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Offshore Company Registration in Europe in 2021

Registration of offshore companies in 2021 will be gradually simplified by jurisdictions in Europe. The procedures will become more transparent, the requirements for application documents and accountability will be standardized, and the probability of rejection will be significantly reduced if the business is real and transparent. 

But will an offshore company remain advantageous? Won’t the registration in some jurisdictions become a booby trap?

Offshore companies in Europe in 2021

The answer is: it all depends on the purpose of the registration of an offshore company. 

If it is an actual business extension, there should be no problems. You will need to choose a suitable country, a set of additional services (to be discussed in detail with our experts), and prepare a package of documents. 

If it is a sham business, and if the purpose of its offshore incorporation is tax evasion, capital/asset withdrawal, or other dubious purposes, it will be very difficult or even impossible to register it. 

We hope that you will make the right decision and will not even consider the mere chance of using gray / semi-legal services. It is our principle not to deal with such ploys. We do not discuss them with our clients. And we do not cooperate with entities that practice them.

An offshore company is a convenient, legal (!), efficient and effective tool for international business development and tax optimization (not to be confused with their concealment and dilution of the taxable income).

Would you like to register a company with a transparent organizational structure (and a trustworthy beneficiary, reputable shareholders, official director, transparent assets, proper share capital) in a suitable jurisdiction? You are most welcome to contact our experts for assistance. We will offer you several suitable options (a ready-made business, the turnkey registration of companies, holding opportunities) and explain to you in detail the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.

This article discusses low-tax jurisdictions in Europe, which can be conditionally classified as offshores and midshores. Let us consider each of them and their most recent registration stipulations for new businesses, so that you could detect potential benefits/disadvantages of their requirements set for staffing, premises, other basic organizational matters in 2021. 

We would like to remind you, that you can get additional information on this topic as part of an individual consultation (by contacting us at the e-address given at the top of this page).

Cyprus

Cyprus is an island jurisdiction located in the Mediterranean Sea. The closest neighbors of Cyprus are Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. The country has received independence in 1960. Its form of government is a presidential republic.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC (International Business Corporation) offshore company in Cyprus are as follows:

  • It is a solid high-profile jurisdiction.
  • Cyprus is party to international Double Tax Treaties (DTT).
  • Any offshore company registered in Cyprus enjoys a scope of opportunities for doing business in Europe / EU.
  • The country maintains political, economic, financial stability.
  • There is no currency control.
  • A new company must have in Cyprus a local office and an agent.
  • Nominee services are allowed.

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Cyprus 

FeaturesValues
Authorized/paid capitalfrom 1,000 EUR / from1.00 EUR
Registration procedure in Cyprus in days7-10 days
Legal business typesPublic/private companies (liability is limited to the value of shares held), Limited Liability Companies.
DutiesFrom 400 EUR
Number of shareholdersFrom 1 to 50, legal/natural persons
Directors, the Secretary1 / 1
ConfidentialityNot provided
Audit / timelinesYes, the first – within 18 months after the registration of the offshore company
Reporting+
General meeting of the shareholders in Cyprus+
Mandatory in-person presence
Name of the company in Cyprus (mandatory words related to the business type)Limited, Ltd

Denmark

Denmark is a mature European jurisdiction with a long history and business traditions. Its closest neighbors are Norway, Sweden, and Germany. Official languages are Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic, German. The state system in Denmark is a constitutional monarchy.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Denmark are as follows:

  • Full foreign ownership is allowed (up to 100%)
  • There are over 72 DTCs / 53 TIEAs.
  • Once an offshore company is registered in Denmark, it will not be limited in its choice of the business area.
  • There is no mandatory audit.
  • Holding companies in Denmark are entitled to tax allowances (subject to several conditions).

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Denmark 

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital50,000 DKK / 50,000 DKK (1 DKK = 0.13 EUR)
Registration procedure in Denmark in days5-7 days
Legal business typesPublic / Private Limited Liability Company  (ApS / AS), Limited Liability Partnership (KS)
DutiesVarious
Number of shareholders1 (legal / natural person)
Directors, the Secretary1 (preferably an ЕС resident, only natural persons) / –
Confidentiality
Audit / timelines
Reporting+
General meeting of the shareholders in Denmark+
Mandatory in-person presence+
Name of the company in Denmark (mandatory words related to the business type)Anpartsselskab / ApS

Gibraltar

The jurisdiction is located in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Gibraltar’s form of government is a constitutional monarchy, a British Overseas Territory. The jurisdiction is strategically located, controlling the strait between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Gibraltar are as follows:

  • The country is a full member of the EU.
  • The jurisdiction maintains a stable financial system.
  • The well-developed banking sector provides a scope of services.
  • There is no corporate tax in Gibraltar, so registering an offshore company will not be associated with an excessive fiscal burden.
  • The country has a well-developed business environment.
  • A registered office/agent is mandatory for each offshore company in Gibraltar.
  • The legal framework is well-developed.
  • Nominee services are allowed. 

