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Offshore Company Formation: A Springboard to Success This business structure is not only a highly efficient way for startups, but is also the most cost effective one when thinking of launching a company.

By Zehra Fattah-Bani

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

So you have had a million dollar idea- what comes next? It is this next step that differentiates a wantrepreneur from an entrepreneur. That bold and courageous decision to take the leap is probably the most challenging part of it all, especially when you consider that incorporating your own company has never been so easy.

However, there are ways to get past this hurdle- and one of them to establish your enterprise as an offshore company. This business structure is not only a highly efficient way for startups, but is also the most cost-effective one when thinking of launching a company. Just like any other company, it is a legal entity- however, it does not require corporate offices or local sponsors. The company's ownership is 100% with the beneficial owner, and just like any other entity, this structure allows you to open corporate bank accounts worldwide. As such, it is the perfect springboard for taking flight and making a first step into entrepreneurship.

In order to help you get started, here's a guide listing some points to consider when legally registering your offshore company:

1. Find an agent to register your company with. The offshore market is booming, therefore there are a number of agents that offer company incorporation services. Make sure to do your research and choose the one that have the best reviews online. There are many charlatans out there, so be wary and choose a reputable organisation.

2. Chose the country of incorporation. This is very important as not every country accepts all business activities. But do note that you can conduct business worldwide other than in the country of incorporation. So it's worth remembering that whatever country you incorporate in, you will not be able to conduct any business there. Listed below are some examples of the most commonly used countries of incorporation and their most suitable activities- but do note that this is not a complete list, all jurisdictions offer a large scope of business activities.

  • British Virgin Islands: Financial services and most business activities
  • Seychelles: Business consulting, publishing, general trading
  • Belize: Financial services
  • Hong Kong: Affiliate marketing
  • Ras Al Khaimah, UAE: Most business activities, other than ecommerce
  • Panama: Foundations

3. Gather the appropriate information. Your agent will instruct you to send certain documents. Some jurisdictions may require more information than others, but generally, the following is required:

  • A clear notarized copy of your passport. A notary, banker or lawyer can certify the passport.
  • Proof of address (e.g. a utility bill) not exceeding three months.
  • In some cases, a bank reference letter from the client's personal bank account. (Don't worry; the amounts held on the account don't matter).

4. Incorporation. Once the above has been completed, the agent will instruct the registry in the respective country to incorporate your company. It should take about 2- 3 working days for you to receive the copy of your corporate documents. This means that your company is up and running, and you are free to conduct business.

The whole process (i.e. from the day you ordered the service, until you receive all of the requisite original documents back) should take approximately two weeks, and it'd cost you an average of US$1,500. The annual renewal will cost approximately $1,000.

Zehra Fattah-Bani

Founder, Ueber-Consulting

Zehra Fattah-Bani is a journalist and founder of Ueber-Consulting, a boutique consultancy that gives startups guidance and the necessary know-how to incorporate their companies worldwide, and offer extra corporate services such as tailored training solutions. Whilst working in a senior role at one of the leading companies in company formation and banking, she has taking the leap in going solo, using her expertise to follow her passion, which always has been entrepreneurship and journalism. Zehra is very well travelled and having the opportunity to travel more than 50 countries so far has assisted her in evolving an in-depth knowledge of developing business relationships and opportunities with an array of professionals from a variety of cultures. Zehra publishes articles regularly on travel, lifestyle and business journalist magazines and leading publishing houses in the GCC and Europe.

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