FAQ Page

/FAQ Page
FAQ Page 2016-10-29T17:17:28+00:00
Is it legal to utilise an offshore structure for asset protection and tax minimisation? 2016-10-29T17:17:31+00:00

Every person and every company should pay their fair share of taxes and we do not advocate tax evasion or tax fraud of any kind.  However, everyone has a legal right to minimize their taxes through legal tax avoidanceas well as to protect their hard earned assets. Citizens of many countries now find themselves with increasingly encroaching governments, uncontrolled government spending, rapid currency devaluation, rising taxes and unbridled litigation which are all spiraling out of control.  It is a fact that as one's income and assets increase, one becomes an exponentially larger target of governments, hungry lawyers, fraudsters and generally those that do not contribute to society but rather spend their time devising strategies to extract from the "rich".

So in short, yes it is nearly always legal to utilise offshore companies, trusts, foundations, etc. for asset protection and it is very often possible to also achieve legal tax minimisation.

"No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer's pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue"

Law Lord, Lord Clyde, (Ayrshire Pullman Motor Services v Inland Revenue

[1929] 14 Tax Case 754, at 763,764)

"There is nothing sinister in so arranging one's affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; all do right. Nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands; taxes are enforced extractions not voluntary contributions!"

US Judge Learned Hand

What is an offshore company? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00

There is no universal definition of an "offshore" company, but in its most basic form it is merely a company established in any jurisdiction other than your place of residence or domicile.  Offshore companies are broadly broken down into three different categories:

  1. The most popular option is the completely tax neutral structure such as an international business companies (IBC) such as the Seychelles IBC, BVIBC or Belize IBC.  Another popular tax neutral structure is the limited liability company (LLC) such as the Delaware (USA) LLC and Florida (USA) LLC.  In order to achieve the tax neutral benefit, the offshore company or offshore LLC generally cannot trade within the country of domicile of the entity.
  2. Another option is a company which pays tax in the jurisdiction if deemed resident there or if income is brought back into the country (territorial tax system), but if operating outside the jurisdiction is not taxed there.  Popular examples of these are the Panama Company, Hong Kong company and Singapore company.  In this case it is possible to use these companies for global business and investment without them attracting tax in the jurisdiction of incorporation.
  3. A third option is a low tax company that is able to operate from the jurisdiction of incorporation where it only attracts a low rate of business tax and has access to the network of Double Tax Avoidance Agreements entered into by the country of incorporation and other countries.  One example of this is the Seychelles Special License Company (CSL) which is fully tax resident in Seychelles and pays a low 1.5% business tax.

What are the procedures for ordering my offshore company? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00
Please visit this link Ordering Formalities for a brief overview of the steps necessary to order our services and establish your offshore company. You will find all of the necessary information including specifics on each offshore jurisdiction, services offered, applications, etc on this website. Applications, country guides, relevant laws and other information can be found in our Downloads section.
What is the best jurisdiction for offshore incorporation? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00
This depends on the individual situation. Sterling Offshore takes the time to work with each client individually to accurately assess your needs and then suggest the ideal jurisdiction for your offshore incorporation.  There are many other factors that may influence this answer including where the client or his/her business is located, specific countries where business will be conducted, type of structure needed, level of banking sophistication required, etc.
Is owning an offshore company legal? 2014-09-06T02:21:31+00:00
In nearly every situation, the answer is a clear and resounding YES.  Each country has different reporting requirements and tax treatment regarding offshore entities. This is why we stress the importance of obtaining professional legal and/or tax advice in your own country.
Is it difficult to establish an offshore company? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00

Establishing a typical offshore company is no more difficult than establishing an onshore company.  In fact, the offshore company formation process is often easier and even faster.  The minimal ongoing filing requirements and restrictions are often an attraction as well.

