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Best Place to Form an Offshore Company in 2019  

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Michael Rosmer
(@offshorecapitalist-com)
Member Admin
Joined: 9 months ago
Posts: 2
02/05/2019 10:39 pm  

Since this question comes up a lot and since the answer is always "it depends" here are some observations:

 

  1. Labuan - My new favorite place for actually building a business.  Not great for if you're doing ecommerce but for consulting, affiliate, and many others it's super good.  Why?  English is a first language but Mandarin is as well so it's a great place to gateway into the Chinese market.  Wages are low.  Infrastructure is good.  Other costs are cheap.  Banking is good and pretty easy.  Taxes are 3% or 0% for holding companies.  You can get Malaysian residency based on forming a company there.
  2. Georgia - If you want to avoid AEOI/CRS this is still one of the best options.  You could go with either a regular company or JSC, either standard, virtual zone, or free zone.  Aside from free zone, which is fairly expensive getting set up is fairly inexpensive and fast though you need to either visit Georgia or use a POA, which is irritating especially since it needs to be in the local language.  Again, wages are low, banking is quite good and easy (big deal these days).  Not great for payment processing, in fact pretty bad so better not to use it for ecomm.  Good place to gateway into Russia.
  3. US LLC - This one is surprising to a lot of people but definitely one of the most popular options.  Again, not a part of AEOI/CRS, although don't assume you are getting off on that basis, the FATCA IGAs often have bilateral information sharing so you need to check.  It's fairly easy to set up a bank account, though you usually need to visit in person (we have remote opening options but it's fairly expensive).  There's minimal filings.  Best thing is you get access to all the US financial infrastructure such as payment processing.  Not good for if US regulations are a concern, or if you want US presence (you'll then pay US tax), or if you need foreign currencies (the US is essentially only USD).  But for many ecomm companies it's great.
  4. Gibraltar - for ecomm this is often my favorite place.  Bad news if you need local substance it's expensive.  Set up is fairly slow and not inexpensive and most of all you've got a problem with bank account opening.  This being said it's in Europe and not part of VAT so always a plus.  For a long time Gibraltar was like a slightly better version of though slightly greater hassle version of HK and Cyprus.  Since Cyprus has started to become an issue in the last year Gibraltar has become more attractive on a relative basis.
  5. Malta - I hate to include Malta in this list because it's a huge hassle.  This being said for people living in Portugal under the NHR program it's one of the best option because it's not on the blacklist when many places are.  In general Malta has been super smart with their tax system by offering a high 35% headline rate but then an effective rate of 5% in most cases for foreigners.  It's slow, bureaucratic, banking there is impossible but for some people it's necessary.
  6. Bulgaria - it often gets compared to Cyprus and if you're not going to take advantage of a Cyprus company being non-resident (in which case you're usually better off going with GIbraltar anyway) you have to ask "why Cyprus and not Bulgaria?"  The later is cheaper, faster to set up, less of a hassle, much easier for banking and has lower staff costs plus is still part of Europe for payment processing purposes.
  7. Puerto Rico - Not applicable to everyone but the ultimate haven for Americans no list of best places to form a company would be complete without it.  4% corporate tax, relatively low labor costs, and best of all Americans can move there and not pay tax on their dividends if they can fall under the Act 20 decree.  Banking isn't great but it's not the worst either.  Generally, you get access to most of what is included in the US.  For foreigners you can avoid CRS while tapping into a really low tax rate.

     

  8. Hong Kong - It's become much less popular over the years to use Hong Kong as getting bank accounts there has become more difficult.  Payment processing has improved but rates are still comparably high costing you typically a minimum 0.5% more plus potentially saddling you with a bunch of currency conversion fees that eat up your margins.  However, getting accounts opened has been getting a bit easier so...

None of the above are one size fits all.

You need to look at where you're from, the nature of your business, etc.  But it's rare that none of those fit as the best option for your business.

What are you finding is best and why?


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