Register company in Cayman Islands: Introduction
To register company in Cayman Islands is a hassle-free process with Tetra Consultants’ assistance.
The Cayman Islands are a self-governing British Overseas Territory. Much like other Caribbean nations, it is highly reliant on tourism. However, the Government’s push to develop the finance services sector has been largely successful in decreasing the country’s reliance on the volatile tourism sector. The Islands are now the fifth largest banking centre in the world, and more than 100,000 companies have since been registered in the Islands, a number higher than the population itself.
Our service package includes everything you will require to set up company in Cayman Islands:
- Company registration with the General Registry
- Local company secretary and registered address
- Corporate bank account opening
- Financial license applications
- Annual accounting and tax services
What is a Tax Haven and are the Cayman Islands a Tax Haven?
- As the name suggests, tax havens usually have low or even zero tax rates and are thus used for illicit activities such as tax evasion. The definition of tax haven sometimes also includes confidentiality, political and economic stability as well as an ease of doing business for foreigners.
- The Cayman Islands have been one of the most notorious tax havens in recent times, having been labelled as a “tax scam” by then President of the United States, Barack Obama in a 2016 statement. They have traditionally been tax free on multiple sources of income, including corporate and personal income tax, as well as property, capital gains, and withholding taxes.
- Despite their inclusion in the February 2020 European Union tax haven blacklist, they have since been removed as of the October 2020 iteration. However, this was a decision met with much flak by many international watchdog and governments, including Oxfam’s EU tax policy advisor and the Chief Executive of the Tax Justice Network. The Tax Justice Network ranked the Cayman Islands 2nd on their 2021 Corporate Tax Haven Index. Regardless of the official classification of the country, it is clear that a Cayman Islands offshore company would be heavily associated with tax havens and banking secrecy.
- Generally, Tetra Consultants would recommend you to set up offshore company in a more reputable jurisdiction such as Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, Ireland, Liechtenstein or UAE instead.
What are the new economic substance requirements and how do they affect companies aiming to register company in Cayman Islands?
- In order to abolish these associations, the Caymanian government has passed The International Tax Co-operation (Economic Substance) Law 2018. Built upon the OECD’s Forum on Harmful Tax Practices, it primarily aims to deliver an economic substance test that is to be met by certain corporate entities to evaluate its legitimacy. With an effective date of 1 January 2019, legal entities have to maintain a level of economic substance.
- The main aim of the economic substance law is to ensure greater compliance with base erosion and profit shifting. Primarily meant to mitigate harmful tax practices, the enactment of this legislation will prevent many private equity firms and hedge funds from locating their investment funds and their fund management equity in the Cayman Islands. Moreover, large corporations who are looking to base their subsidiaries in the jurisdiction to evade tax laws are now under threat.
Who is subject to the new requirements to register company in Cayman Islands?
- The bulk of corporations incorporated locally are to observe this new law. This includes locally incorporated companies, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships and registered foreign companies.
- Company structures that undergo at least one of the below activities are covered by the legislation, and required to undergo the economic substance test. These activities include operating in the banking, distribution and service centre, financing and leasing, fund management, headquarters, holding company, intellectual property, insurance or shipping.
- However, for some, this may not be applicable. Company structures such as limited partnerships, investment funds and Cayman entities that are tax residents elsewhere are not required to observe this law. Additionally, insurance companies are also not covered by this new regulation.
- Entities covered under the law are to submit their first report to the Tax Information Authority. This includes specific details outlining how they have satisfied the test twelve months after the entity’s first fiscal year-end. Through the test, an evaluation will be done to assess if the core income-generating activities related to the company are conducted in the Cayman Islands.
- The company in question must:
- perform its main income-generating activities within the Islands
- be managed and directed domestically, from within the Islands
- based on the amount of income earned from the specific activity, the company must also:
- spend a sufficient amount of operating expenses within in the Islands
- maintain a company location or factory, equipment, land space, or otherwise maintain a satisfactory physical presence in the Islands
- employ a sufficient number of full-time qualified personnel based in the Islands
- Non-compliance with this new law could lead to monetary penalties and a strike off from the General Registry.
- Before the start of the engagement, Tetra Consultants will advise whether you are required to meet the economic substance regulations based on your intended commercial activities. If required, our team will assist with the local office and recruitment of local employees.
