Our mission is to provide support to international clients that seek to operate business interests through the UK. To those clients the UK is off-shore. Indeed all other countries are off-shore to their country of residence.
Our clients come to us for advice on the best arrangements in the context of operating internationally from the UK. So any interest in other jurisdictions is in those that are off-shore to the UK. The choice of off-shore jurisdictions is substantial.
Which off-shore location?
Our clients choose the UK as a jurisdiction with a reputation for probity and as an established international business location. We advise our clients to think beyond this – particularly to consider an international corporate structure that is suitable for all their interests. This might not only identify a need for a UK face but also a presence in other off-shore locations. In that case our response would be to build on the UK image. Thus we would offer an off-shore company from a jurisdiction with a legal system based on the principles of English common law shared by most Commonwealth countries.
Whilst we can undertake formations in most locations we generally favour those that are “near off-shore” being those closer to our UK base in terms of time zones and accessibility. Such locations include Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and Jersey.
Which company type?
The reasons why an offshore company may be used will vary from client to client. Specialist advice, for example from an advisor familiar with their country of domicile/residence, may be required before establishing a company.
However, as with the choice of location, we favour a company format that has many characteristics of the UK model. Thus we offer variations on what has become known as an IBC – being an international business company or corporation.
IBC structures are generally formed in nations that have implemented government policies intentionally geared toward privacy and low taxation, in efforts to attract foreign investors. Thus IBCs are formed for those that seek privacy, tax benefits and speedy and inexpensive incorporation.
IBC – International Business Company or Corporation
An IBC follows many aspects of UK companies and consideration of these requirements assists in appreciation of what an IBC can offer.
It is the reduced compliance requirements of an IBC compared to the UK model that are of particular interest. Again it is worth comparison by considering Registration and Compliance.
The key features of an IBC include:
- Reduced filing requirements
- No prohibition of financial assistance
- Reduced accounting requirements
- No requirement for an Annual General Meeting
- Option to have single and corporate directors
Confidentiality is a key feature of any offshore company as details of the company beneficial owners, directors and shareholders are not part of the public records.
An offshore IBC is not required to file an annual return. Annual accounts are not required. However many jurisdictions have a requirement for a company to maintain accounting records and an ability to produce accounts. Such information is not in the public domain. However any inspection by local regulatory authorities would need to see some basic accounting statements. Where there is no tax due, a registration fee may need to be paid.
How can I justify the cost?
Before choosing an off-shore location, the reasons for doing so need to be clearly understood. Once identified requirements can be matched with the ability of an off-shore location to provide them. Any scheme for operation and the associated costs can then assessed against that comparison.
Inexpensive registration to provide discrete banking may be possible in one country. A more expensive solution to satisfy a range of international commercial activities might be required in another.
If you require further information on this topic please contact us.