Offshore company formation and what you should know about it

In this article, we set out the first things you need to know about setting up an offshore company. Of course, the topic is inexhaustible, but we will cover the locations, legality, benefits, operation and conditions of incorporation. First and foremost, we recommend that, however simple the subject may seem to some, you should find an experienced expert before you start setting up an offshore company on your own.

Offshore report

From offshore means "beyond the shore", which in business terms means that the the offshore company is not doing business in the country where it is registered, in return for which they receive a tax reduction.

Is it illegal to set up a company offshore?

This is a question that people usually know the answer to themselves, although the media tries to plant the idea that it is illegal in the minds of ordinary people. But let's see, setting up an offshore company means having a legal entity capable of doing business under the laws of a country. Of course, it is possible for someone to do business illegally in the name of an offshore company, but that does not mean that the a foreign company cannot be illegal on its own. By the way, in Hungary we can read news that the NAV has withdrawn from the country on suspicion of high-value budget fraud, but we are not saying that it is illegal to set up a Hungarian company. It is perfectly legal to set up an offshore company, with the proviso that the laws must be obeyed.

Offshore company formation - what are the benefits?

An offshore company, also known as an international business company, does not have to pay corporation tax if it does not carry on business in the country of registration. Whatever the turnover of the company, it is subject to a pre-established fixed costsyou can count on. This used to be one of the main advantages. However, in addition to the tax advantage, offshore companies have a significant lower administrative obligations enjoy or even the anonymityt. 

Previously, it could be said that an offshore company did not have to keep any financial records. In recent years, international standards have had to be incorporated in these jurisdictions, so that, although not all jurisdictions have to file accounts, it is necessary, for example, to keep financial records or to determine their location, to file annual returns. 

It only takes a few hours or a few days to set up an offshore company, so it can be said that setting up a company is quick.

The main advantage of offshore companies is that you can hide your assets from prying eyes. An offshore company can own real estate, shares, business interests, rights, patents. There are no restrictions on its economic activities, apart from a few prohibited activities.

Where can I set up an offshore company?

There are a number of countries where the legal environment for setting up a company abroad tax-free is given. We use the following division for offshore companies:

Classics of offshore company formation

Even today, we can still set up companies in many countries that offer special tax and administrative benefits to these international companies. Such offshore locations can be found all over the world, but typically the Caribbean islands, the Indian Ocean islands and the Pacific islands and island countries are home to these companies. 

One of the oldest and still very popular Caribbean islands is the British Virgin Islands, but the region offers plenty of opportunities, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua, to name but a few. The Indian Ocean is home to one of the most popular offshore incorporation jurisdictions, the Seychelles.

Further afield, there are countries in the Pacific Rim where offshore company formation is possible. For example, Cook Islands, Vanuatu.

Territorial tax locations

In addition to these classic offshore locations, we find countries where the offshore status stems from the country's territorial tax principle, so that the income from abroad is exempt from taxation. One such country is the well-known Hong Kong or Panama.

United States of America

I hear the term US offshore company from clients, same with English offshore company. In these countries there are no special offshore rules for foreign entrepreneurs. In the Anglo-Saxon legal environment there are Companytypes which are do not pay tax independently, if they don't do business in the state, that's the US LLC, or you can include partnerships, LLP in the UK, LP in Canada, but in the Anglo-Saxon areas you can find some form of these. 

These companies earnings without payment of corporation tax streaming a to the members of the company, the members of the partnership and for them you must pay tax as an individual confess and to pay, in the country where the individual is resident for tax purposes. This is a popular form of company for digital nomads, provided that the digital nomad is already established in a tax-free country. A company registered in an offshore location is usually stigmatised and thought to be designed to avoid tax. No one would assume this after incorporating in the US, Canada or the UK.

Dubai offshore companies

The Hungarian people are the Starting a company in Dubaiis often thought of as an offshore company. In the United Arab Emirates, it is possible to set up an offshore company as well as several other types of companies. The Emirates is a very pleasant tax jurisdiction even if offshore companies are not considered. You can read more about company formation options in Dubai on our website. It is worth noting that for some years now banks in the Emirates have not opened accounts for locally incorporated offshore companies. 

Running an offshore company

Source :

Setting up and running an offshore company does not require a very large infrastructure. These foreign companies have a low administrative burden, it is enough to send in the necessary documentation, declarations and pay the annual maintenance fee for companiesit. Offshore companies can easily issue an invoice using any invoicing software or even a document in Word or Excel. Offshore companies are increasingly using cryptocurrencies for their transactions as banks are now reluctant to work with offshore companies, but it is perfectly legal. 

Running offshore companies can be hampered by international pressure, so companies set up for tax optimisation are pushed towards midshore companies, where they can get benefits, while the company infrastructure such as bank accounts or a real presence is not compromised.

What are the conditions for setting up an offshore company?

There are only minimum conditions for setting up an offshore company. Must be 18 years of age, you need a registered local representative, an agent and a registered office address for the company. We provide these. Usually a minimum of 1 director and 1 shareholder is required, but we provide these for anonymous incorporation. Offshore companies are not required to open a bank account, in 2024 this would be very difficult. KYC identification must be carried out by the company formation agency at the time of incorporation. Valid passportre, proof of addressin addition to the use of named officers, in some cases a bank statement and CV may be required by the local agent registering the company. 

What is a registered agent?

Offshore company formation can be done remotely and there is no need to visit the country to maintain the company, but the law requires a local representative. This can be called a registered agent or registered agent. Officially, in English, the term registered agent is used. He or she can certify the company or make changes at the Companies Registry, change directors or make any changes or requests in the life of the company. The Registered Agent acts on behalf of the true owner or director of the company. 

What documents does an offshore company have?

Offshore companies have similar documents to other companies. Upon incorporation, the Court of Registration issues a Certificate of Incorporation, and the offshore company must have a Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association. The Registered Agent appoints the company's first director and the director issues the company's first shares to the shareholders. In addition to these, there is usually a register of directors, a register of shareholders and the beneficial owners of the company must be registered in the same way.

For each offshore location, there may be minimal differences in the names of the company's documents, but in most cases the above description will be the reality. 

What authentic records are available on offshore companies?

In addition to tax optimisation, an important advantage of offshore incorporation is the lack of publicly available company registers. 

For classic offshore companies (e.g. Seychelles or British Virgin Islands), there are two types of company certificate:

  • Certificate of Good Standing, issued by the court of registration in the country concerned and containing the company name, registration number and information that the company exists and is not in liquidation.
  • Certificate of Incumbency, issued by the company's registered agent and containing the date of incorporation, details of the directors and owners, the address of the company's registered office and that the company is not in liquidation.

Both documents Apostille and may be certified by a notary and accepted as a public document. 

Summary of offshore company formation


It is possible to set up an offshore company abroad with the right preparation, and in most cases it is not even necessary to travel abroad. Company registration is fast and legal. However, the purpose must be clear. Is the company doing business or just being used as a holding company by its owners? Do you need a bank account or not? In all cases, we recommend that you seek expert advice for planning. 

The key is to prepare properly, so that it is not tax avoidance but tax optimisation. Transferring an asset should be quick and error-free. Or the business is legitimate... We've all seen many bad examples of these, we know the potential for error.

An expert will guide you through the whole process from setting up to running your business. And registered agents don't deal with individual clients for a number of reasons, so you can't avoid an expert, you can only use or not use their knowledge and experience.

Contact us with confidence! We are at your disposal.
Call me with confidence!