The registered agent and registered address of an offshore company

What is a registered agent?

A registered agent is a professional organisation, which has a licence for trust activities. The licence gives the authority to incorporate companies in offshore jurisdictions and subsequently represent the Company before government authorities.

A registered agent acts as an offshore company’s founder: he or she subscribes constitutional documents, files them with the authorities and appoints the company’s first director. Neither the company’s owner, nor its director has the power to incorporate an offshore company directly.

The annual government fee is also paid by the company through the mediation of a registered agent. The agent will request relevant certificates from the authorities and file liquidation documents, where necessary.

The activities of registered agents are regulated and controlled by the government.

A company’s legal, mailing and business addresses – what is the difference?

The company’s legal (registered) address is shown in its formation documents: usually, it is the address of the registered agent or an address provided by a secretarial company in the country of incorporation.

The company’s mailing address may be the same as the company’s registered address. In this case the company usually makes a mail services contract with the secretarial company. In fact, the owner may choose another mailing address in any other country.

The company’s business address is a place where the company actually conducts its business (for instance, it may be the beneficiary’s Head Office address). It is usually required to show the company’s business address in order to open a bank account.

Is it necessary to have an office in the country of incorporation?

An office in the offshore country of incorporation is not required in order for an offshore company to conduct its business. However, an office established in the country of incorporation is additional evidence that the company is tax resident in that country. It is up to the client to decide whether an office is needed in the country of incorporation or not.

What is a ‘virtual office’ and what do you need it for?

A ‘Virtual Office’ is a services pack under which your are provided with a telephone number, mailing address and live communication facilities: answering calls on behalf of your company, processing and forwarding of fax messages and other advantages of a traditional office, less leasing, maintenance and staffing expenses.

‘Virtual Office’ services are usually provided by secretary companies in the country of incorporation, or by business centres specialising in these types of services (located in the UK, for example).