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Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands, which comprises three islands in the Caribbean Sea south of Cuba, is a British Dependent Territory that was originally discovered by Christopher Columbus. The financial services sector is one of the main industries in the Cayman Islands, and there is a substantial commitment to the continued development of the offshore financial services industry. The reputation and popularity of the Cayman Islands have increased significantly, particularly in Asia, as it is one of only two offshore centres approved by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange for public listing in the Hong Kong bourse. The Cayman Islands established its own Stock Exchange in 1997.
For further information, please visit the government website.

Law & Taxation
Cayman Islands' companies law is based on English common law. There are two types of Cayman Islands companies: the Exempted and the Non-resident. The ongoing licence fees for a Non-resident Company are slightly less than that for an Exempted Company but a Non-resident Company must submit a more detailed annual return and as such, have not gained much favour in Asia. The Cayman Islands received a Royal decree in 1798 that freed them from taxes in perpetuity and this decree remains in force. Exempted Company names do not have to end with the suffix 'Limited' and they may apply for a 20- year tax exemption certificate, further enhancing their tax exempt status. Furthermore, the company name may be expressed in Chinese characters, so long as its translated name is provided.
In November 2001, a new agreement with the United States (US) for the exchange of information was signed. This provides for the exchange of information, upon request, for criminal tax evasion, civil and administrative matters relating to US federal income. The agreement applies to criminal tax evasion for taxable periods commencing 1 January 2004, and to all other tax matters for taxable periods commencing 1 January 2006.

Corporate Requirements
Chinese character names are permitted and can be included in a company's Certificate of Incorporation.
All Exempted Companies must have a registered office provided by a licenced service provider. A minimum of one shareholder and one director are required and corporate directors are permitted. The Registers of Directors, Officers and Charges must be kept at the Registered Office. A copy of the Register of Directors and Officers must be filed with the Registrar of Companies but is not available for public inspection. Every Exempted Company must keep a Register of Members and the original or a copy should be kept at the Registered Office. While bearer shares are permitted, in practice they are not encouraged and bearer share certificates must only be held by approved custodians. Annual returns must be lodged but details of the directors or members will not be disclosed.
In April 2001, the Cayman Islands issued new due diligence guidelines requiring disclosure of information on all officers, members, beneficial owners and authorised signatories of Cayman Islands companies to service providers such as Offshore Incorporations (Cayman) Limited. This information is required by law for all new companies and must be provided by existing companies within a prescribed transitional period. Such information is confidential, under the Confidential Relationship (Preservation) Law, which makes it a criminal offence to divulge confidential information or to willfully obtain or attempt to obtain confidential information relating to a Cayman Islands company.

Local Infrastructure
The Cayman Islands is the leading financial centre in the Caribbean with the presence of over 584 licenced banks and trust companies. All the main international accounting firms and numerous high quality law firms are represented here. Communications and transport links are excellent with regular flights to and from Miami, which is only one hour away.
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