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The first step when expanding your business overseas is putting in place the right corporate structure that is compliant with local laws and regulations. ABN Australia can assist clients with the registration of global, legal corporate structures in many jurisdictions outside of Australia.

Offshore Company Formation Services | Prices available on request
Establishing a successful corporate structure in jurisdictions outside of Australia can be challenging, and there is no substitute for local knowledge and experience to avoid common pitfalls and mistakes. Our extensive network of overseas company formation agents, lawyers, accountants, immigration specialists and government agencies mean we can implement a suitable corporate structure strategy that is affordable, compliant, and efficient.
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From the Knowledge Base

What is an offshore company?

Offshore companies are entities registered outside the country where its main operations are located. These entities are used to conduct business transactions with partners who are not based in the country of incorporation.

What are common uses of offshore companies?

Common reasons for setting up an offshore company can include:

  • to facilitate global trading and commercial expansion plans
  • to establish outsourced or offshore back-office operations
  • to manage international investment activities
  • to act as holding companies for worldwide subsidiaries
  • to implement legal tax minimisation strategies

What are the advantages of an offshore company?

There may be a multitude of reasons for setting up an offshore company, which can include:

  • ensuring your business remains compliant with the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction it trades in
  • helping to legally minimise domestic and international tax costs
  • protecting intellectual property and other high-value assets
  • securing banking or merchant account facilities in target countries
  • to facilitate joint venture agreements between international partners (ie to access a neutral jurisdiction)
  • to access alternative compliance or regulatory frameworks for dispute resolution and civil law
  • to protect confidential ownership structures
  • as part of a migration plan for your or your business
  • To make purchases of offshore yachts or ships

Are there any disadvantages to offshore company formation?

Please note there is a legacy perception that offshore companies can be easily used for the purposes of accessing significant tax benefits or even entering into tax avoidance practices with privacy kept 100% confidential. In recent decades however, there has been significant changes to Australian Income Tax regulations that essentially limit the tax benefits that can be achieved, particularly where the offshore company continues to have its operations and board managed out of Australia. Regardless of where the company is incorporated, if it has business operations in a high-tax jurisdiction such as Australia, there is a high likelihood that some or all of the company’s profits would be sourced in the high-tax jurisdiction and subject to tax there.

There may be other pitfalls to navigate, such as ensuring the jurisdiction you establish your company in has a strong reputation within the international community and a governance and compliance framework that is respected by third parties (such as customers, suppliers, and banks).

Lastly, there are always costs involved when doing business overseas. Clients should do their due diligence and budgeting to ensure there are no hidden fees or time delays when implementing their corporate structure and managing ongoing compliance costs.

Alternative ways of doing business in a foreign company?

When expanding your business overseas there may be a number of alternatives to simply establishing a subsidiary company. These could include: 

  • Registering your Australian company as a branch
  • Establishing a Representative Office
  • Entering into a Distribution or Commercial Agreement with an overseas local company
  • Entering into a Joint Venture with an overseas local company
  • Entering into a Distribution or Commercial Agreement with an Australian company that has an already established presence and corporate structure overseas.

What are the main differences between offshore jurisdictions?

When choosing which jurisdiction to establish an offshore entity in, generally speaking, the main considerations you need to take into account include: 

  • Where will your customers, suppliers, and partners be located?
  • Does the jurisdiction have a strong international reputation for governance and dispute resolution?
  • What is the tax environment applicable in the jurisdiction? What is their corporate and individual tax rate? What other taxes are applicable? Do they have double taxation agreements with Australia? Is the country subject Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules?
  • What are the costs for establishing and maintaining the corporate structure?
  • How easy is it to obtain access to banking and merchant facilities?
  • How easy is it to exit or deregister the corporate structure?
  • How good are English language skills in the chosen jurisdiction?
  • Are there any minimum capital requirements?
  • Do you need the services of local nominee directors, secretaries or shareholders?
  • How long does the incorporation process take?
  • Do you need to fly to the chosen jurisdiction to complete the process
  • What are the Registered Office Address and leasing requirements?
  • Are there additional licences you need to obtain relevant to your chosen industry? 

How does ABN Australia help?

We leverage our extensive network of company formation agents, lawyers, accountants and other specialists in many jurisdictions around the world to help tailor and implement a suitable corporate structure plan for your needs. We deliver on efficiency, affordability, customer service, and experience. 

Established in 1976, ABN Australia has helped more than 100,000 businesses choose and establish their preferred business structure here in Australia. Our longevity is a testament to the high level of customer service we provide, and the wealth of experience we bring to the table. 

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