Offshore Islands, Countries, Territories, and Lists 2023

You have probably heard about offshore territories, including entire countries, islands, and individual offshore free zones. But few people understand what jurisdictions are called offshore and why they continue to grow in popularity, despite frequent scandals and mass media attention..

Our guide will cover offshore issues as much as possible, including the benefits of registering a business in offshore zones, legal issues, and choosing the proper jurisdiction.

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Important! Opening an offshore company is about how to choose the right jurisdiction in terms of taxes, benefits, the banking sector, and interaction with the laws of the founder’s country.

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Offshore terminology (offshore companies, offshore zones, non-resident companies)

Offshore company – a company registered in the territory of a state that provides incentives or benefits for international businesses.

Offshore zone – a separate territory, island, or country where you can open an international company on favorable terms, take advantage of zero/low taxes and get prospects for developing your business.

Offshore non-resident company – a corporation whose founder is a foreign citizen and whose profit comes from foreign sources. For example, you have opened your business in Belize, and you carry out all your business activities online. 

Note: the mass media would have you believe that the main advantage of offshore zones is zero or reduced taxes. Often, this is the primary reason for choosing such territories for business structure formation. However, there are many more advantages besides tax. Freedom to do business in a secure judicial system, without being bothered, and maintaining your right to privacy are probably the main reasons why people go offshore today.

What are offshore countries?

Our clients often ask which countries are considered offshore. We can classify offshore zones according to several criteria:

  1. Coverage geography. The typical preconception of going offshore conjures up images of idyllic tropical beaches fringed with palm trees and friendly locals hanging out in beach bars. This image is a relatively accurate offshore countries list. These are most often small island jurisdictions, which also belong to the best-known offshore zones like Nevis, Belize and the Marshall Islands – home to Bikini! These days, however, many other countries including the United States, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates appear on the list of best offshore jurisdictions in 2023.
  2. Tax incentives. The typical attraction of  offshore zones is tax neutrality: zero income tax and 100% confidentiality, which works just as well in 2023 as always. Most offshore countries are striving to adhere to the established global framework. They have introduced new rules on the registration of non-resident companies and their tax regime into their legislation, in order to achieve “compliant” status from international organizations like the OECD and the European Union. There are more ways to achieve a 100% income tax exemption, from the country of incorporation’s own  local benefits to double tax treaties between countries and distribution of profits using legal offshore patterns. In this case, it is essential to bear in mind that just because you are tax exempt in one country, doesn’t mean another country will not try to impose taxes on your business!  This is where taking professional advice is essential.
  3. Legislation. This is an important point in determining the benefits of registering a corporation in an offshore country. Remember that many high-tax countries and banks have their own 2023 offshore countries list, the activities which are associated with high risks and enhanced restrictions on doing businessl. Also, if you want to maintain residence in a high tax country, then when choosing an offshore zone, you should consider Double Taxation Treaties, which will allow you to legally avoid being taxed twice on the same income!

We also want to mention the new OECD attempts at minimum taxation. They provide a minimum 15% tax rate for all countries and corporations regardless of the income source if the annual profit equals or exceeds EUR 750 million. These rules are supposed to apply to international companies required to make tax payments in each country where they generate income. In reality, this global minimum tax is not likely to happen. 

Offshore countries list 2023: what zones does it include

The best offshore jurisdictions 2023 are typically offshore zones such as Nevis, the Marshall Islands, and Belize, and many others. These territories have retained common features and advantages:

  • A simple procedure for registering an offshore company even without the personal presence of the founder, for example, in the Caribbean.
  • Low or zero tax rates on global profits.
  • English speaking, English legal system with the High Court in London being the ultimate court of appeal.

