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Cayman Islands


The Cayman Islands comprise three islands situated in the Western Caribbean, 150 miles south of Cuba. The islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman cover an area of 100 sq miles together. They consist of limestone outcroppings which are the tips of a submarine mountain range called the Cayman Ridge and extend off Cuba’s southeast coast to the Misteriosa Bank near Belize. There are no rivers due to the porous limestone rock, although this accounts for the transparency of the surrounding Carribean Sea, often to over 120ft.

Grand Cayman is the largest of the three islands and measures 22 miles in length and 8 miles at its widest point. The islands are surrounded by coral reefs which create ideal conditions for divers and anglers. Cayman Brac is the most scenic island with a large bluff rising west to east along the island and rising to 140 feet at the eastern tip, ending in a sheer cliff. The island is only 12 miles long and slightly over a mile wide.

The climate is warm and humid although cooled by trade winds. Temperatures reach between 80-90F during the day
in summer and 72-86F in winter. The average rainfall is 46 inches with May and October being the wettest months.

There are international airports on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, with in the region of nine major airlines serving US and European cities. A direct flight from Miami to Cayman (daily) takes just over one hour.

The population is estimated at 50,200 (2010). The majority live on Grand Cayman with about 1,200 people on Cayman Brac and only about 120 on Little Cayman. The capital is George Town, on Grand Cayman. Just over a third of the population is non-Caymanians, from 113 different countries. English is the official language with a brogue reflecting Welsh, Scottish and English origins. Jamaican patois is also common among the substantial part of the population that has emigrated from Jamaica.

The islands were discovered by Columbus in May 1503. He named them “Las Tortugas” after the abundance of sea turtles. On a voyage during the years 1585-86, Sir Francis Drake visited the islands and re-named them The Cayman Islands after the local word for crocodile.

In 1655 Cayman officially became part of the British Empire under the Treaty of Madrid and for the next 300 years the islands were administered as a dependency of Jamaica. King George III granted the Cayman Islands freedom from taxation after the courageous rescue of ten merchant vessels in the Royal fleet which ran aground in rough seas on 8 February, 1794.

The Caymanians are more of a maritime people than many Caribbean nations; having few native inland resources they have tended to live from the sea, and are good sailors. Perhaps this is why recreational scuba diving is said to have originated on Cayman; now it is a staple of the islands’ pervasive tourist industry.

When Jamaica became independent in 1962, the Cayman Islands chose to remain a British Crown Colony. Under the Constitution established in 1972 Cayman is a British Dependent Territory, with a Governor appointed by the Queen for a term of 4 years. There is an Executive Council consisting of three official members appointed by the Governor and five elected members selected from the 15 elected representatives of the Legislative Assembly. Elections are held every four years, most recently in 2009.

In the 2009 elections, the United Democratic Party, or UDP, led by McKeeva Bush, returned to power after a five-year absence, sweeping away the government of Kurt Tibbetts, winning nine out of the fifteen seats. While Tibbetts was in favour of a referendum on independence, in 2008 discussions began between the governments of the Cayman Islands and the UK on a new constitution for the jurisdiction. This constitution seeks to strengthen self governance in the Cayman Islands, while retaining strong links to the UK. Agreement has been reached on key issues, such as increasing cabinet representatives from five to seven and the Legislative Assembly from fifteen to eighteen, adding a Minister of Finance as a Cabinet-level position, with the Financial Secretary retained in an advisory role, and establishing a National Security Council (to handle policy matters surrounding national security issues) and a Judicial and Legal Services Commission to appoint the Attorney General and other key legal and judicial officials.

The Cayman Islands voted to adopt a revised constitution by a referendum held on May 20, 2009.

An amendment to the constitution in 1994 paved the way for a new ministerial form of government. The five elected members of the Council are now referred to as Ministers with portfolio responsibilities assigned by the Governor. A District Commissioner represents the Governor on the two sister islands. Government offices are located in George Town. Attending a CARICOM meeting in July, 2005, Kurt Tibbetts, then Leader of Government Business of the Cayman Islands, said that his country will keep its current relationship with the Community. Cayman has associate membership of CARICOM. It did not sign the Treaty of Chaguaramas in 1973 and does not participate in voting although its representatives attend CARICOM meetings with observer status.


The prosperous Cayman Islands economy is dominated by tourism (70% of GDP) and financial services. The standard of living is one of the highest in the region; unemployment was 4% in 2008 and rose to 6% in 2009. The upmarket Cayman tourist industry attracted 1.8m people in 2008, largely from the US. Cruise ship visitors make up a significant proportion of the total.