How long to register company in Cayman Islands and open corporate bank account?
- Tetra Consultants will assist you to set up company with a seamless procedure.
- Upon receiving the required due diligence documents of the directors and shareholders, Tetra Consultants will conduct a name search with the Cayman Islands General Registry and reserve your preferred name.
- Companies must file their application through an established financial or business service provider. Tetra Consultants will provide you one to help you file your application.
- Within 2 weeks, you can expect to receive the documents of your new company including your Company Registration Certificate as well as the Memorandum and Articles of Incorporation.
- After successful company formation, Tetra Consultants will assist to open a business account with a bank of your choice. This will take around 4 weeks to complete.
- You can expect to start operations with your Caymanian company within 6 weeks upon engaging Tetra Consultants.
- Tetra Consultants’ team of Chartered Accountants is able to provide a full suite of services that will ensure that your newly incorporated company will continue to abide by all regulations. These services include monthly bookkeeping, preparation of fiscal statements and annual tax return filings.
Can a foreigner register company in Cayman Islands?
- Foreigners can start a business there since 100% foreign ownership is not only allowed but encouraged by the government.
- Incorporating companies in the Islands only has minimal requirements, including no residency requirement for the director, making it easy for foreigners to incorporate there as well.
How to register company in Cayman Islands?
- Tetra Consultants has assisted multiple clients to incorporate in the Islands. Our formation package will get you on your way to setting up your new company. Tetra Consultants advises you to read through this guide to fully understand the steps to a successful incorporation process.
Step 1: Choosing a company structure before you register company in Cayman Islands
- After understanding your company’s goals and activities, our team of dedicated consultants will recommend the most suitable entity for you to carry out your business. This recommendation will also be made based on the type of corporate activity, tax obligations and nationalities of your shareholders and directors. Prior to incorporating your company, you will be advised on the optimum paid up share capital, company structure, legislations and whether there is a need to apply for any licenses to operate. Generally, for most clients, Tetra Consultants will recommend incorporating an exempt company.
Step 2: Reservation of company name
- Tetra Consultants will conduct a Cayman Islands Registrar of Companies search to reserve your preferred company name with the Cayman Islands General Registry.
Step 3: Preparation of supporting documents to register company in Cayman Islands
- Before Tetra Consultants can incorporate your company, you are required to provide us with the required KYC documents. Some of these documents include the names of directors and identification proof.
- Upon receiving all the necessary documents, Tetra Consultants will proceed to draft and notarize the company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association.
- According to the business activity and structure, Tetra Consultants will also draft articles of incorporation, business plan and other incorporation documents.
Step 4: Filing to register company in Cayman Islands
- Based on local laws, a registered agent and registered office is necessary for incorporation. As such, Tetra Consultants will also provide you with a registered agent and office.
- Registration forms and certificates will then be filed with the General Registry for approval.
- After receiving approval from the Registry, you will receive your Cayman Islands company registration number. Tetra Consultants will then courier the Certificate of Incorporation, Memorandum and Articles of Association and other documents to your preferred address.
Step 5: Applying for other trade or business licenses
- If you are entering a regulated industry (banking, insurance), our dedicated team of consultants will then proceed to file for a CIMA approval with the Monetary Authority.
- If you are looking to incorporate an exempt company while maintaining your trade activities, our consultants will also assist you in obtaining a license under the local Trade and Business Licensing Law from the Department of Commerce and Investment.
Step 6: Corporate bank account opening
- After registration, Tetra Consultants will assist you in opening a corporate bank account. Our team has established partnerships with multiple reputable banks in the Cayman Islands. We will present your company to each relationship manager and compliance team. Tetra Consultants banking team is experienced in this field and we will be able to timely secure banking solutions within the stipulated deadlines.
- Typically, the bank account opening will take roughly 4 weeks. In most cases, the directors and shareholders are not required to travel. However, if travel is required, we will have a representative accompany you to the bank meeting. Alternatively, our team will negotiate with the banks to conduct a conference call instead or to request for a waiver.
- Once your account has been successfully opened, Tetra Consultants will courier the internet banking token and access codes to your preferred address.