Conventionally, the offshore zones list can be broken down ot just according to geography, but also to conditions for registering a business, and its taxation. As we said, and contrary to popular belief, taxation is not the main reason to go offshore for most of our clients So, in 2023, offshore zones include:

  • Traditional offshore zones: registration of offshore IBCs (international companies) with zero taxes on most business activities. Also, there is the possibility of settling offshore trusts and foundations, allowing almost complete confidentiality and a high level of capital protection.
  • Europe offshore zones consist of states having separate low-tax territories with special conditions. By fulfilling these conditions, a non-resident company has the right to reduce taxes to almost zero.
  • Asian major offshore zones (China, Hong Kong, Singapore).
  • Other states that also have their own separate offshore zones (the USA, Canada, New Zealand, etc.).
  • Other zones on the best offshore zones of 2023 list that can be conditionally classified as offshore ones (Turkey, the UAE, Georgia).

How many offshore zones are there in the world?

In 2023, by the estimates of one expert, there are about 100+ offshore zones in the world according to the general definition (tax incentives) and about 40+ according to the classical zero-tax definition. In the latter case, there is absolutely no local tax – either by design or by default. Many of these nations simply never introduced any taxes, so you can’t really talk about “tax incentives” as much as “lack of taxation.”. In addition, such zones offer a high level of confidentiality without having a public register of companies and beneficial owners (or having it in a closed version).

We also note that almost all countries offer different formats of tax benefits, similar to offshore patterns. In 2023, there are more than 200 generally recognized states in the world and 100+ unrecognized or partially recognized ones. Most of these countries’ authorities do not prohibit the creation of offshore or low-tax zones and, on the contrary, encourage such initiatives because of the economic benefits.

Benefits of offshore islands and territories

Advantages of offshore companies for entrepreneurs and foreign investors:

  • No currency control.
  • Low or no taxes on global income.
  • Asset protection from lawsuits in foreign states, from spouses, relatives, and creditors.
  • Access to the best banks to safeguard your financial assets.
  •  High level of beneficial owners’ confidentiality due to closed registries, statutory bank secrecy, and legitimate offshore structures, such as trusts and foundations.
  • Absence of accounting and financial reporting requirements if a non-resident company receives profit from foreign sources.
  •  Expansion of the client and partner network via remote working.
Advantages of offshore zones

The benefits for the incorporation country include significant foreign direct investments in the economy, income from legal, secretarial and agent services, and income from licensing and office real estate rental. As a result, offshore countries solve unemployment issues and improve the economic level.

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Reference: when choosing offshore zones, islands, and countries with zero or low taxes, you should still remember to respect all local laws. YOu must have a registered address and agent at the place of incorporation, and fulfill mandatory compliance procedures every year to keep your company in good standing. When forming an offshore company with our expert assistance, you receive everything on a turnkey basis, including a corporate bank account if requested.

Offshore zones in 2023: blacklists and whitelists

There is no single list of offshore zones, territories, and entire island countries in 2023. Each jurisdiction independently determines the zones where foreign entrepreneurs can open a business and take advantage of a special tax regime. Blacklists are also the prerogative of each country individually, or of certain countries such as the European Union. Offshore zones banned in one country may be whitelisted in another jurisdiction. For example, Marshall Islands is whitelisted by the European Union and France, but blacklisted by Belgium.

Supernational black and grey lists of offshore jurisdictions 2023 also exist. Self-appointed “world policemen” like (the FATF (part of the OECD) , the United States and the European Union have their own lists. The declared goal of such offshore blacklists is the equalization of taxes across countries, the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing, and the disclosure of information about all beneficial owners. In reality, they tend to be based on arbitrary political considerations. For example, Portugal would logically be on some of these lists because of its Non-Habitual Tax Residence and Portugal Golden Visa regime, but Portugal is a member of both the OECD and the EU and therefore it is not on the list of offshore jurisdictions in 2023!

The most important lists of offshore zones are presented on the websites of the FATF, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Union. Depending on how a country meets the established requirements for tax cooperation, financial information exchange, and confidentiality level, it can be blacklisted, graylisted, or whitelisted. In recent years, however, political interest has strayed away from taxation towards a focus on Citizenship by Investment Programs or so-called Golden Passports.

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Important! Opening a bank account for a company on the FATF blacklist is difficult. Before registering an offshore company, we advise you to study all aspects at the global and local levels with the help of our experienced experts.

