How to choose the right offshore service provider?

So, which one to choose?

The question remains, if You are in the market for an offshore company, how to tell a good offshore service provider from a bad one?

To start with, one should clearly determine which one NOT to choose...

If all the offshore service provider has is a nice website with an anonymous "contact us" form and no hint of the real location of the guys, stay alert! Any reputable offshore formations provider should at least have a full street address, a landline telephone and an identifiable contact person. If the site does not provide such details up front - at best it`s one of the countless internet-business wannabes and at worst it`s a scam. Confidentiality is not really an issue here - who hides from the potential client?

So, internet age or not, a good offshore service provider must have a proper business office, where You can visit personally if required - regardless of the fact that this may involve several thousands of miles of air travel. Any prudent offshore agent will be available to call on office telephone at general business hours in the particular country. Any self-respecting firm should actually have at least two distinct telephone lines. A telephone and fax on one single line is a sign that the whole operation runs from somebody`s kitchen - not a serious proposition.

So, if your potential offshore service provider can not clearly identify his legal status and the geographical location, walk away.

You must have heard this before: if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is! Watch out for sites promising anonymous accounts, offshore companies for 99 dollars, free this and free that. Again, at best it`s irresponsible marketing or misinformation, at worst it`s a scam.

The best offshore service providers are actually very down to earth. They don`t over-promise and don`t mislead. They are absolutely competent about the services they provide and don`t need a week to come up with an answer. A prudent offshore service provider should be able to come up with a complete explanation of all fees and charges involved, up to the last filing fee and courier charge. They should be crystal clear in their explanations of what happens when, for how much and why. Competence is really the key word in this business.

A bona-fide offshore service provider will be for all intents and purposes a domestic company in the particular offshore jurisdiction, with its registration number, street address, director, manager and all the rest that is pertaining to any regular business. If it`s not just an internet-based middleman but a real local Registered Agent in an offshore jurisdiction, the firm would also usually hold a specific license. For instance, in Seychelles, to provide the offshore incorporation services, an International Corporate Services Providers` license needs to be obtained from the Seychelles International Business Authority. Fidelity Corporate Services (Seychelles) Ltd holds such license (Nr. 004). In order to obtain the license, the Registered Agent must satisfy an impressive list of requirements. The owners, directors and all of the top management of the firm are screened and approved by the Financial Services regulator, same as the firms` internal control and due diligence systems. The licensed provider must also have a substantial amount of paid-up capital. Some may find it extraordinary, but it is a fact that even a small offshore formations provider in a tiny tax haven jurisdiction is nowadays subject to more stringent official supervision that a huge consulting firm located in, say New York or London. Which one to choose - we leave it to You.