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It’s Easy to Set Up Your Cayman Business

Frequently Asked Questions

Opening a business in the Cayman Islands’ special economic zones is a great choice for many people who want to move to the Cayman Islands or who want to leverage the tax neutral jurisdiction for their international operations. Here are some of the most common questions people have about moving to and opening a business in the Cayman Islands.

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Opening a Business in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ)

[fa icon="plus-square"] What are special economic zones (SEZs)?
Cayman’s special economic zones have been established to stimulate economic growth, encourage direct foreign investment and diversify the economy of the Cayman Islands. Cayman's business-friendly Government has granted a number of globally competitive concessions for businesses that establish a physical presence within Cayman Enterprise City (CEC). With CEC companies can take advantage of fast-track business licencing, a 5 day visa process, and a free corporate relocation services. CEC's special economic zones eliminates red-tape, excessive costs, and uncertainty that one would normally experience when establishing a physical presence offshore.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What are the advantages for businesses setting up in the Cayman Enterprise City special economic zones?
  • No corporate, income, sales or capital gains tax
  • 100% foreign company ownership permitted
  • A 4-6 week fast-track business licencing regime
  • Renewable 5-year work/residency visas granted in 5 days
  • Cutting-edge IT and business infrastructure
  • Offshore hosting & payment gateway
  • An appropriately regulated environment
  • No Government reporting or filing requirements
  • A tech cluster with massive cross-marketing opportunities
  • A skilled labour force and easy recruitment procedures
  • ’One-stop-shop’ administration services
  • Easy access & direct flights to the U.S., Canada, & London
  • A catalyst for rapid international growth
  • Warm, sunny climate year-round
  • A fantastic high-quality island lifestyle
[fa icon="plus-square"] Why should I register my company with CEC? How can CEC help my business grow & profit?
Imagine not having to give a large percentage of your profits away to the Government in corporate tax? Imagine if your company had an office or branch in a jurisdiction where you could legitimately earn 100% tax-exempt revenues on your international business (outside the U.S.). By saving those taxes, your business would become more profitable, which means you could be more competitive in the global arena. It also means you would get access to cheaper capital and increase shareholder value. These are some of the reasons why over 250 international companies have already set up in Cayman Enterprise City.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Do I need a physical presence in Cayman or can I have a virtual company?

In order to set up within Cayman’s special economic zones and take advantage of the available tax benefits and zone concessions, a company is required to maintain a physical presence in the SEZ and operate as a going concern in its designated industry. Further, where the company’s business activities in Cayman are within the scope of Cayman’s International Tax Co-operation (Economic Substance) Law, the company will also need to satisfy an economic substance test.

[fa icon="plus-square"] What’s the benefit of a physical corporate presence in Cayman vs. a virtual offshore company?
Historically, in the ‘offshore model’ companies from around the world registered an offshore virtual, or ‘shell’, company as part of their global tax mitigation strategy. But in today’s world with many major countries introducing tougher regulation, having a genuine offshore physical presence versus a ‘virtual’ one can be vitally important. By setting up an operational office in Cayman’s Special Economic Zone, you can carry out international business from Cayman, where you can legitimately earn 100% tax-exempt active business income on that business. Why? Because as an operating Cayman company with a physical office and presence, you are able to pay tax on earnings generated from Cayman at Cayman’s corporate tax rate, which is zero percent.
[fa icon="plus-square"] How is a Zone exempt company different from the standard exempt company (other than its ability to enjoy the benefits of the Zone)?
A Special Economic Zone Exempt Company (‘SEZCO’) is different from a regular Cayman Islands Exempt Company in that it allows you to conduct business within the Special Economic Zone and take advantage of all Zone concessions.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Can I form a new company or does the Cayman company have to be a branch of an existing company?
Yes, you can form an entirely new company if you wish. As per above it would be a SEZCO. Please note that if you have an existing Cayman Islands Exempted Limited Company, it can be converted into a SEZCO by your Cayman corporate services provider for a small fee.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Can I enter CEC as an individual or do I have to form a company?
You have to form a Company (SEZCO). If you do not already have an existing relationship with a Cayman Islands law firm or corporate services provider, we can put you in touch with some excellent service providers who are fully versed on CEC and the SEZ law.
[fa icon="plus-square"] How does a company establish a presence in Cayman Enterprise City?