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Gibraltar

FeaturesValues
Authorized/paid capital2,000 GBP / 1 GBP
Registration procedure in Gibraltar in days5-7 days
Legal business typesNon-resident (offshore) company
Duties200 GBP
Number of shareholders1 (legal/natural persons)
Directors, the Secretary1 (can be a legal person) / 1 (Gibraltar resident)
Confidentiality+
Audit / timelines_
Reporting+
General meeting of the shareholders in Gibraltar+
Mandatory in-person presence_
Name of the company in Gibraltar (mandatory words related to the business type)Limited, Ltd

Guernsey

Guernsey is an island in the English Channel. Guernsey is located in close proximity to the French coast. The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a self-governing British Crown dependency that is not part of the United Kingdom. It is a parliamentary representative democracy. The official languages are English and French. The chief of state is the reigning British monarch, represented by Lieutenant-Governor of Guernsey who is appointed by the monarch (as well as the Bailiff – head of government).

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Guernsey are as follows:

  • The country maintains the stability of its economy, politics, and social sphere.
  • Guernsey is the leading offshore hub in Europe.
  • There is no corporate tax.
  • The country features a well-developed financial services sector. 
  • Due to the two above-mentioned advantages, the registration of an offshore company in Guernsey is available and beneficial to any type of business.
  • This is one of the best jurisdictions (territories) for fiduciary management.
  •  A registered office/agent is mandatory.

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Guernsey

FeaturesValues
Authorized/paid capital
Registration procedure in Guernsey in days2-3 days
Legal business typesOnly non-resident companies
Duties600 EUR
Number of shareholders1 (legal/natural persons)
Directors, the Secretary1 (can be a legal person) / 1 
Confidentiality+
Audit / timelines+
Reporting+
General meeting of the shareholders in Guernsey(subject to certain conditions)
Mandatory in-person presence_
Name of the company in Guernsey (mandatory words related to the business type)Limited, Ltd

Hungary

Hungary is a jurisdiction in Central Europe. The form of government is a parliamentary republic. There is no direct access to the sea. Neighbors of Hungary are Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia. The economy is dynamic and actively growing. Hungary is a member of the EU (since 2004) and NATO (since 1999).

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Hungary are as follows:

  • Hungary is a full member of the European Union.
  • Hungary signed 83 DTCs and 2 TIEAs (Guernsey, Jersey).
  • It has a dynamically developing sector of financial services.
  • Hungary maintains the stability of its political, financial, and economic systems.
  • The local workforce is better qualified than in some other countries in Europe.
  • A registered office/agent in Hungary is mandatory.

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Hungary 

FeaturesValues
Authorized/paid capital5 mln HUF (ZRT), 20 mln HUF (NYRT) / 500 thousand HUF (LLC). 1 HUF (the Hungarian forint) = 0.0028 EUR
Registration procedure in Hungary in days2-3 days
Legal business types Partnership (limited / unlimited – BT / KKT), LLC. (KFT), Limited Liability Company (RT, ZRT, OR NYRT)
Duties200 EUR (KKT, BT), 400 (KFT)
Shareholders1 (legal/natural person)
Directors / the Secretary1 (KFT), 3 (RT) / –, corporate directors allowed
Confidentiality 
Reporting / timelines– (subject to conditions)
Reports submission
General meeting of shareholders in Hungary+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in Hungary (mandatory words indicating the business type)KKT, BT, KFT, RT, ZRT, NYRT

Ireland

Ireland is an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. Until 1922, it was part of Great Britain. The Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. Ireland’s economy is based on industrial production, high-tech, tourism, and IT sectors. There is a fairly high unemployment rate of 13.5%, which means there is enough skilled workforce to hire.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Ireland are as follows:

  • Ireland is a full member of the EU.
  • Ireland has signed 73 DTT treaties and 27 TIEAs (mostly with offshore/midshore jurisdictions).
  • Nominee services are allowed.
  • Registration of an offshore company in Ireland significantly expands the possibilities of doing business in Europe.
  • A large community of business people is always ready to provide help.
  • The corporate taxes are low.

