Cyprus | INVESTMENT FAQs | AVOID SCAMS
In some cases, fraudulent emails might claim to represent Investment Gateway and offer certain benefits. Investment-Gateway.eu does not send any such emails to request information. This website's service is purely informative, and to help direct interested parties to professional corporate services via third party consultants in Cyprus and the European Union.
Be aware. Ignore such emails and do not reply.
Click on a category from left menu to reveal some of the most frequently asked questions about the Investment Gateway platform and the professional services industry in Cyprus and the EU.
These FAQ & Answers should provide a good guide and help clarify some initial concerns about the investment sector and in considering Cyprus as a jurisdiction.
If your exact question is not answered here, or if you are after more specific information about your particular situation, contact Investment Gateway with an enquiry and/or to be put into direct contact with an expert associate in Cyprus.
• How does Investment Gateway select the 'right' associate?
• How can Investment Gateway's professional service be free-of-charge?
• What confidentiality and privacy is assured when dealing with Investment Gateway and associates?
• How reliable is the information and content on Investment-Gateway.eu?
A good first question and a very simple first answer: Investment Gateway is one initial and impartial point-of-contact, with multiple options, i.e. various associates to choose from.
Investment Gateway has done initial research and ground work on the various agents in Cyrus and has then established partnerships and affiliations with those considered to be leaders in the market – in service, trust, price, etc. In this way, Investment Gateway is the best starting point-of-contact. With a pool of agents to select from, Investment Gateway is in the best position to introduce you to the right associate. Investment Gateway already knows which agents are most appropriate; having met them at their premises and discussed the services they offer, whilst maintaining on-going communication. At the same time, this allows Investment Gateway to act as a watchdog and monitor agents in the local market, and if necessary provide any back-up support and feedback to clients.
Once a client request comes through the Investment Gateway platform, the exact requirements are filtered, establishing a list of the most suitable agents from the database. Aspects that are considered include company's prospective size, jurisdiction of operation, languages spoken or required, and other professional services required. Seemingly, all agents offer the same service in the investment sector. However, it is also true that each agent has its own unique specialisation and area of expertise, as well as of course method in producing output. Beyond all this, each agent offers a different "CAPP" level – customer service, added-value, price and professionalism. Investment Gateway recognises all this and is very meticulous in its observation, thus is also advanced in its selection process.
A formal debriefing and request is then sent to the most relevant agents. Following prompt reply and interest from the agent, the client is introduced.
And remember, Investment Gateway is not only a platform for clients, but also for the client's trusted lawyers, accountants and managers. In fact, they are where most requests come from.
The first thing that should be made clear is that Investment Gateway's pool of associates must be pre-determined (as well updated from time-to-time). Although there are many types of agents in Cyprus, Investment Gateway has established contact with those it considers to be specialists, i.e. the most suitable and market leaders. This included thorough investigations and qualifying, as well as on-going monitoring and relationship building. Some of these agents also contribute to added value content via reports and news on Investment-Gateway.eu
Brand awareness and trust in the Investment Gateway free service is almost completely based on how associates deliver. As such, it is fundamental that Investment Gateway ensures all agents are credible, reliable and professional in the service they provide. Of course all associates must be certified by Cypriot government and industry organisations, as well as international best practices. Once agents join the Investment Gateway platform, they are then part of the selection pool for clients.
The process of agent selection is always strictly professional, as per Investment Gateway's business philosophy of honesty, integrity and brand trust. It is always based on which agent:
- Best suits the client's requirements and area of requested professional service
- Promptly responds to Investment Gateway's tender request
- Offers the best service and solution for the particular request
- Offers the best possible price at that given time, and
- Has a history of good service and best practice
Investment Gateway provides professional introducing services at no extra cost to the client. It is a very simple yet effective business model – quite similar to many other online affiliation programmes available. At the end of the day, the client does not pay any extra, whilst Investment Gateway and associates are all rewarded. Now that's what you call a win, win, win.
Investment Gateway earns an affiliation commission for introducing clients to associates, directly from the agent themselves. Thus, there are absolutely no extra costs to the client. The agent would charge you exactly the same amount if you enquired directly – in fact Investment Gateway's associates clearly advertise their rates, so they must be kept the same. In many instances, it is actually cheaper via the Investment Gateway platform then going direct to an agent, as there are negotiated fees, whilst certain services are carried out at lower costs directly by Investment Gateway, i.e. business websites, domains and hosting, as well as other investment compliance.
Investment Gateway has a real presence on the ground. Investment Gateway is local in the Cyprus market, affiliated to leading industry professionals and utilising government and European content sources. Extensive research and associate investigations and interaction ensures clients are always passed over to the right contact.
Confidentiality, privacy and integrity are central to the professional services sector, and indeed to Investment Gateway's service. In fact, Investment Gateway does not even get involved in actual professional business activities such as accounting, legalities, company formation, auditing, taxation, nominee services and banking. Investment Gateway only introduces you to the right agent that is fully qualified to handle all this, and then steps back – a straightforward introduction services – but can offer support where required. Investment Gateway can however provide a certain amount of professional services in company compliance, in the form of website and digital marketing communication solutions.
Although Investment Gateway's associates also respect and honour client confidentiality and privacy, they are also obliged to carry out due diligence of both client identity and nature of their corporate 'investment' business. In some cases, clients must disclose both the reason for setting up a corporate or other entity and the type of business this entity is likely to conduct. Agents are then obliged to monitor and ensure that activities do not breach any international, EU or Cypriot regulation. Due diligence benefits the entire process, making sure you obtain full benefits to an investment solution and full credibility. However, please keep in mind that there are services used to maintain a certain amount of anonymity of the beneficial owner of the company, such as nominee director/shareholder.
EU Savings Tax Directive 2005 – only relevant if you are residing in an EU country; if not, irrelevant. The EU Savings Tax Directive 2005, also known as ESD, is one third of the EU Tax Package which comprises measures relating to the taxation of individuals and businesses that have been agreed by the European Union.
All countries in the European Union have agreed to report interest on bank savings paid to the citizens of other Member States to those States' tax authorities. This abolishes the possibility for EU citizens to hide any saving returns from their home tax authorities. In turn, the identity of individual recipients must be disclosed to home tax authorities.
In July 2005 up to 39 countries across the world started automatically exchanging private information relating to individuals who bank and invest in these countries. If you bank or invest in one of these countries and reside in another of the countries your privacy is about to be lost, information relating to your personal financial status will be passed to your tax authority and you could face at best a large tax bill, at worst a full investigation into your financial affairs. Basically it is an agreement between EU Member States to automatically exchange information about earning bank savings income in one EU State but residing elsewhere in the EU; otherwise known as the 'automatic exchange of information option. Information is passed over automatically to the tax authority in the country in which the money is housed and to the tax authority in the country in which the individual resides.
This proposal is at odds with the tradition of banking secrecy well-established in a number of Member States such as Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland. These and several other countries adopted the Withholding Tax system.