The first step is to speak to a Business Development Manager at CEC to determine whether your company’s business activities align with the licensing parameters of the Zone. The second step is to determine the initial footprint you wish to establish which includes the number of people you would like in your Cayman office and your office space requirements. The third step is to sign a Licence Agreement with CEC and send the initial deposit to commence the application process. This can be done remotely on our online web portal. Once the deposit is received we provide you assistance in completing your application paperwork, which we submit to the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA) for you.   Within 5 working days your application will be processed and while this process is going on, CEC will assist you in completing the paperwork for the renewable 5-year work/residency visas for the staff you wish to place in your Cayman office. Once your In Principal Approval is granted for your Trade Certificate, that is the green light for your local Cayman corporate services provider to set up your Special Economic Zone Company and provide CEC with certified copies of all corporate documents, which we give to SEZA. Your Trade Certificate is then provided. Generally, the entire process takes 4-6 weeks based on how quickly you can get the paperwork completed. All of this can be done remotely from anywhere in the world and you do not have to be in Cayman to apply.

[fa icon="plus-square"] How much does it cost to form a new Cayman company?

It varies from law firm to law firm, but will generally range from US$3,500 to US$5,500 including the Government fees and law firm’s formation charges to provide a Registered Office for you. Please note that these figures do not include additional legal fees or billable hours that may be required outside of the standard establishment of a SEZCO. We are happy to make an introduction to a local law firm who can assist you in getting your company established if you are not already working with one.

[fa icon="plus-square"] Can an already existing exempted company be converted into a SEZCO?
Yes, exempted companies can be converted for a Government fee of CI$600.00.  This can be done by contacting your legal service provider.
[fa icon="plus-square"] How long does it take to form a company?
This can be done in as little as 5 days.  The corporate services provider who will help you with your SEZCO will first undertake some due diligence, check to see if the name you require is available, then reserve it and incorporate the SEZCO for you.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What is the minimum capital requirement for a business setup in the Special Economic Zone?
There is no minimum capital requirement to incorporate a Special Economic Zone Company (SEZCO).
[fa icon="plus-square"] Does my company qualify for the Zone?
Certain business activities within the following industries qualify for the Zone, and a CEC Business Development Manager would be very happy to discuss the intended activities of the company with you.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What legal/administrative work has to be done when upgrading to another product offering? Are there any costs/fee’s associated with the switch?
When you reach the stage that you would like to consider expanding your footprint within CEC, the Client Services team would be delighted to discuss your needs and develop a solution that meets your requirements, budget and head count.
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Running Your Company in Cayman

[fa icon="plus-square"] What kind of office space can I have in the Zone?

Our packages offer everything from comfortable co-workspace, to small private lockable offices, to large custom designed office suites, floors or entire buildings.

