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What Is An International Business Corporation (IBC)?

4 min read

What Is An International Business Corporation (IBC)?

An International Business Corporation or International Business Company (IBC) is an offshore financial and legal tool. An International Business Corporation (IBC) is a type of company that operates across multiple jurisdictions, offering various benefits to businesses engaged in international activities. These companies, also known as international business companies (IBCs), provide a platform for conducting global business operations while maximizing advantages such as asset protection, security, and favorable taxation. Another related term is Offshore Corporation or Company, which an IBC is a subcategory of.

One of the primary reasons businesses opt for an IBC is the potential for enhanced asset protection. By establishing an offshore company, businesses can separate their assets from their domestic operations, reducing vulnerability to legal claims and creditors. IBCs are often located in jurisdictions with robust legal frameworks and privacy protections, offering an additional layer of security for business owners and their assets.

Some countries and territories offering this kind of advantage are:

  • Caribbean and Latin America region: Aruba, Bahamas, Barbuda, Grenada, Cayman Islands, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Panama, Nevis, etc.
  • Asia and Pacific: Vanuatu, Hong Kong, Guam, Macau, Brunei, etc.
  • Africa: Mauritius, Djibouti, Seychelles, etc.
  • Even in Europe: Andorra, Gibraltar, Monaco, Cyprus, etc. 

An International Business Corporation (IBC) is a type of company that operates across multiple jurisdictions,

An International Business Corporation (IBC) is a type of company that operates across multiple jurisdictions

KEY FEATURES OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORPORATIONS

As mentioned in other articles, a trust is a legal entity that permits a grantor to delegate the protection of their assets to a trustee for the benefit of the beneficiaries. In this context, an IBC is similar because your assets would belong to an IBC - not you. That is, you would control a corporation that owns the assets. Through this vehicle, you can enjoy solid protection against lawsuits and creditors. It is even possible to transfer onshore profits to a more favourable tax regime thanks to an IBC. No corporate taxes nor local fees, or stamp duties apply either.

Another key characteristic is a sound combination of privacy, limited liability and low compliance. You can do business with peace of mind because no one will know your assets or net worth. Thus you can increase profits and prevent anyone from ripping you off. You can keep secret the names of members, shareholders or owners through nominee services. As with trusts, the regulation protects all this information and breaking the law would imply prison sentences for the culprits. Also, if a foreign state wants to seize assets or take legal action, it must go through a tedious process to even begin. In some cases, there must be a bilateral agreement to investigate an IBC. In reality, only three entities will have access to this data:

  • The bank with which you share your corporate account will know who the shareholders, beneficiaries and owners are.
  • A registered agent must know all the people related to your corporation.
  • A company that connects the agent with you must comply with professional secrecy laws.

One of the primary reasons businesses opt for an IBC is the potential for enhanced asset protection

One of the primary reasons businesses opt for an IBC is the potential for enhanced asset protection

Essentially, unless you participate in obscure activities, other States or greedy individuals will have trouble finding out about your International Business Corporation. In principle, people’s names are not registered with local authorities. This data is not available to the public. All these individuals may reside anywhere, but in some cases, some restrictions apply to the residents of the territory where the IBC was set up. On top of that, IBC’s members and directors can celebrate meetings anywhere in the world, which provides an extra layer of privacy.

IBCs do not have any currency restrictions, meaning you can preserve your wealth in any currency of your liking. You will not face any loss of value to other more powerful currencies like the euro or the US dollar. An IBC is an excellent tool for conducting business as well as private activities abroad, as all transactions are kept confidential. As a side note, it is also ideal for registering expensive items such as ships or yachts.

The registration process is also quick as it only takes one to five days. It must be noted that an IBC does not allow doing business in the country where it is located or possess any local Real Estate. It is not possible either to provide insurance, reinsurance, or banking services with an IBC. However, doing business is convenient because there is freedom of operation: trading, shipping, manufacturing, etc., as long as it is outside the territory in question.

Other common uses for IBCs are the protection of intellectual property, the diversification of portfolios or international trade.

 

Related article: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency

 

Many jurisdictions that accommodate IBCs offer tax incentives, including lower corporate tax rates or exemptions for certain types of income

Many jurisdictions that accommodate IBCs offer tax incentives, including lower corporate tax rates or exemptions for certain types of income

GENERAL REGISTRATION PROCESS FOR AN IBC

Even though it is different in each jurisdiction, the process is usually as follows:

  1. Register the IBC with the corresponding regulatory authorities and present the required documentation.
  2. Indicate what the business activities will be as well as other requested details.
  3. Submit any required licensing fee.
  4. Wait for authorities to confirm that everything with the application is okay.
  5. If it is authorized, now you can choose the kind of business structure you want to provide your IBC with (Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or Corporation).

DOCUMENTS NEEDED

  • Certified (perhaps apostilled) copies of passport and visa accompanied with the shareholder's identification.
  • A business plan sharing the purpose, activities and structure of the IBC.
  • A memorandum of Association (or similar document, according to the jurisdiction). This specifies the name of the company, the location of its office, and the names of shareholders, along with the distribution of shares.
  • An article of association. This outlines how to audit records, issue shares, pay dividends, and provide voting rights.
  • Proof of funding and capacity to run the business as described.
  • Incorporation fee.

IBC (7)

 Enjoy good food and a great glass of wine, knowing you are well protected with an IBC

DOES THE “C” IN IBC STAND FOR CORPORATION OR COMPANY?

Both terms are interchangeable to some extent, but in reality, “corporation” is more precise. That is because a corporation is not necessarily a building, a factory or an office but rather a document in an attorney’s office. Once this type of corporation is established, it is possible to operate it as a company, conduct business, and have offices or property. That is why the “C” in IBC stands for corporation.

 

CONCLUSION

IBCs provide a high level of flexibility for conducting business activities internationally. They can engage in a wide range of activities, such as trading, consulting, investment, and holding assets. This versatility enables businesses to adapt to the dynamic global market and explore various avenues for growth and expansion.

In summary, International Business Corporations (IBCs) provide companies with numerous benefits for their international operations. From asset protection and favorable tax treatment to flexibility and privacy, these offshore companies offer a secure and efficient platform for businesses to conduct global activities and optimize their income. By considering an IBC in the appropriate jurisdiction, businesses can position themselves strategically in the global market and unlock new opportunities for success.

If you want to operate your business or just protect your assets in a low-tax jurisdiction, an International Business Corporation might be the right choice for you. Aside from zero to no taxes, you can protect your privacy while trading internationally, creating bank accounts, ensuring intellectual property and much more. And as discussed, many countries and territories offer this legal instrument to secure your new life abroad.

 

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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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