We try hard to maintain up-to-date information and content on the Investment-Gateway.eu platform. This includes news, documents and statistics from trusted sources in Cyprus, and on an EU level. Leading agents in the market also regularly updated reviews and opinions on the sector and the Cyprus market. Indeed, content on Investment-Gateway.eu is the most up-to-date in the Cypriot investment and professional services sector available anywhere on the Internet. Having said this, you must always exercise caution and thoroughly research and cross reference information. Content should be used responsibility. This website provides only general information (a general guide) on the professional services sector in Cyprus and on investment activities in and/or via Cyprus. It is certainly not exhaustive information of these subjects, and nor does it claim to be. Furthermore, each situation within the professional services sector is quite unique and might require a more comprehensive case-by-case analysis – hence to be determined and carried out by Investment Gateway associates. Please read more about a legal disclaimer.
- Investment-Gateway.eu is a fresh new web platform, with in-depth static information, as well as dynamic content – in other words, regularly updated and live.
- Sources of information are the most credible and reliable channels, including Eurostats, European Central Bank, Central Bank of Cyprus, Cyprus Ministry of Finance, Cyprus Press and Information Office, Cyprus Statistics Office, and OECD.
- Reports, blogs and news are regularly updated by leading industry professionals local to the Cyprus market, i.e. associates.
- Sophisticated (and now common) online website tools are used to automatically update content (news, publications and reports) as per the source.
Hence, added-value content on Investment-Gateway.eu
• How can Cyprus afford to offer so many company formation and tax benefits over other more wealthier and industrially developed countries?
• Is Cyprus a tax haven?
• How do you define tax resident in Cyprus?
• With which countries does Cyprus have a double taxation treaty?
• With which countries does Cyprus have bilateral MoUs?
• Must I have a local bank account when incorporating a company in Cyprus?
"Although Cyprus offers many taxation and other offshore corporate benefits, it is not actually known to be an offshore jurisdiction. Onshore companies and offshore companies in Cyprus are now exactly the same entity, and referred to as an IBC – International Business Company. Thus, Cyprus is more of an "Investment Gateway", i.e. an excellent location for setting up a company abroad offshore from your traditional location in order to expand and target new markets, as well as for operational efficiency." Investment Gateway.eu
Actually the entire Investment Gateway platform is dedicated to explaining this question in more detail, and offers real life examples and the right channels of distribution to make it happen. In summary, Cyprus is a very credible jurisdiction that offers excellent company formation and taxation benefits. Together with a favourable geographical location, this allows companies to maximise profits, encourage growth and focus on investments to the region – EU, Europe, Russia and CIS, Middle East and Africa. Indeed, one of the basic principles of economics is making the best possible use of resources available. Cyprus acts as one of these resources.
Although recent turbulence, Cyprus is still geared to become a much more stable and credible location. This is backed by the many major structural and economical changes that have occurred, as well as its enormous wealth in hydrocarbons. The country also maintains excellent geopolitical and trade relations with neighbours in the EMEA region, of course the EU and countries further away.
This includes double tax treaties with over 50 countries and a further 40 currently being negotiated, among other international treaties and agreements. Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2008; in the process having to meet EU directives. Cyprus is also on the OECD white list of territories which have substantially implemented the internationally agreed standard in tax transparency. Hence, international recognition and credibility.
Cyprus companies are suitable both for EU inbound or outbound investments. All investment activities and company types are appropriate for the Cypriot tax environment. Most popular and those ideally suited to the Cypriot tax system include:
- Cyprus Holding companies
- Cyprus Finance companies
- Cyprus Royalty companies
- Cyprus Investment funds
- South Europe, Middle East, central and eastern Europe head office operations
Key Benefits of Cyprus as a jurisdiction
- Excellent infrastructure in financial and professional services and therefore in sustaining its status as a popular jurisdiction for onshore and investment activities
- Excellent geographical location for investments to the EU, Middle East and Africa, Russia and CIS, i.e. geopolitical situation, suitable time zones, accessibility, cultural similarities
- A Cypriot company can be 100% foreign-owned
- Extensive double tax treaties network – over 50 countries and a further 40 being negotiated
- Access to EU directives, EU structural funds and other EU support
- Easy access to the EU market; proximity to a market size of over 700 million, including Europe, the Middle East and North Africa
- Absence of Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules thus exempting foreign income received
- Flexible reorganisation rules and group relief provisions
Tax Related Benefits of Cyprus
- Cypriot-resident companies pay just 12.5% corporate tax, making it the lowest tax rate in the EU and Eurozone, as well as one of the most advanced tax systems in the world
- Dividends, interest and royalty payments have no withholding tax in most cases
- Exemption from tax of profits from foreign permanent establishments (PE) – in most cases
- Exemption from tax on profits generated from transactions in shares, securities, bonds and units
- Exemption from withholding tax on the repatriation of income either in the form of dividends, interest and on almost all royalties
- No capital gains tax
- Losses incurred by a Cypriot-resident Company can be set against profits in future years
This is a very interesting question. It basically sums up the reason why it is worth investing in Cyprus; or rather explains why so many multinational companies, SMEs and high net worth individuals choose Cyprus over other jurisdictions in the world.
First of all it is important to underline that tax planning benefits in Cyprus have a legal basis, locally and globally, i.e. meeting all European Union directives and on the OECD white list of territories which have substantially implemented internationally agreed standards in tax transparency. In other words, everything is legal, transparent and meets international best practices. This reassures professionalism, credibility and safekeeping.
Each country balances its economy as best it can, specialising in certain sectors. For instance, some countries maintain heavy industry or manufacturing, whilst others are rich in natural resources. Then some specialise in services, such as tourism, education and professional services. Cyprus is very much a service orientated economy, making up four fifths of GDP. This includes professional services, education, tourism and hospitality. So in many ways, the country has set a long-term strategy to offer such services on the world market. In order to be competitive and successful, these services must excel and meet expectations.
Taxation in Cyprus is on the basis of a linear tax rate. Local onshore and foreign offshore companies pay 12.5% tax on their net profits, therefore the country receives revenue. Companies must also always prepare annual reports (bookkeeping and auditing) and regularly require other professional services, fuelling employment and revenue for the private sector.
Cyprus is a small country, with a relatively small population. This makes it a self sustainable community, able to work together and dedicate resources towards exporting local products and services. Whatever revenue comes into the country, such as from the various services, benefits the economy and in turn the people. There are a number of clear-cut advantages of the professional services sector for Cyprus:
- Creates employment, such as in legal, accounting, banking, consulting, finance and government. Since this is where most employment is found, young Cypriot students have long focussed on this field, enhancing the country's infrastructure, and at the same time paving a better future for themselves. Today, Cyprus has evolved into one of the world's leading jurisdictions for professional services exactly because of this, i.e. that it has excellent human resource infrastructure, most of which is internationally educated, trained, certified, qualified and multilingual
- Revenue from state duties/taxes, including initial registration and on-going maintenance
- Professional services fees, legal, accounting, auditing, consulting, etc. generating revenue in the private sector, which also then injects income into the economy
- The sector also helps encourage investments into the country, such as in finance, commercial and new infrastructure developments
To put it simply, the economy in Cyprus receives a significant boost from professional services and the investment sector. In fact together with tourism, these almost completely drive the national economy. It is thus in the country's best interest to develop this sector into one of the most efficient, competitive and credible in the world; in company formation, taxation and banking, in turn encouraging companies and individuals from all over the world to Choose Cyprus.
The simple answer is no, Cyprus is simply an international low tax jurisdiction that offers extensive financial, investment and professional service benefits. In fact, Cyprus' main advantage is that it is not a tax haven, but rather a credible jurisdiction. Indeed, an important asset for corporate and investment activities.