Step 7: Financial reporting and taxation obligations
- Following the setup of your new company, our team of dedicated consultants will continue to ensure that all services necessary for your company’s successful operation are well taken care of.
- Based on local regulations, companies are mandated to submit an annual return to the Registrar of Companies providing the names and addresses of members, directors and amounts of paid-up capital.
- An annual company licensing fee of CI$800 also applies. We will continue to remind you annually about the necessary due charges.
- This is to ensure that you can continue to legally conduct activities with your new company, while staying compliant to regulatory obligations.
Type of business entities in the Cayman Islands
- Housing many business forms, choosing the right entity may be confusing. Before the start of the engagement, Tetra Consultants will fully understand your company before recommending the most optimum entity. Some considerations we take into account include the type of corporate activity, tax obligations and nationalities of shareholders and directors. Our consultants will also offer more information on the requirements imposed to set up these entities.
- Generally, for most companies in the Islands, you will only require a director and shareholder of any nationality, a local registered address and registered agent. No minimum paid up capital is necessary in incorporation as well.
- A Cayman Islands exempted company is a special form of company governed by the Companies Law that has less stringent compliance requirements. They are not required to maintain a registry of members for public inspection, and do not need to hold an annual general meeting within the Islands. An exempt company may also alter its Memorandum and Articles of Association without restriction.
- As an exempted company mainly performs business transactions outside the Islands, a license is required if they intend to trade locally. If needed, our dedicated team of consultants will assist you in applying for a license.
- The company must file with the Registrar a signed declaration that operations of the proposed exempted company will mainly be conducted outside the Islands or pursuant to a license to carry on business in the Islands as per issued by other applicable laws. When this law is contravened, the exempted company and every director responsible can be made liable on summary conviction to a fine of $100 for every day during which the contravention occurs. The exempted company can then be immediately dissolved by the Registrar.
- Tetra Consultants will assist you to secure the Tax Exemption Certification from the Cayman Islands Authority. This certificate serves as an insurance to guarantee companies that they will be protected from tax for 20 years. This is the main reason why Tetra Consultants will recommend you opt for an exempt company if you are intending to set up a company for the purposes of trading or holding overseas investments, since you will be able to enjoy full tax exemption.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- As a business entity, this type of company is a separate legal personality. As such, members cannot be made personally liable for any debts or obligations of the company. However, it is only permitted to conduct operations offshore. Under this entity, the company need not have share capital. Instead, members or managers can continue to manage the entity.
- To incorporate a LLC, you will have to file a signed registration statement with the Registrar of Limited Liability Companies. Unlike exempt companies, there is an additional requirement to file a return.
- Typically owned by Caymanian residents, this structure is permitted to conduct business within the Cayman Islands. Resident companies are mandated to maintain a registry of their members that will be open to public inspection. Annual reports to the Registrar also have to be made. Registration is to be made with the Cayman Business Portal.
- Just like an exempt and limited liability company, a non-resident company is a vehicle that is granted non-resident status by the Minister of Finance. The company is not permitted to conduct business within the Cayman Islands. Instead, the company may only transact with local companies if it is for the pursuit of promoting its foreign business.
- This company is mandated to maintain a registered office, a register that will be subjected to public scrutiny. An annual report is also necessary to be submitted to the Registrar. To incorporate this company, you will require a registered office with a CIMA licensed service provider. As such, Tetra Consultants will provide you with a CIMA licensed service provider if necessary.
- This entity is incorporated outside the Cayman Islands. Registering as a foreign company will permit your company to hold land or conduct business within the shores of Cayman Islands or to even take on the role as the general partner.
- To incorporate, you will require a certificate of good standing, certificate of formation as well as Memorandum or Articles of Association. If you are looking to register a foreign company, Tetra Consultants will assist you in obtaining the relevant due diligence documents.
Special Economic Zone Company
- To boost the island’s economy, the Cayman Islands enacted the Special Economic Zone. Meant specifically for foreign investors, a special economic zone company is permitted to conduct business only in the Cayman Special Economic Zone. This law also specifically meets the needs of exempted companies and exempted limited partnerships – allowing them to establish a physical presence in the island as well. Some of the local special economic zones projects include the Cayman Enterprise City, which in turn includes Cayman Tech City, Cayman Commodities and Derivatives City and Cayman Maritime and Aviation City.
