The Bootstrapper's Guide to set up an Offshore Bank License in Dominica.

Working as CEO of Astorts Group, my team and I have received many inquiries about a cost effective way to obtain an offshore bank license so I decide to write this bootstrapper's guide that can be useful for many of you. 

Offshore bank licenses started to be popular again from 2016. Pressure from the United States and uncertainty over FATCA meant very few licenses were issued from 2011 to 2015. And, those that were granted licenses found it nearly impossible to open correspondent accounts.

It looks like offshore bank licenses are being issued again lastly and if you are looking for the lowest possible entry point for an offshore bank licence with lower capital requirements and lower government fees, Dominica and Puerto Rico are really the only two options that come to my mind and that fit these criteria. I'd like -in this article- to focus on the options that Dominica may offer you as it’s for me the best choice. Other former popular entry point options like Belize, Cayman, Panama have increased their requirements and costs.

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When I speak about Dominica, I mean one of the Windward Islands, the southern group of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies, to not be confused with the Dominican Republic.

Dominica offshore banking license requires the lowest capital of any offshore jurisdiction: in fact while Belize and many others jurisdictions are demanding $5 million, Dominica will allow you to license a bank with only $1 million. Of course I always suggest to consider a bigger capital, so that you will not face problem to search out a correspondent banking partner.

Dominica Offshore Bank Licence allows to offer:

  1. Bank Accounts

  2. Saving Accounts

  3. Debit Cards

  4. Asset Protection Structures

  5. Tax Planning Vehicles

  6. Tax Efficient Loans

  7. Wealth Management Services

  8. Money Remittance

  9. Currency Exchange

Dominica offers the most competitive offshore bank licence option available anywhere in the world for setting up an Offshore Bank. In Dominica, licensed banks are exempt from tax on their net income. Puerto Rico is the only jurisdiction that has a lower capital requirement ($550.000), but the tax rate in Puerto Rico is 4% if you have at least 5 employees in the territory. If you don’t qualify for the Puerto Rico tax holiday, income will be taxed at about 35%. So from my point of view Dominica is the most competitive option for an offshore bank licence.

Requirements and Procedures:

Any company incorporated in Dominica can apply for a financial license, it's mandatory to have an operational office or hire staff in Dominica and  company is expected to meet certain requirements, prescribed by the FSU such as:

  1. Directors of the company should have proper knowledge and expertise in the business that the company is planning to carry on.

  2. Shareholders of the company must ensure proper capitalisation of the company. The minimum paid- up capital has to be fully paid- up and deposited in a bank account opened in Dominica, remaining there unimpaired for as long as the License is valid.

  3. The application should be supported by certain information, including: the business plan, projected financial forecasts for the first five years, Anti-Money Laundering and Customer Acceptance Policies.

  4. Bank confirmation that the statutory capital has been paid

 Roseau, Dominica.

Roseau, Dominica.

Professional Fees:

Usually the full package to acquire your licence is in the range of $180.000 and includes:

  1. Formation of a Dominica Company;

  2. First year company registered agent and registered address;

  3. One set of original corporate documents and rubber seal;

  4. Due Diligence file for Directors and Shareholders of the company

  5. Completing a License Application;

  6. Collecting supporting license application documents from the client; 

  7. Submitting the application to the FMU and following it up until finalised 

  8. Advising about Banking Software

  9. Introducing to Audit Company

  10. Real Estate Brokerage

  11. Recruitment Services

  12. Appointment of Bank Representative Person

Statutory Capital and Government Fees:

  • FMU Annual License Fee $8.000

  • Paid-Up Capital $1.000.000

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The Country:

Dominica, officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island republic in the West Indies. The capital, Roseau, is located on the western side of the island. It is part of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The island is located near Guadeloupe to the northwest and Martinique to the south-southeast. Its area is 750 km2 (290 sq mi), and the highest point is Morne Diablotins, at 1,447 m (4,747 ft) in elevation. The population was 71,293 at the 2011 census. English is the official language of Dominica and is universally spoken and understood. In addition, Dominican Creole French, an Antillean Creole based on French, is widely spoken. The eastern Caribbean dollar is the official legal tender of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Other seven members who form the Organization of eastern Caribbean states also share the currency. Dominica adopted the currency in 1965. The currency has the abbreviation XCD and the symbols $ or EC$. One eastern Caribbean dollar has 100 subunits (cents) and comes in both coin and banknote form. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100-dollar notes with the coins in denominations of 5, 10, and 25 cents and 1 and 2 dollars. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank has the responsibility of issuing the currency to all of its users. The bank first issued the EC$ in bank notes until 1981 when the first coins were circulated. Since Dominica is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, its currency has the imprint of Queen Elizabeth II who is the head of the Commonwealth. The Eastern Caribbean dollar exchanges at a rate of US$1 to EC$2.70; a rate that has been fixed since 1976.

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Do you need my team help?

Please write me an email with your specific case or book a Skype Call, my team and I will be more than happy to help you to chose the best solution for your Offshore Bank Licence.