In truth, the term 'tax haven' is not so clear-cut, but quite broad and subjective, varying in definition between economic experts and various countries. There is no complete satisfactory definition of what is a tax haven and no two commentators can generally agree on a definite list of tax haven jurisdictions.
In some ways, the term tax haven is considered to be derogatory, as though companies or individuals are dodging their home taxation system. Where this might be the motif in some jurisdictions that maintain an absolute nil tax rate and full anonymity, it is not in Cyprus. Cyprus has a taxable rate, and meets both European and international best practices. In fact, Cyprus is an attractive jurisdiction exactly because it is not considered a pure tax haven, yet still offers considerable tax and financial benefits. Together with a low tax rate (lowest in the EU and Eurozone) and excellent infrastructure for professional services, this makes Cyprus an ideal platform for investments to the region, i.e. EU, Europe, Russia and CIS, Middle East and Africa.
Think of Cyprus as an entity that offers a particular professional service. For this service the country (and its service providers) charges a certain fee, i.e. for company formation, legalities, accounting-auditing, company maintenance, company compliance, nominee services, and company website services. Indeed, in an open-market and democratic economy there are flexible business choices and competition is encouraged. Each individual and each corporation has the right to decide their own economic affairs to stimulate growth and prosperity (of course within the boundaries of the law). Such channels of ideology and business philosophy become an economic platform and resource for investment and maximising profits, thus benefiting the company, as well as its home country. Ultimately this aids in global and local progress. Cyprus is one of these support channels.
Compare clear-cut reasons of why Cyprus is NOT considered to be a tax haven against globally recognised and agreed characteristics of what is a tax haven:
|Common characteristics of a tax haven||Why Cyprus is NOT a tax haven|
|Nil or nominal taxes||Although there are low taxes in Cyprus (compared to most other countries), they are still applicable. Companies and individuals must always comply with taxation laws, pay tax and submit audited accounts each year|
|Lack of effective exchange of tax information with foreign tax authorities||Companies and individuals must complete annual taxation reports and certified auditing (bookkeeping). Cyprus also has tax treaties with over 50 countries, and a further 40 being negotiated|
|Lack of transparency in the operation of legislative, legal or administrative provisions||Cyprus' legal structure is fully transparent and as per requirements of the EU, Eurozone and international tax/economic organisations. There is exchange of tax information, fully complying with EU directives and as recognised by the OECD, as well as other international best practices|
|No requirement for a substantive local presence||Cyprus is a jurisdiction, where a company must maintain a certain amount of local presence, compliance and substance. The same holds true for both onshore and investment practices|
|Self-promotion as an investment financial centre||Cyprus is internationally recognised as a leading financial and professional services centre; onshore and offshore|
As such, Cyprus is clearly a different jurisdiction to so called tax havens, e.g. Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, Isle of Man, Panama and Seychelles. No doubt, these jurisdictions also serve their purpose and offer individual and company benefits, otherwise they would not exist. The best way to think of Cyprus is as an investment gateway or halfway point between these so called nil tax havens and high tax industrial and commercial centres around the world.
A company or individual is deemed to be a Cypriot-resident if residing in Cyprus for a period of more than 183 days per year – fundamental for company tax purposes, compliance and bank taxes. A company is resident in Cyprus, if its management and control is exercised in Cyprus, i.e. certain amount of strategic decisions about the company are made in Cyprus and/or if the majority of the board of director members are resident in Cyprus, including nominees.
If resident, an individual or cooperation is subject to a special defence contribution tax, imposed in accordance with the Special Contribution for the Defence of the Republic Law (Law No. 117(I) of 2002, as amended) on income from sources in Cyprus. Non-tax residents having a permanent establishment in Cyprus may also elect to be taxed in accordance with the provisions applicable to tax residents.
Cyrus has concluded double tax treaties with over 50 countries, whilst a further 40 are currently being negotiated. These are designed to protect an individual or a corporate entity from being taxed twice where the same income is taxable in two states. Indeed, this is one of the key tax advantages to registering a company in Cyprus over other jurisdictions that are known to be tax havens (nil tax, full anonymity and no auditing requirements). The following countries have double-tax treaties with Cyprus:
Cyprus also has tax-sparing provision with 15 countries, including Canada; the Czech Republic; Denmark; Germany; Greece; India; Ireland, Italy; Malta; Romania; Slovakia; Sweden; Syria; the United Kingdom; and Yugoslavia. In addition, Cyprus has signed agreements on the promotion and protection of investments with over 20 other countries. These bilateral agreements contain guarantees against discriminatory treatment, safeguards for the repatriation of capital and profits in a freely convertible currency and compensation provisions in the event that property is expropriated, among other clauses. Countries with which Cyprus has such agreements include: Armenia, Belgium/Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, China, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Moldova, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Seychelles, Serbia and Montenegro, and Syria.For more detail about double taxation treaties with Cyprus and each country's treaty date of application, click here
Below is a list of Cyprus Double Taxation Treaties and each treaties date of application:
|Country||Date of signature tax treaty/protocol||Date of when tax treaty came into force||Date of when the tax treaty was published in the official
Republic of Cyprus Gazette (Number and date)
|Austria||20 Mar 1990||10 Nov 1990||2500 27 Apr 1990|
|Bulgaria||30 Oct 2000||3 Jan 2001||3461 30 Dec 2000|
|Belarus||29 May 1998||12 Feb 1999||3273 9 Oct 1998|
|Belgium||14 May 1996||8 Dec1999||3365 19 Nov 1999|
|Canada||2 May 1984||3 Sep1985||2053 31 May 1985|
|China||25 Oct1990||5 Oct 1991||2578 22 Feb 1991|
|26 May 1981
11 Oct 2010
|10 Aug 1981
10 Apr 1982
|1704 17 Jul 1981
2034 24 Sep 1982
|Egypt||18 Dec1993||14 Mar1995||2865 11 Mar 1994|
|France||18 Dec1981||1 April 1983||1468 9 Jul 1982|
|9 May 1974
18 Feb 2011
|11 Oct 1977
|1199 27 Jun 19752011|
|Greece||30 Mar1968||16 Jan 1969||651 10 May 1968|
|Hungary||30 Nov1981||24 Nov 1982||862 7 May 1982|
|India||13 Jun 1994||21 Dec 1994||2921 4 Nov 1994|
|Ireland||24 Sep1968||12 Jul1970||726 19 May 1969|
|24 April 1974
7 Oct 1980
4 Jun 2009
|9 June 1983||1586 5 Sep 1980
4 Jun 1982
4125 4 Jun 2010
|15 Dec 1984
5 Oct 2010
|25 Sep 1986||2026 18 Jan 1985|
|Lebanon||18 Feb 2003||14 Apr 2005||3976 8 Apr 2005|
|Malta||22 Oct 1993||11 Aug 1994||2860 25 Feb 1994|
|Mauritius||21 Jan 2000||12 Jun 2000||3410 2 Jun 2000|
|Norway||2 May 1951||1 Jan 1955||11 Jun 1956|
|Poland||4 Jun 1992||9 Jul 1993||2735 4 Sep1992|
|Romania||16 Nov 1981||8 Nov 1982||1757 26 Feb 1982|
7 Nov 2010
|17 Aug 1999||3306 26 Feb 1999|
|South Africa||26 Nov 1997||8 Dec1998||3214 16 Jan 1998|
|Sweden||22 Oct 1988||14 Nov1989||2377 20 Jan 1989|
|Syria||15 Mar 1992||22 Feb 1995||2863 4 Mar 1994|
|Singapore||24 Nov 2000||8 Feb 2001||3641 30 Dec 2000|
|Thailand||27 Oct 1998||4 April 2000||3394 17 Mar 2000|
2 Apr 1980
|1 Nov1974||1107 5 Jul 1974|
|USA||19 Mar 1984||31 Dec 1985||1944 4 April 1984|
|Serbia*||29 Jun1985||8 Sep1986||2073 23 Aug1985|
|Montenegro*||29 Jun1985||5 Nov 2008||2073 23 Aug1985|
12 Oct 2010
|8 Sep 1986||2073 23 Aug1985|
|Slovakia**||15 April 1980||30 Dec 1980||1599 3 May1980|
28 April 2009
|30 Dec 1980
26 Nov 2009
|1599 3 May1980
4114 13 Nov 2009
|Azerbaijan***||29 Oct 1982||26 Aug 1983||26 Nov 1982|
|Armenia||17 Jan 2011||Pending||Pending|
|Kyrgyzstan***||29 Oct 1982||26 Aug 1983||26 Nov 1982|
|Moldavia||28 Jan 2008||03 Sept 2008||4098 29 Aug 2008|
|Tanzikistan***||29 Oct 1982||26 Aug 1983||26 Nov 1982|
|Uzbekistan***||29 Oct 1982||26 Aug 1983||26 Nov 1982|
|Ukraine***||29 Oct 1982||26 Aug 1983||26 Nov 1982|
|Seychelles||28 Jun 2006||27 Oct 2006||25 Oct 2006|
|San Marino||27 April 2007||18 July 2007||4088 13 July 2007|
|Qatar||11 Nov 2008||20 Mar 2009||4099 14 Nov 2008|
|United Arab Emirates||27 Feb 2011||Pending||Pending|
* The treaty between Cyprus and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is still in force.
