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?


Legalisation

Another very important factor is that the legislation is modern, flexible and well proven. Some jurisdictions have introduced new and modern suites of corporate legislation, specifically designed for international business whilst others have amended existing domestic legislation to cater for offshore requirements. That being said, for quite many offshore jurisdictions the relevant pieces of legislation are practically carbon copies of each other. For instance, quite a number of jurisdictions have taken the IBC Act of the British Virgin Islands and adapted it to their circumstances without much of a change. Fairly often the legislation of relatively new offshore centres, such as, for example, Seychelles or Saint Lucia, tend to be very well thought out and put together, having taken care of all the shortfalls and errors of the earlier laws in other, more mature offshore tax havens. All in all, if the total number of IBC`s registered in a given country is in five figures or more (you can usually tell by the current registration numbers), it means that the system is working fairly well.

A successful offshore financial centre must also have a reliable, independent judiciary system with a proven track record of defending offshore interests, especially against claims and requests originating from abroad.