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An international business company or international business corporation (IBC) is an offshore company formed under the laws of some jurisdictions as a tax-free company which is not permitted to engage in business within the jurisdiction it is incorporated in. Offshore Financial Centres which have allowed the formation of IBCs include Antigua, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Gibraltar, Nevis and Seychelles.

Characteristics of an IBC vary by jurisdiction, but will usually include:

  • exemption from local corporate taxation and stamp duty, provided that the company engages in no local business (annual agent's fees and company registration taxes are still payable, which are normally a few hundred U.S. dollars per year)
  • preservation of confidentiality of the beneficial owner of the company
  • wide corporate powers to engage in different businesses and activities
  • abrogation or restriction of the requirement to demonstrate corporate benefit
  • the ability to issue shares in either registered or bearer form
  • an abrogation of any requirements to appoint local directors or officers
  • provision for a local registered agent

However, under pressure from the OECD and the FATF, most offshore jurisdictions have removed or are removing the "ring fencing" of IBCs from local taxation. In most of the jurisdictions, this has been accompanied by reductions of levels of corporate tax to zero to avoid damaging the offshore finance industry.

An interesting exception to this is in Seychelles where Seychelles residents are legally able to own and operate a Seychelles IBC as long as the IBC is not conducting business within Seychelles. Seychelles also has a "territorial" tax system meaning that Seychelles residents are only taxed on their locally sourced income. Therefore, there is no advantage to non-residents over residents and claims of "ring fencing" have no merit on the Seychelles IBC. This has been, and continues to be, used successfully by Seychelles in defense of the Seychelles IBC vs. international bodies such as the OECD and FATF. Boosting the defense even more is the fact that there are no restrictions on a Seychelles IBC owning shares of a Seychelles domestic company.

Further, most jurisdictions (Panama and Seychelles being the key exceptions) have either eliminated or highly restricted the issuing of bearer shares by IBCs due to international pressures.


IBCs in general

An IBC is a legal entity incorporated in a tax haven which is free from all local taxes (except small fixed annual fees). Typically the IBC cannot conduct business in the country of incorporation. Dominica, British Virgin Islands, Belize, Nevis and Seychelles have special IBC legislation in place, which is similar to the legislation for Panama Corporation and Gibraltar Non-resident Company.

IBCs are offshore companies that are most commonly used for offshore banking to conduct international trade, investment activities, by professionals and for asset protection. Offshore companies can be involved in buying and selling goods and services, hold bank accounts and operate businesses. IBCs are also commonly used for the ownership of real property and land; for ownership of intellectual property, licensing and franchising; personal service by individuals working overseas and offshore e-business among other things.

An IBC can hold assets in a safe, secure financial center. At the same time, an IBC also allows the owner to retain 100% control of assets. An IBC's assets are extremely private. In the offshore jurisdictions, there is no ITIN required in order to open an IBC bank account. It is a crime for a banker to reveal your association with a bank account to an individual outside of the bank. IBC ownership records are not available in any public record.

There are countries with IBC laws that take privacy very seriously. The asset protection provisions in some countries are extremely strong. Many of these countries are island nations that have become financially strong by offering a safe-haven in which to store one’s money. One of the strongest IBC asset protection laws found is on the Island of Nevis (Nee’ Vuhs). Nevis is located in the Caribbean Sea and is about a one-hour flight East of Puerto Rico.

RAK Offshore also has jurisdition to provide offshore licenses

On 18 September 2006, RAKIA launched RAK Offshore, modeled on the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. It is an offshore licensing authority that currently generates revenue through non-resident business registration and advisory services. The RAK Offshore facility has its own body of laws and regulations. They are currently targeting banking, insurance and marine registration firms to establish and operate their offshore units in the Emirate and are located in the Al Hamra area of Ras Al Khaimah . The total number of companies registered with RAK Offshore is currently around 2310. RAK Offshore focuses on HNI who are looking for offshore jurisdictions. The customers primarily belong to Europe, Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.


The cost of forming an offshore company varies depending on the jurisdiction you choose to incorporate. Seychelles, Belize and Dominica have among the best prices between US $1,000 to US $1,400 to incorporate (2005 rates). After the first year and every year thereafter, there are annual fees. In Seychelles, Belize and Dominica annual fees are between US $400 to US $700. US Limited Liability Companies (LLC's) from Delaware and Oregon are even less expensive, while BVI and Gibraltar are a little more expensive.

IBC versus offshore LLC

A United States Limited Liability Company (LLC) is not a regular tax-free company if the business is operating in the U.S., for full tax-free advantages the LLC has to be registered in an Offshore Financial Centre. An LLC that is a U.S. registered company does not issue shares, therefore does not have shareholders. Its owners are known as members. While an IBC cannot conduct business in the country of incorporation, there is no such restriction on an LLC. The similarity is where a U.S. registered LLC is owned and operated outside of the United States by U.S. non-resident aliens and have more than one member; there is no tax liability on its members. LLC's must file annual accounts. Its members are individually liable to tax on their share of the profits if earned within the U.S. or if a member is a U.S. citizen or resident.

For U.S. citizens or residents, an offshore LLC provides a better vehicle than an IBC due to improved U.S. tax compliance.

See also



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