** The treaty between Cyprus and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic is still in force. The said treaty has ceased to apply between Cyprus and Czech Republic as from 1.1.2010, date of application of the provision of the new agreement.
***The treaty between Cyprus and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is still in force.
Full explanations for Double tax treaties with Cyprus can be found at the Cyprus Ministry of Finance, click here
The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission has signed a multilateral Memorandum of Understanding with the regulatory authorities of the European Community Member States through the Committee of the European Securities Regulators. Bilateral MoUs also exist between Cyprus and the following national organisations:
- Australian Securities & Investments Commission
- Austrian Securities Authority
- Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFIN)-Germany
- Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission
- Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários-Portugal
- Czech Securities Commission
- Egypt Capital Market Authority
- Hellenic Republic Capital Market Commission
- Hungarian Financial Supervisory Authority
- Isle of Man Financial Supervision Commission
- Israel Securities Authority
- Jersey FAQ Answers Commission
- Malta Stock Exchange
- Polish Securities and Exchange Commission
- Romanian National Securities Commission
- Slovak Republic Financial Market Authority
- Dubai FAQ Answers Authority
- Federal Financial Markets Service of Russia
Aside from the standard benefits to an investment bank account (tax, security, investment options), it makes good business sense to open a bank account (or multiple accounts) in the location where you are incorporating an company or IBC.
Although they do not necessarily have to be in the same location, it is also a lot more practical, logistically and administrative. In Cyprus, there are both local banks well equipped to provide services, as well as major international baking brands.
Cyprus' governments has adopted International Financial Reporting Standards over three decades and has passed the Anti Money Laundering legislation (Law188(I)/2007), Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFiD), and Transparency Law and Anti Money Laundering Law. Meanwhile, the country has also completely liberalised capital movements, enabling the former IBUs to provide credit and full banking services as branches or subsidiaries of foreign banks.
• What are the advantages to IBC-offshore company formation and similar corporate setups?
• What must be considered when selecting a jurisdiction to set up a company formation?
• How long does it usually take to create a company offshore in Cyprus?
• What are the costs to company formation and other professional services in Cyprus?
• Can I choose the company name in Cyprus?
• What are nominee company owners, nominee directors and nominee shareholders?
• What is a ready-made shelf company exactly?
• What are the key benefits to ready-made shelf companies in Cyprus and other jurisdictions?
• Which jurisdictions offer ready-made shelf companies?
"Although Cyprus offers many taxation and other offshore corporate benefits, it is not actually known to be an offshore jurisdiction. Onshore companies and offshore companies in Cyprus are now exactly the same entity, and referred to as an IBC – International Business Company. Thus, Cyprus is more of an "Investment Gateway", i.e. an excellent location for setting up a company abroad offshore from your traditional location in order to expand and target new markets, as well as for operational efficiency." Investment Gateway.eu
Indeed, the term "offshore company" and offshore jurisdiction is all too often misinterpreted, manipulated, or simply misunderstood; often with negative connotations and associated only to so called 'tax havens'. This is simply not always accurate. The term offshore can and does also simply refer to activities undertaken abroad and away from traditional location. Indeed, the world economy is interconnected. Business activities, investments and trade take place on all level – small, medium to large – and in all countries. How then will you label activities taking place in a location abroad (and offshore) from home base?
As such, it is important to highlight that this platform Investment Gateway and the services provided by its associates are simply to aid in investments abroad, trade and business activities, utilising the beneficial location Cyprus as a hub/gateway.
It should also be noted that although Cyprus offers tax and other corporate benefits, it is not known to be an offshore jurisdiction. Onshore companies and so called offshore companies in Cyprus are exactly the same entity, and referred to as an IBC – International Business Company. They both undertake and enjoy the same benefits.
In truth, the term offshore company is ambiguous. Typically, offshore is a term that means outside of your own jurisdiction – away from home 'shores' and in a foreign jurisdiction (i.e. to traditional operations). And a company is any entity engaging in business, such as a proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Thus, an offshore company is an entity which is registered in a jurisdiction (sovereign territory, country or region within a country that has its own legal structure and governing body), but does not pursue its traditional economic and business activities in the given territory. More specifically, an offshore company does not obtain (much) revenue from the country of incorporation (registration), but rather from other markets around the world. It is usually registered here for tax efficiency (saving tax money) and then as a platform for reinvesting. In the case of Cyprus, it also enjoy other major benefits, such as geographical location for logistics and time zone, highly educated, skilled yet affordable labour force, business-friendly society and government, as well as close ties with many countries around the world, including being a member of the European Union and Eurozone currency.
a. A company which is incorporated outside the jurisdiction of its primary operations regardless of whether that jurisdiction is an offshore financial centre (sometimes known as a non-resident company), or
b. Any company (resident or otherwise) incorporated in an offshore financial centre, i.e. offshore jurisdiction
However, an offshore corporation/company does not necessarily have to be located in a 'tax haven'. Theoretically, an offshore company can exist in absolutely any country or jurisdiction in the world, and it does, although this does not necessarily mean it will make use of better company formation and tax benefits, and might actually (commonly) be subject to high or higher corporate tax rates.
