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Which Countries Are the Best to Register Offshore Companies?

An offshore company setup is an ideal solution for international corporations seeking to legitimately reduce their tax burden, enhance confidentiality, and protect their assets. However, selecting the right country to establish an offshore structure can be a complex and challenging task.

Best country to set up an offshore company

Offshore company formation services continue to be a top choice for business owners and indeed stakeholders engaged in business structuring. Doing your own Offshore company setup may offer an easy start, flexible corporate management without too many bureaucratic hassles, and enhanced confidentiality of corporate and private data. HNWIs and wealthy families typically rely on their professional advisors when it comes to setting up offshore companies as a vehicle for lucrative investments and reliable offshore asset protection.

To select an ideal offshore country or jurisdiction to incorporate a business, you should focus on your ultimate business goals and objectives. The rest of this article will go into more depth on the topic of registering offshore companies for the above purposes.

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You are welcome to refer to our Offshore Pro Group experts for private advice and a customized selection of the best country to set up an offshore company.

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The Best Countries for Offshore Companies Incorporation

What are the best countries for offshore companies? This is a rather broad question. There is no one-size-fits-all answer – the correct answer is “ it depends.”   For example, an offshore company setup in some jurisdictions may be better for asset protection, while another might be the ideal solution for owners of some crypto or forex businesses. Still other places may be suitable for setting up offshore companies operating in other business fields like consulting or online marketing.

In any case, the following aspects need to be analyzed:

  • the type of business activity to be conducted by the newly-incorporated entity: for example, does it require special licensing?
  • the specific needs for financial services: bank account opening might be easier or more difficult depending on the chosen country.
  • the legislation in the country of the beneficial owner’s residence and the existing company’s incorporation: for example, you might or might not want an offshore country that has a tax treaty with your country of residence
  • the legislation in the offshore country chosen for a new offshore company formation: for example, do you want a straightforward LLC that is great to protect personal assets, or an IBC that allows you to have different share classes so you can bring external investors onboard? 
  • provisions for personal data protection, etc: some offshore countries like BVI have a relatively open register of beneficial owners, while others allow you to keep your personal details away from the prying eyes of journalists

In this article, an offshore company is considered primarily as a business in a tax-free country, but also as a foreign legal entity formed outside the owners’ country of tax residency (basically, midshore companies).  By taking this approach, we can select the best countries for offshore companies, depending on the cost of annual maintenance, business field and activities, taxes, and other aspects.

Islands Still Dominate the List of the Best Destinations for Offshore Companies 

Foreign investors and business owners name the following island nations as the best countries to set up an offshore company and do business, even in the face of stiff competition from less established jurisdictions like UAE free zones::

  • The British Virgin Islands (BVI) offers attractive conditions for offshore company formation, including zero taxes and access to the global market. It’s traditionally the volume leader in offshore incorporations, but since it is a British sovereign territory rather than an independent country, nervousness about the UK post-Brexit has taken away its shine.
  • Nevis is a popular island on which to set up an offshore company, a trust, and make investments, known for its ultra high level of asset protection from foreign creditors and greedy relatives or partners.
  • Saint Lucia is the birthplace of the banking sector for offshore companies, and the best country to start a business on favorable terms, smoothly, and in compliance with relevant international laws and regulations.
  • The Isle of Man is a crown dependency where a company can be opened for legitimate high-risk business (eg., gambling or crypto-related businesses). The hallmark of this island nation includes data confidentiality, asset protection for foreign owners, as well as benign taxes, privileged access to European banking, and fast company formation.
  • Seychelles is a well-known offshore country welcoming investors from all over the world if they plan to start their companies on the islands and expand their business into the global market. Recent reporting requirements, however, are quite burdensome compared to some of its competition.
  • The Republic of the Marshall Islands is known for attractive tax regime and a positive reputation as the fastest place on earth to incorporate new offshore companies. Startups can take advantage of the laws and benefits in this country to secure their status as growing global giants and enhance consistent development. The Marshall Islands is whitelisted in many onshore jurisdictions and is a well-recognized IPO jurisdiction.
  • Belize, while not technically an island, is an attractive Caribbean country for setting up offshore trusts, funds, LLCs companies that are not taxed on their worldwide income but are obliged to comply with the local legal norms, including transparency and duties. Although less known than Nevis, Belize is greatly respected by asset protection lawyers and also benefits from a choice of offshore banks.
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an offshore island nation  that does not charge corporation tax and is a unique option for registering an offshore company.
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Please note that the situation in the overall world and the standards imposed by international organizations impact the policies of offshore countries. You need to be well-informed and updated to choose the best country in which to incorporate your offshore startup. Our experts can consult and help you with choosing a jurisdiction and an offshore company setup, as well as other chores and challenges of starting a business abroad.

