only needs one Director and one Shareholder which can be the same person
  • The Director and Shareholder do not need to reside in Belize
  • The Director and Shareholder information is kept confidential and is not displayed on public records
  • The company is not required to file accounts
  • All Belize Companies are exempt from local taxes
  • The company cannot trade in Belize
  • The company cannot undertake the business of banking, insurance, assurance or reinsurance

British Virgin Islands Company 

  • Fast Incorporation usually done within 48 hours
  • The company only needs one Director and one Shareholder which can be the same person
  • The Director and Shareholder do not need to reside in the BVI
  • The Director and Shareholder information is kept confidential and is not displayed on public records
  • The company is not required to file accounts
  • Business can be conducted internationally
  • Exemption from all local taxes and stamp duty

Incorporation Procedure

The procedure to form an offshore company is very similar to that for a UK registered company except that in many countries you must also have a registered agent in that country. It is extremely important to ensure that you have a reputable and reliable agent.

Most jurisdictions have the following requirements:

  • Company Name will have an ending like Ltd or Limited, some countries use IBC (International Business Company)
  • Director
  • Shareholder
  • Share Capital
  • Registered Office Address
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association

Due Diligence

Understanding the due diligence also known as identification documents or KYC requirements in each jurisdiction is the next step to creating your offshore company.

Anyone starting a business offshore must comply with the Anti-money Laundering Legislation and Compliance Procedures.

The company formation agent will collect this information on your behalf and organise any documents which need to be signed, this goes a long way in simplifying the matter.

The standard due diligence that is required usually does not have to be an original but can be signed as 'A certified true copy of the original document' usually by an accountant or notary.

Below is an overview of the basic due diligence that is required in most jurisdictions:

  • Certified copy of a Passport – this must be a clear copy of a passport and the photo shown must be clear and visible
  • Certified copy of a Utility Bill – this is usually a Bank Statement, Gas or Electricity bill and should be dated within the last 3 months, the name and address of the officer must be visible on the bill. If the document is not in English, it should be translated by a translator
  • Reference Letter - References from a Bank, a practicing attorney or a certified accountant are acceptable. Reference should be dated within the last 3 months, prepared on the entity’s official letter head 

When documents are being certified, they should be certified as a true copy of the original by either of the following:

  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Solicitor
  • Certified Auditor
  • Notary Public

Yearly Renewals and costs

Yearly renewals are a requirement for most offshore companies.  Depending on the jurisdiction you choose will depend on the requirements needed to renew the company.  An example of some requirements are filing an annual return, providing accounts, renewing the registered office.  Each jurisdiction will have their own requirements and your dedicated agent will help you with these requirements. 

Be sure to check on your annual renewal costs as some agents will keep the incorporation fee low but have high annual fees.

Overseas Agent

A really important factor to incorporating an offshore company is knowing that you have a professional reliable agent who you can communicate with confidentially and at ease.  Also an agent who you can trust to discuss your individual requirements. Over the years CFS have built up a network of reliable agents, in each jurisdiction, at competitive prices both for incorporations and renewals.

Once you have chosen your offshore jurisdiction and are ready to move forward with your business you can feel secure in the knowledge that our CFS offshore team will manage every aspect of the registration to make the whole process simple and straightforward. Our unique online order form allows all the information to be input electronically saving time obtaining signatures. You will have the dedication of your own professional account manager who will be focused commitment to registering your company as quickly as possible.

We hope that the information provided is helpful, please feel free to contact our offshore team for an informal and confidential discussion about your individual requirements. You can contact us via telephone, email, Skype or use our live chat facility. Please see details below:

  • Telephone Number: +44 (0)1302 729041
  • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Skype: cfsinternationalformations


"I was looking at setting up a new company in Barcelona and I found CFS International Formations. It was very easy and straight forward to set up the company in Barcelona with help from CFS, they made the whole process painless"

Individual, Norway