British Virgin Islands (BVI) Company Formation

#Go BVI. Be Global
  • Short description

    The British Virgin Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the Caribbean and forms part of the West Indies.


    The British Virgin Islands is the world’s most renowned offshore financial centre and a leading offshore corporate jurisdiction. Currently, more than half of all offshore companies in the world are incorporated in the BVI. According to the BVI Financial Services Commission Report, in 2018, the BVI commercial registry contained 402,907 BVI business companies. Of course, this number has grown even more since then.

    The British Virgin Islands is a very stable parliamentary democracy. The Queen is head of state and appoints a local governor of the British Virgin Islands who exercises powers on Her Majesty’s behalf.

    The BVI flag consists of the Blue Ensign and Union Jack, which denotes the status of the British Virgin Islands as a British Overseas Territory.

  • Taxation

    The British Virgin Islands has abolished corporate income tax for both offshore and locally operating companies and has introduced a payroll tax for local employees. This means that the BVI tax rate is 0% for corporate tax, capital gains tax and withholding tax. This, along with its vast popularity, makes the BVI one of the most renowned tax havens in the world.

    Currency US Dollar (USD
    Corporate tax 0%
    Withholding tax 0%
    Capital gains tax 0%
    VAT 0%
    Currency Control No


  • Legal framework

    Legislation in the BVI is based on English common law.

    The court of final appeal in the British Virgin Islands is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

    The BVI company law is deemed to be the most progressive among offshore financial centres. It effectively makes a BVI Business Company very flexible and suitable for both small privately-owned asset protection companies, as well as large enterprises listed on the global stock exchanges. This is one more reason why the BVI offshore jurisdiction remains the most popular in the world.

    The BVI Company Registry is maintained by the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission (BVI FSC), which supervises the industry and ensures high standards of service provision.

    The laws regulating BVI business companies and the financial sector are as follows:

    • BVI Business Companies Act, 2004 (Revised 2005);
    • Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2019;
    • Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System Act, 2017;
    • Financial Services Commission Act, 2001 (Revised 2008); and
    • Insolvency Act, 2003.
  • Why chose BVI?

    The reputation of the British Virgin Islands as a leader in the corporate services industry is well recognised worldwide and can be compared to that of the Cayman Islands.

    The jurisdiction’s name speaks for itself. Today, it is hard to find a person in the world of commerce who has never heard about BVI offshore companies. This can create additional value for any business. In the BVI, a company registry check can easily be ordered by the owners or business partners to ensure that a company exists and is in good legal standing.

    This can be proven by using the BVI company search which extracts information from the Registry of Corporate Affairs and can usually be issued within one to two days.

    The BVI nil tax regime is another great advantage of the jurisdiction for those who want to minimise unnecessary tax burdens and protect their assets.

    Among the BVI company advantages, there is a higher level of service compared to some other offshore jurisdictions. Also, the BVI company formation process is fast and usually takes only one day to complete after the application has been submitted to the BVI corporate registry.

    There are not many BVI company disadvantages and these are no different from other jurisdictions with a 0% tax rate.

    Another reason to incorporate an offshore company in BVI is the possibility of opening a US Dollar bank account at a local bank. Since the US Dollar is the jurisdiction’s official currency, a BVI bank account can be opened for a company, usually without a personal visit. If other currencies are required, it is always possible to open an offshore bank account in another jurisdiction.

    Recently, the jurisdiction has become popular for establishing a private trust company that would be a trustee of a BVI trust. This allows the settlor and chosen family members to retain full control of the trust assets. The BVI trust companies are set up as ordinary companies according to the BVI Companies Act, but with a special trust license granted afterwards to manage the affairs of only the designated trust.

    Under the BVI Business Companies Act 2004, the following types of entities can be incorporated in the British Virgin Islands:

    • company limited by shares;
    • company limited by guarantee;
    • company limited by guarantee with right to issue shares;
    • unlimited company; and
    • limited liability partnership.

    A BVI company is the best option for the following business activities:

    1. Holding company
    2. International trade
    3. Asset protection
    4. Vessel ownership
  • Incorporation process

    Stage 1 Contact us for more information and quotes. We answer within three hours!
    Stage 2 Fill in a form, provide us with the required documents and make a payment.
    Stage 3 Receive the scanned incorporation documents within two days, and hard copies by courier up to seven days.


  • Required documents

    To incorporate a BVI company, the following CDD documents are required:

    1. Certified copy of passport for all directors, shareholders and beneficial owners
    2. Certified proof of address for all directors, shareholders and beneficial owners
    3. Filled and signed KYC form provided to you by your personal manager at Astra Trust
  • Documents and services you receive

    The costs of BVI company set up include the following services:

    1. Company name search in the BVI register of companies to check for availability
    2. Revision of KYC and CDD documents
    3. Drafting of activation corporate documents upon incorporation of the BVI company
    4. Mandatory filing of register of directors
    5. BVI Registered office services in for one year
    6. BVI Registered agent services in for one year
    7. Full administrative 24/7 support from your personal manager at Astra Trust

    After BVI incorporation, you will receive the following documents:

    1. Certificate of Incorporation issued by the BVI registrar of companies
    2. Memorandum of Association stamped by the BVI registrar of companies
    3. Articles of Association stamped by the BVI registrar of companies
    4. Resolution of appointment of first directors
    5. Director’s Consent letter
    6. Register of directors
    7. Register of shareholders
    8. Minutes of first meeting of directors
    9. Share certificate for each shareholder
  • Company name in BVI

    According to the BVI Business Companies Act 2004, the name of a BVI limited company shall end with particular words or abbreviations. The list of BVI companies’ ending words is as follows:

    • The words “Limited”, “Corporation” or “Incorporated”;
    • The words “Societe Anonyme” or “Sociedad Anonima”;
    • The abbreviations “Ltd”, “Corp”, “Inc” or “S.A.”.

