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General Business Information

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands consists of a group of three islands in the Caribbean Sea; Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. Located west of Jamaica, and just south of Cuba, these three islands are home to approximately 60,000 people and receive more than two million visitors by air and sea annually. These numbers are no surprise when you look a little closer at what these islands provide.

Over the last 40 years, the Cayman Islands have matured into one of the world’s largest international financial centers. Grand Cayman is the biggest and most developed of the three islands. It is home to not only the majority of the population, but to many banks and financial institutions where local and international investors find the infrastructure, services and financial expertise matched to the best available worldwide. The capital, George Town, is the nucleus of this international center.

Those who call the Caymans home enjoy the ideal Caribbean lifestyle; beautiful beaches, climate and waters with the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. [Source: Cayman Chamber of Commerce]

Cayman Islands on the map

All three of the Cayman Islands are the exposed, flattened tips of a subsea mountain range known as the Cayman Ridge. Rising from the deepest point (25,200 feet) in the Caribbean Sea, the islands break the surface just high enough to provide spectacular shallow and wall diving.

The Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British during the 18th and 19th centuries and were administered by Jamaica after 1863. In 1959, the islands became a territory within the Federation of the West Indies. When the Federation dissolved in 1962, the Cayman Islands chose to remain a British dependency. [Source: CIA World Factbook]

Competitive Advantages

Location of the Cayman Islands

Investors set up business in our jurisdiction because it offers many competitive advantages that make it an attractive place to do business.

  • A Supportive Business Environment – A stable economic and political climate, absence of exchange controls, modern infrastructure and state of the art communication systems, a lucrative banking environment, sound legal framework and responsive government.
  • Zero Taxation – The government does not impose personal or corporation income taxes and there are no taxes on profits and gains from investments. There are no property taxes or controls on foreign ownership of property.
  • Location & Accessibility – Miami is only one hour away by plane and eight major international airlines make more than 55 weekly flights into Cayman direct from the United States, Canada and England.

[Source: Cayman Island Department of Commerce and Investment]

Fast Facts

Capital Georgetown
Time zone UTC-5
Area 102 sq. mi. (264 sq. km)
Population 54,914
Climate Tropical marine, subject to hurricanes
Official Languages English
Currency Cayman Islands dollar (KYD)
Government British Overseas Territory as a representative, democratic, parliamentary dependency.
GDP per capita $43,800
Labor force 39,000
Unemployment rate 4.4%
Main trading partners N/A
Weights and measures Metric
International dialing code + 345
Internet domain suffix .ky
Quality of life Zero population living below the poverty line. Highest standard of living in the Caribbean.
Doing Business rating N/A, but a supportive business environment

Market Entry Strategy

Market Entry Strategy

A company wishing to trade within the Cayman Islands, e.g., in retail trading, real estate, hotel operation, restaurants, maintenance services or local shipping, must obtain a license under the Local Companies (Control) Law, and, if less than 60 percent of the equity is Caymanian-owned, the Trade and Business Licensing Board will have to be convinced of the need for the company’s services. [Source: Cayman Chamber of Commerce]

All companies must be registered with the Registrar of Companies. Companies can be formed with one shareholder and with no minimum capitalization requirements (except for Exempted Limited Duration Companies).

Client privacy is protected by the fact that the Registrar can only release the name and type of company, its date of registration, the address of the registered office and the company’s status. Disclosing any other information is prohibited except where assistance to law enforcement agencies is required.