What are offshore companies useful for?

By opening a company in an offshore zone or a country with favorable asset protection laws and tax rates, a foreign entrepreneur can not only increase profitability but also gain access to operations or investments potentially prohibited in their home jurisdiction. This applies especially to Americans, who are prohibited from trading or investing in most non-US-registered investments. This is nothing less than protectionism in the name of investor protection.

The most popular niches where opening an offshore company is beneficial in 2023 are:

  • Asset Protection:  simply keeping a part of your assets outside your home jurisdiction is just good business sense. As real estate agents talk about “location, location and location” in an unstable world plagued by wars, pandemics, inflation, corruption and political risk,  “diversification, diversification and diversification” is the only policy that makes sense to us. Most popular offshore zones for asset protection:  Nevis, Belize, Cook Islannds and Marshal Islands.
  • Access to banking:  Swiss banks are getting ever more picky, but Switzerland is still way ahead of its competition: one of our most popular articles this year is Open a Swiss Bank Account in 2023. Panama, despite the infamy of the Panama Papers, still remains the top offshore banking center for US dollars and Latin America. Bahamas has established itself as the leading jurisdiction for offshore crypto banking. Other offshore banking haves like HOng Kong and UAE have lost their attractiveness in recent years.
  • Software development and IT. In this direction, we suggest considering Serbia, Turkey or Singapore on your list of best offshore jurisdictions 2023
  • Offshore real estate, which can be a good hedge against inflation. We recommend the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, and France. Panama and Serbia also have great growth potential and can come with residency-by-investment benefits.
  • Financial license is available in the following offshore zones: Bahamas, St Lucia, Comores and Vanuatu to name a few. Curacao remains one of the top for gaming.
  • Cryptocurrency, brokerage accounts, and trading on stock exchanges are the most popular way in 2023 to increase your income using crypt-friendly offshore zones in the Caribbean like Nevis and Antigua,as well as the UAE, and some European countries like Switzerland and Serbia. 

The most relevant offers in 2023 for offshore countries and zones where you can open your business, and invest with our expert assistance:

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Map of low tax offshore zones in Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world in 2023

The list of offshore zones with low taxes (also known as midshore zones) for 2023 includes many islands in the Caribbean region, as well as such countries as the England, Cyprus, the USA, and Scotland.

Classic offshore territories where doing business is beneficial due to zero tax on global income and a high level of confidentiality: Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Belize, Nevis.

Europe offshore zones list (including onshore zones), where you can open a business, buy real estate, get a residence permit and permanent residence, and develop as a professional specialist:

  • Switzerland – suitable for banking and asset protection, and very crypto-friendly
  • Great Britain – take advantage of Brexit
  • Luxembourg – an offshore zone for holding structures and attractive legislation for collective investment schemes.
  • Serbia – you can profit from investments in IT, tourism, agriculture, and trade
  • Estonia – a good offshore jurisdiction for IT developers and coders
  • Andorra, Italy and Portugal – booming southern European nations offering great golden visa type options to live, raise your family and run a business.

Asian offshore zones, which include Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. All offshore/onshore/midshore zones in Asia are well suited for developers and researchers, and the establishment of international companies. Hong Kong is still an important gateway to China, but has lost its status as a secure banking haven due to the political changes that have taken place in recent years.

Other offshore zones with zero, low and standard taxes include such countries and their individual zones: USA (some states), Canada, Caribbean Islands, UAE, South Africa, Russia, and New Zealand. They are attractive to foreign investors and entrepreneurs in terms of geographic location, benefits, tax rates, security, and banking services.

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Are you afraid of choosing the wrong country for opening an offshore bank account or business? Start with our expert advice and get a full turnkey service for banking and corporate products.

