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Doing Business in the BVI

Contributed by Appleby

Business Environment

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is a UK overseas territory with a population of approximately 32,000. Its economy, considered one of the most stable and prosperous in the Caribbean, is dependent on tourism and the offshore financial sector. The BVI is a well-established, sophisticated financial centre offering accounting, banking, legal services, captive insurance, insolvency practitioners, company incorporations, mutual funds administration, investment management and advisory services, trust formation and administration, and marine vessel and aircraft registration.

A 2017 report by Capital Economics examining the BVI’s contribution to the world economy noted that the assets held by BVI business companies had an estimated worldwide value of USD1.5 trillion.

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The British Virgin Islands (BVI) remains a highly attractive business destination for the offshore registration of companies and modern legal framework. Around 500,000 foreign businesses are incorporated in the BVI and approximately 40% of all offshore companies in the world are BVI registered.

Confirming the BVI’s commitment to international best practices, The Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnership) Act 2018 (ESA) came into force in early 2019; this was in response to the concerns of the EU Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation and requires certain legal entities incorporated or registered in the BVI to maintain economic substance in the jurisdiction. To supplement the ESA, in April 2019 the BVI International Tax Authority published a draft Economic Substance Code that contains rules on how the economic substance requirements can be met.

Notable developments among the jurisdiction's law firms include the introduction of Collas Crill, which launched its BVI office in 2017 following a merger with local firm Farara Kerins, appointing Ian Montgomery (previously located in its Jersey office) as head of corporate, finance and funds in the BVI. Elsewhere, following the relocation of Walkers BVI's former managing partner David Collins to the firm's Cayman Islands' office, Patrick Ormond now heads up the BVI office.

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