International edition
September 24, 2021

By Ron Mendelson, Fast Offshore Founding Partner

Things to consider when looking for an offshore jurisdiction

Things to consider when looking for an offshore jurisdiction
Ron Mendelson says that offshore incorporation and other business activities is not a matter to be taken lightly.
Costa Rica | 06/18/2020

The expert addresses the costs, fees, taxes and reputation of potential offshore places to operate. He underlines the value of those that are politically, socially and economically stable; the different levels of confidentiality, and the need for suitable international partners.

Ron Mendelson is the Director of Costa-Rica based International Business & Corporate Services consultancy firm, Fast Offshore. With ... (+ Info)

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ffshore jurisdictions remain popular for all manner of businesses. Holding companies, asset management, iGaming, blockchain and bitcoin, and even forex are popular sectors for offshore incorporation and operation. But how do you go about picking the right one? It is not as simple as choosing which one you think, superficially, is the best option. You need to dig deep and take a considered decision as to which will be the best fit for you, your company, and your ongoing requirements.

How much will it cost?

One of your key considerations is likely to be how much it will cost you to operate in an offshore jurisdiction. First, you need to take into account the setup costs and then any fees for ongoing maintenance. Additionally, if you are setting up a company you should note additional expenses such as compliance with permanent establishment and/or economic substance requirements. These are just some of the things you need to ascertain before making any concrete decisions on where you will base your business.

Is it a stable jurisdiction?

When choosing the right location, you should aim for one that is politically, socially, and economically stable. It is all very well and good enjoying fiscal benefits and low operating costs but if the economic outlook is poor and the political system is volatile, you will soon encounter issues.

Being in an unstable jurisdiction can make it difficult to conduct short and long term planning. It can also impact relationships with partners and third parties. Choosing a location with a good all-round climate facilitates strategic planning and the smooth running of your business. An additional bonus of stability is not having to worry about currency fluctuations or issues when it comes to remitting profits and revenue elsewhere.

What about Tax?

How much tax you will pay in your jurisdiction of choice is a very important matter. This will directly impact how much of your business income remains yours and how much you can remit elsewhere.

The best-case scenario is to find a place with a zero or low-rate of tax that is not blacklisted. Many jurisdictions have favourable fiscal incentives but are still in line with international best practices.

Is it reputable?

If you pick a jurisdiction with a bad reputation or that is blacklisted, it will severely impact your ability to conduct business. Your reputation is worth more than the money you could save on a zero tax rate or cutting corners. Finding a jurisdiction that has a good reputation and offers you the benefits you want is attainable, with some professional guidance.

Is my confidentiality protected?

Different jurisdictions have different levels of confidentiality that are afforded to those operating there. Information sharing, details of Ultimate Beneficial Owners, and annual or periodic filings are just some things that vary depending on where you are located.

Depending on your business and requirements, you need to decide what level of privacy you want and then pick a jurisdiction accordingly. However, in our view, all jurisdictions will become transparent eventually.

Is it suitable for my needs?

Not every offshore jurisdiction is suitable for every business. As an example, not all are geared up for efficient tax planning and some don’t have legislation to properly handle asset management. Furthermore, some might be good for tax and assets, but may not be good for the nature of your business.

Before deciding, you need to consider several factors including filing obligations, capital requirements, tax, nominee and disclosure requirements, audits, incorporation times, and other regulations, statutes or policies. This list is not exhaustive and there are many other considerations you should be aware of before taking the plunge.

Can I find the right professional partner?

Not all corporate service providers are created equally. Some are better than others and have different priorities when it comes to working with clients. You should look for a provider that has experience in all of the jurisdictions you consider, and that works with a large network of international partners. Experience in your industry or sector is also important. 

It is also recommended to ask for detailed quotes when inquiring about company formation services as many service providers won't even include the most basic incorporation documents to offer you an incredibly low price. However, you will need to pay those additional/hidden fees later on. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Beware of hidden fees and unnecessary charges and instead opt for custom turn-key packages that are designed to incorporate all of your needs. 

The last word

Offshore incorporation and other business activities is not a matter to be taken lightly. After all, it can impact every aspect of your business. Taking the advice of a professional with an extensive track record of working in the offshore sector is the first step towards ongoing success.

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