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Ireland

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital1 mln EUR / 1 EUR
Registration procedure in Ireland in days about 2 weeks
Legal business types Limited Liability Company  (private/open), Partnership, Branch
Duties250 EUR
Shareholders1-50 (legal, natural person)
Directors / the Secretary2 (1 – EU resident), only natural person / 1
Confidentiality 
Reporting/ timelines+ (subject to exclusions)
Reports submission+
General meeting of shareholders in Ireland+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in Ireland (mandatory words indicating the business type)Limited, Teoranta

The Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency. Its islands are located in the Irish Sea, the nearest neighbors are Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Interestingly, the Isle of Man is the birthplace of the oldest parliament – Tinwald, it has been in power since 979. It is a parliamentary representative democracy, not subordinate to the government of the United Kingdom. The economy is based on financial services, and the registration of offshore companies is as simple as it might be in Europe (because the Isle of Man is a European jurisdiction).

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in the Isle of Man are as follows:

  • The Isle of Man is a country with a long tradition of business.
  • It maintains a simplified taxation system with Great Britain.
  • Nominee services are legal.
  • The British pound is used as the national currency of the Isle of Man.
  • The gross income per capita is extremely high.

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in the Isle of Man are as follows:

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital2,000 GBP / 1 GBP
Registration procedure in the Isle of Man  in days 15-20 days
Legal business types Private company / Limited Liability Partnership, hybrid company, NMX
Duties400 EUR
Shareholders1 (legal, natural person)
Directors / the Secretary2 (legal, natural persons) / –
Confidentiality 
Reporting/ timelines+ (subject to some exclusions)
Reports submission– (access to the company documents needs to be provided for inspection)
Shareholders’ general meeting in the Isle of Man+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in the Isle of Man (mandatory words indicating the business type)Limited, Ltd

Jersey

Jersey is an island in the English Channel. Jersey is a crown possession of Great Britain, but the jurisdiction is not formally part of the British crown. Its closest neighbors are France and England. The main sectors of the economy are financial and legal services. Registration of offshore companies in Jersey makes sense if the sphere of business you are engaged in allows a virtual format of doing business. It is mandatory to have a registered agent/office anyway.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Jersey are as follows:

  • 100% foreign ownership is allowed.
  • Jersey has one of the lowest equity ratios.
  • Taxes are paid under the preferential scheme (unless the exempted company is doing actual business in Jersey).
  • English is the official language. 

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Jersey are as follows:

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital10,000 GBP / 1 GBP
Registration procedure in Jersey in weeksUp to 3 weeks (if the name of the company is approved)
Legal business types Company Limited by Shares (private/public), Company Limited by Guarantee, Unlimited Liability Company,  Limited Life Company, Limited Duration Company, Incorporated Cell Company, Protected Cell Company.
Duties600 EUR
Shareholders2 (legal, natural person)
Directors / the Secretary1 (legal, natural person) / 1
Confidentiality +
Reporting/ timelines
Reports submission
Shareholders’ general meeting in Jersey+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in Jersey (mandatory words indicating the business type)Limited, Ltd, S.A.R.L.

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is a dwarf state associated with Switzerland. Liechtenstein borders Austria and Switzerland. Its state structure type is a constitutional monarchy. It distances itself from participation in political (NATO) and economic (EEC) unions, but it has signed the Schengen agreement. The basis of Liechtenstein’s economy is in the sphere of financial services, tourism, services for wealthy persons, agriculture, pharmaceutics.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Liechtenstein are as follows:

  • Its geographical position is extremely advantageous (Liechtenstein is in the center of Europe).
  • It maintains the stability of its economic, financial, and social spheres.
  • It is rich in the qualified labor force. But the registration of an offshore company will require somewhat higher operating (running) costs due to the rates of payment to the local personnel.
  • Nominee services are completely legal.
  • Bearer shares are allowed.

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Liechtenstein are as follows:

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital50,000 CHF / 50,000 CHF (1 CHF = 0.93 EUR)
Registration procedure in  Liechtenstein in days  5-7 days
Legal business types Limited Liability Company  (Aktiengesellschaft – AG)
DutiesVarious
Shareholders1 (legal, natural person)
Directors / the Secretary1 / –
Confidentiality +
Reporting/ timelines
Reports submission+
General meeting of shareholders in Liechtenstein+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in Liechtenstein (mandatory words indicating the business type)AG, S.A.