OFFSHORE COMPANY FORMATION: CUSTOMIZED BUSINESS SETUP SERVICES

The Broad Geography of the Best Countries for Offshore Companies

Should you stray very far away from your home country to incorporate offshore companies? Not necessarily. While offshore island jurisdictions have been luring international investors for decades to fill their national budgets and help economic development, you can also find very good business incentives in dozens of countries in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. Here are some reputable examples:

  • Switzerland is a renowned banking hub, a stronghold of banking secrecy and asset protection. Though it is not an offshore country, offshore company owners can build international business structures there and take advantage of the famous Swiss banking and fiduciary management services to expand their business network. Switzerland still works well for banking for offshore companies, but these days you should expect to deposit at least a million if you want a corporate non-resident Swiss bank account.
  • Liechtenstein is another beneficial country for offshore company registration. It’s an excellent option for the incorporation of private interest foundations.
  • Singapore and Hong Kong are the two most attractive Asian countries for setting up offshore companies. They offer advanced benefits, access to good financial services, and special incentives for startups such as immigration passes.
  • Luxembourg, although it’s a member of the European Union and therefore not an offshore country, is a great choice for investors wishing to open world-class companies in Europe. It’s the tax haven chosen by big names like Amazon, so it’s quite an expensive place to do business.
  • Gibraltar is one of the best countries for offshore companies in Europe. It does not charge worldwide income tax Despite having lost some of its benefits with Brexit, it still boasts privileged access to European banking, and a great quality of life for families looking to relocate
  • Some US states offer very beneficial terms for startups and offshore banking. These are Delaware, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Arkansas, and some other states, plus the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
  • Canada provides great benefits for foreign investors and business owners who decide to register a limited  partnership (LP) or general partnership (GP) in the country, since these entities are only taxed at the level of the partners if the partners are Canadian residents
  • The UK is one of the most popular European offshore countries where foreigners can start their companies and enjoy many benefits and advantages. 
  • Serbia is a European country with a unique neutral status that makes it an attractive option for foreign companies looking to expand their operations. Entrepreneurs can easily open a physical branch of an offshore business in this country, thereby obtaining almost instant access to European banking, tax number, and economic substance. Endowments provide a little-known but effective alternative to the Liechtenstein private interest foundation.
  • Turkey is a highly recommended choice for businesses seeking to rapidly and legally expand their activities internationally. Depending on the place of incorporation and the business structure type, company owners may be entitled to significant tax holidays and incentives.
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a renowned low-tax paradise that offers many benefits for both local and foreign companies. With its favorable tax policies and business-friendly environment, it is a prime destination for entrepreneurs seeking to establish a presence in the Middle East. The UAE has dozens of different company registers, each offering a slightly different special touch.
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To make the right decision and choose the best country to register an offshore company, you should contact our experts for comprehensive turnkey and optional services

The Best Country to Set Up an Offshore Company

Please note: Even if you make a deliberate effort to shortlist the countries that are most popular with foreign investors and owners of offshore companies, we would encourage you not to rely on the statistics and rankings from open sources. 

You need a customized selection of the best countries for offshore companies, and it should be based on a thorough analysis with consideration of your specific needs, status, resources, country of residence, tax residency, plans, etc. This is especially relevant now that political, economic, trade, social, and environmental challenges may mushroom across the world, and the situation in any country selected for starting an offshore company may become less favorable than just a month ago. 

Now, more than ever before, you should seek the private advice of a personal trustworthy advisor.

An offshore company can be used to access a wider range of financial advantages and instruments, including asset protection planning. For active online traders, a bank account opened in an offshore country can help you reach a broader target audience and offer your clients the most convenient payment options. 

Offshore companies can also be useful as part of an overall plan to transfer one’s assets and real property to a trust for efficient management, revenues from trading operations, or profit from intellectual property rights.

Offshore corporations take advantage of legal tax incentives, thus increasing competitiveness and profitability.