    A BVI company may have an additional foreign character name approved by the Registrar.

    The proposed company name shall not be similar to that of a pre-existing company. Such name shall not contain a restricted word or phrase unless the FSC has given prior written consent to the use of the word or phrase.

  • Board of directors and shareholders

    A BVI offshore company shall at all times have one or more directors, according to the Companies Act. Directors can be individuals or legal persons. The director(s) can be of any nationality and residency.

    The directors of a BVI company can be granted very broad powers by means of the company’s articles of association, which may significantly ease company administration in corporate matters.

    There are no restrictions regarding the nationality or residence of the shareholders of a BVI company. They can be either individuals or legal persons.

    Nominee services are allowed in the British Virgin Islands. Astra Trust can provide nominee services and assist with all corporate matters to ensure that your company complies with all legal requirements of the BVI’s legislation.

  • Share capital of a BVI company and types of companies

    The vast majority of offshore companies incorporated in BVI are companies limited by shares. The authorised share capital can be of any value, however, when such capital exceeds 50,000 shares, the government fee for the incorporation and renewal of such a company rises significantly.

    The British Virgin Islands is a pioneering jurisdiction that has abolished the capital maintenance doctrine and the concept of authorised share capital. This effectively means that a BVI company may not indicate the amount of share capital in its memorandum of association, but must simply state the maximum number of no par value shares that can be issued.

    That is why the standard number of shares of a BVI offshore company is usually 50,000 shares of no par value. Of course, the authorised share capital amount can be indicated and adjusted to suit particular needs. The share capital with par value can be denominated in any currency.

    The share capital issued to shareholders can be of any amount, from a single share to all the shares authorised to be issued by the BVI company.

  • Privacy of a BVI company

    The BVI company registry is closed to public inspection. This means that information about directors, officers and shareholders of a company is not available to the public. The BVI company search document can be ordered by anyone, but it does not contain information regarding a company’s directors and members unless the company has intentionally made this information public.

    Privacy can be enhanced through nominee services that are allowed and widely used in the British Virgin Islands.

    The Beneficial Owner Secure Search System Act, 2017, or the so-called BOSS Act, requires each BVI legal entity to disclose information on its beneficial owners, which is filed in this system. The information itself is not available to the public, but is accessible to designated persons, namely the following BVI authorities:

    • The Financial Investigation Agency;
    • The Financial Services Commission;
    • The International Tax Authority; and
    • The Attorney General’s Chambers.
  • Economic substance requirements

    A British Virgin Islands company is subject to economic substance requirements.

    According to the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2019, a BVI company that provides one or several relevant activities must have economic substance in the British Virgin Islands connected to the relevant activity in each financial period during which income was derived from such activity.

    For the purposes of the Economic Substance Act, relevant activities are as follows:

    • Banking business;
    • Insurance business;
    • Fund management business;
    • Finance and leasing business;
    • Headquarters business;
    • Shipping business;
    • Holding business;
    • Intellectual property business; and
    • Distribution and service centre business.

    BVI companies that are not related to the above activities are not relevant entities and do not fall under the scope of economic substance requirements.

    Pure equity holding companies (PEHE) are those companies that solely hold equity participations and only earn dividends and capital gains. For such BVI companies, the minimum requirements will apply, and generally, there will be no need to demonstrate economic substance in the British Virgin Islands.

  • Reporting requirements

    For companies that do not conduct activities in the BVI territory, there is no legal requirement to file accounts and tax returns in the British Virgin Islands.

Key Features

    General Information

  • Jurisdiction - British Overseas Territory
  • Entity Type - Business Company
  • Corporate Tax - 0%
  • Currency - USD
  • Currency Exchange Control - No
  • Legal framework - Common law
  • Recognition of Trust - Recognised
  • Court of Final Appeal - The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
  • Business Activity Restrictions

  • Business Activity Restrictions - No. Subject to standard licensed types of activities
  • Economic Substance Requirements - Applicable to all BVI companies
  • Prohibition of business within BVI - Not applicable
  • Requirements for Directors

  • Register of Directors - Not publicly accessible
  • Minimum Number of Directors - 1
  • Corporate Director - Available
  • Local Director - Not required
  • Nominee Director - Available
  • Requirements for Secretaries

  • Secretary - Not required (optional)
  • Requirements for Shareholders

  • Register of Shareholders - Not publicly accessible
  • Minimum Number of Shareholders - 1
  • Corporate Shareholder - Available
  • Annual General Meeting - Not required
  • Location of Meetings - Anywhere in the world
  • Nominee Shareholder - Available
  • Share Capital

  • Minimum Authorised Share Capital - No requirements
  • Standard Authorised Share Capital - USD 50,000
  • Minimum Issued Share Capital - USD 1
  • Currency of Share Capital - USD or any other
  • Reporting Requirements

  • Preparation of Accounts - Not required
  • Filing of Annual Return – Not required
  • Publicity of Annual Return - Not public
  • Audited Accounts – Not required
  • Other Features

  • Redomiciliation to/from Jurisdiction - Permitted
  • Shelf Companies - Available

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