Luxembourg

If you want to buy an offshore company in a reputable, respected, and well-established European jurisdiction, Luxembourg is the first option to consider. The closest neighbors are Belgium, France, and Germany. There is no direct access to the sea. Luxembourg is a member of the European Union, NATO, OECD. The economy is based on services (including for HNWI customers), the financial sector, tourism, and investment activities.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Luxembourg are as follows:

  • Luxemburg has full membership in European structures.
  • It has signed more than 80 DTT (Double Taxation Treaty) agreements.
  • Luxembourg enjoys the highest reputational status in terms of international business.
  • You can open an offshore company with a minimum fee (see below).
  • A wide range of financial services is available in Luxemburg.
  • Luxemburg has established a beneficial tax regime for new businesses.
  • The country features stability in all sectors.
  • Offshore companies registered in Luxembourg face no restrictions in the scope of business.

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Luxembourg are as follows:

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital12,500 EUR / 12,500 EUR (Private Limited Liability Company ), 31,500 EUR / 7,875 EUR (Public Limited Liability Company )
Registration procedure in Luxemburg in days 7-10 days
Legal business types For cross-border trade, investment, tax planning: Limited Liability Company  (private/public – S.A.R.L. / S.A.)
Duties150 EUR
Shareholders1 (legal, natural person)
Directors / the Secretary1 (legal, natural person) / –
Confidentiality 
Reporting/ timelines
Reports submission+
General meeting of shareholders in Luxembourg+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in Luxembourg (mandatory words indicating the business type)S.A.R.L., S.A.

Malta

Malta is a small island state in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2004, it has been a member of the EU. The economy of Malta is based on tourism. Its financial sector is well-developed – it is easier to open an offshore company account here than in continental Europe. Malta is a popular education center for people with higher incomes.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Malta are as follows:

  • Malta is a full member of the European Union.
  • It has signed 76 DTT (Double Taxation Treaty) agreements, 5 TIEAs.
  • It maintains a stable banking system. Therefore, an offshore company with an account in a bank of Malta enjoys consistently high popularity with business people.
  • Malta has low taxes.
  • You can buy an offshore company with an account in a bank of any suitable jurisdiction (not only Malta).
  • Nominee services are allowed. 

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Malta are as follows:

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital1,165 EUR / 1,165 EUR
Registration procedure in Malta in days5-7 days
Legal business types Private Limited Liability Company 
Duties245 EUR
Shareholders1 (legal, natural person)
Directors / the Secretary1 (legal, natural person) / 1
Confidentiality 
Reporting/ timelines+
Reports submission+
Shareholders’ general meeting in Malta+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in Malta (mandatory words indicating the business type)Limited, Ltd

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a developed European country bordering Germany and Belgium. It conditionally owns the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and St. Maarten, although formally they are self-governing state entities. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy. The basis of the economy of the country is the international logistics, services, and manufacturing industry. The Netherlands is a member of NATO, the EU, and the OECD.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in the Netherlands are as follows:

  • The Netherlands has one of the largest maritime logistics centers in Europe.
  • The country emphasizes post-industrial development and the digitalization of the economy.
  • It has a developed banking system. Therefore, there is a wide choice of financial institutions offering services to offshore companies in the Netherlands. 
  • The local staff is highly qualified.
  • The geographical position is advantageous in many ways. 

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in  the Netherlands are as follows:

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital0.01%, any currency
Registration procedure in the Netherlands in days  5-7 days
Legal business types Limited Liability Company, Limited Partnership
Duties1,500 EUR
Shareholders1 (legal, natural person)
Directors / the Secretary1 (legal, natural person), preferably a Dutch resident / –
Confidentiality +
Reporting/ timelines
Reports submission+
General meeting of shareholders in the Netherlands+ (preferably in the Netherlands)
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in the Netherlands (mandatory words indicating the business type)Besloten Vennootschap, BV

Scotland

Scotland is an autonomous part of Great Britain. The largest cities of Scotland are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen. The government system is a parliamentarian monarchy. The economy is based on tourism, the high-tech sector, oil and gas production, fishery. In recent decades there has been a trend towards the digital transformation of the economy and its comprehensive digitalization.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in Scotland are as follows:

  • Scotland maintains close trade ties with the EU (there is a possibility that Scotland could return to the European Union as an independent member sometime in the future).
  • It offers extensive opportunities for investing in real estate.
  • It features full tax transparency.
  • Nominee services are allowed.
  • It is possible to sell offshore companies in Scotland (the procedural issues require much less time than the full registration of a new legal entity).

