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British Virgin Islands | Significant Legislation Update – Annual Financial Return

The BVI Business Companies Act and Regulations were amended and became effective on 1 January 2023 to include the preparation and submission of a Financial Annual Return.


The British Virgin Islands (BVI) Business Companies Act and Regulations were amended and became effective on 1 January 2023 to include the preparation and submission of a Financial Annual Return for each BVI company. The official annual return form, which must be submitted every year, was published on 2 March 2023 in the Gazette.


What are the new requirements according to this law?
From 1 January 2023, BVI companies must prepare and file an annual return with their registered agent containing specific financial information.

The return must be completed in a form (sample here) that includes an income statement and balance sheet for each company, which:
▪ Has no specific set of accounting policies or principles required.
▪ Can be done in any currency, and
▪ Does not need to be audited.


What does the company need to do to remain compliant?
All BVI companies must submit the annual return to their registered agent. The filing is private and shall be kept confidential by the registered agent (Icaza), meaning it is not publicly available. If a company doesn’t file its annual return within 30 days of the due date, registered agents must inform the Regulator. For a streamlined reporting process, we will send a link to all clients to facilitate the submission of the information in a secure form.


When should I file the form?
The annual return is due annually for financial periods starting on 1 January 2023. It must be filed within nine months after the company’s financial year-end (which in most cases is December 31ˢᵗ each year, unless the company has chosen a different financial period). Below, you may find the deadlines for the most common financial year ends:

Financial Year    First Deadline
January – December 2023 30 September 2024

July 2023 – June 2024 31 March 2025


What happens if the company does not file the annual return?
The following penalties will be imposed on companies that do not provide their annual returns:
1. US$300 for the first month.
2. US$200 for each subsequent month, up to a maximum of US$5,000.

If the maximum penalty is reached and the annual return is not filed, the Registrar may remove the company’s name from the Register.


Next Steps:
▪ Maintain financial records such as invoices, receipts, bank statements, etc., to prepare the annual return.
▪ We will soon notify you of the cost of this new obligation, which shall be included in our annual fees.
▪ Contact yexadiag@icazalaw.com, domingoad@icazalaw.com or your usual contact for assistance.

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Amendments to the BVI BC Act 2022 – Existing Struck-off Companies

The BVI Business Companies Act 2004 was amended in 2022, to include changes to the process for restoring struck-off companies.


The new applicable guidelines are the following:

  • Companies that were struck off on January 1, 2023 (“existing struck off companies”) will only have until June 30, 2023, to be restored with the Registry.
  • Restoration is not automatic, and payment of outstanding balances does not guarantee restoration.
  • To restore a company, an application must be filed with the Company Registry, and the Registered Agent must confirm in writing that the company’s records have been audited. Registry fees will be charged to file this application.
  • If a company is not restored within the given six (6) month period, January 1 to June 30, 2023, it will be deemed dissolved on the day following the end of such period (July 1, 2023). The registered agent will also be deemed to have resigned.
  • To restore an existing struck-off company that dissolved on July 1, 2023, an application must be submitted to the BVI Courts. In addition to license fees, penalties, restoration, and legal fees, a penalty of US$5,000 will be imposed on the Company.

Should you have any questions regarding this matter, do not hesitate to contact us.

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Amendments to the BVI BC ACT and BC Regulations, 2022

The BVI government has approved important amendments to the BVI Business Companies Act 2004 that will come into force on January 1, 2023.

The most relevant areas covered by these amendments are the following:


Struck off and Dissolution

Under the current legislation, companies have a seven (7) year struck-off period before being automatically dissolved for non-payment of their annual fees. The new legislation abolishes the seven (7) year struck-off period and introduces a new process for stricken-off companies to be automatically dissolved for non-payment of their license fees.


Companies that are struck-off at the effective date of this amendment (existing struck-off companies) will have six (6) months from the Act’s effective date to be restored with the Registry. Companies that are struck off/dissolved after the six (6) month period may be restored by making an application to a BVI Court.


Struck-off or dissolved companies with underlying assets should take immediate action to bring them back to good standing.