The common use of the term, and of the practice is to have a company based offshore in a foreign jurisdiction where it is subject to low or nil tax, has easier international operations, greater freedom from state regulation, placement of funds in accounts out of the country, and in many cases, a certain amount of anonymity. It is thus commonly used as an economic resource to motivating growth by maximise savings/profits. In turn, this also aids the company's home country of operation.
Following the explanation of offshore company in the above FAQ, you can already start to see the reasons why so many companies and organisation register entities abroad, including in Cyprus. It helps maximise profits and stimulate growth, thus it makes financial and economic sense. Of course each situation is unique, and each company will have slightly different reasons for seeking corporate structures offshore. In Cyprus, advantages are enjoyed by all types of international business companies (IBCs), whether considered offshore or onshore.
Most frequently, the first three thoughts that spring to mind with offshore companies are tax savings/tax advantages (income tax deferral or elimination), lack of auditing requirements (companies need not keep books for official purposes) therefore bookkeeping fees and anonymity.
While this might be true and perhaps the sole reasons for registering a company offshore in a so called 'tax haven' locations (most common being jurisdictions such as the Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, Isle of Man, Panama and Seychelles), these are not the reasons in other more established (and credible if you will) financial centres around the world, including Cyprus.
Registered companies here or IBCs in Cyprus offer a host of benefits, in addition to some taxation and financial aspects. Such a jurisdiction helps a company (or individual) both in operational elements, as well as finically, allowing them to reinvest and expand to new markets. Corporate structures in Cyprus are globally recognised (hence double tax treaties), therefore investments are made easier. Generally, key advantages for corporate companies and individuals include:
- Tax burden savings (Tax reduction)
- A certain degree of corporate financial privacy
- Legal income, capital gain, estate and gift tax reduction
- Asset protection; asset and currency diversification
- Immunity to domestic law (in some company setups)
- Favourable foreign laws, established to benefit corporate structures
- Much higher returns on investment, and
- Estate tax reduction or elimination; estate planning
IBC and investment companies in Cyprus can also invest on the stock exchange and in commodities market, including foreign currency and various raw materials and fuels. Generally, these entities can also own intellectual property, such as patents, copyright and licenses.
There are many locations in the world which offer considerable benefits for onshore and offshore companies, namely in tax savings, anonymity and professional services fees. However, these are not the only benefits that companies and individuals seek in such activities. Indeed, there is no one best solution. Where to incorporate a company or where to move your funds greatly depends on exact requirements. Generally speaking, key issues that should be addressed before selecting include:
- Type of business activity that will be conducted – some locations are better for certain types of business activities
- Purpose of setting up the company, i.e. purely for tax savings and anonymity, or for elements of this together with credibility, investment and growth goals
- Current country of residency – then aspects such as double tax treaties and other official government agreements become even more important
- Location of where business will be conducted – for ease of access, business culture, communications, business transactions and geopolitical issues
- Available company structures and their related benefits, and
- Professional services infrastructure, such as in accounting and legal firms, consulting, banking, IT, etc.
It goes without saying that Investment Gateway highly recommends Cyprus as a jurisdiction – more specifically as a halfway point for all-round international business activities, as well as for more specific investments to the EMEA region. In fact, the Investment Gateway platform is an independent and impartial introducer to agents in only Cyprus, and exists to explain the core advantages of Cyprus as a jurisdiction. Nevertheless, it is also very important to highlight that associates in Cyprus often recommend other jurisdictions (at least for certain activities and in conjunction with Cyprus), and in fact work with a number of jurisdictions in order to devise a comprehensive and practical global plan for the client. This includes established partners and networks in these other jurisdictions, and in many cases their own office branches there.
Seemingly, so called tax haven jurisdictions offer the straight forward investment benefits of very low professional service fees, nil or ultra low taxation, speedy incorporation process, no audited accounts, and full anonymity. These types of tax haven jurisdictions are usually archipelagos and island republics – the independent legislation and isolation of these countries and territories promote such practices. Most common jurisdictions that offer investment advantages are:
- AMERICA (Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Panama, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Uruguay, USA-certain states)
- PACIFIC (Cook Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands)
- AFRICA (Liberia, Mauritius, Seychelles)
- EUROPE (Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey)
A pure tax haven might be exactly what a company or individual is seeking. Or it just might be part of an overall solution. The offshore sector is much more complex and caters to many different types of corporate and individual activities. There are also many other factors to consider when setting up a company offshore and not just pure tax savings and anonymity, such as a complete solution and platform for proper investment and business growth. At the same time, still enjoying considerable corporate tax benefits and anonymity, excellent professional services, political/legal security, and above all, being based in a globally recognised and credible jurisdiction. Cyprus is one of the few jurisdictions in the world that can provide this, and act as a true gateway between all corporate worlds.
|Common characteristics of a good onshore/investment jurisdiction||Why Cyprus is an all-round prime option for onshore/investment activities|
|Good reputation (prestige) and credibility||Cyprus is a full European Union and Euozone member state, as well as listed on the OECD white list of jurisdictions, meeting international best practices.|
|Politically and economically stable||A democratic system with common law; excellent geopolitical relationships, solid economic growth, consistently performing better than the EU average.|
|Reliable and modern facilities||Excellent living standards, good property market, good flight connections with key source markets, a-grade telecommunication infrastructure and suitable tech support.|
|Professional services infrastructure||Fully qualified and certified accountants and lawyers, most of which have trained in key source markets such as the UK, USA, Australia, France, South Africa, Russia , CIS, and other Eastern European countries.|
|Present no language or cultural barriers||Diverse multilingual staff. English peaking professionals is widespread, as is Greek and Russian. This includes natives of foreign countries working here, as well as multilingual Cypriots. Other commonly spoken languages in the professional services sector include Eastern European languages such as Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Serbian, as wells French, German, Arabic and some Asian languages.|
|Good banking system||Strong banking sector, robust, liquid and with a strong capital base that is well over the minimum required by the EU. Leading local Cypriot banks and presence from major global brands.|
|Good geographical location||By being at the cross roads of three continents, Cyprus offers easy commuting to perhaps more countries than anywhere else in the world – to the EU, Eastern Europe, Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. Time zone is also fitting for business activities.|
|Sophisticated corporate and tax laws||Cyprus has one of the most efficient taxation systems in the EU and has adopted all EU Directives. At 12.5%, Cyprus also has the lowest corporate tax rates in the EU; as well as very low company formation and maintenance costs.|
Speedy company registration is often a priority for companies/individuals seeking company formation in Cyprus. Indeed, companies are services as fast as possible; within reason and within the boundaries of the law. Investment Gateway's associates in Cyprus always practice utmost professionalism, integrity and legalities. In other words, the company must always be verified and approved by authorities, from the business activity's credible nature and type of operations right down to the company name. It is a simple procedure, but hurdles can exist if things are not done properly, and ultimately everything becomes a lot more time consuming.
Setting up a company in Cyprus can be as quick as three to four working days. Of course this is based on the condition that all necessary information and documentation is received from the client's end in a timely and correct fashion. Once final documents have been prepared and signed, the company has been incorporated. Documents will then take a few days to reach the client. The same holds true for an international and European bank account in Cyprus, although this can take slightly longer if correct documentation from the client is delayed – banks generally must verify more documents and are a lot more meticulous.
