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Here are some of the most common questions people have about moving to and opening a special economic zone business in the Cayman Islands. If your question isn't answered here, drop us a line. We would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 professional corporate relocation services. CEC's special economic zones eliminate red-tape, excessive costs, and uncertainty that one would normally experience when establishing a physical presence offshore.
Each company registered in Cayman Enterprise City’s special economic zones is required to include this designation, as in for example “ABC Trading SEZC”. The letters ‘SEZC’ in your company’s name designate it as a ‘Special Economic Zone Company’.
The SEZC designation confirms that your company has met the stringent licensing and due diligence screening requirements of The Special Economic Zones Act, maintains a genuine physical presence in the Cayman Islands within CEC’s award winning, globally recognised special economic zones, and is subject to ongoing regulatory oversight by The Cayman Islands’ Government’s Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA), which regulates all special economic zones in the Cayman Islands.
There is no minimum capital requirement to incorporate a Special Economic Zone Company (SEZCO).
Reinvest a large percentage of your profits that would typically go towards corporate tax back into your global business. 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 established a genuine physical presence of their own with CEC.
To set up within Cayman’s special economic zones and take advantage of the available tax benefits and unique zone concessions, a company is required to maintain a physical presence 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.
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 regulations, 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 zones by CEC, 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 can pay tax on earnings generated from Cayman at Cayman’s corporate tax rate, which is zero percent.
You have to form a Company (SEZCO). If you would like to form a SEZCO and you're not sure where to start, we recommend getting in touch with the team at Cayman Enterprise City. We can walk you through the process and connect you with a Cayman Islands law firm or corporate service provider who will be fully versed on SEZCOs and Cayman's SEZ law.
The first step is to speak to a Business Development Manager at CEC to determine how your company’s business activities might align with the licensing parameters of CEC's special economic zones.
The second step is to determine the initial footprint you wish to establish which includes the number of individuals you would like to place 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. While this 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 complete the paperwork and compile required documents. All of this can be done remotely from anywhere in the world and you do not have to be in Cayman to apply!
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.
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 that can assist you in getting your company established if you are not already working with one.
Immigration will expect the employee’s salary to be sufficient to maintain the employee and his/her dependents (if any). The minimum salary that Immigration looks for is in the range of US $40,000/annum where there are no dependents. For dependents, Immigration expects an additional US $5,000/annum per dependent. Salaries may be variable or paid in a non-salary form e.g. dividends and capital gains.
Yes, you can form an entirely new company if you wish. As per the question 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.
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 CEC's three special economic zones and take advantage of advantageous zone concessions.
Yes, exempted companies in the Cayman Islands can be converted for a government fee of CI$600.00. This can be done by contacting your legal service provider.
Certain business activities within the following industries below qualify for CEC's special economic zones. If you're not sure if your business qualifies, a CEC Business Development Manager would be happy to discuss in detail.
Our packages offer fully-serviced turn-key offices - everything from comfortable co-workspace, to small private lockable offices, to large custom-designed office suites, floors or entire buildings.
Business packages include the following:
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.
Any employee(s) that will be working for a SEZ company will require a Zone Employment Certificate (ZEC) 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. Individuals cannot hold both a ZEC and a work permit to work outside the zone at the same time. Caymanians can, however, work both inside the zone and outside the zone.
If an employee leaves the company, you can hire a replacement. If it is an expatriate, you will be required to submit new documentation for the new employee to obtain a Zone Employment Certificate. Please contact Cayman Enterprise City’s Client Services team on email@example.com for the necessary forms.
Absolutely! Cayman is the No. 1 hedge fund jurisdiction in the world and the 10th largest banking centre and 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.
There is a local labour law that stipulates all companies need to provide a contract for their employees and sign up with a local health insurance provider and a local pension provider, even if your employees have health and pension plans overseas. Contributing to 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.
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 https://jobs.caymanenterprisecity.com/ where clients can post jobs free of charge. We also work with local recruitment firms that can assist you.
Some limitations of registering your company in the Zone are:
There is a regular mail service and all major international courier services are available in the Cayman Islands. In particular, we work closely with DHL, FedEx and Sprint.
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 homeschooling programme for approval.
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 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.
There are many including American, US Air, Delta, British Airways, Jet Blue, Cayman Airways, Air Canada, and WestJet. There are direct 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.
Located in the capital George Town, just a few minutes from our zone buildings.
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.
It is possible as long as the animal or bird is not on the endangered species list. Here is a helpful resource on importing pets to the Cayman Islands.
Setting up a physical presence offshore with Cayman Enterprise City is quick, efficient and cost-effective. Join hundreds of international businesses already operating from Cayman’s special economic zones and watch your business flourish.
The beaches are awesome and the work-life-balance is so important for our team's productivity.
Chief Operating Officer at XX Labs SEZC
Cayman Enterprise City takes the stress out of staffing changes and licensing renewals. The process is quick, effective, and is handled seamlessly.
Financial Controller at TAAL SEZC
The CEC offices are in a great location, beautiful views of the harbour. It's a great place to come in and get work done!
Founder of Fat Shark SEZC
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