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British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands


The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is a British overseas territory, located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands are a British Crown Colony that became self-governing in 1967. The BVI are autonomous of the U.K under its constitution, except for issues regarding its external affairs, defence and internal security.

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. Approximately fifteen 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 26,000, of whom approximately 18,000 live on Tortola.

The islands were settled by the British which is why English is the official language of the BVI and the U.S dollar is the official currency. The main industry is tourism, and there is a long tradition of economic and political stability. In addition, the islands enjoy the advantage of a modern communication system. Telephone, cable, telex, telecopy and courier services are all excellent and the islands are easily accessible by air travel through San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Executive authority in British Virgin Islands is vested in The Queen and is exercised on her behalf by the Governor of the British Virgin Islands. The Governor is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British Government. Defence and Foreign Affairs remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom.

A new constitution was adopted in 2007 (the Virgin Islands Constitution Order, 2007) and came into force when the Legislative Council was dissolved for the 2007 general election. The Head of Government under the new constitution is the Premier (prior to the new constitution the office was referred to as Chief Minister), who is elected in a general election along with the other members of the ruling government as well as the members of the opposition. A Cabinet is nominated by the Premier and appointed by the Governor. The Legislature consists of the Queen (represented by the Governor) and a unicameral House of Assembly made up of 13 elected members plus the Speaker and the AttorneyGeneral. The legislative council consists of the four ministers and the nine other elected representatives. The legislative council is presided over by a speaker elected from outside the council.

The Judicial System is under the direction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, which includes the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal. The Final Court of Appeal resides with the Privy Council in England. The legal system is based on British Common Law and statute enacted by the locally elected legislative council when signed and approved by the Governor.


The British Virgin Islands economy is primarily dependent on Tourism and financial services. Tourism is the more important of the two, as it employs a greater number of people within the Territory, and a larger proportion of the businesses in the tourist industry are locally owned.   Tourism revolves around diving, yachting and cruise tourism. On the other hand, financial services associated with the territory’s tax haven status are by far the more important. 51.8% of the Government’s revenue comes directly from license fees for offshore companies, and considerable further sums are raised directly or indirectly from payroll taxes relating to salaries paid within the trust industry sector.

Substantial revenues are also generated by the registration of offshore companies. As of June 2008, 823,502 companies were so registered. Since 2001 financial services in the British Virgin Islands have been regulated by the independent Financial Services Commission.

Agriculture and industry account for only a small proportion of the islands’ GDP. Agricultural produce includes fruit,
vegetables, sugar cane, livestock and poultry, and industries include rum distillation, construction and boat building


The British Virgin Islands Business Companies Act oversees the rules and regulations necessary to start and operate
a company in the British Virgin Islands. Since the Companies Act of 1985 and the International Business Companies
Ordinance of 1984 have been passed, more offshore companies have been formed annually in the BVI than anywhere
else in the world. Known as an International Business Company, the IBC cannot trade within the BVI or own real estate
there but can trade anywhere else in the world and IBCs from the BVI are well-known and well-respected everywhere.
The following are the advantages a someone can acquire from choosing the British Virgin Islands to start a business.

Advantages of the Jurisdiction of The British Virgin Islands

  • Efficient Incorporation and Registration, BVI Corporations can be incorporated and registered within 3 working days.
  • Flexibility in company structure of an offshore British Virgin Islands Company
  • Privacy for identity of principals
  • Confidentiality
  • Minimum capitalization: The minimum paid in and issued capital may be one share which is fully paid.
  • The offshore companies are exempted from all the taxes for a   period of 20 years.
  • BVI Companies records and accounts do not have to be held or filed with the authorities. Such records or accounts, may be held anywhere in the world.
  • There is no requirement for any financial statements accounts or records to be kept for a BVI Company.
  • There is no requirement for meetings of shareholder(s) and/or director(s). Meetings if thought necessary can be held anywhere in the world.

How to form a British Virgin Island Company

  • In the British Virgin Islands you can form an ordinary resident company, ordinary non-resident company, company limited by guarantee, public company, international business company, limited partnership or trusts.
  • Submit a company name and get approval from the Registrar of Companies. The name must not be offensive or obscene, and it must be in English. There is a provision for a name translation that you will include in the Memo-randum and Articles of Association. You must add only the allowed suffixes to denote the legal structure of your company. For example, a company can use the suffix “Co.” at the end of its name.
  • Obtain a licence or consent for the business name if it suggests any association with banking, a trust company, the mutual fund, insurance, assurance and reinsurance industry, or patronage of royalty or of the BVI government. This is mandatory.
  • Prepare the Memorandum and Articles of Association, and file them with the Office of the Registrar of Companies. The business activities your company can engage in are specified by the Memorandum and the Articles of Association state the rules for the company’s internal management.
  • Obtain a registered agent within the BVI. It is mandatory that you have a registered agent in the country, irrespective of your type or sphere of business operations. This may be an existing director or a licensed BVI registered agent. File your registered agent’s name and address with the Registrar of Companies.
  • Hire a company secretary to facilitate signing obligations. This is not mandatory, but may be helpful in starting and operating your company.
  • Submit the names and addresses of the shareholders, members and directors, along with copies of their passports, company mortgages and charges. This is optional.