The Government has worked for 25 years to develop Cayman into a top financial jurisdiction, assisted by the fact that Cayman has never had any kind of taxation (stamp duty, import duties and registration fees being the only exceptions). Banking, insurance, trust management and mutual funds are the key sectors making up the financial services industry. More than 94,000 foreign companies are registered in Cayman. The financial sector is regulated by the independent Cayman Monetary Authority.

Cayman has tried hard to legislate away doubtful business based on drugs or money-laundering and has maintained a good reputation in this respect. It is a leading member of the CFATF (Caribbean Financial Action Task Force), and has signed Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties with the US and UK.

The Cayman Islands’ currency is the Cayman dollar at a rate of US$1 = CI$0.81.

The economy experienced a period of difficulty in 2001, aggravated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, which cut heavily into tourist arrivals and affected international banking. The government responded with temporary cuts in some import tariffs and stamp duty. However, GDP remains one of the highest in the world at more than USD45,000 per head. For 2009, the Economic Statistics Office reported a contraction of 6.6% of GDP. A further decline of 3.1% is expected in 2010 with a recovery to growth of 2.2% forecast for 2011.


Cayman Islands’ favourable political climate and tax laws make it the preferred choice for many international families.
In terms of business and communications infrastructure, the Cayman Islands offer the highest international standards.
The business environment is particularly well-attuned to the finance sector as a result of Cayman’s long-term policy
of promoting itself as an international finance centre, accompanied by a well-developed regulatory structure: Cayman
complies with all the requirements of the G-7 Financial Action Task Force. There is a good professional infrastructure,
but it is not cheap.

Licensing of international ‘offshore’ business is dealt with under Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes and Offshore Business Sectors. Trade and Business Licences are administered through the Trade and Business Licensing Board of the Immigration Department as specified under the Trade and Business Licensing Law (2003 Revision), which requires that persons (individuals or companies) engaged in local business must have licenses. These licenses are issued only to individuals with Caymanian status or to companies beneficially owned or controlled by them. Foreign-owned or controlled companies doing business in the Cayman Islands must obtain a licence under the Local Companies (Control) Law (1999 Revision). A company is considered foreign owned if less than 60% of the equity is owned by Caymanians or if less than 60% of the board of directors is Caymanian.

Advantages of the Jurisdiction of Cayman Islands:

There are many advantages in forming a Cayman Islands company, which include the following:

  • There are no taxes in the Cayman Islands on income, capital gains, profits, dividends, investments or capital transfers on any type of company.
  • An exempt company can be formed with only one shareholder and with no minimum capitalization requirements.
  • Excellent Trust Laws
  • It is worth mentioning that companies incorporated in other jurisdictions can be often used to undertake the activities mentioned above.

Placing an order for the formation of a company

The establishment and operation of companies in Cayman Company is regulated under the Companies (Amendment) 2009 Law.   This law consolidated a number of earlier laws with regard to companies and their operation in Cayman Islands.   In general the principles contained in the Cayman Islands legislation are based on English company law.
The formation of a Cayman Islands International Business Company can take place by using an order form which can be provided by the Registry Agent.

Off-the-shelf companies are available.

The Registry Agent will check the name availability of the company (whether there is no company under such name already). In Cayman Islands the law requires that all financial service providers know the identity of their client so the actual contact details must be indicated at the Registry Agent.   This information remains confidential.

Ordinary Companies

Ordinary companies are formed in the same way as they are in England. A Memorandum of Association (Charter) must be filed with the Registrar of companies, stating the name of the registered office, the objectives and the authorised share capital.

The company may either draw up its own Articles of Association (Bylaws) or use the standard Table, and may operate

with only one shareholder. An ordinary company must have at least one director and is required to hold at least one shareholder meeting every year. It must also file an annual report with the Registrar of Companies, listing the shareholders and officers.

Exempt Companies

Exempt companies are formed in the same way, except that a director must make a declaration to the effect that the company will not trade within the Cayman Islands for any reason other than the maintenance of an administrative office or local bank and brokerage accounts.

