The British Virgin Islands, or BVI, comprise more than 40 Caribbean islands and islets with subtropical vegetation, white sandy beaches and coral reefs.
The British overseas territory forms part of an island chain, alongside the neighbouring US Virgin Islands. Tortola, the largest of the 16 inhabited islands, is home to more than three quarters of the population.Tourism and offshore finance dominate the economy.Financial and business services account for nearly half of the islands’ GDP. Legislation adopted in the mid-1980s enabled a rapid expansion of international financial services.
The Leewards were administered under a federal system until 1956. After the Leewards had been de-federated, the BVI were granted separate colony status in 1960 and were awarded a limited degree of self-rule in 1967. Subsequent legislative amendments over the next few decades gradually extended the islands’ autonomy.
In 2002 the British Overseas Territories Act granted British citizenship to the islanders, who can hold British passports and may work in the UK and EU. The territory has tightened its immigration regulations; illegal migrants have used the islands as a springboard to the US.
A new constitution adopted in 2007 established a greater degree of self-government. Under this constitution, the post of premier replaced that of chief minister as head of government.
- Population: 22,200 (via UN, 2006)
- Capital: Road Town, Tortola
- Area: 153 sq km (59 sq miles)
- Major language: English
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: n/a
- Monetary unit: US dollar
- Main exports: Rum, fruit, livestock, sand and gravel
Why the British Virgin Islands (BVI)?
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is a British
Overseas Territory and is the world’s pre-eminent corporate domicile.Since the adoption of its pioneering Business Companies Act 2004 over 500,000 companies have been incorporated in the territory.Approximately 850,000 companies have been registered since 1984.The BVI has a sophisticated and innovative legislative framework. This has made it a popular jurisdiction to incorporate private and holding companies, as well as public companies prior to admission to international stock exchanges. Companies incorporated in the BVI can list on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), LSE’s AIM, the New York Stock Exchange,NASDAQ, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the International Securities Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
• The BVI is the world’s leading offshore centre with more offshore companies than any other country.
• The jurisdiction appears on the OECD’s “white list” reflecting a high level of tax transparency, regulatory and
• The BVI is recognised as a leading financial centre. The BVI was 34th in the list of leading G2 international financial
centres in the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) published by the City of London ranked above Shanghai,
Bahrain, Qatar, Milan, Madrid and Mumbai.
• A Financial Times survey confirmed the BVI as the second largest source of international foreign direct investment
globally, with upwards of US$125 billion invested through the BVI each year.
• The BVI has zero-rated corporation tax, with no wealth, capital gains or estate tax for offshore entities.
• The administrative burden and costs of incorporating or maintaining a company in the BVI are low. BVI companies
are operationally flexible. Corporate governance can be adapted to suit the structure.
• The BVI has a familiar and established legal and court system based on English common law. This offers a stable
and certain framework for investors.
• The BVI has no exchange controls. The local currency is the US dollar.