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Vanuatu company registration

Vanuatu Background
The development of the islands as an offshore financial centre in 1971 now contributes significantly to government revenue. The offshore financial sector has brought increased employment opportunities and an excellent infrastructure for telecommunications, banking, legal, accounting and other financial and commercial services.

Vanuatu is a chain of approximately 80 islands in the south-west Pacific, some 2,250 km north-east of Sydney, Australia, and 800 km west of Fiji. The total land area is approximately 14,800 sq. km. The islands are mainly of volcanic origin and there are about 60 volcanoes, of which 10 are still active. The capital is Port Vila on the Island of Efate and the total population is approximately 175,000. The country's economy is mainly agricultural (80 percent of the working population is engaged in agriculture). The economy is based mainly on copra, followed by beef, cocoa, timber, coffee, cotton, and fish.

The official languages are English, French and Bislama (pidgin).

Law and Taxation
Vanuatu's Common Law is based on English Common Law with local modifications and local statutes.

Whilst there is no requirement to file annual audited accounts with the authorities, a company is required to keep financial records which reflect the financial position of the company.

Corporate Requirements
Allow registered shares, bearer shares, preference shares, redeemable shares and shares with or without voting rights.

Names must end with one of the following words, or abbreviations thereof - Limited, Corporation, Incorporation, Sendirian Berhad, Besloten Vennootschap, Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung.

Names will not be allowed that are, in the opinion of the Registrar, likely to mislead or deceive, or suggest a connection with the Government of Vanuatu.

Local Infrastructure
Businesses set up in Vanuatu must obtain a Business Licence. Every Business Licence is issued annually and may be subject to certain conditions. The licence is transferable and is subject to an annual fee which has been standardised to a principal sum of VT20,000 plus VT90,000 for each non-citizen employee, principal or partner engaged in the business. Other businesses in the financial and monetary institutions, including insurance companies and agents, are charged on the basis of 2% of estimated turnover.

The Official Secrets Act and the various company acts assure the secrecy of information relating to offshore entities. Because Vanuatu has no income tax and there are no double taxation treaties, there is no legislation for the exchange of information. Internal legislation, including the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and the Serious Offences Act are, however, directed to the prevention of money laundering activities within the jurisdiction. There is also a Financial Information Unit forming part of the Egmont Group.

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