Remember, ready made shelf companies are also available in Cyprus and via Investment Gateway associates. This certainly speeds up the registration process and avoids a lot of pre-opening bureaucratic administration hurdles, as everything is already incorporated/registered and ready-to-go. With shelf companies, documents can be sent within 1-2 working days. For more information on ready-made Cypriot shelf companies, click here.
Before outlining some of the costs involved, it is important to highlight that Investment Gateway does not charge clients for its professional introduction service. The Investment-Gateway.eu platform is a complete added-value free initiative that aims to be a source of information and starting point-of-contact for partners in Cyprus. Investment Gateway simply introduces you to the right associate, having already done preliminary groundwork in researching, locating, contacting and then negotiating the most efficient professional service in Cyprus. Investment Gateway then always makes sure its partners offer not only a competitive option, but excellent customer service.
Fees vary slightly depending on which partner is eventually utilised and of course what exact services are required. In order for associates to be competitive in the market (Cyprus and globally), prices are generally standardised. Compulsory costs include initial company formation and registration fee, as well as annual government tax/duty. Of course, it is not only initial company formation prices that are decisive, but on going (optional yet highly recommended) company maintenance costs and additional professional services, such as:
- Legal and documentation fees
- Nominee services and compliance
- Auditing/bookkeeping fees
- Virtual or physical offices, together with office administration and secretarial costs (mail forwarding, telephone, fax)
- Investment business websites, domains and hosting
- Consulting services
Company formation fees, recurring annual fees and bank accounts offshore also vary according to the corporate structure selected and what extra professional services are require thereafter. One thing that is for certain is that Cyprus offers excellent value-for-money for financial and professional service. Seeing that most of the country's economy relies on this sector, public and private stakeholders make sure it is globally competitive, efficient and ultimately successful, ensuring new and repeat business form all over the world.
Investment professional services: Cyprus general price guide, click here.
Investment Quotation: For a more specific and customised quotation by an Investment Gateway professional associate, click here.
Yes. In fact, it highly recommended that you do so. When registering a company in Cyprus, you will be asked to suggest two company names in order of preference. Investment Gateway's associates will then check with the Cyprus Company Registry if these names are available and acceptable. If not, you will be sent alternative names – similar to what you were initially seeking. Remember, there is also a pre-established list of shelf companies. These have been pre-approved and registered with a given company name. Perhaps they might be suitable.
In terms of acceptance, there are many words and phrases that might be rejected by the Cyprus register. Unfortunately, there is no exact given rule in which company name will be accepted. The use of certain misleading words will certainly not be allowed, including generic/broad terms to describe an entire industry, such as asset management or asset manager, assurance, bank or banking, broker, capital, credit, currency, Cyprus, dealers, deposits, derivative, exchange, finance, financial, financial institution, fund, fund manager, insurance, investment, lending, pension, portfolio, reserves, savings, securities, stock, trustees, as well as many government related words such as chamber, the various ministries and departments in Cyprus, etc. In limited cases, special consent to some generic words might be granted.
Investment Gateway's associates will advise you on which company names are acceptable or likely to pass through the Cyprus registry. You can also check for available company names before contacting Investment Gateway or speaking with a associate. Visit the Cyprus Company Registry, click here.
Nominees – owners, director, shareholders – are essentially people you nominate to represent you company in the particular designated position. They are a both a method of company compliance and tool for effective investment activities. However, keep in mind that it is not possible to establish a completely anonymous company in Cyprus. Nominee services are functional in investment activities only to a certain degree.
Example of nominee services; nominee director: When registering a company in Cyprus, it is necessary to appoint a director. This director can (not compulsory) be nominal (natural persons or another company), so the actual owner/s and director/s retain a certain level of anonymity within the company, i.e. they are not recorded in the company's register (deeds of incorporation). Someone else represents the company, manages bank accounts and sign contracts; hence this nominee maintains a certain amount of company compliance within the jurisdiction.
Function of a nominee director: Nominee directors represent the company with power of attorney and a trust agreement, although their function is passive in nature. Initially, nominee directors are involved in the establishment of the company, but then also involved in subsequent representational transactions and professional services, such as signing of contracts, banking and other compliance. Nominees can also grant power of attorney to a third party to handle these company requirements, including the beneficiary (original owner/director), i.e. control over the company is gained through power of attorney signed to you as the beneficial owner or to a third party appointed.
Credibility of nominee services in Cyprus: Nominee services are very common in jurisdictions such as Cyprus where details of owners and directors are public, i.e. listed in the company register. Nominees only exist to complete the blanks at the public registry (offering a certain level of anonymity) and actually have no real authority over the entity for any kind of decision making. Nominees and agents issued with power of attorney can also sign company foundation documents on behalf of the owner. Just like all companies, nominee owners and directors can be easily changed and others appointed. Resignation of the nominees can also be executed at any time by the owner.
Trust in nominees: No doubt, there is a great deal of trust psychology to overcome with accepting to use nominee services, hence why working with credible legal and accounting partners in a credible and globally recognised/accepted jurisdiction such as Cyprus is favourable. Beyond this, nominee services in Cyprus come with the issuing of a Trust Deed. Reliability and reputation of Cypriot based agents is impeccable, and nominee services are a standard practice. Of course, the company owner can also be the company director, however in Cyprus it is advisable that the location of the company director, manager and secretary is local, i.e. based in Cyprus.
Nominee shareholders in Cyprus: Similarly, nominee shareholders hold shares of a company only nominal. A nominee shareholder is when the beneficial owner chooses not to have his/her name on the share certificate or in the share register. A third party is appointed to be the nominee for the real owner. At any point, the nominal shareholder will transfer the shares he/she formally holds, to the person(s) appointed by the beneficiary and according to his/her instructions. Again, the nominee signs a Declaration of Trust to the beneficial owner giving up any right to exercise powers over the shares, including voting rights or the right to sell or transfer shares. In contrast, a registered shareholder is the beneficial (real) owner whose name is recorded on the share certificate and in the register of shares as the owner of the shares.
All Investment Gateway's associates provide these various nominee services as part of an overall solution. Nominee services are charged on a case-by-case basis for what nominee work is performed throughout the year.
A ready-made shelf company is a legally established corporate entity that is pre-registered and formed, ready to begin trading. In actuality, shelf companies have never been utilised, i.e. never traded or undertaken any activity. Hence, the company has been sitting ideal on a shelf, waiting to be purchased and managed.
This company is always pre-named by the service supplier selling the shelf entity, and has an existing legal company address in Cyprus (or another jurisdiction) for receiving mail and other official correspondence.
Post transaction, ownership of the shelf company instantaneously transfers from the supplier agent to the client making the purchase. The company goes live and the client can then immediately commence trading activity.
Note: the client may also change the name of the company once it has been purchased.
For more detailed information about ready-made shelf companies in Cyprus or other popular jurisdictions, contact Investment Gateway to be put into direct contact with an expert professional service supplier.
A ready-made shelf company offers express registration and set-up of a company formation for those requiring immediate and efficient action in order to take care of a variety of formalities and corporate procedures. It is an instantaneous, easy and affordable solution to forming a company; locally or offshore/abroad.
Ready-made shelf companies are particularly beneficial when a company might sometimes require urgent registration and can not waste any time with the standard company incorporation process, which in many jurisdictions can take up to 5 working days or even more. This is usually the case when a company registration number is needed immediately in order to complete an important contract bid or tender – meanwhile, certain tenders and project applications are only open to companies of a certain age (e.g. minimum four years old). The purchase of a ready-made shelf company (registered at an earlier date) might also be required for administrative reasons.
