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Avoid These Common Mistakes When Forming An Offshore Company

Avoid these common mistakes when forming an offshore company.

While forming a company is relatively simple and can be accomplished online, a few set-up mistakes could cost you time and money. Fortunately, these are easy to avoid if you choose the right professional to work with and take a little time to get everything right.



The most common mistakes we see when a business is forming an offshore company include:

Choosing an unsuitable jurisdiction

It’s important to consider all of your options, including ongoing costs, what you might need in terms of accounting and audit obligations (if any).

Tips for choosing the jurisdiction for your company:

  • What are the ongoing annual costs – Apart from formation cost (by definition a onetime cost) there will also be annual costs. These costs include registered office, registered agent/company secretary which are always obligatory, plus accounting & audit obligations where applicable and finally optional costs such as a virtual office etc.
  • Where are you planning to sell? There are different obligations depending on where you are planning to sell. For example, a company selling in the EU 27 area will almost certainly need to register for VAT (a form of Turnover Tax). Likewise a company trading in the USA needs to be aware of State Sales Taxes (which vary).

Need more information or advice?

Unsuitable banking arrangements

A common mistake is that clients are trying to replicate what they are used to. e.g. bricks and mortar bank offering traditional services. It may well be that an e-wallet makes sense in many cases and gives greater flexibility.

First, it is important to understand the difference between a bank and an e-Wallet (Digital Wallet or Neobank):

Banks have traditionally served local customers and are set up for face-to-face interaction and telephone service. They tend not to work well across borders except in specialist areas, e.g. private banking. Their existence is being undermined by increasing regulation and the move towards digital banking.

E-Wallets (also known as Neobanks or Digital Wallets) have rapidly increased their market share in the last twenty years or so, starting with PayPal in 1998. They specialise in fast transfers of funds, especially across borders, together with good exchange rates. Customer service is often limited unless you enjoy communicating with bots.

Not being familiar with tax rules

Tax law is constantly changing, and it’s essential to make sure you understand what applies in your chosen jurisdiction and how it will impact your personal tax position. e.g. is it better to take a salary or dividends? In several countries, including Singapore, salaries are generally taxed at the local rate, even for non-residents. This subject often requires professional advice to get it right.

However, there is a danger of ‘letting the tax tail wag the dog’ at the expense of, say, ease of doing business in a particular jurisdiction and the total cost (both start-up and annual) of maintaining the company.


Insufficient research before starting

Although it may sound obvious, not thoroughly researching your project can be a major reason for difficulties down the line.




  • You should carry out extensive background reading on key topics related to both marketing strategies/uses (such as pricing) AND your customer demographics.

For further detailed advice, please contact:

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