Requirements for the Registration of an IBC

  • Director: Minimum of one Director. Corporations are permitted.
  • Secretary: A secretary is not necessary.
  • Shareholder: Minimum of one shareholder. Corporations are permitted.
  • Shareholders, secretary and Directors may be the same.
  • Shares & Capital: The standard share capital is USD 50,000.00 divided into 50,000 shares of USD 1,00 each. Shares can be issued with or without par value. Bearer shares are permitted, but now have to be deposited with an authorised intermediary, who must record the identity of the beneficial owner.
  • Name of the Company: Must end with one of the following suffixes: Limited or Ltd, Corporation or Corp, Incorpo-rated or Inc, Societe Anonyme or S.A., Sociedad Anonima or S.A., Besioten Venootshcap or B.V., Gesellschaft mit beschrankter Haftung or GMBh, Naamloze Vennootschap or NV.

Corporate documents of an IBC

  • Original Certificate of Incorporation
  • Original Memorandum & Articles of Association
  • Original Resolution of Director Consented to In Writing
  • Original Consent to Act as Secretary
  • Original Appointment of First Directors
  • Original Share Certificate
  • Apostille - Notarized Bound set of:
    • Copy Certificate of Incorporation
    • Copy Appointment of First Directors
    • Copy Resolution of Director Consented to In Writing 
    • Copy Share Certificate
    • Copy Memorandum & Articles of Association


Extra Documents:

  • Guarantee of Non-trading
  • Declaration of Trust
  • Nominee Directors Declaration
  • Memorandum of Sole Director
  • Affidavit
  • Company Seal

* Power of Attorney will be given when we act as Nominee

The BVI is by far the most popular jurisdiction in the world for IBCs because it provides the best combination of those
qualities that the international financial professional seeks out when establishing an IBC company for his clients.



Eastern Caribbean.

Time zone

GMT - 4 hours.


Approx. 26,000.


Road Town.


Beef Island.




US Dollar.

Political system

Democratic 13 - member Ministerial Government.

International dialling code

+ 1 284.

Legal system

Based on English Common Law. UK Privy Council is final court of appeal.

Centre’s expertise

Renowned as a corporate domicile for business companies, trust settlements, captive insurance, mutual funds and shipping registration.


Personal income tax

No tax.

Corporate income tax

No income (profit) tax. Payroll tax - resident companies: 10% or 14% (employees: 8% fixed, employers: 2% or 6% depending on business size). Non-resident companies: same as resident, on BVI-based employees only.

Exchange restrictions


Tax treaties

Japan, United Kingdom, Switzerland


Permitted currencies

All currencies permitted. Official currency: US Dollar.

Minimum authorised capital

No minimum.

Minimum share issue

One share.


Shelf companies

ΒVI Business Companies Limited Partnerships, Segregated Portfolio Companies, Restricted Pur­pose Companies, Companies Limited by shares and/or guarantee.

Timescale for new entities

24 hours (BVI Business Companies, LPs).

Incorporation fees

Business Companies, US $350 - US $1,100 depending on share capital structure (number and type of shares authorised for issue); Limited Partnerships US $500.

Annual fees

Business Companies US $350 - US $1,350 depending on share capital strucrure and of the share certificates issued; Limited Partnerships US $500.


Minimum number


Residency requirements


Corporate directors



As directors determine.




Bearer shares


Minimum number


Public share registry


Meetings / frequency

As directors or shareholders determine.


Annual return


Audit requirements



Registered office

Yes, must be in BVI as must be the Registered Agent.

Domicile issues

Re-domiciliation to and from BVI allowed under BVI law.

Company naming restrictions

Restricted words such as 'Banking', 'Insurance', 'Fund', 'Trustee' will not be allowed without rel­evant licence.

ΒVI Companies

First Half Year Companies (incorporated between January and June):

Licence due – 31st May

10% penalty - $35 – 1st June to 31st July

50% penalty - $175 – 1st August to 31st October

Struck off – 1st November

Second Half Year Companies (incorporated between July and December):

Licence due – 30th November

10% penalty - $35 – 1st December to 31st January

50% penalty - $175 – 1st February to 31st April

Struck off – 1st May