Ready-made shelf companies are completely safe and have not been used prior to their purchase. They are completely legal, and very popular due to minimising time spent on the company set-up process, as well as presenting company registration back-dating benefits.
Vintage ready-made shelf companies are also available in many jurisdictions, including Cyprus. These are older than standard shelf companies, dating back many more years.
Other than Cyprus, available jurisdictions for shelf companies via Investment Gateway's service suppliers include: Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Panama, Seychelles, Singapore, and the UK.
For more detailed information about ready-made shelf companies and vintage shelf companies in Cyprus or other popular jurisdictions, contact Investment Gateway to be put into direct contact with an expert professional service supplier.
Cyprus is one of the few major financial centres in the world that also offers ready-made shelf company formations. Ready types of companies are available in Cyprus, as well as a number of other jurisdictions – note, not all common financial centres can provide shelf companies.
Popular jurisdictions for ready-made shelf companies include Cyprus, Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Panama, Seychelles, Singapore and the UK.
Ready-made shelf companies are available for purchase in all these jurisdictions via Investment Gateway's various service providers. Service suppliers can provide a shelf company with or without a bank account (and with a variety of banks in different markets), and as part of a complete investment or tax planning solution.
For more detailed information about ready-made shelf companies in Cyprus or other popular jurisdictions, contact Investment Gateway to be put into direct contact with an expert professional service supplier.
• What are the main differences in corporate tax rates between the various jurisdictions for company formations and other professional services?
• What are the main tax benefits in Cyprus?
• What are the tax savings/tax advantages for corporate companies in IBC and corporate structures offshore?
The term "tax haven" is actually quite broad and subjective, varying in definition between economic experts and various countries. Indeed, there is no complete satisfactory definition of a tax haven – and no two commentators can generally agree on a definite list of tax havens. Generally, the term perspective is used to describe a state, country or territory (jurisdiction) where certain taxes are either very low or inexistent compared. These jurisdictions are attractive for individuals and corporations seeking to save on tax costs, whilst still maintaining good governance and low corruption; hence a 'haven' for saving tax. Different jurisdictions tend to be called 'tax havens' for various types of taxes and for different categories of people and/or companies.
In many ways, the central feature of a tax haven is that local laws and other measures are used to attract companies and individuals to invest in their jurisdiction, with the most common advantage or selling point being a major savings on taxation. Of course, all countries and regions attempt to attract foreign investment and funds to their country in one way or another, and regularly modify their laws and approaches to do so – and no doubt making them different to other countries around the world. In fact, it is not at all illegal to transfer assets and funds to a so called investment 'tax haven' jurisdiction. Individuals and corporations have the right to minimise tax (reduce the tax burden) and increase efficiency (profits). However, in many countries you might have to disclose information to tax authorities, declaring assets and profits even in other jurisdictions. Failure to do so could then be breaking the law.
Most commonly recognised tax havens are the likes of Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, Isle of Man, Panama and Seychelles, as these places have a zero tax rate, but then also much less credibility. Cyprus is not considered to be a full tax haven, as a taxation rate exists, there is no full anonymity, and companies must always submit audited/certified accounts. Cyprus is however still one of the world's more interesting locations for taxation benefits, investments and future growth.
Of course the main difference is in what exactly a company is actually taxed on and the actual rate. Following this are the various legal requirements, such as bookkeeping and auditing requirements, locality and anonymity, as well as company ownership restrictions. We can identify two distinct and common types of tax setups, which in many ways also differentiate the so called 'offshore tax havens' from credible financial centres such as Cyprus.
- Companies do not need to maintain official audited accounts and bookkeeping. With such jurisdictions, the annual state tax is fixed and independent of the company's annual turnover and profit, i.e. not anymore relevant. This is applicable in jurisdictions such as Anguilla, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Delaware, Jersey, Isle of Man, Mauritius, Panama, Seychelles, and Singapore). In such places, there is also greater anonymity and no restrictions concerning company ownership, such as with directors or shareholders. However, due to these benefits, these jurisdictions also lack a certain amount of international credibility and thus do not maintain double taxation treaties with other countries and do not offer the same benefits to international financial transactions and investment strategies
- Companies must maintain certified audited accounts and conduct bookkeeping whilst being taxed on profits, such as in Cyprus, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Of course all other countries with no notable tax benefits must also maintain audited accounts and conduct bookkeeping for company formations, including Australia, other European Union countries, Japan, India, Russia, CIS, the UK, and USA. Accounts must be in full compliance with the law and conducted by a certified auditor. At this point it is worth mentioning the advantage of Cyprus in having the necessary professional services infrastructure that can properly and efficiently cater to this exact service. It is also important to note that audited accounts are not a complicated procedure
These jurisdictions have restrictions concerning company ownership, such as with directors or shareholders and do not provide full anonymity, i.e. certain information is either publically available or only a number of details concerning the company are accessible in the company's register. As such, credibility for conducting business is enhanced and double taxation treaties are readily available.
Firstly, it is very important to reiterate that Cyprus is not considered to be a so called offshore tax haven. The Cypriot tax regime is in full conformity with both European Union Laws and Directives and with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for best international standards and practices. And by this, the Cyprus taxation system becomes one of the most beneficial, credible and indeed advanced in the world.
Tax benefits in Cyprus are across the board for all International Business Companies (IBCs); investment and onshore companies, including large multinational corporate companies, small and medium size enterprises (SME), as well as individuals. Key benefits include:
- 12.5% corporate tax, making it the lowest rate in the EU and Eurozone – this applies to all IBC, onshore and investment. Corporate tax can also be reduced to 0% since gains from trading in securities are completely exempt.
- No withholding tax on dividends, interest and royalties paid from Cyprus.
- Profits from the sale of shares, bonds, debentures and other titles of companies established anywhere in the world are exempt from tax.
- Extensive double tax treaties network – Cyprus had double tax treaties with over 50 countries, including the USA, UK, Canada, India, Ireland, EU countries, Russia, CIS, Singapore, Japan, China, South Africa and the UAE. Meanwhile, a further 40 treaties are being negotiated.
- 50% of income from interest derived by a Cypriot registered company is exempt from corporate tax.
- A 30% cap on personal income tax, together with high tax free threshold of just under €20,000.
- Salaries of foreign employees of investment entities employed outside Cyprus are completely tax exempt.
- No inheritance or gift tax in Cyprus; No Net Wealth Tax.
- Free movements of profits derived from operation on non resident investments.
- Full capital gains tax exemption is given on capital gains.
- Access to EU directives.
- No Controlled Foreign Corporation legislation.
There are many different types of corporate company structures that can be registered in Cyprus, each with unique benefits to suit. Common corporate structures and entities include: holding companies, trading companies, investment companies, banking and finance companies, shipping companies, as well as companies relating to property investment, consulting or rendering services, art and intellectual property, private funds and personnel recruitment.
