Establishing a Company in Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a small island state in the Pacific Ocean, situated east of Australia, west of Fiji, and north of New Zealand. There are also several other tiny island states in the area. The various Vanuatu islands were first settled in the 13th century B.C, and was much later discovered by the Spanish in 1606, the first European settlers there. The islands remained under joint French and British rule from 1906 to their establishment as an independent republic in 1980. The official languages are Bislama (the native language), French, and English. The state capital is Port Vila, and general population numbers 220,000. Vanuatu is rapidly becoming a draw for international companies, and business establishment there includes a range of benefits for international entrepreneurs.

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Four things you did not know about Vanuatu:

  • Vanuatu (previously the New Hebrides) was the only place in the world officiously declared a joint territory of France and the UK, pronounced an area of joint interest in 1906. In July 1980 the Republic of Vanuatu was established, its constitution drafted, and it is currently a parliamentary democracy belonging to the Commonwealth.  
  • Vanuatu is comprised of 82 islands resulting from a volcanic eruption. The state territories include 9 active volcanoes, including the famous Mount Yasur, considered one of the most accessible volcanoes in the world. Due to its location in the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, the islands suffer relatively frequent earthquakes. 
  • The island’s native tribal ceremonies, held each year in April-May primarily on Pentecost Island, include men jumping from high towers with only vines securing their ankles, the early germination of the famous bungee jump. 
  • In 2006 the HPI (Happy Planet Index) was published by NEF (New Economics Foundation) and Friends of the Earth, including an overall analysis of happiness measurements among populations, longevity and eco-footprint. Vanuatu was ranked first in the world in the Happy Planet Index.

Establishing a company in Vanuatu:

The islands’ main areas of economic activity are agriculture, tourism, beef, and financial services to international companies. The local currency is the vatu (VUV). The agricultural sector generates employment for approximately 65% of the state’s work force, producing coconut, beef, cocoa, lumber, and coffee. Additionally, there is a lucrative fishing and fishery sector. Vanuatu’s GD is 1.2 billion USD, and per capita income is 4,800 USD.  

Vanuatu first began to develop as a financial services center in 1971, adding a key component to local economy, and currently constitutes a major economic contributor. Financial activity has significantly improved employment opportunities and the telecommunication infrastructure of the islands. It provides an efficient and accessible registration process for foreign companies, and is an excellent venue for international companies specializing in trade and investments.  

Additional information about establishing offshore companies in Vanuatu:

General
Type of company
International Business Company Limited by Shares
Relevant Companies Law
Vanuatu Companies Act (Cap.191)
Offices
Law requires companies to provide a local office address
Language of original incorporation documents
English
Finance and Taxation
Currency
VUV
Corporate tax rate
0%
Standard share capital
Irrelevant
Office Holders
Secretary
Obligation to appoint company secretary
Not required – company may appoint a secretary
Obligation to appoint local secretary
Not required
Type of entity that may function as company secretary
Irrelevant
Director
Obligation to appoint company director
Required
Obligation to appoint local company director
Not required
Minimum number of directors
1
Type of entity that may serve as company director
Individual and/or company
Shareholders
Obligation to register shareholders
Required
Obligation to register local shareholders
Not required
Minimum number of shareholders
1
Type of entity that may register as shareholder
Individual and/or company
Type of shares
Registered shares and/or bearer shares
Accessibility of Information
Company registrar
Information regarding office holders is not accessible to the public
Annual Assembly and Reporting
Obligation to hold annual assembly
Not required
Obligation to prepare financial reports
Required
Obligation to submit financial reports
Not required