Other aspects that offshore company owners should consider when choosing the best countries for business include:

  • provisions for the ultimate owner’s privacy and anonymity: for example, is there a public register of beneficial ownership?
  • bilateral Double Tax Treaties: these can be either very useful or a pitfall to be avoided, depending on your circumstances. It can be hard to get your head around DTTs so expert advice is essential.
  • reputational risks: consider how you can avoid being part of future “leaks.” Even assuming you are 100% compliant with the law, nobody wants their name in the media. Hint; the best solution is to go for a jurisdiction that will allow your personal data to be stored elsewhere, not in the same jurisdiction. 
  • laws in the country of tax residency regarding offshore business: for example, are you required to declare ownership of offshore companies in your country of tax residence? This can depend if the company is classified as active or passive under CRS regulations. Again – it’s worth paying a bit extra to get personalized expert advice rather than taking risks.
  • the business, economic, political, and environmental situation in the offshore country
  • the legal system type (English/US common law, or European civil law) in the offshore country
  • intentions to use the new offshore company as an intermediary in import-export operations: in this case good relations are needed with other countries or free zones 
  • the possible impact of the offshore country’s prestige and reputation on your business success, etc.

When choosing the best country to set up an offshore company, a trust, a  partnership, or another form of an offshore business, you should also consider the national legislation and the situation in the shortlisted offshore countries regarding every critical aspect of your new business venture. These may include information about:

  • the ease of doing business
  • the requirements for creating and operating companies (for example: do you need a registered agent?)
  • the list of illegal, prohibited, and restricted activities (for example: Marshall Islands does not support crypto businesses, while Seychelles does)
  • the list of activities subject to licensing – especially important if you are handling other people’s money or are involved in the gaming business.
  • the possibilities for subsequent redomiciliation: what if the worst happens if your country of incorporation is invaded, or a radical government takes over? Are there clear legal provisions for you to move out quickly without having to liquidate assets?
  • the availability of the RBI or CBI (residence/citizenship by investment) programs, etc: these days more and more people want to move not just their business but also themselves offshore.

To incorporate offshore companies without too many issues, hassles and risks, you need to assess all aspects and rely on professional experts.

When it comes to setting up offshore companies, a major factor in the choice of country will depend on the business activity type. 

For instance, if you are involved in the export and import of goods, countries like Cyprus, the UK, and Denmark might be your best bet. On the other hand, for software development and IT, your options will include Panama, Serbia,, the USA (some states), Canada, Malta, Denmark, Cyprus, Lithuania, and the Marshall Islands.

For holding offshore real estate investments, countries like the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, and France might be suitable. If you are seeking a financial license, consider countries like the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Vanuatu, Comoros, Puerto Rico, Panama, San Marino, and Luxembourg.

For cryptocurrency, brokerage, and currency trading, the Caribbean Islands, the UAE, and several European jurisdictions may be appropriate. 

If you need to set up asset protection trusts, your best options without a doubt will be  Belize, Nevis, and Cook Islands.

And it goes on. If you are going to register your company in an offshore island nation, the following prompts may be helpful:

BVI is ideal for banking and insurance, investments, financial and leasing activities, IP holdings, shipping companies, and head offices (subject to substance requirements).

St. Lucia offers excellent conditions for trading companies, real estate corporations, financial institutions, and trusts. It is also a great option for setting up your bank.

Seychelles is popular with business people involved in insurance and investments, consulting, tourism, and international trade.

Bermuda is suitable for insurance and financial companies operating under licensed service providers. A separate license is not required, and only resident organizations can obtain a license anyway.

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In 2024, there are a lot of offshore countries to choose from for your offshore company setup, so you need customized professional help to make the right choice.

Should I Buy or Open an Offshore Company?

Many of you ask us if it is better to buy an existing offshore company with a bank account or to start your own company with today’s registration date, name, and a corporate structure tailored exactly to your requirements. First of all, you should understand how much a ready-made offshore company may cost and whether it makes sense to invest in an already registered company. 

