How to choose the Right Offshore Service Providers

How to choose the right offshore service provider?

Being in the offshore incorporations business for many years, we sometimes ask this question to ourselves, in hope that we might like the answer. For your benefit and consideration, here are some thoughts of what is a good offshore service provider.

To start with, what is an offshore service provider, anyway? Well, they come in all shapes and sizes, but generally they all do the same job.

The "product" or, more precisely, the "service" offered by an offshore service provider is the formation and official registration of an offshore company or an offshore trust. These services are custom-provided at order of the client, who is also known as the "beneficial owner" of the offshore company.

The offshore corporate service provider also takes care of the administration tasks necessary to maintain the offshore company in good legal health (also known as "good standing") in the country where it is registered. Offshore administration usually includes the provision of the Registered Address and Registered Agent for the company and dealing with the annual renewal formalities of the company. In this respect, the Registered Agent essentially acts as an official go-between the Government and the owner of the offshore company. The offshore service provider is also engaged in preparing and filing the mandatory annual returns and reports (if any), keeping and updating records of the company as the law prescribes or as the beneficial owner requests. Similar support and administration services are provided to offshore trusts.

The offshore service provider also offers a number of optional services to enhance the confidentiality and functionality of the offshore company. Among such services are the provision of individual and corporate directors, provision of nominee shareholders, mail and fax forwarding services, document custody and re-mailing services, telephone call handling services, bank account introductions and assistance with offshore bank account openings. In some offshore jurisdictions the corporate service providers also assist the client through the more complicated matters of licensing the company for some of the specifically regulated activities, like offshore banking, offshore insurance, offshore mutual funds. Finally, some offshore service providers offer legal assistance and tax advice.

Overall, the offshore corporate service providers fall into two general groups - the specialized offshore formation agents, and the universal providers.