  • A workstation in a co-working suite
  • Fully-serviced turn-key offices
  • Customized office space tailored to your large company needs
[fa icon="plus-square"] What does my CEC package include?
Your offshore business package includes the following:
  • A Trade Certificate (the license to operate in the Zone)
  • Zone Employment Certificates (5 Year Work/Residency Visas for staff)
  • Access to all Zone business centre facilities
  • Fully-furnished and serviced office space or un-serviced if you wish
  • Water, electricity, sewerage fee, security, janitorial, parking and service fees
  • Use of shared meeting rooms, kitchen, dedicated phone number, Internet, phone handsets, shared receptionist who receives all in-bound calls, mail services and boardroom bookings on your behalf
  • Use of document management machines including printers/fax/copiers/scanners and shredders*
[fa icon="plus-square"] Can you refer me to Cayman Islands banks?
Absolutely, once you are a client of Cayman Enterprise City we would be delighted to refer you to trusted Cayman Islands banks or financial services institutions.  They can help you with all your offshore banking needs including; setting up Cayman Islands personal bank accounts and corporate bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards and online banking etc. The well-respected institutions we work with also have trust departments, investment services and some have fund services, should you need them.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Can a Zone company upgrade to another product offering in the future or am I tied to my original contract?
Absolutely, CEC has a completely flexible model and a company can upgrade to another product offering to suit their needs and expansion plans.  Once the decision is made to upgrade to another product offering, the staff at Cayman Enterprise City can accommodate the change with a snap of the finger. 
[fa icon="plus-square"] Who will require a Zone Employment Certificate?
Any employee(s) that will be working for a SEZ company will require a Zone Employment Certificate, if they are not Caymanian.  Please note that foreigners who have been granted Permanent Residency with the Right to Work do not require a ZEC either. Expatriate employees of Zone companies on a ZEC cannot take a job concurrently in a local company in the Cayman Islands, as one cannot hold both a ZEC and a work permit at the same time. Caymanians can however work both inside the Zone and outside the Zone.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What happens if a company takes out a Zone Employment Certificate for an employee and that employee leaves and the company and wishes to replace that employee?
If an employee leaves the company and you can hire a replacement. If it is an expatriate, you will be required to submit new documentation for the new employee in order to obtain a Zone Employment Certificate.  Please contact Cayman Enterprise City’s Client Services team on s.carrig@caymanenterprisecity.com for the necessary forms.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Can I get well-trained local accountants and external auditors?
Absolutely! Due to Cayman being the No. 1 hedge fund jurisdiction in the world and the 10th largest banking centre, we have an abundance of well-qualified professionals. The top 5 global accounting firms all have a large presence here in Cayman and offer accounting and auditing services. There are also many mid-sized accounting firms and our Client Services team would be happy to make an introduction for you.
[fa icon="plus-square"] If I employ locally, are there employment laws which cover how this would be done?
There is a local labour law. Please note that under the law, all companies need to provide a contract for their employees, sign up with a local health insurance provider and a local pension provider, even if your employees have health and pension plans overseas. Contributing into a local pension plan is compulsory after a 9 month holiday upon your arrival in Cayman. CEC staff will provide you with full details on this and the health plans available.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What sort of local staff can I employ?
There are no restrictions and Zone companies are encouraged to hire locals where possible.  Because Cayman is one of the world’s leading banking centres we do have an excellent workforce of educated local professionals. CEC has a jobs portal www.ZoneJobs.ky where clients can post jobs free of charge. We also work with local recruitment firms that can assist you.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What are the limitations of setting up a company within the Zone?

Some limitations of registering your company in the Zone are:

  • A Zone Company is not allowed to trade directly with the local Cayman market
  • Employees with visas from CEC companies are expected to work only from the company’s offices or other buildings within the Zone.
  • Foreign employees of zone companies on Zone Employment Certificates cannot take a job concurrently in a non-zone company as one cannot hold both a ZEC and a work permit at the same time. Caymanians can however work both inside the Zone and outside the Zone.
  • The nature of the business activities undertaken, must be as per those specified on your application form.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What about sending and receiving packages and mail?
There is a regular mail service and all the major international courier services are all here and we work closely with DHL, Fed Ex and Sprint.
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Life in the Cayman Islands

[fa icon="plus-square"] If I get a work/residency visa, can I bring my spouse and children?
Yes – your spouse and children can become dependents on your Zone Employment Certificate and there is no extra cost for this. Please note that children are considered ‘those under 18 years old or can be up to 24 years old if still in full-time education’. All children 5 years and older must be enrolled in a private school or provide the Department of Education Services with a home schooling programme for approval.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What school system do they use in the Cayman Islands?
Both British and American school systems are used in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman International School (CIS) and Triple C school follow the US system and CIS has a Baccalaureate programme.  St Ignatius Catholic School and the Cayman Prep School follow the English system. Please note that children of non-Caymanians are not eligible to attend Government School and need to attend one of the private schools. CEC’s Client Services team would be happy to provide you with a list of all schools and links to their websites.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Which airlines serve the islands and through which gateway cities?
There are many including: American, US Air, Delta, British Airways, Jet Blue, Cayman Airways, Air Canada, and West Jet. There are flights from Miami, Tampa, New York, Panama, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Charlotte, Raleigh Durham, Toronto, London England, Philadelphia, Houston, Newark, Atlanta, Nassau Bahamas, Kingston Jamaica, La Ceiba Honduras, and Havana Cuba.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Where are the nearest port services?
Located in the capital George Town, just a few moments from our Zone buildings.
[fa icon="plus-square"] How do I ship or move my belongings?
You are entitled to bring in your business equipment duty free as we are exempt from import duties (except for vehicles and boats which can leave the Zone). As a new resident you are also allowed a duty holiday of 6 months to bring in your used household items and personal effects duty free. Again that does not include vehicles and boats, which are dutiable. The CEC Client Services team would be happy to put you in touch with shippers and movers who can help you in this regard.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What are the regulations regarding the importing of domestic animals?
It is possible as long as the animal or bird is not on the endangered species list. See link that may be useful: http://www.caymannewresident.com/page_id_14.html
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