- By incorporating a special economic zone company, companies can benefit from a tax-neutral platform and reduced customs and trade certificate fees, gaining the advantages of the island’s jurisdictional benefits. By locating your business in Cayman Islands’ Special Economic Zone, you can continue to carry out business transactions with the rest of the world. However, they may not operate and compete domestically in the Islands.
- As part of many companies’ global structuring strategy, the Special Economic Zone has been a hit. This includes big players such as uBUCK Technologies, Anchorage and Rivetz.
- Unique to this entity, setting up a special economic zone company will allow you to bundle all regulatory costs into a single fee. Work visas and business incorporation can be done at a much faster process as compared to other companies’ incorporation.
- To apply for a special economic zone company, you must first apply to the zone operator to lease tenancy space. If granted an approval, you will receive a provisional letter of acceptance that is to be submitted to the General Registry.
- As opposed to an LLC, an unlimited company does not protect its investors from being personally liable for the debts and obligations of the company. In the event of a winding up, members or shareholders may be personally liable for the debts and obligations of the company as well.
- An entity recently revealed in the 2017 Foundation Companies Law, a foundation company functions just like a civil law foundation. Similar to many other companies, a foundation has limited liability and holds a separate legal personality from its members and directors.
- Unlike other companies, foundations are not required to have members following incorporation. Amendments to its Memorandum and Articles of Association can also be done if stated. One key difference is that foundations are restricted from paying dividends or distributing profits or assets to its members.
- A foundation company is a form likely to be adopted as tools within private trust company structures. However, it is not limited in its industry – foundations can be used for commercial, philanthropic or private purposes.
- To register a foundation, one can apply to the Registrar. Provided that the company (1) is limited by shares or by guarantee, (2) has a company’s secretary who is qualified, (3) states expressly in its Memorandum of Association that it is a foundation and (4) adopts Articles of Associations, the Registrar will proceed with the application.
Accounting and tax obligations
- Before incorporating your company in Cayman Islands, accounting and tax rates are important aspects to consider. Tetra Consultants is experienced in managing the accounting and tax needs of our clients. Our team will complete your firm’s financial statements, corporate tax returns and manage auditors on your behalf and without the need for you to travel. It is important to meet the deadlines stipulated in accordance with local law. With our team, you can be assured that all stipulated deadlines will be met while maintaining the highest quality of accounting and tax filings for your firm.
Annual reporting requirements
- CIMA-regulated companies in the business industry (banking, insurance) are required to prepare, publish and file financial statements. Listed companies are also subjected to Cayman Islands Stock Exchange’s listing rules. As such, listed companies are required to prepare statements.
- If your company belongs to the other groups amongst Cayman Islands many business entities, you will be required to keep proper books of accounts but filing financial statements is not required. Tetra Consultants will continue to advise and clarify any doubts that you may have with regards to your annual reporting obligations.
- In general, there are no significant tax compliance obligations that your Cayman Islands entity will have to meet. Being exempt from value added, corporate income, withholding and real property taxes, companies essentially only have to pay for duty fees which are charged at varying rates.
Why register company in Cayman Islands?
- Closely linked and influenced by the United Kingdom, the Cayman Islands adopts a parliamentary democracy system. The absence of exchange controls and a responsive government also creates a stable and secure political climate within the island.
- Passing the Special Economic Zone Law, the Cayman Islands Government is committed to facilitating and boosting greater economic growth within the island. This includes passing various concessions to attract more foreign investments.
- Cayman Islands Registrar of Companies annual fees and company incorporation fees are also low, making it cheap to register company in Cayman Islands. This allows you to channel your incorporation budget into other aspects such as growing the business.
- Home to many special economic zones, Cayman Islands enables special economic zones companies to benefit from the island’s jurisdictional benefits and low regulatory costs. As such, if you are looking to expand internationally, Tetra Consultants recommends setting up a special economic zone company.
- Setting up a business bank account may be challenging. As the process requires the bank’s compliance team to conduct enhanced due diligence checks, delays may occur as a result.
- Third-party investors are commonly cautious of investing in projects through a tax haven company. This is because it lacks the credibility and good reputation of a company incorporated in other more well-regulated jurisdictions.
