offshore company

What is Required to Form an Offshore Company

Quality jurisdictions are asking for more and more information on those setting up offshore companies. If you’re going to structure an international business or an IRA, you’ll need to collect a number of documents before you can form an offshore company.

There are a 4 primary offshore company structures. They are:

  1. Offshore corporation,
  2. Offshore trust or foundation,
  3. Offshore Limited Liability Company (LLC), and
  4. Offshore IRA LLC

Each of these structures has a different purpose and slightly different documents will be required.

An offshore corporation is generally used to hold an active business. This is because a corporation can retain earnings and is this a valuable tax planning tool.

In contacts, a offshore Limited Liability Company is a pass-through entity. An LLC can’t regain earnings and is best suited to passive investments. Some small businesses also select an LLC.

For example, if you’re living abroad, qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, and won’t net more than $100,000 in your business an LLC is a good choice. A business that has no need to retain earnings tax deferred might choose an LLC for the lower compliance costs.

An offshore IRA LLC is a unique and complex version of a standard LLC. When structured properly, and IRA LLC allows you to move your retirement account out of the United States and installs you as the manager of that account. Once complete, you have total control of the investments of your retirement account.

When you need asset protection and estate planning for passive and active investments, you need an offshore trust or an offshore foundation. These entities are similar, but the trust has a lot of advanced features compared to a foundation. For a comparison, see: Offshore Trust or Panama Foundation?

Some countries (such as Panama) maintain a public database of the officers and directors of their structures and some do not. You can use an LLC in conjunction with an offshore company to build a bearer share company.

With this in mind, here’s what you will need to provide to your incorporator and resident agent.

  • Your name and any names you’ve used in the past
  • Your date of birth
  • Social Security / National Insurance Number
  • Current primary residence and whether it’s leased or owned
  • Landline phone number at your home
  • Other phone numbers
  • Country of citizenship
  • Passport number and country
  • Profession
  • Details, if any, of any arrests/indictments or convictions  (Exclude minor traffic offenses)
  • Details, if any, of any proceeding brought involving the SEC, FTC, Federal Reserve Board, a Stock Exchange or their equivalents elsewhere, to which you or any associated business was a party
  • Details, if any, of any known investigation of yourself by a government agency or regulatory entity
  • Details, if any, of any search warrant issued with regard to your home, office or other premises occupied
  • Details of any past or current litigation
  • Details, if any, of any subpoena to provide records or testify in civil proceedings
  • Details, if any, if you or  your businesses has ever declared bankruptcy, including date of discharge
  • List any Outstanding Judgments against you or your associated businesses
  • details, if any, of any liens, attachments, garnishments, receiverships or other orders filed against you or any business with which you are or were associated
  • List professional or charitable associations of which you have been a director, trustee or member
  • Details, if any, of any professional organizations from which you have been expelled, suspended or disciplined
  • List all political parties of which you have been a member
  • List any government or political office ever held by you or an immediate family member
  • Details of any expulsions, suspensions or disciplinary actions in respect of a government position held by yourself or an immediate family member

That’s quite a list, and we’re just getting started. You will also need to provide the following documents in original (by courier):

  • Certified copies of Passport of every Director and Shareholder of the Company
  • Original Bankers Reference for each Director and Shareholder of the Company
  • Original Legal or Accountant and professional references for each Director and Shareholder of the Company
  • US or Non US tax declaration
  • Notarized copy of a utility bill reflecting the name and home address of each Director and Shareholder of the company
  • US tax forms as applicable such as W-8 or W-8BEN (actual form varies based on your citizenship)

Only after all of these documents have been received, and your name has been cleared through a database like World Check will a company be formed.

I hope this list of the information required to form an offshore company has been helpful. For more, and assistance with an offshore corporation, LLC, IRA LLC, trust or foundation, please contact me at or call us at (619) 483-1708. 

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