Register of Directors

The BVI Registrar of Companies may make available upon request the name of the directors of a company, according to the register of directors filed at the Registry.


Financial Information and Annual Returns

Companies will have to provide the Registered Agent with certain financial information in a prescribed form once a year. The form must be provided to the Registered Agent up to nine (9) months after the end of the company’s fiscal or financial year. This form has not been released yet. As soon as it becomes available, we shall share it with you.


This information will be kept by the Registered Agent only, and it will not be filed with the regulator or any BVI authority. However, the Registered Agent shall inform the regulator if the company does not provide the information in due time.


Voluntary Liquidator

To voluntarily dissolve a company, the liquidator must be a BVI resident who has been physically living in the BVI for not less than 180 days and has liquidation experience and professional competence to liquidate the specific company concerned.


If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact the lawyer of our firm who usually handles your requests or email us at: bd@icazalaw.com.


Podcast: Lessons from the first reporting period of Economic Substance in the BVI

Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán has launched its Legal Insider podcast


Legal Insider is a podcast by Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán, in which our team of experts will decode essential information on jurisdictional regulatory updates, provide insights into the policies and services that are shaping our industry, and detail their implications in your business.  


In our first episode, Liz Barahona, Deputy Manager of Icaza (BVI) Trust Limited, and newly appointed Chairwoman of the BVI Association of Registered Agents, Mariano Oteiza Jr., our Associate expert in Company Formation and Management services, and Domingo Diaz de la Guardia, our Associate in charge of the implementation of the Economic Substance system will be discussing the Lessons from First Reporting period of Economic Substance in the British Virgin Islands. 


 The main points discussed are the following:

  1. Economic Substance background and a brief recap of the Act’s requirements.
  2. Initial implementation Challenges.
  3. Reporting process implementation.
  4. Reporting and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic: The short period provided to make the necessary filings in the BOSS system was made even more complicated by the pandemic. Due to global restrictions, directors were unable to travel to the BVI to hold their annual meetings, some companies ceased their operations temporarily, and overall the implementation of economic substance for companies was delayed. Local authorities allowed companies to indicate the difficulties they were having to implement economic substance and properly assess their situation on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Recommendations for the next reporting period:
    1. Directors must be fully engaged with the day to day operations of their entity,
    2. Directors must ensure that the entity is in good standing with all of its records updated,
    3. Registered agents must be informed of any changes to the company’s core income-generating activities,
    4. Changes to the financial period must be informed and registered,
    5. Organize the entities’ activities from the beginning of the year, such as annual meetings and other affairs.
    6. Start planning your filings early and request your filing confirmation.

Listen to Episode 1 here:

Liz Barahona – Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán (BVI) Trust Limited

Liz Carolina Barahona appointed new Chairwoman of the BVI Association of Registered Agents

The British Virgin Islands Association of Registered Agents (ARA) has elected its new Council.


On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, Liz Carolina Barahona, Deputy Manager of Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán (BVI) Trust Limited was appointed by the British Virgin Islands Association of Registered Agents as its new Chairwoman. Liz had been appointed as Education Chair and council member for the past two years.


As she steps into this new role, we congratulate her and look forward to seeing her represent Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán (BVI) Trust Limited, while making important contributions to the industry.



About the BVI Association of Registered Agents

The BVI Association of Registered Agents is formed by companies that represent their sector to strengthen relations, form a unified front on issues and developments within the wider industry, and make recommendations to strengthen their offerings.


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Overwhelmed with Economic Substance requirements? Compliance is easier than you think!

Let’s review why Economic Substance requirements were implemented, and how to keep your companies compliant with jurisdictional regulations.


In response to the European Union and the OECD’s efforts to enhance tax transparency, Economic Substance legislation has been introduced in major offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, among others. Once these laws were in force, many aspects of compliance were not clear, nor were there final guidance notes available for agents managing entities to adequately explain the effects of these regulations on their client’s companies. This caused a high level of uncertainty, raising questions whether these companies were appropriate for their structures.


