Seychelles Special License Company (CSL)

Seychelles Special License Company - abbreviated "CSL" - is a new entity introduced by the Seychelles Companies (Special Licenses) Act 2003. While it is more complex and more expensive than the traditional IBC, a CSL has a number of great advantages.

The most attractive feature of the Special License Company is its ability to bypass foreign blacklisting by being a low-tax company (as opposed to a zero-tax company, like IBC). A CSL is also able to access and use the growing number of double tax avoidance treaties concluded by Seychelles. These treaty benefits are not accessible to IBCs. Unlike an IBC, a CSL is formally considered tax-resident in Seychelles, which in turn allows for easier conduct of its business abroad, attracting less suspicion and scrutiny.

The CSL is formed under the general provisions of the "domestic" Seychelles Companies Act 1972. Its special tax regime and other features are prescribed by the Seychelles Companies (Special Licenses) Act 2003. A full text of this Act is available in our Downloads section.

Low tax

Unlike an IBC, which is a zero-tax entity, a Special License Company is liable to 1,5% tax on its worldwide income. Apart from that, a CSL is exempt from any witholding taxes on dividends, interest and royalties, and from stamp duties on any property or share transfers and transactions.

Tax treaty benefits

Unlike an IBC, a CSL qualifies as "tax-resident" in Seychelles. Therefore it has access to a growing number of international Double Taxation Avoidance Treaties (DTAs). Seychelles has DTAs ratified with China, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Oman, Botswana and Mauritius; such agreements are also signed with Belgium, Cyprus, Malaysia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Negotiations on Double Taxation Avoidance Treaties have been completed with Egypt, UAE, Russia, Bahrain, Czech Republic, Tunisia, Namibia and Kuwait.

Qualification as formal resident for tax purposes

A Seychelles CSL is also formally permitted to operate within the Republic of Seychelles. While it may seem to have a limited commercial value, this feature may be extremely useful for some international businesses. By placing some of its customer support services, parts of logistics, administration or technical services in Seychelles, a CSL may achieve some of its business goals, while at the same time enjoying unrivalled fiscal benefits. For those Special License Companies which would utilize such option, the law provides for further exemptions. In particular, CSL is exempted from duties on all imported equipment, necessary for its operation, and from the tax payments under the Social Security Act.

Special operational objects

A Special License Company is the appropriate vehicle if the proposed business requires specific regulation. In particular, the Companies (Special Licenses) Act 2003 prescribes that a CSL may be organized to undertake the business of investment management and advice, offshore banking, offshore insurance and re-insurance, investment services, holding, marketing, intellectual property and franchise, human resources, and it may operate as a headquarters or holding company. CSL is also the prescribed entity to operate under the Seychelles International Trade Zone License. The law also provides that a CSL may engage in any other business that has met the approval of the Financial Services Authority. This cover-all provision effectively ensures that a CSL may also be used for any of the more traditional businesses - like international trading in goods and provision of services.

(!) Important note: although the general provisions of the Companies (Special Licenses) Act 2003 provide that a CSL may carry out the activities of offshore banking and insurance, engagement into these particular activities would require special additional licensing by the Central Bank or by other appropriate Government authority.

Application procedure

Creation of a Special License Company is NOT a formal, one-for-all process. It requires preparation of a detailed Application for the Financial Services Authority (FSA). This requires substantial amount of information from the client (beneficial owner) of the company.

Alongside several more formal documents, which we would normally be able to prepare independently, the CSL Application file must contain a business plan, indicating objectives of the company, the exact type of activity the company will carry out, a 3-year financial forecast, description of the markets and marketing strategy and details about the company capitalisation. This information can only be provided by the client.

For every beneficial owner, shareholder or director of the Company, a set of due diligence documents will have to be provided alongside the Application. Those include a certified copy of passport, proof of address, bank reference, and a curriculum vitae. Each of those individuals would also need to complete a Personal Application Form.

Upon review and approval of the CSL Application by the FSA, they would issue a Certificate of Approval. This preliminary certificate would enable the registration of the new Company by the Seychelles (domestic) Registrar of Companies. At this stage, the primary incorporation documents of the new company would go to the Registrar of Companies, for proper incorporation.

Upon issue of the Certificate of Incorporation by the Registrar, the new company would come into existence.

Immediately thereafter, based on the information already submitted earlier in the initial CSL Application, FSA would issue the new company with the Special License, at which stage the new firm would become a proper Special License Company.

Secrecy

The creation of a Special License Company does not happen anonymously. During the Special License Application, the actual beneficial owners of the CSL must be identified. A detailed business plan and full personal details have to be submitted. This information remains on file with the Financial Services Authority. However, none of this information is generally accessible to public. There are provisions in the Law providing that all information gathered during the Special License Application remains confidential.

Seychelles is not subject to the EU Savings Tax Directive, as are some other offshore jurisdictions related to the EU member states (primarily UK and its overseas territories).

Maintenance costs

A Seychelles CSL is subject to the following government fees:

A one-time application fee: US$ 200.00
Annual License fee: US$ 1000.00
Annual return filing fee: US$ 200.00

These are in addition to the professional fees that would be charged by us for incorporation services, assistance with the processing of the Special License application, and company management services, as may be applicable.

Where to start?

The CSL Application form, CSL Personal Application form and Application Guidelines are available in our Downloads section. If a Special License Company is Your choice, we suggest starting with a look at the Application Guidelines and the relevant forms. These are fairly straightforward and contain detailed instructions as to how they should be completed.

Main characteristics of the Seychelles Special License Companies

FactorDescription
Business tax in Seychelles1.5% of worldwide income
Access to double-tax avoidance treaty benefitsYes
Formal resident taxpayer statusYes
May conduct business within SeychellesYes
Currency of capitalAny, except SCR. Usually USD.
Most effective authorized capital
(maximum amount at minimum duty)
USD 100`000
Usual authorized capitalUSD 1`000, but can be any other amount.
Minimum paid-up capital10% of the authorized capital
Net time to launch2-4 weeks (depending on speed of client application)
Shelf companiesNo
Minimum number of directorsTwo, can be non-resident or resident
Public register of directorsYes
Corporate directorsNo
Minimum number of shareholdersTwo
Public register of sharesNo
Bearer sharesNo
Resident secretaryRequired
Public disclosure of beneficial ownersNo
Detailed business application procedureYes, confidential
Auditing of accountsNo
Filing of accountsRequired, not public
Filing of annual administrative returnRequired, not public
Re-domicilation from other jurisdiction acceptedYes

Which one to choose - An IBC or a CSL?