How to choose the right Offshore Jurisdiction

With around 50 countries in the world offering tax benefits to offshore business, it is only logical to ask which offshore country is the best to incorporate in. Some of those countries are very popular and have an inherent image of offshore tax havens - like British Virgin Islands, Panama or Belize. It is less known that some attractive tax benefits are on offer to some types of non-resident businesses in places that do not ring the bell as "tax-havens" - for instance, UK, US, Holland, Iceland or Denmark.

There can be no standard reply as to which is the best offshore jurisdiction. That answer really depends upon the intended use of the offshore company, upon the personal and business circumstances of its owners and upon the various tax regulations in force in the countries where the offshore company will engage in business.

Before going into the particular detail, it would however be useful to define what is a tax haven, anyway?


Infrastructure

The infrastructure of an offshore jurisdiction is important. You would not like to place your corporate nest-egg in a country which takes ages to get through by telephone. Factors such as quality of telecommunications and internet, physical access to the country, language, work ethics, legal system, confidentiality culture, exchange controls, quickness and variety of administrative and financial services available all can influence the smooth running of your business. You should be able to travel to the particular offshore jurisdiction easily, safely and without visa.

Take time zone into account - dealing with a jurisdiction on the other side of the globe may constantly make you lose a day while communicating via email, or to make calls in the middle of the night.

Work ethics is an important factor. Some regions of the world tend to be more laid back and relaxed than others - not helpful if You need something done fast.

Some countries are historically blessed with diligence, confidentiality and prudence. Some are less so. Take the time zone into account - dealing with a jurisdiction on the other side of the globe may constantly make you lose a day while communicating via email or fax, and it`s certainly more convenient to make calls during Your normal business hours.

Last but not least - You might like to check the weather record. Some popular offshore financial centres are located in hurricane areas. While these countries generally have their infrastructure ready for such events (backup power generators, stringent building rules, etc.), a violent tropical storm may still take out the business for several hours, or maybe even days.