In the following months, final guidance documents were issued, and after analyzing these regulations, a considerable percentage of entities resulted to be out of the scope of these laws, and for those who are, complying with the law is more straightforward than initially thought. Below we describe the necessary steps to take to ensure compliance:


Economic Substance Compliance process

1. Classify the activity of your company: Take into consideration the relevant core income-generating activities that fall within the scope of Economic Substance Laws. For this case, we will use the British Virgin Islands (BVI) jurisdiction as an example:



Relevant activities:

–        Banking

–        Distribution and Service center

–        Financing and leasing

–        Fund Management

–        Headquarters

–        Holding company

–        Insurance

–        Intellectual Property

–        Shipping


Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does my entity perform any of the above-mentioned relevant activities?
  2. Do I receive income from one of these activities?

If the answer to these questions is yes, your entity is within the scope of the law.


2. Verify if your company is under any of the exceptions to the law:


  • Companies that are tax resident in a jurisdiction other than the BVI (that is not in the EU non-cooperative list), and can provide evidence to prove their tax residence, are outside the scope of the law.
  • Companies that do not conduct relevant activities, such as property investment business, property holding, property trading, investment funds, among others, are not within the scope of the law.
  • Companies that do not generate income during the reporting period are not within the scope of the law.


3. Determine the substance requirements applicable to your company:

A. For holding companies: Pure equity holding entities which carry on no relevant activity other than holding equity participations in other entities and earning dividends and capital gains have reduced economic substance requirements, namely:


  • Complying with its statutory obligations under the BVI Business Companies Act, 2004, or the Limited Partnership Act, 2017, meaning the standard yearly requirements for all entities. For example: Maintaining all company records updated, such as the register of directors, beneficial owners’ information, etc.
  • Adequate employees and premises for holding equitable interests: The premises and the employees must be maintained locally, and outsourcing these services is allowed. This requirement can be fulfilled by retaining the services of the registered agent which is currently providing registered office services for the company.


B. For other activities: Substance requirements include:

  • Physical premises: in the jurisdiction,
  • Adequate employees: in the jurisdiction, proportionate to the activity,
  • Managed and directed (board) locally: board meetings in the jurisdiction, adequate number of meetings held, the quorum of the board to be physically present in the jurisdiction, drafting minutes of the strategic decisions of the company, and keeping minutes of the meetings in the jurisdiction.
  • Core income-generating activities: conducted locally,
  • Operating expenditure: must be proportionate to the relevant business activity taking place.


4. Report required information to the registered agent: As details on your BVI entity will need to be added to the Beneficial Ownership Secured Search (BOSS) system, you must provide your agent with the necessary information in a timely manner so your company will remain compliant and to avoid penalties.


5. Conduct a review of the company’s structure annually, and determine what works best for your situation: As economic substance requirements must be complied with on an annual basis, changes in your structure, activities, or business model may affect your company’s status; therefore, it is necessary to conduct a yearly review to build substance and report information accordingly.


For Economic Substance requirements in other jurisdictions, view our Economic Substance – Comparison chart.


What can we do to help?

To assist you in complying with this legislation, we can classify your entity, confirm the applicable substance requirements, and provide outsourced services to build substance. Further, we can assist you in the review of your company’s structure and advise you on the best route forward.


If you have any questions or if you would like to learn more about our services, contact us at bd@icazalaw.com.


Are you getting the corporate support you need?

If not, Icaza, Gonzalez-Ruiz & Aleman can assist you


Our offices in the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Anguilla, The Bahamas, and Belize, fully licensed to provide registered agent services, have remained operational with uninterrupted service during the COVID-19 pandemic, following guidelines by local health authorities.


If your agent has not managed your entities at your satisfaction and you are searching for a new provider, let us assist you. Through our firm, transfers are managed by an experienced team that will make sure the process is smooth and efficient.


Are you concerned about transfer costs and company fees?

We are open to evaluating the most cost-effective fee schedule that adjusts to your needs and can attempt to match your current fees.


If you are considering changing your registered agent, feel free to contact us for assistance.

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