What are the most popular uses of offshore companies? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00
There are several uses for offshore companies including international investment holding (providing access to otherwise unavailable markets), international real estate holding, asset protection, international trade, import/export, transfer and holding of intellectual property, personal services corporations for expatriates working abroad, etc. See this link for more information Offshore Company Typical Uses.
How long does the offshore company formation process take? 2014-09-06T02:21:42+00:00
In Seychelles, offshore companies can be formed in as little as 24 hours and sometimes within the same day it is ordered.  Other jurisdictions generally take within 1 to 5 days.  Be sure to specify if time is of the essence to you.  Additionally, you may opt to choose a company from our list of offshore shelf companies. Contact us for the current list.
What is an offshore shelf company? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00
A shelf company is an unused company created by an incorporation agent such as Sterling Offshore, which has been established and "shelved" to be purchased and used at a later date. None of the shelf companies offered by Sterling Offshore have entered into contracts, opened bank accounts or conducted any kind of business whatsoever.
What is the purpose of an offshore shelf company? 2014-09-06T02:23:03+00:00

The expression "I need this yesterday" is literally possible with a shelf company.  Some jurisdictions take a few days to weeks to register a new company and shelf companies can save critical time in these cases.

Additionally, companies which have a bit of longevity often find it easier to obtain credit, bid for contracts and conduct international business since many entities are wary about engaging in business with companies having a short business history.  Therefore, an aged shelf company or "vintage company" can often provide a solution to this problem.

Is there any public record of the beneficial owners of an offshore company? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00
None of the offshore jurisdictions represented by Sterling Offshore have a public record of the beneficial owners of a company.  Sterling must be able to identify and hold supporting due diligence on the beneficial owners of entities it establishes.
Will my privacy be protected if I incorporate an offshore company? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00

Absolutely.  Sterling Offshore follows very strict internal procedures regarding client confidentiality.  We will not disclose any client information except as required by prevailing legal and regulatory requirements.

We implore you to keep your offshore matters to yourself.  Many are tempted to talk about their offshore structures and activities, but please consider that colleagues, business partners, friends and unfortunately even family can unwittingly pass sensitive information along that can lay bare your business practices and/or overseas assets to everyone.

Can you help us open an offshore bank account? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00
Yes.  Sterling Offshore provides bank account introductions in a number of jurisdictions and well known offshore banking countries including Seychelles, Mauritius, Cyprus, Switzerland, Austria and Singapore.  We have conducted the research and established the relationships for you. Some of these offshore banks offer business and commercial accounts with internet banking availability.  Others offer private banking and wealth management for high net worth clients.  We can advise you on which banking option is best for your needs and help you establish one or more offshore bank accounts with a suitable institution.
Can I establish an offshore brokerage account held in the name of my offshore company or private foundation? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00
Yes.  Sterling Offshore can recommend respectable investment firms that provide an online internet trading platform, reasonable fees, access to international markets and investments, a knowledgeable trading desk and solid customer service.  Additionally, these institutions will allow you to establish your offshore brokerage account in the name of an offshore corporation or offshore private foundation.
Do I have to pay any taxes when using an offshore company? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00
Most of the offshore company formations that we offer are not taxed in the country of incorporation as long as they are not conducting local business within the jurisdiction of domicile.  Sterling Offshore can incorporate tax resident companies, such as the Seychelles CSL, which enjoy low taxation on worldwide profits and access to double taxation avoidance treaties.  Otherwise, your tax situation will vary depending on your country of residence, citizenship and domicile. Sterling Offshore recommends that you seek professional tax and legal advice in you country of residence to establish your specific tax consequences.
Does Sterling Offshore offer tax or legal advice? 2016-10-29T17:17:32+00:00

In short, no. Sterling Offshore consults with each client regarding the legal uses and tax consequences of offshore companies as described in the jurisdictions in which we operate.  We also consult on matters relating to the use of tax resident companies and tax treaties to minimize overall taxation. It is still incumbent on the client to seek qualified tax and/or legal counsel in their own jurisdiction.

While we are well qualified professionals and offshore consultants, we cannot offer tax and legal advice to clients in their jurisdiction of residence/citizenship/domicile.  The tax codes and relevant laws and regulations are continually changing. Considering the global reach of Sterling Offshore, it would be impossible and inappropriate for us to advise clients on matters pertaining to foreign taxation and law.

Sterling Offshore strongly urges all of our clients to seek legal and/or tax advice from a qualified professional in their own country prior to entering into a relationship with us.  We are happy to offer our clients professional recommendations in places where we have relationships established.  Similarly, we prefer to work with your attorney or accountant directly.