Generally, company formations offshore are used to reduce the profit of parent companies located in high or higher taxation jurisdictions and to pass those profits on to the company offshore, which is essentially based in a jurisdiction with lower or nil tax rates. The end result is to save on corporate taxation and turnover a larger profit for the entire group. At the same time, companies offshore then have more options for expansion/growth, i.e. using profits for reinvestment, or to be in a better position to finance activities of subsidiary enterprises in other jurisdictions. This comes with easier (more flexible) investment transactions, suitable legalities, usually more advantageous credit policies, and an opportunity to transfer currency resources to a third country without violating the currency and tax legislation.
Companies in property ownership or private funds for example also aim to reduce or even eliminate taxes, namely on incomes, inheritance taxes and capital gains, as well as for asset protection and estate tax reduction or elimination. Then you have investment banking, finance and insurance companies, which are established to facilitate the needs of other investment companies and act as a bridge to other jurisdictions, whilst at the same time also utilising other investment benefits.
For more specific information on the various tax rates in Cyprus, click here
• Why open a bank account offshore?
• What are the tax benefits with a bank account offshore?
• What are some of the disadvantages to a bank account offshore?
• What should be considered when opening a bank account offshore and in Cyprus?
• What are the basic procedures to opening a bank account offshore in Cyprus?
• Can a bank account offshore in Cyprus be in different currencies?
Banking offshore simply means you have a bank account in a location outside your country of normal residence. Although this most commonly takes place in a low tax jurisdiction (hence the tax benefits), it is also actually applicable almost anywhere in the world. In fact, around half of the world's capital flows through offshore accounts; and for all sorts of reasons.
"An offshore bank account is located outside the country of residence of the depositor (or company's place of incorporation), typically in a low tax jurisdiction that also provides other financial and legal advantages for international corporations; entrepreneurs and organisations."
Primary advantages to banking offshore include greater operational and logistical efficiency, be it for individuals or corporations. In some case, they also provide privacy (banking secrecy – although not in Cyprus case as Cyprus must meet EU directives), low or no tax, lower banking fees, easy access to deposits in terms of regulations, and protection against local political or financial instability.
Like companies offshore, banking offshore is all too often associated with negative connotations; however, legally, banking offshore does not prevent assets from being subject to personal income tax on interest.
Many jurisdictions, (i.e. usually those that are not considered to be tax havens) are obliged to disclose information and report income to other tax authorities, for instance as per EU directives. Either way, the offshore banking sector is still a sensitive subject, especially in an ever competitive industry, where banks and tax agencies of one's (home) country attempt to access money held in investment accounts and stamp out other foreign competition. In reality, almost all countries can open offshore bank accounts. Where they differ is in what exact banking service is offered to that client, namely in tax burden savings, ease of access and other key financial advantages. Each bank then tries to outdo the other and attract most 'customers'; in whatever way they can.
Like companies offshore and IBCs, banking offshore is a tool and opportunity to manage finances and improve financial structure. This then encourages growth, prosperity and progress. Banking offshore is often linked to such other structures as companies offshore, trusts and foundations, offering the possibility of synergies and an overall tax solution. Banking offshore essentially provides a significant channel for companies (small-to-medium and large multinationals) to make financial transaction, thus offering operational access to the financial assets of the company, e.g. through credit/debit cards, cheques, internet banking and withdrawal directly at the bank. Bank accounts offshore are also used by individuals. Indeed, many that open a company bank account also open a private account.
A summary of the key reasons for opening a bank account offshore in Cyprus include:
- Banking confidentiality
- Banking and financial security – protecting your assets
- Tax efficiency; reduce tax burden – interest and incomes are generally paid by investment banks without tax being deducted
- Many banks operate with a lower cost base and can provide higher interest rates than the legal rate in the home country due to lower overheads and a lack of government intervention
- Lack of foreign exchange controls
- Worldwide investment and business opportunities – some banks offer services that may not be available at other banks, such as anonymous bank accounts, higher or lower rate loans based on risk and investment opportunities not available elsewhere
- Easier method for managing international finances
- Flexibility in asset management
- Global view and ease of administration via internet banking and international branches
One of the man advantages of banking and investing offshore is financial efficiency, e.g. tax savings on income from savings and investments, but also for opening new doors and opportunities in expansions and operations.
With bank accounts offshore:
- There is no tax deducted on interest earned
- Investment income may not be subject to tax, and
- No inheritance tax, capital gains tax or death duties
Of course concerns and possible disadvantages to banking offshore must also be raised. Main issues to banking abroad include:
- Bank accounts offshore can be less financially secure, where depositors might receive less compensation and refund as opposed to onshore/local bank accounts. This was experienced in some cases during the recent global economic crisis in 2008 that results in some banks collapsing.
- Negative connotations that banking offshore can be associated in with the underground economy, organised crime, and money laundering. Again, extremely strict measures are taken in Cyprus, like all EU countries to avoid this and verify that bank accounts derive from legitimate activities.
- It can be more costly to visit your bank abroad in order to appreciate personal interaction and any specific requests. However, global communication technologies are overcoming this barrier, with telecommunications, fast mail, and of course the Internet. In fact, this is fast becoming the preferred method of interaction-communication, as it is less time consuming, more flexible, cheaper and just as efficient. With many Cypriot based banks, this is also being overcome by new international branches and representational offices opening in key source markets around the world.
Ideally, a bank account offshore should be made in a jurisdiction with financial security – in a credible and well regulated jurisdiction that's known for its political and economic stability. Of course it must also have favourable incentives for foreign investors, i.e. guarantees the investments of foreigners by law. Indeed, Cyprus has a very strong reputation as a business and professional services hub.
It also goes without saying that a bank account offshore should always be made with a credible and globally respectable bank. Banks in Cyprus maintain utmost credibility and global recognition, as well as of course included on the Central Bank of Cyprus's list of qualifying banks; this includes local base brands and major well known international brands. Being based in Cyprus, these banks also practice confidentiality and have a liberal foreign exchange management policy, with minimal restrictions on the conversion and exportation of currency, and the withdrawal of cash and payment.
Overall, managing a bank account offshore in Cyprus is simple and easy, hence why it has become one of the most popular locations for investment banking in Europe, and to many international clients, such as from the UK, France, Russia, CIS countries, Middle East and Asia. All the necessary banking and financial infrastructure has been created to offer one of the world's most competitive solutions, in line with all other investment and professional services available in Cyprus.
Opening a bank account offshore is simple and does not take much time. In fact, you do not have to visit Cyprus to open a bank account; the whole procedure may be completed by correspondence. A personal meeting with the bank can of course be arranged if you wish.
However, because of strict anti money-laundering laws in place and EU directives, there are stringent procedures that must be adhered to before opening a bank account in Cyprus, like other EU member states; and similar to many bank accounts around the world. In order to open a bank account, local and international Cypriot based banks require:
- Personal information and 100-point proof of identification and residence
- Completion of a bank account application form, including nature of business, and
- Reference for signatory, company memorandum, articles of association and other company public documents – apostille set of documents. These documents must be guaranteed by an apostille with an official stamp, verifying their authenticity
Banking fees depend on which establishment you choose to open an account and of course what services are required. Generally, fees are standardised, with all Cypriot banks quite competitive. On average fee should not exceed 200-300 euro per year.
You are able to choose multi-currency accounts with bank accounts offshore in Cyprus, i.e. one bank account with several currencies. As such, you will not have to pay exchange fees when using this account for different currencies. This is a clear-cut advantage to Cypriot banks, acting as a true international financial hub, perfectly positioned between key source markets in the EMEA region.