An exempt company has the following advantages:

  • It may obtain a guarantee from the Government exempting it from any taxes which could be introduced by future legislation for a period of up to 20 years.
  • It need not hold any meetings of shareholders.
  • It need not include the word Limited or Ltd. in its name.
  • Requirements for the Registration of an IBC
  • Director: Minimum of one Director. Corporations are permitted.
  • Secretary: A secretary is required. Corporations are permitted.
  • Shareholder: Minimum of one shareholder.
  • Shares & Capital: The minimum authorised share capital is US$ 1, but it is more usual practice to incorporate with an authorised share capital of US$ 50,000 which is divided into 50,000 common voting shares. This is the maximum for the minimum capital duty payable to the Company Registrar. The minimum issued share capital is one share of no par value or one share of par value. Registered shares, shares of par or no par value, bearer shares, preference shares, redeemable shares, voting or non-voting shares. Bearer shares are permitted.
  • Name of the Company: The Company name may be expressed in any language in the Latin alphabet, if an English translation is submitted to the Registrar. A great advantage is that for the companies in Cayman Islands there is no requirement to use any suffix to denote limited liability.
  • Company must have a registered office and a registered agent in the Cayman Islands.

Required Documents to register the company:

  • Notarized copy of your Passport.
  • Notarized Copy of utility bill for address verification less than 3 months old
  • Application documents.

When all the details are confirmed and the payment for the relevant fees received, the Registry Agent will prepare the
Memorandum and the Article of Association of the new International Business Company. These will be filed with the
Registry of International Business Companies in Cayman Islands. The Registered agent will file the corporate docu-
ments of the company, will pay the applicable registration fees and arrange for the documents to be submitted to
the Cayman Islands Registrar of companies for registration. All the relevant documents will be kept in the Registered
Agents office.


Corporate documents of an IBC

  • Original certification of incorporation of IBC
  • Memorandum and article of Association
  • First minutes and Corporate Resolutions containing the appointment of directors, allocation of shares, share certificates, copies if the Registry of Directors and the Registry of shareholders need it.
  • Share transfer forms, trust declarations, appointments of representative (power of attorney) and the Corporate Seal.

The Business Environment in Cayman Islands is very encouraging and easy to understand.

The Cayman Islands are an English-speaking Dependent Territory of the United Kingdom, located in the Caribbean between Cuba and Central America.

The Cayman Islands have quite a good reputation in the Western hemisphere, but in Europe have tended to exemplify ‘tax havens’, largely perhaps as a media stereotype rather than as a matter of objective reality. The truth is that Cayman has tried hard with a large number of statutes to keep up with the international pressure for offshore centres to keep themselves clean, even accepting in 2001 the need to allow investigation of fiscal wrong-doing, at least when criminality is in evidence both internationally and in Cayman itself. The prevailing attitude in Cayman however, is still to protect confidentiality in the absence of demonstrated criminality.

Although the Cayman Islands was briefly included on the FATF list of jurisdictions with inadequate defences against money laundering, in 2001 the Cayman Islands was praised by the FATF for its substantial efforts to conform to forty recommendations set out by the FATF in a code of good practice governing money laundering, including the issuance of money laundering regulations and amendments to the Monetary Authority Law and the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Law. Amendments have also been made to the Banks and Trust Companies Law and the Companies Management Law; and compulsory licensing for financial firms was introduced in late 2002.

The Savings Tax Directive, which went ‘live’ in July, 2005, appears to have had little impact on the Cayman Islands financial services industry.




The Cayman Islands are in the Western Caribbean about 150 miles south of Cuba, 460 miles south of Miami, Florida and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica.

Time zone

Eastern Standard Time (Nov-Feb) Central Standard Time (Mar-Oct)


App. 50,000


George Town, Grand Cayman


Owen Roberts International Airport




Cayman Islands Dollar (CI$)

Political system

Parliamentary Democracy with judicial, executive and legislative branches.

International dialling code


Legal system

Common Law and statute

Centre’s expertise

Investments funds, capital markets, banking, trusts, etc


Personal income tax


Corporate income tax


Exchange restrictions


Tax treaties

For full details visit,


Permitted currencies

No restrictions

Minimum authorised capital

No restrictions

Minimum share issue

One share issued to the subscriber on incorporation by operation of law. A Cayman Islands Com­pany must always have at least one member.


Shelf companies

Timescale for new entities

24 hours for an express incorporation

Incorporation fees

Fees start at approximately US $732 for an Exempted Company

Annual fees

Fees start at approximately US $732 per annum


Minimum number

One. Two if regulated by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority.

Residency requirements


Corporate directors

No requirement





No public disclosure for exempted companies

Bearer shares

Allowed but with strict custody rules

Minimum number

One share issued to the subscriber on incorporation by operation of law. A Cayman Islands com­pany must always have at least one member.

Public share registry

None for exempted companies

Meetings / frequency



Annual return


Audit requirements

None unless regulated by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority.


Registered office

Must be located in the Cayman Islands.

Domicile issues

Transfer of Domicile is permissible.

Company naming restrictions

Yes - no two companies may have the same name and certain other restrictions as specified in the Companies Law (as amended)


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