British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands (BVI)


The BVI is probably the most popular of the Caribbean corporate registration jurisdictions with excellent efficiency and an English speaking business community. It is still a British Colony and has a major ship and vessel registry and has not suffered from the money laundering scandals associated with the Cayman Islands. No direct tax treaty network even with the United Kingdom. However, Japan and Switzerland include the BVI in their respective treaties with the UK

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The British Virgin Islands comprise 50 islands in the Caribbean Sea, located approximately 60 miles east of Puerto Rico and adjacent to the US Virgin Islands

Advantages of a BVI International Business Company (IBC)

The International Business Company Act (Cap. 291) (“The IBC Act”) is a modern piece of corporate law tailored specifically to the needs of international business. The IBC Act makes it possible for the administration of an IBC to be undertaken either in the BVI or from another jurisdiction. However, whilst the legislation affords a high degree of confidentiality from 3rd party investigation, beneficial ownership details must be recorded and accounts, whilst not on public record, must be kept. ‘Bearer’ shares can no longer be used in most cases

Incorporation under IBC Act provides the following benefits and features:

  • IBC companies are exempt from all BVI taxes and stamp duty (save for registration and annual license/franchise fees) even though the administration of an IBC may be from within the BVI.
  • There are no minimum issued share capital requirements.
  • An IBC is required to have a registered agent and office in the BVI. In most cases, nominee directors will also be employed to allow anonymity to be maintained when dealing with third parties
  • Only one director is required. A company may serve as director. There are no nationality requirements for either directors or shareholders
  • Only one shareholder is required
  • The books and records of a company may be maintained anywhere
  • Accounts, whilst not required to be on public record, must be maintained to international standards
  • Directors have power to protect the assets of the company by transferring them to trustees, another company or other legal entities for the benefit of the IBC, its beneficial owner(s) and/or creditor(s)
  • Registered agents are authorised to verify and authenticate the signatures of all company directors and officers including those of the agents concerned
  • The IBC Ordinance allows a company incorporated outside of the BVI to be re-domiciled in the BVI under the ‘continuation’ features of this Ordinance
  • The name of the corporation may be in any language. It must contain the word(s) limited, Corporation, Incorporated, Sociedad Anonima, Societe Anonyme, an equivalent or an abbreviation thereto
  • No accounts or annual summaries have to be filed with the Government, with the exception of the annual fee form to be completed and filed by the registered agent in the BVI but accountancy records must nevertheless be maintained by the company or agent if nominee directors or shareholders are used

Domestic Corporate Tax

Not applicable

Personal Tax

Not applicable

Double Taxation Treaty Network

No direct tax treaty network even with the United Kingdom. However, Japan and Switzerland include the BVI in their respective treaties with the UK

Administration & Accountancy Services

Managed & Non-Managed Companies

SCF Accountancy & Law can provide BVI companies either in a non-managed or managed format. However, in general like all ‘international business corporation’ (IBC) jurisdictions BVI companies are generally used for ‘holding’ or low level consultancy purposes so full management services are not common, especially as the BVI has limited tax treaty protection. However, virtually all BVI companies avail of our administration services from a convenient tax free location or sub-contracted out provider to ensure that corporate activities are separate from those of the beneficial owner

Fully Managed & Branch Registrations

Where required, SCF Accountancy & Law can provide fully managed services and even branch registration in another jurisdiction where tax treaty protection is required. For further details please consult with a SCF Accountancy & Law sales office

Set-Up & Annual Accountancy Fees

Please see the separate BVI Quotation Leaflet

The Ownership of BVI Companies

‘Overhead’ Discretionary Trusts or Private Interest Foundations

For tax planning reasons, normally pertaining to anti-avoidance provisions in a beneficial owners ‘home’ country or place of fiscal residence, and/or because of a need to ‘ring fence’ IBC assets many clients owning a BVI company select to have it owned not by themselves but by an overhead discretionary trust or a Jersey Private Interest Foundation, Seychelles Private Interest Foundation or a Liechtenstein Private Interest Foundation (locally known as a Stiftung)

For more information on discretionary trusts and/or private interest foundations please refer to the trust and private interest foundation sections.