Businesses that intend to operate in the jurisdiction are typically incorporated as a ‘Resident Company’. Resident Companies are companies carrying on business in the Cayman Islands, which must report annually to the Registrar and which can hold land. As an alternative, companies that are incorporated outside of the Cayman Islands that wish to carry on business locally can register as a ‘Foreign Company’

To incorporate a company, you must first check with the Registrar of Companies to see if the desired business name is available. If it is, you then need to:

  • Prepare a memorandum of understanding, articles of association and a cover letter outlining your business proposal
  • Submit at least two copies with the filing fee made payable to the Cayman Islands government

Applications for incorporating a business can be made to the Registrar of Companies and must be delivered in person to the Ground Floor, Citrus Grove Building, Goring Avenue, George Town. (Tel: (345) 946 7922). [Source: Cayman Island Department of Commerce and Investment]

Establishing a Business

Any foreign investor who intends to engage in commercial activity within the Cayman Islands must obtain one or more licenses depending on the nature of the proposed business activity. As regulations vary by industry, it’s very important to understand the licensing rules that apply to your business category.

  • General Business Licenses – Trade and Business Licenses are administered through the Trade and Business Licensing Board. Fees for application and annual renewal depend on the broad nature of the business and/or profession. Certain types of business premises, such as restaurants, also require inspection by the Department of Environmental Health.
  • Foreign-owned or controlled companies doing business in the Cayman Islands must obtain a license under the Local Companies (Control) Law. A company is considered foreign owned if less than 60 per cent of the equity is owned by Caymanians or if less than 60 per cent of the board of directors is Caymanian. This license has a maximum duration of 12 years, but a longer period may be approved by the Governor. For more details, visit the Trade and Business Licensing section of this site.
  • Financial Services License – Companies operating in the financial services industry must apply for the license relevant to its industry from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA). CIMA is responsible for processing applications, regulation and supervision of:
    1. Banks and Trust Companies
    2. Insurance Companies
    3. Fiduciary Services (Companies Management, Corporate Services, Trust Companies in of companies without a banking license)
    4. Investment & Securities Services (Mutual Funds, Mutual Fund Administrators, Securities Investments Businesses)

Investment Incentives

The Department of Commerce and Investment, in conjunction with the National Investment Council, makes recommendations on the level of fiscal incentives to be granted to inward investment projects depending on the expected economic benefits of the proposed venture. Each proposal is considered on a case by case basis.

Examples of such incentives include:

  • Reduction or waiver of business licenses and fees for a specified period
  • Reduction or waiver of stamp duty on office rental space for a specified period
  • Reduction or waiver of import duty on materials for tourism development
  • Production rebates and reduction or waiver of import duty for film projects

Financial Service sector:

  • Expedited turnaround for processing all work permits
  • Access to two consecutive three-five year work permits for accredited professional staff potentially enabling them to live and work in Cayman for up to nine years
  • Key Employee designation for senior staff
  • Expedited processing periods for time sensitive applications to Cayman Islands Monetary Authority

General Sister Islands Incentives:

  • Up to 75% reduction on work permit fees for staff located in the Sister Islands
  • 50% reduction on Trade & Business License fees for businesses located in the Sister Islands
  • 100% concessions on building materials

Certificate of Direct Investment:

Offered to individuals with a personal net worth of at least CI $ 6 million (approximately US$ 7.15m) who have made, or propose to make, an investment of at least CI $2.4 million (approximately US $2.86m) in any licensed, employment-generating business or businesses in the Cayman Islands. This certificate allows the holder to reside in the Cayman Island permanently with their families and to work in the business or businesses in which they have invested for up to 25 years. It is renewable or extendable at the end of this period. [Source: Cayman Island Department of Commerce and Investment]

American Corporate Services offers experience and expertise for astute investors who wish to establish offshore businesses. Whether an investor wishes to immigrate or simply to establish a business entity, our network of professionals has the ability to advise, assist, direct and enable clients to understand and navigate the process for Cayman company formation.

Our services include everything you need for starting a new business in the Cayman Islands. In addition to helping to establish a Cayman business bank account, helping you set up your business to conform to Cayman accounting standards and to comply with Cayman taxes, we also offer boutique amenities such as Cayman secretarial services. We can even help you to create a Cayman virtual office that will appear to others as though you are actually in the Cayman Islands, even though you may be just about anywhere else on the globe at the time. Our business is making your investment a success.