offshore solutions since 1988
The Bahamas is located in the Atlantic Ocean and extends from 60 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida to just north of Haiti.
The capital Nassau is situated on New Providence Island, which has an area of 83 square miles. Freeport, the second largest city, is located on Grand Bahama Island.
The Bahamas is a sovereign country and a former British Colony. Upon independence in 1973, it adopted a bicameral legislature with an elected Prime Minister. The Bahamas status as a member of the British Commonwealth means that Her Majesty the Queen is considered the Head of State and the appointed Governor General has a traditionally conservative approach, which provides a certain measure of political stability.
The population is approximately 300,000 and the majority live on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama. The official language is English.
The Bahamian legal system is based on British Common Law. The laws are to be found in the statute laws and subsidiary legislation of The Bahamas. The final court of appeal is the Privy Council in England. The highest local court is the Court of Appeal, and in descending order, the Supreme Court, Stipendiary & Circuit Magistrates' Courts and Administrators' Courts.
The Bahamas, with their thousands of cays and reefs are surrounded by clear turquoise waters which, combined with the subtropical climate, create a natural spot for leisure and vacation. Tourists from all over the world are attracted by the splendid palace
hotels and the numerous casinos. There are always lots of yachts and cruise ships producing at times heavy traffic. Paradise Island, Eleuthera and Nassau are the preferred destinations of the world's wealthy jet setters. The geographical location makes the islands very accessible with airlinks to all major cities in the United States and to most world capitals. Communication systems are also well developed. Most of the islands are uninhabited.
The island's economy does not only prosper on tourism; export is also an important factor. The freeport zone on Grand Bahama Island has various enterprises although heavy industry is underdeveloped. Because Bahamas-produced goods are exempt from duties when exported to the United States, Japan and the European Union, this economic zone is a great success.
The Bahamas has always been a leader in the world of offshore banking and finance and in the context of an unprecedented level of international competition and change, continues on a determined mission to build upon the success of its traditional solid framework of political stability, efficient infrastructure, geographical location, zero taxes and bank secrecy.
The Bahamas boasts over 400 banks and trust companies. The full range of modern services thrive here, including private banking, company registration, captive insurance, ship's registry, estate, portfolio and trust management and asset protection. The Bahamas has no exchange control regulations for non-Bahamians and the official currency is the Bahamian dollar which is on par with the US dollar.
Although the Bahamian government, with its strategic policy of "Baharnisation of the economy" and other social programs, has created some difficulties concerning work permits and exchange controls, its main goal remains the promotion of foreign investment and the development of the islands as a financial centre of high standing. This simply means that in the near future nobody will change the genuine no-tax situation or the permissive incorporation procedures.
The Bahamas is not a party to any double taxation agreement.
Type of Company
Incorporation is ruled by the Companies Act 1992 and the International Business Companies Act 1989, both amended.
The Private Company, limited by shares, limited by guarantee or limited by both, and the International Business Company (IBC), limited by shares, are most widely used. IBC is not allowed to do business with any Bahamian residents. Banking and insurance activities need special authorisation.
The transfer of incorporation and domicile is possible. For incorporation one needs to file the Memorandum and Articles of Association. For an IBC the name and address of a Bahamian Registered agent need to be mentioned. There are no capital requirements. As for the name of an IBC, it must end with the words "Limited", "Corporation", "Incorporated", etc. or its abbreviations. The Private Company's name ends with "Limited" or "Ltd". A minimum of two shareholders, who can be nominees, is required. For an IBC transfer of shares is possible, which may result in an existence of a sole shareholder. A Private Company needs two officers whereas an IBC needs only one. Corporate bodies are permitted. No par value shares are allowed for IBC's but not permitted for Private Companies. The Registered office must be located within the jurisdiction. No mandatory rules exist for Board meetings. Although a Private Company needs to hold at least one annual general meeting, this regulation is waved for an IBC. There are no filings of accounts nor audits.
International Business Companies
The introduction of the International Business Companies Act 1989 created a very modern and flexible vehicle: the International Business Company (IBC). With its British Virgin Islands equivalent, the Bahama's IBC provides an instrument with little administration and great freedom. The main advantage of the Bahama's IBC is its low annual fees.
An International Business Company is a corporate vehicle having limited liability, which, provided it has no business activities in the Bahamas, is wholly exempt from Bahamas tax on its income and from inheritance or estate tax on its shares. Only a nominal annual fee is payable to the Government (in most cases US$300).
An IBC can have bank accounts in the Bahamas, hold company meetings and keep its accounting books and records in the Bahamas without breaching this restriction, although this is not commonly done.
The IBC vehicle may be used for a wide range of activities, including the establishment of asset protection trust and collective investment schemes such as mutual funds, hedge funds, open-ended investment companies, unit trusts and even shipping activities - all under conditions of cost-effectiveness, minimal yet responsible compliance procedures, flexibility and confidentiality.
The major advantages of an IBC are:
- An IBC and its shareholders are exempted from the payment of business licence fees, income taxes, corporation taxes, capital gains taxes or any other taxes on income or distribution in connection with any transaction to which the IBC or the shareholder is a party. Further, no estate, inheritance, succession or profits tax is payable in The Bahamas with respect to its shares, debt obligations or other securities. No stamp duty is payable on a transfer of property to or by an IBC or transactions in respect of shares, debt obligations or other securities of an IBC or any transaction relating to the business of an IBC.
- Names of shareholders/directors are not recorded in the public registry. No filing of financial statements or annual returns listing shareholders or directors is required.
- There is a guaranteed tax exemption for a minimum of 20 years.
- It may transfer its domicile to a foreign jurisdiction, or an existing foreign corporation may transfer as an IBC to The Bahamas register.
- It may transfer its assets to a trust.
- Government registration and annual fees are low.
- It is not subject to Bahamian exchange control regulations.
- In order to protect assets from confiscatory laws in the country of domicile of the investor in the IBC, The Act enables a party adversely affected by the exercise of such confiscatory or penal power by a foreign government to apply to The Bahamas Supreme Court for an order that the IBC be entitled to ignore the Acts of the foreign government.
- Exemption from all local taxes and stamp duty.
- Flexible and creative corporate structures for international businesses.
- Incorporation within 48 hours.
- Customized corporate certificates and document verification.
- No required public disclosure of company officers or shareholders.
- No accounting, organizational or annual general meeting requirements.
- Availability of bearer shares and no minimum required capital.
- Option of one or more shareholder(s) or director(s); no residency requirements.
- Shares issued in any currency or for consideration other than cash.
Minimum number of shareholders
Annual Government Fee
(Min. Authorized Share Capital of US$5,000)
Disclosure to Government of beneficial owners
Public disclosure of directors and officers
Minimum officers required
Corporate Directors permitted
Corporate Secretary permitted
Bearer shares permitted
Local representation essential
Ready-made companies available
Corporate or Personal Income Tax
Accounts to be audited
The basic package includes:
Certificate of Incorporation
Memorandum and Articles of Association
Consent by registered agent
Appointment of first directors
Minutes of the first meeting of directors
share transfer forms
Annual state tax
Annual registered office/agent
legalization of company's documents (Apostile of Hague)
notarized copies of company's documents
notarized disclaimer of the incorporators
fax: +1 917 4648381, +44 870 1387648, +385 51 214355