Offshore Companies

An Offshore Company is no different from a normal company in the fact that it is recognised by law as a separate legal entity and that many of the same legal requirements of a normal company still need to be attended to. However, the company is actually incorporated in a jurisdiction with favourable tax, regulatory or privacy laws that often make it a preferable choice for the client.

Aston can incorporate companies in various jurisdictions; however as we are based in the Isle of Man, this is generally the preferred jurisdiction.

There are two main types of Isle of Man Company; the first can be formed under the Companies Act 1931 (which are similar to UK Companies) or the second, under the Companies Act 2006 (which are similar to a BVI International Business Company) and can only be incorporated by licenced and regulated Corporate Service Providers.

There is various other legislation that covers Foundations, LLCs, Partnerships and Protected Cell Companies, which can be utilised depending upon specific structure requirements.

What are The benefits of an Isle of Man Company?

  • Stability (both economically and politically)
  • Zero rate corporation tax
  • No inheritance tax or death duties • No capital gains taxes
  • No stamp duty (including on share transfers)
  • Zero rate insurance premium tax on asset insurance
  • Affiliate membership of the EU for VAT purposes
  • Business incentives for innovative start-ups and relocation packages


Registered Office/
Registered Agent

The Registered Office is the address registered at the Companies Registry as the official address and therefore ‘home’ of the Company. This will generally determine which laws and taxes are applicable and all statutory post for a company will be sent to this office address. The registered office address does not necessarily have to be where the organisation is administered or conducts its business from.

All Isle of Man 2006 Companies must appoint a Registered Agent. The Registered Agent must hold a licence as a Corporate Service Provider issued by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority. Only the Registered Agent can incorporate a 2006 Company or submit certain documents to the Registrar. If a 2006 Company fails to have a Registered Agent, it is liable to be struck off by the Registrar.

Directors and why
appoint Aston as Director

Often ‘management and control’ can be used as measure of where a company may be deemed to be resident or taxed, this can be determined as the place from where the majority of decisions are made and the Directors reside. If you have incorporated your company offshore, you should not risk the possibility of your company being deemed to be resident in a country other than that of its incorporation.

In line with many other offshore jurisdictions, the Isle of Man has recently enacted ‘Economic Substance Requirement’ legislation. This stipulates that Isle of Man companies undertaking certain activities are required to be managed and controlled from the Isle of Man in order to receive tax resident status on the Island.

Aston has excellent relations with s banks and investment houses on the Island and internationally. We will be able to receive preferential treatment and services for the opening and operating of these accounts. Some of these institutions will only provide services to an offshore company if a local licenced corporate service provider such as Aston provides directors or other significant level of control.

Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience provided by our own staff and Directors for the administration and corporate governance of your company. We have many years’ experience of complex corporate transactions across a variety of sectors.

Additional levels of privacy can be achieved by requesting directors services from Aston. Sometimes it may be preferable and appropriate for you to be appointed as a director of the company and in these instances we can offer a simple incorporation, statutory administration and bookkeeping services. As part of our licencing requirements, we must undertake ongoing monitoring of the activities of the company but we can generally achieve this while undertaking the bookkeeping.

Can I transfer the management and administration of an offshore company?

If you wish to change your current corporate service provider you can certainly arrange to transfer the directors, registered office/agent and administration to another provider.

It is even possible and preferable in some circumstances, to transfer the jurisdiction of domicile of a company from one jurisdiction to another.

How long does it take to incorporate a Company?

An Isle of Man company can be formed within a matter of days. Subject to receipt of satisfactory client due diligence Aston can usually incorporate a company within 48 hours. If particularly urgent a company can be incorporated within an hour with additional fees payable.

With modern anti-money laundering, proceeds of crime and ‘know your client’ legislation, the opening of a bank account for a company can sometimes become the delaying factor for a company to become operational. Aston has navigated these requirements for many years and will be able to attend to the banks’ requirements in an efficient manner, however the timeframes are dictated by the banking provider.

Is my privacy protected?

We of course respect and honour the confidentiality of our clients. However, due to Isle of Man legislation upon both us and other financial service providers we are required to carry out thorough due diligence upon our clients and the proposed activities of the Company. We must thoroughly understand the rationale for setting up an offshore company and the type of business the company is likely to conduct.

Following incorporation, we are then obliged to monitor and ensure that the activities of the offshore company do not breach any Isle of Man or international regulations or sanctions.

The request of this information is not for the disclosure to any third parties without your permission and is in order that we can meet ever stricter global legislation regarding anti-money laundering, terrorist financing and the proceeds of crime.

The Isle of Man does have a beneficial ownership register. However this register is not publically searchable and is only available to certain law enforcement agencies in the course of a bona fide investigation or from a local court judgement.

What are the uses of offshore companies?

Asset protection

Offshore companies can be used to segregate and protect your assets. If you are based in a particularly litigious country, an offshore company can protect from spurious claims, as any actions will often have to be brought in the jurisdiction of the company. Of course this only applies to future unknown potential creditors and cannot be used to escape current creditors. If its possible to also locate assets in the offshore jurisdictions this will provide additional security.

Like all companies an offshore company is a separate legal entity and can hold assets in its own name strategically segregated to avoid contamination if claims are made against other connected business companies in a group.

Privacy and

If risks arise from public information being freely available in respect of the ownership of assets it may be helpful to use the confidentiality that can be organised through structuring with offshore entities.

Similarly, you might be investing into a new project and not wish your competitors or the general public to be aware of your involvement.