- Based on the Central Intelligence Agency, Cayman Islands has a 98.9% literacy rate among its population. English is also its official language, making communication easy for you and your business.
- With a low population of 65,813 people and a tourism-intensive economy, the Cayman Islands may not be as ideal when it comes to setting up businesses that require a wide consumer base or a skilled labour force.
- Home to many technologically disruptive companies and entrepreneurs, Tech City Cayman currently houses many leading companies that are developing cutting-edge software, intelligence technology, green tech and more. This allows the Cayman Islands to remain digitally competitive.
- FinTech is a steadily growing industry on the shores of the Cayman Islands. If you are looking to set up a company in the financial industry, you can look forward to state-of-the-art technological tools.
- The Cayman Islands Tech Community is constantly growing. With plans to expand, Cayman Islands Tech Community is constantly looking to nurture young talents and inspire them to join the industry.
- Dispensing with the need for government regulatory authority consent, incorporation procedure in the Cayman Islands is simple and quick. Within a day, your new company can be ready for your business operations.
- With the implementation of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, the Cayman Islands has achieved greater compliance. This treaty helps to assist international law enforcement agencies in reviewing Cayman Islands companies and ensuring legitimacy.
- Known as the trendsetters in marine conservation, the Cayman Islands have led numerous green initiatives from minimizing single-use plastics to upcycling materials. These initiatives have led the jurisdiction to be one of the regional sustainability leaders.
- Energy is an issue for many local residents. With less than one percent of the island’s energy sourced from renewable sources, an interruption of oil shipments could mean a lack of energy source available.
- With the reveal of George Town landfill, otherwise known as Mount Trashmore, it can be noticed that Cayman Islands also lack a legitimate waste management mechanism to manage its ever-growing waste.
Looking to register company in Cayman Islands?
- Contact us to know more about how to register company in Cayman Islands. Our dedicated and experienced team will revert within the next 24 hours and answer all your queries.
What is the best business in the Cayman Islands?
- The Caymanian economy is mainly reliant on tourism and the financial services sector. It is currently one of the largest offshore financial centres in the world.
- However, the government is also making efforts to diversify into health care and technology as well.
How much does it cost to start a business in The Cayman Islands?
- While there are no paid-up capital requirements when starting a business in the Cayman Islands, Tetra Consultants will recommend setting aside at least US$5,000 as your paid-up capital to fund your overhead expenditures as well as initial deposit for business bank account opening.
- As for Tetra Consultants’ engagement fees, this depends on the exact services required from Tetra Consultants. Our fees are inclusive of government fees and all fees will be clearly stated in our engagement letter prior to the start of the engagement. Tetra Consultants believes in transparency with our valued clients and there are no hidden fees.
What does a British Overseas Territory refer to?
- These are self-governing territories that still rely on the United Kingdom for matters of defence and foreign relations. They are granted relative freedom in enacting their own policies.
Must I be a local resident to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands?
- Non-residents can also open bank accounts if they provide the appropriate proof and documentation.
How many companies are in the Cayman Islands?
- There are currently over 100,000 incorporated companies.
Is the US$ accepted in the Cayman Islands?
- It is accepted, but they still have their own currency, KYD.
Are citizens of the Cayman Islands also British citizens?
- They are collectively known as British Overseas Territory Citizens, a status they share with other British Overseas Territories such as Gibraltar and Bermuda.
Do Cayman Island companies have registration numbers?
- Yes, each Cayman Island company will receive a registration number after incorporation with the Registry.
How do I set up an LLC in the Cayman Islands?
- Tetra Consultants can assist you with the process to set up an LLC in the Cayman Islands. A limited liability company (LLC) does not need to have a minimum amount of share capital. Instead, members or managers can continue to manage the entity.
- To incorporate a LLC, you will have to file a signed registration statement with the Registrar of Limited Liability Companies. Unlike exempt companies, there is an additional requirement to file a return.
Why do companies register in the Cayman Islands?
- The Islands are a popular jurisdiction for incorporation as they have traditionally been tax free on multiple sources of income, including corporate and personal income tax, as well as property, capital gains, and withholding taxes. This greatly lowers costs for business owners.