Establishing a company in the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands belong to an island group in the western regions of the Atlantic Ocean, termed the “Virgin Islands archipelago”, located east of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and west of Anguilla. The major islands in the archipelago include Tortola (the largest and most central island and also home to the capital city Road Town), Jost Van Dyke, and Virginia Gorda. The rest of the islands are divided between British and American rule. Per capita GDP is relatively high due to an extremely active financial services sector, particularly designed for the establishment of foreign and offshore companies.

The British Virgin Islands are comprised of 50 islands, only 15 of which are inhabited. The population is around 32,000, primarily centered on the central island of Tortola. Every year more than a million tourists flock to the region, enjoying the various tourist attractions: the famous Virgin Gorda “Baths”, and an opportunity to scuba dive in the spectacular coral reefs along Anegada’s beaches.
Government authority of the islands is stable, with executive authority of Queen Elizabeth II exercised through the island governor. Government positions are decided by democratic elections.

  • In 1917 the U.S. purchased three of the islands for 25 million USD, changing their name to "Virgin Islands of the United States". Consequently, the British changed the name of the islands under their jurisdiction to the “British Virgin Islands”.
  • A 2000 survey commissioned by the British government and conducted by KPMG revealed that 41% of all offshore companies registered worldwide during that year were established in the British Virgin Islands.
  • In the 16th century, pirates sailed rampantly across the waters surrounding the islands.

The tourist industry constitutes a major contribution to local economy (45% of all state revenues) and provides the majority of employment for residents. The financial services sector is equally important, and revenues generated from the registration and administration of offshore businesses, as well as the taxes submitted by the local employees of this sector, produce 51% of all British Virgin Islands income.

Foreign companies wishing to establish a business on the islands must submit to several restrictions; among other things, they are not permitted to hold any assets in the state, excluding rented office accommodations, and they may not be active in areas of banking, trusts or insurance (unless registered specifically under the 1990 Banks and Trust Companies Act).

General Information


Type of company

BC – Business Company

Relevant Companies Law

BVI Business Companies Act (2004), The Companies Act (Cap. 285), BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2012

Offices

Law requires companies to provide a local office address

Language of original incorporation documents

English

Finance and Taxation


Currency

USD

Corporate tax rate

0%

Standard share capital

50,000 USD in nominal value shares

Office Holders


Company Secretary (Secretary)

 
Obligation to appoint company secretary

Not required – the company appoint a secretary

Obligation to appoint local secretary

Not required

Type of entity that may function as company secretary

Individual and/or company

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

None

Minimum number of shareholders

Minimum – 1, maximum – 50 (that are not company em

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

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