An offshore company can also be set up in a jurisdiction that is potentially more stable and secure than your home country which can ease administration and provide extra levels of comfort.


Funds pooled through an offshore investment company can often be used to invest in projects in many other countries around the world, accumulating the returns and capital gains in a tax-free environment which can add flexibility to their distribution and re-investment.

A company incorporated in a suitable offshore jurisdiction may also allow easier access into certain investments products or markets.

Investment Funds
in a Tax-Neutral Location

New venture funds pooled from connected individuals from different locations may need a tax-neutral location where they can combine capital from different sources prior to injection into a project.

Using a private offshore investment company would provide additional confidentiality for the investors and tax neutrality benefits for the accumulation of investment returns after they have usually been taxed at source and prior to being taxed at the point of receipt by the investor.

If the ultimate investment is in an unstable country with poor legal and financial infrastructure, investors may be more comfortable with funds being pooled in an offshore jurisdiction with efficient and well tested fiduciary and legal services.

Some jurisdictions also have double taxation agreements, which can be utilised to reduce charges such as withholding taxes as profits are remitted offshore.

Access to better
infrastructure and
legal frameworks

Similar to investment funds in tax neutral locations; if you live in a country with an inefficient, complex and bureaucratic business environment running a sophisticated structure efficiently locally can be onerous and frustrating.

Banking, financial and legal services can be particularly problematic in some developing countries and an offshore company could allow easier access to sophisticated international providers of these services that you could get at home, or for the assets to be treated under a completely different legal system which again might be much more efficient, less corrupt and well tested.


Freelance international contractors, consultants, designers or other professionals working for a fee often need to invoice for their services through a limited company. Sometimes they can be working and being paid outside of their home country. This can also reduce their tax burden if done through an offshore company, through which the fees for contracts can be routed.

While the professional would receive a fixed level of taxed remuneration (salary) from the offshore company, the bulk of the fee income would accumulate in a tax-free environment.

Designers, authors, consultants and entertainers may assign or contract with an offshore company the right to receive fees due under a contract for services.

Further advantages of a professional services company are that potential liabilities, from a contract would fall upon the company, not the individual. Offshore companies are often easier to run than onshore companies and the client can use the expertise of an offshore corporate service provider to administer the company, whilst they can concentrate upon the provision of the services rather than running the company.


An offshore company may act as a trading intermediary where goods originate from one country, are sold in another, yet the client is located in a third country.

The company would typically buy directly from the manufacturer or wholesaler and arrange for the goods to be delivered directly to the end-customer from the place of production or purchase. The profits arising on the difference between purchase and sales price may be accumulated in a tax-free environment. Such profits can be re-invested into further development of the business, without incurring any excess tax liability.

An offshore company incorporated in the correct jurisdiction may also ease registration for certain taxes that might be applicable to international trade, such as VAT in the EU.

Holding Companies

Holding companies can be established and used to concentrate control of several companies with a minimum of investment, such as a parent company in a conglomerate corporation. Alternative means of gaining control such as buy-outs and consolidations, can be more complicated and expensive.

Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow the ownership and control of a number of different companies in different sectors or on different projects. These structures can allow for easier central funding of the subsidiaries and can allow for tax planning opportunities for the receipt of dividends, repatriation of funds changes of ownership and succession planning.

Family office /
private trust

Many offshore jurisdictions have enabled legislation that allows for Private Trust Companies to be set-up through the use of purpose trusts or foundations. These jurisdictions typically have had a ‘trust industry’ for many years and have professionals with experience of running complex trust structures and associated fiduciary services. This can allow a client to still retain input over the control of the assets whilst still placing them into trust.

Having the Private Trust Company incorporated offshore can allow for beneficial inheritance tax planning and guidance for passing over complex business to the next generation.

A low tax environment also allows for efficient pooling and rolling up of funds to a central holding point within the structure.

E-business /

The Isle of Man has become a favoured place to incorporate a many forms of E-business, with state of the art telecommunications, data hosting facilities and legislation that allows E-business to grow and flourish. The domicile of an E-business company is often dictated by where the data is held or processed and services provided, it therefore makes sense to incorporate in a low tax jurisdiction with an advantageous VAT position such as the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man Government has launched an Isle of Man Blockchain Office and Sandbox, allowing companies to be guided through current (and future) regulatory landscapes. The law in the Isle of Man has been amended to bring certain Fintech businesses under the oversight of the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority, this regulation can provide an extra element of comfort for stakeholders and the Island has been used for numerous initial coin offerings.

Property Holding

Owning a property in a different country than where you are domiciled can create numerous issues. Offshore companies can be used for this purpose and can provide a range of benefits such as reduction of local taxes, property maintenance and tenant management. Privacy of the purchase of a property through a company rather than in your own personal name can be an important factor for international high net worth individuals in addition to not having to go through probate in the territory where the property is located.

Offshore companies can also provide benefits for development projects due to the ability to pool funds and accumulate revenues in a low tax environment, in addition to mitigation of some capital or inheritance taxes and access to alternative lines of finance.


Offshore companies can acquire the rights to use a copyright, patent, trademark or know-how from its original holders, with a power to sub-license and subsequently exploit the intellectual property rights in various countries and receive royalties for use into a low tax environment. Internet-businesses also use offshore companies to hold domain names and operate websites.

Trademark and Patent Acts of the UK also apply to the IOM, whilst the Island is a signatory to the Madrid Protocol and the Paris Convention. It is important that this type of activity has strong economic substance in the jurisdiction of incorporation.