Classification of offshore islands, zones, and countries

Offshore zones and territories, including those from the list above, are classified into two types:

  1. Full company exemption from taxes on global profits. In exchange for such benefits, non-resident offshore companies must pay an annual fee. This is a typical IBC or offshore LLC incorporation jurisdiction.
  2. Preferential tax incentives for foreign investors in offshore zones, which may also be called midshore or onshore zones.
Main pros and cons of different offshore zone types

When registering a business in a midshore zone (zone with low taxes and incentives), the company or resident individual should expect to pay taxes, including inheritance tax, capital gains tax, VAT, and sales tax. Some low-tax offshore islands, zones, and territories also require foreign corporations to provide real economic substance, open an office, obtain a legal address and have a local licensed agent.

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When choosing offshore zones, you should carefully study the local legislation on the rules of registration and conducting of commercial activities.

Best offshore jurisdictions for opening a company in 2023

It all depends on what kind of business you will develop through an offshore zone. International companies operating in business that are not specifically regulated can be formed in almost all offshore islands and separate zones. The most promising offshore options involve tax breaks or the total absence of taxes on global income.

For example:

  • Belize – an offshore country with many benefits
  • Panama – probably the most liveable and globally connected tax haven now that Hong KOng is out of the picture
  • Antigua – an offshore country with zero tax on global income
  • Marshall Islands – usually the fastest place to form a company, with shelf companies always available
  •  The BVI – classic offshore jurisdiction, still good for reputational reasons although it is now over-priced and over-regulated for our liking
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis – offers the best second passport programme that fits nicely with the classic Offshore Trust and LLC Asset Protection Combo.

In these offshore zones, you do not need to file reports, hold physical meetings or  worry about auditing your accounting. Also, here you can open a trust structure and achieve complete confidentiality by transferring assets to trust management.

If you need not just an offshore company but also a high confidence level from global regulators and banking structures, it is better to consider midshore and onshore zones. Such zones allow you to establish physical substance for your business at a reasonable cost and also offer lifestyle benefits: 

  • United Kingdom
  • Serbia
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • Cyprus
  • Montenegro
  • Switzerland

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Get complete guidance based on your personal requirements:  offshore islands, individual tax zones, and midshore countries by contacting our experts. We will help you choose a jurisdiction for registering a business, opening an offshore account, and asset protection, and then execute the plan for you.

List of Offshore islands and countries for Asset Protection

Tax-free offshore countries, islands, and territories, as well as midshore and onshore zones, are an excellent chance to reduce the tax burden and enter the global market. The offshore countries list 2023 is not one really just one  list but various lists, as you can see bty reading the above article. The list  keeps changing since it is frequently updated. Not all offshore zones are on the 2023 offshore countries list 2023 and there is a good reason for that. Also not all of them are open for a particular new business.

Each client’s case is unique and requires in-depth analysis. In order not to harm but to optimize taxes and get the best business-friendly offshore countries list 2023 for you, start today with the advice of our experts.

We will help:

  1. Find out what countries are offshore and where it is beneficial to open a particular type of business.
  2. Open or buy an offshore company or redomicile a structure from one jurisdiction to another.
  3. Open a secure bank account for an offshore business and in an offshore zone.
  4. Prepare all corporate documents including certified copies, apostilles etc that may be required
  5. Use the services of a professional director, shareholder, and licensed agent.
  6. Set up proper compliance at the place of offshore company incorporation.
  7. We will provide follow-up business support, consulting on accounting/taxes/laws, services of a translator/notary, and a local accountant.

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You can get a complete list of services for offshore islands, zones, and countries from our experts by contacting: info.en@offshore-pro.info.

How many offshore companies are there in the world?

Nobody knows! There is no exact list of offshore countries and zones in 2023, therefore how do you define an offshore company. According to the latest data, the total number of zero-tax zones where you can get income tax benefits is about 60. If we talk about onshore, midshore, and free economic zones, and other territories with tax incentives for foreign entrepreneurs, then there are more than 100-150.

Where are the best offshore islands to do business in 2023?

Total tax exemption and 100% confidentiality of the company’s founder are still available in some offshore zones. Most people go offshore these days looking for political stability, asset protection and a hedge against inflation. There is no “one size fits all” solution. First you need to define your goals, then design a clear expatriation strategy, and finally execute the strategy with a team of trusted, qualified and licensed professionals. Offshore Pro Group can help you from start to finish.

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