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Scotland are as follows:

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital1 GBP
Registration procedure in Scotland  in days  12-15 days
Legal business types Scottish LP – Limited Partnership
DutiesVarious
Shareholders2 (1 with unlimited rights, another with limited rights), legal or natural persons
Directors / the Secretary– / –
Confidentiality 
Reporting/ timelines
Reports submission
General meeting of shareholders in Scotland+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in  Scotland (mandatory words indicating the business type)Limited Partnership, L.P.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an island country located in northwestern Europe. Great Britain is the core of the Commonwealth, which includes 15 independent states. It is one of the centers of the world economy (9th place in the global ranking). The form of government is a constitutional monarchy. Being a post-industrial economy, the UK is one of the world’s financial/banking regulators. The British pound is the largest reserve currency. The main areas of the economy are financial services, industry, stockbroking, tourism.

The main arguments in favor of registering an IBC offshore company in the UK are as follows:

  • The UK Is a solid European jurisdiction with a long tradition of doing business.
  • The U.K. has signed 129 DTT treaties and 26 TIEAs.
  • Nominee services are allowed.
  • The UK features the stability of the national currency.
  • There are no currency controls.
  • You can set up an offshore company with minimal risk of rejection. 

The registration requirements for offshore companies and the legal business types in Great Britain are as follows:

FeaturesValues
Authorized / paid capital100 GBP / 1 GBP
Registration procedure in the UK in days  5-7 days
Legal business types Limited LiabilityCompany / Partnership
DutiesVarious
Shareholders1 (Legal, Natural Person)
Directors / the Secretary1 / –
Confidentiality 
Reporting/ timelines+ (subject to some exclusions)
Reports submission+
General meeting of shareholders in the UK+
Mandatory in-person presence
Company name in Great Britain (mandatory words indicating the business type)Limited, Ltd

Which business development option should you choose in your particular case? 

If you are pressed for time, the acquisition of a ready-made offshore company will suit you best. If the time is not critical, registration of offshore companies is more preferable. Internationalwealth.info experts will prepare all necessary documents, help to choose a specific jurisdiction, instruct you about the reporting details, taxes, and additional asset protection measures.

To discuss the terms of cooperation, the choice of service packages, and strategic planning, we recommend emailing us at the e-address given at the top of this page.  

Is it true that it is difficult to open a corporate bank account for an offshore business?

Yes, that’s right. High-risk businesses face serious difficulties when trying to open accounts and applying for banking services. The criteria that reduce the risk of rejection are as follows: (1) The beneficiary and the business itself are registered in the same jurisdiction. (2) Counterparties, suppliers, key employees are residents of the same jurisdiction. (3) The company has a real office. (4) The bank account is registered in the same jurisdiction as the company itself. (5) The country of company registration is a reputable jurisdiction. (6) Public and social media publish only positive news about the jurisdiction and the company. (7) The decent personal reputation of the director/beneficiary is very important. (8) The company is ready to submit all audited statements.

How to choose a jurisdiction for offshore business?

There is no simple answer to this question. Choosing the right country is a difficult task, as it requires a thorough analysis of all the primary data. The best option is to rely on individual consultations with our experts. Our general advice is as follows: (1) for PayPal – Estonia, Singapore, (2) for trade relations with Asian countries – Singapore, Hong Kong, (3) for creating a holding company – Switzerland, Liechtenstein, (4) for trade via agent/principal – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, 5) to enter the markets of America – the USA (some states), 6) for high-profile plans – Switzerland, Malta.

I was offered to register an offshore company for a very small fee. Should I agree?

Cheap services in such matters as business registration can be compared to the VSOP by Rémy Martin for under $50. Moreover, when it comes to low-priced offshore company registration, a client is most likely running the risk of wasting money plus getting into serious legal problems. Here are examples of some critical issues almost always encountered by clients trying to economize on the intermediary services: (1) The company bought by the client turns out to have been sold also to several other owners. (2) The company bought by the client turns out to be debt-ridden. (3) The company’s set of registration documents is incomplete. (4) The nominee service turns out to be fraudulent. (5) The agent/intermediary is unprofessional. (6) The debt on mandatory payments has accumulated and poses the threat to your entire venture. (7) The report prepared by the unprofessional or scammy agent is fraudulent.

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