As the easiest place in the world to do business (according to the TMF Group's 2023 Global Business Complexity Index), the Cayman Islands is an attractive jurisdiction in which to operate a business. Here are some frequently asked questions about the process. For more information, click here for our helpful guides.
The Cayman Islands is known for its ease of doing business and is listed as “the least complex jurisdiction” in TMF Group’s Global Business Complexity Index 2023, which explores 292 different indicators relating to business complexity and the ease of doing business across the world.
Once you know the type of business you want to register, the process can be straightforward and you can even apply for a Trade & Business License yourself. However, engaging a lawyer with expertise in this area will make it easier to navigate the differences between types of businesses and the requirements for each. For example, applying for and obtaining a Trade & Business License will get your business up and running if ownership is at least 60% Caymanian. Depending on the nature of the business, there may be additional licences required such as a liquor or medical license. If the business has foreign control of ownership, there are additional steps to be taken such as obtaining a Local Companies Law Licence (LCCL). A good resource is this Cayman Islands Registry page to help you identify different types of registration options. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the most popular type of business is an “exempt company” that is granted a tax exemption certificate (see question on taxation below).
Entities wishing to set up a company can do so in five steps and as little as 45 days through Tech Cayman, which specialises in work permit and relocation services for global companies and investors looking to join Cayman’s technology and IP sector.
Learn more about how to register a business in this guide.
Yes, however, there are certain restrictions, such as majority ownership by Caymanians for locally operated companies or application for an LCCL, as mentioned above, for foreign control to be granted. In some cases, as stated above, there are exemptions for foreign companies that are registered in the jurisdiction but operate outside of it.
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory with a highly regulated financial services sector that adheres to the globally accepted standards of the AML (anti-money laundering) regime and is currently FATF compliant. As a tax-neutral jurisdiction with a consumption-based tax system, there is no direct taxation in the form of income tax, company or corporation tax, inheritance tax, capital gains or gift tax, or recurring property taxes (source: CIG Finance & Economy) or VAT. Indirect taxation exists in the form of import duties and a one-time stamp duty on property purchases or the transfer of property deeds.
Cayman Islands Government also generates revenues through stamp tax on financial and insurance transactions, company licensing fees, work permit fees and tourism (accommodation tax and fees for all arriving cruise ship and air passengers). New companies are required to pay registration fees and those hiring expatriates are responsible for work permit fees.
The country’s legal system is based on English common law, however a royal decree in 1798 freed exempted companies from tax indefinitely. This decree remains in force and allows an exempted company to apply for a 20-year tax exemption certificate, further enhancing its tax-exempt status.
Requirements may vary from bank to bank, but typical applications to open a Cayman Islands business bank account will provide a checklist that includes documentation on the nature of your business as well as a notarised certificate of incorporation, notarised articles of memorandum, bank references and proof of identity of business owners and more. Find more details here and for a directory of Cayman Islands banks, click here.
Yes, foreigners who meet the requirements can open a business bank account in the Cayman Islands. Financial institutions in the Cayman Islands operate under a strict regulatory framework, and once all the requirements are met, your business can begin to operate as necessary. We recommend you contact the bank of your choice directly for more information.
The minimum deposit will depend on several factors, including the type of bank account and the nature of the business. Minimum deposits can range from US$500 to $100,000.
Grand Cayman’s sophisticated infrastructure allows for a diversity in commercial real estate options, from Class-A office and retail spaces exceeding 20,000 square feet to small turnkey solutions for startups and companies requiring a physical presence. Dart’s portfolio of commercial real estate encompasses solutions for businesses of all types in a variety of industries and business sectors. Camana Bay offers a wide range of commercial real estate solutions for businesses, from pop-up retailers to fine dining restaurants to small and large corporate businesses. For more information on lease terms, current listings and other commercial real estate queries, contact our leasing team.
The terms of your lease can vary from one property to another, and while most agreements are long term, the duration, base rent and other terms can be negotiated depending on various factors such as location, size and the nature of your business. For example, large companies with an established presence may have an opportunity to lease an entire floor or an entire building for 20 years while small startups can choose to quickly set up a temporary office in a fully furnished space such as readyspaces.
Most commercial landlords allow tenants to fully customise office and retail spaces to suit business needs. In the Cayman Islands, there are many professional interior design, architecture, engineering and contracting services available to help achieve this. At Dart, we offer tenants as little or as much support to help you fit out the perfect environment for your business.
There are no controls on the foreign ownership of property and land in the Cayman Islands, which operates on the Torrens System, a land registration system that guarantees owners their title to a property in the event of a dispute. Also, there is no requirement for a foreign or alien land holding license and The Cayman Tax Information Authority can grant tax residency certificates to residents. If you are interested in speaking to a real estate expert, contact Provenance Properties, the exclusive Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate in the Cayman Islands.
Yes, in fact there are several paths to residency offered to foreigners with a desire to make the Cayman Islands their long-term place of domicile. One path is through residency by investment, which offers four options including a “Residency Certificate” available to owners of companies – in an approved category of business—with “a substantial business presence.”
A second option is to invest in residential real estate and persons of independent means who meet all requirements can apply for a British passport after residing in the Cayman Islands for a specified period.
There are several excellent private schools in the Cayman Islands offering education from early childhood and pre-school to high school and college preparatory schools. Both American and British school systems are offered, and the application process is simple once residency status is established. Cayman International School in Camana Bay is a highly acclaimed option, which offers an International Baccalaureate programme.
If you’re in search of a residence, there are options to either lease or purchase a home and the Cayman Islands real estate market offers a stable investment with properties typically growing in value. To view available listings, click here.
For more information, click here for a detailed relocation guide.
As a British Overseas Territory, the UK collaborates closely with the Cayman Islands government on matters of economics, financial development and security. As such, the UK is responsible for defending the Cayman Islands, providing support to ensure its security and maintaining a maritime presence during hurricane season.
Despite its close connection to the UK, the Cayman Islands has its own currency, which is pegged to the US dollar and is considered one of the strongest in the world. With a high Gross Domestic Product, which grew by 3.5% in 2022, the country boasts a strong economy that contributes to its financial stability and an excellent quality of life for its residents. Other contributing factors to a high quality of life include a sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure, low crime rate, access to world-class healthcare services and an abundance of natural beauty. Its proximity to North America – only a 90-minute flight to Miami – provides easy access to worldwide travel for anyone flying to or from the islands.
Read more about what makes the Cayman Islands a jurisdiction of choice.