The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are situated to the south of The Bahamas and approximately 500 miles southeast of Miami Florida. TCI is a British Overseas Territory and free of any corporate taxes and personal income tax. As the world economic recovery gathers momentum, TCI is increasingly attractive as an international zero tax jurisdiction and without the media notoriety of some similar jurisdictions.
TCI has demonstrated significant corporate and financial law stability over many decades. The TCI banking system has also proven to be both stable and robust and includes a number of locally licenced international banks.
TCI law is primarily based upon English common law, although some United Kingdom statues have been extended to TCI and there are a number of TCI specific ordinances enacted in TCI, including in corporate law and financial services. Similarly, the TCI court system is based upon English law and English civil and criminal procedure. The final appeals court from the TCI Supreme Court is to the Privy Council situated in London.
Company registrations in TCI continue to be incorporated pursuant to the provisions of the TCI Companies Ordinance (1981) and this ordinance contains most of the elements seen in similar statutes in the region's other major financial centres.
The preferred TCI corporate vehicle for conducting international business is via the incorporation of an exempted company limited by shares. These companies are for doing business mainly outside TCI. There is no requirement for a TCI exempted company to file a current list of its shareholders or directors with the TCI Companies Registry and even where there might be corporate taxes in the future (none are contemplated), an exempted company receives a certificate to state that it is exempted from any future taxes for 20 years.
Where a company intends to do business within TCI, the company is registered as an "ordinary" company and there are additional filing requirements. Both ordinary companies and exempted companies may be registered as limited liability companies and such that the liabilities of the company shareholders are limited to the extent of their paid up shareholdings (with the exception of matters such as fraud).
Incorporation of TCI companies is essentially straightforward and the issued share capital may be from one US dollar upwards.
Partnerships are recognised in TCI and general partnerships have been recognized in TCI since 1799 when the common law of England was applied to and became part of the laws of TCI. Much of the English common law concerning general partnerships has been recently codified by the enactment of the TCI Partnership Ordinance (2011).
Limited Partnerships are also permitted pursuant to the TCI Limited Partnership Ordinance (1992). TCI limited partnerships are similar to many other jurisdictions but retain the TCI no tax benefits.
Trusts are recognised in TCI and the territory's Trusts Ordinance (1990) (based on a Jersey model) is comprehensive. In addition to a codification of various principles of the common law and equity, the ordinance contains specific anti-forced heirship provisions, the effective abolition of the rule against perpetuities, and solvency-based creditor protection provisions.
In terms of financial services, TCI has an extensive regulatory scheme which governs most aspects of the TCI financial industry including banks, insurance companies, brokers, agents, company administration managers, trust companies, investment dealers, mutual funds administrators and money transmitters.
Since 2007 the TCI Financial Services Commission (FSC) has been independent of the TCI government. The FSC was initially created pursuant to the TCI Financial Services Commission Ordinance (2001) and FSC functions incorporate the supervision and regulation of licensees under the financial services regulatory ordinances and the monitoring of financial services business.
Of particular note is the TCI Anti-Money Laundering Regulatory Scheme. Anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing is a priority of both the TCI Government and the FSC. As a result, this has resulted in international confidence in TCI as a stable and ethical offshore financial centre.
Consequently, any individual or corporation seeking to register a legal entity or obtain TCI licensing needs to comply with the relevant regulations. The TCI anti-money laundering regulations have continued to receive minor amendment (most recently in 2013) and which have added to the confidence of the international community in doing business with TCI.
Parts of these regulations are set out in the TCI Proceeds of Crime Ordinance (2007). This Ordinance and the TCI Companies Ordinance (1981) were recently added to respectively by the TCI Non-Profit Organisations Regulations (2013) and the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance (2012). These recent pieces of TCI legislation extended the powers of registration of not for profit organisations under the TCI Companies Ordinance and ensured such organizations are correctly regulated in terms of the TCI anti-money laundering legislation.
Luxury tourism is a major feature of TCI's economy. In the decade preceding the 2008 financial downturn, TCI experienced significant levels of foreign direct investment, particularly in five-star hotel and condominium resorts. As the hemisphere's economies rebound, TCI is again experiencing strong interest from international resort developers and there are several major new developments in the planning stage, slated to commence construction in the first half of 2014.