Pros and Cons of Ready-Made Offshore Companies

If you are planning to buy a ready-made offshore company with an account, say, as a way of getting started faster, you should be aware of the following considerations:

  • The purchase of an existing company comes with its history. Many such “shelf”  companies have never traded and have literally been kept on the incorporation agent’s shelf. Some, however, might have a trading history – something that can be very helpful to some businesses if there is a positive track record spanning recent years, but risky if they have been in trouble with regulatory authorities.
  • The bank where any account is held will still subject you to the same compliance verification procedures as the first-time application to the bank.. This can possibly be avoided if you hire the existing directors to stay on in their roles.
  • It is always more expensive to buy a ready made company, because you will most likely be covering the running costs retroactively from the date of formation, as opposed to from the date you purchase the company. This cost will be priced into the fee charged by the agent.  . If you need to  change the company structure and the authorized capital, this will be an additional expense..  
  • When you buy a ready made company with a bank account, by definition you limit your choice of bank. Although, of course, you can always use that account for your first few transactions and keep a longer term goal of opening more accounts in other banks. . 

Turnkey Offshore Companies Setup Services

If you choose a country to register an offshore company from scratch, you can automatically receive the following benefits:

  • the opportunity to choose the name and the business entity type. 
  • the opportunity to set up a company with a specific registration date
  • a new package of documents for the offshore company, so the preparation and submission of papers to the financial institution takes less time
  • the company that best suits your type of business and vision.

When assessing the countries to register offshore companies, please note: nowadays we recommend having several bank accounts for each company..

Your best solution may be one of the following strategies:

  • to set up a company + a U.S. payment system account remotely
  • to form a partnership in Canada with a Canadian bank account – remotely
  • to open a company in Cyprus plus an account with a Cyprus payment system (required)
  • to start a resident company in Estonia with an account in a local bank (substance and personal visit required)
  • to form a company in Singapore with an account in a Singapore bank (can be achieved remotely)
  • to open an offshore company + account in Serbia (ask our experts for details).    

The basic recommendation is: you should focus only on business and business goals, and only then can you select the most appropriate jurisdiction. For example, for a company that needs to enter the EU markets you should create a structure that will include an offshore company but operate in one of the low-tax jurisdictions. In such a case careful planning is especially necessary. We have many years of experience and can hand-pick the best solution for you.

Does the Bank Matter?

Choosing the right bank is a critical decision when setting up an offshore company. However, not all banks accept clients from all jurisdictions. The current global compliance situation has made it even more challenging for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain personal and corporate accounts, as financial institutions have tightened their requirements. 

If you’re expecting difficulties of this kind, you can opt for one of the following strategies:

  • buy an ‘all-in-one’ package that includes an offshore company with an account,
  • seek the guidance of experienced professionals who can help you open an account for your business abroad.
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It’s essential to select a bank, payment system, or non-bank institution meticulously, taking into account a large amount of valid data. Your choice can significantly impact the success of your offshore company and business.

Takeaways on Selecting the Best Countries for Offshore Companies

Offshore countries have retained their capacity to maintain the privacy of the ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs), thus allowing them to protect assets and businesses from competitors, corporate raiders, database theft, and other adverse situations. 

The choice of the best countries for business and/or company formation is a purely individual matter. Please rely on the experience and services of our experts. Here is what they can do for you:

  • analysis of your request for help and the design of a plan for offshore company registration to meet your goals and objectives
  • documents preparation, translation, legalization
  • registration of a personal/corporate bank account
  • assistance in administrative and technical matters (accounting, office rent/purchase, auditing, agent’s services, etc.).

Your benefit: you have a unique opportunity to open a company remotely, without a personal visit. You can book a free consultation with our expert at short notice or well in advance. Just contact us now.

How to choose the best country to set up an offshore company?

Only a customer-focused approach can help to select the best country to set up an offshore company for a particular business and certain activities. What will work well in Seychelles, may face limitations in Belize or Bermuda. Therefore, the choice of a country needs to be case-specific, i.e., based on an individual detailed analysis of the current situation, the ultimate business goal, as well as the prospects for obtaining an account and access to other financial services.

What is more beneficial: purchasing a ready-made company or starting a new one?

The advantages and disadvantages of both solutions should be studied. In either case, the company might have to appoint/change the bank account signatories, which may result in the bank refusing to work with a particular corporate client. To change banks or open new accounts, it is absolutely necessary to have updated documents to hand.

What should you do if a regular offshore company setup does not seem a perfect solution?

If a classic offshore company setup does not meet your specific needs, our team can recommend alternative solutions. After analyzing your case, we will suggest the best course of action and explain its advantages. In some cases, a midshore or onshore jurisdiction may be more appropriate. For instance, if your company needs to avoid reputational risks and operate in a particular EU jurisdiction or a particular region (EEA, EAEU, etc.), a midshore or onshore country may be a better fit. Please contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your options.

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