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Company search in the British Virgin Islands

Welcome to Companysearch.VG, your reference provider for BVI company searches conducted by information experts.

You can order your search right now by typing the company name or number in the following box.

What is included

A BVI Company search is a document issued by the BVI Registry of Corporate Affairs (also named ROCA) either in paper or electronic format. We also include copies of all public documents filed by the company to the Registry

Our team of local experienced BVI experts work closely with the Registry to conduct your search and retrieve documents efficiently and securely.

This document is issued when the company is found in the Registry after conducting a search by company name or number

Here's a sample document obtained from the Registry. Note the field Date of Search that reflects the accuracy and freshness of the search (company statuses are updated daily)

BVI Company Search sample

This is another search retrieved from the Registry in an alternate format. The BVI Registry of Corporate Affairs use an internal software named VIRRGIN, which stands for Virtual Integrated Registry and Regulatory General Information Network. Company searches and other documents are extracted from VIRRGIN and sometimes the Registry will deliver a screenshot which is very similar to a regular search:

BVI Company Search alternate format - VIRRGIN sample

Here's a sample of the set of documents filed by a BVI company (included)

How long does it take?

We delivery most company searches and full reports within 24 hours with the exception of BVI Holidays. Orders received after 1PM Atlantic Standard Time / 6PM UTC+1 may be delivered within 30 hours. We try to deliver image preview of the document as soon as possible. This image preview shows the same contents as the Company Search but it's not a scanned documment.

BVI Full Report searches with many filings may be delivered in several parts

Company Search Contents

Main fields

Date of search
This field shows the date when the company search was conducted. This is important because companies can file documents or change its status every day.
Company Name
The current name of the company
Company Number
The company number. This number doesn't change even the company changes its name.
Foreign Character Name
According to the BVI Business Companies Act 2004, section 20 (1), a company may have an additional foreign character name approved by the Registrar. This is usually used to assign names with Chinese (or other alphabets) characters. The additional name doesn't have to be a translation of the English name.
Company Type
The type of business company. The most common type is "BC New Incorporation" but there are other types such as "BC Re-registration" or "IBC" for older companies.
Date of Incorporation / Registration
The date when the company was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands

Current Status

Status Description
This is a description of the current status of the company at the date of search. The normal status is "Active" (Good Standing), other possible values are:
Struck off - Dissolved
The company is liquidated and dissolved (usually after 7 years of being struck off)
Struck off - Agent Resigned / Failure to appoint a Registered Agent
The company didn't appoint a Registered Agent or the Registered Agent resigned in accordance with section 93 of the Business Companies Act
Struck off - Non Pmt A/Fee
The company failed to pay its annual fees and it was struck off in accordance with section 213(1)(c) of the Act
Struck off - Ceased to carry on business
The Registrar is satisfied that the company has ceased to carry on business under Section 213(1)(b)
Struck off - Carrying on business without Licence
The company is operating a business that requires a Licence, Permit or Authority without having it under Section 213(1)(c)
Struck off - Failure to file Document
The company failed to file any return, notice or document required under the Business Companies Act
In Penalty
The company has its annual fee past due and its liable to a penalty under PART II of the Act (Amendment 26/2005)
Status Date
The date when the company status was updated. In case of an "Active" status, this is usually the date of the latest "Annual Fee Submission"
Current Registered Agent
This is the name of the Registered Agent. A company shall at all times have a registered agent in the British Virgin Islands according to section 91 of the BVI Business Companies Act. They are usually local BVI companies or branches of large corporate services firms.
Current Registered Agent Address / Phone Number / Fax Number
These are the contact details for the Registered Agent. In most cases this is the only indirect way to contact a BVI company
Current Registered Office
This is the registered address of the company in the BVI. It's mandatory according to section 90 of the Act, and it's initially specified in the section 6(1) of the Memorandum. Changes of registered office have to be filed under section 92. Usually this is the same office as the registered agent, and this fact has to be stated in the Memorandum or further notices
Telephone
The registered phone number of the company. In most cases this field is empty
Agent Fax
The fax number of the registered agent. Also empty in most cases
Director Register Type
Since the amendments to the BVI Business Companies Act that came into force on 1 April 2016 all BVI companies have to file particulars of its directors to the Registry. This Director Register can be public or private and most companies chose to file it as private.
First Registered Agent / Office
In case the company has changed of registered agent or office this field will list the initial ones

Share/Capital Information

Maximum Number of Shares the company is authorized to issue
Since the 2004 Act there is no concept of authorized capital or share capital so companies are no longer required to specify an authorized share capital in the Memorandum or Articles of Association
Ability to Issue Bearer Shares
A BVI company (excluding Segregated Portfolio Companies) can issue bearer shares only if stated in its Memorandum & Articles. Bearer shares must be deposited with a custodian resident in the Islands and authorized by the BVI Financial Services Commission. This field states if the company is authorised to issue bearer shares.
Authorized Capital
For companies incorporated before the 2004 Act this fields shows the authorized capital and currency

Previous Names History

S.No / Previous Name / Foreign Character Name / From / To
This table lists all the previous names of the company including the current name. Each row shows the sequential number of the name, the name itself, the foreign character name, when this name did became active and when it was ceased (in case it was)

Transaction History

S.No / Date / Transaction Number / Description / Status / Eforms/Attachments
This table lists all the filings of the company along with other transactions such as requests for Certificates of Good Standing, Certificates of Incorporation, etc... Copies of these documents can be requested and delivered within 24 hours. Each row shows the sequential number of the filing/transaction, description of the transaction, status at the Registry and list forms and attached documents. Most common filings are:

Certificate History

S.No / Transaction No. / Type of Certificate / Date of Filing
This table is very similar to the Transaction History table. It lists all the available Certificates for the company. Some of these Certificates may appear also in the previous table. Copies of these documents can be requested too (delivery within 24 hours). Each row shows the sequential number of the Certificate, transaction number, type of Certificate and date of filing

Availability of Information

In general the amount of available information for a BVI company is limited. Confidentiality is one of the most interesting features of the BVI jurisdiction and nearly all of the companies incorporated here are looking for it. Memorandum and Articles of Association are always available for all companies because it's mandatory for them to file those documents along with any amendments. Other document that is available for all companies is the "Application for Incorporation" (BC if the company was incorporated under the 2004 Act or IBC if it was before it)

All the documents filed by a company are available for public inspection at the BVI Registry of Corporate Affairs but companies are not required to file annual accounts, annual returns, register of charges, financial statements or tax returns. Since 2016 BVI companies have to file a Register of Directors (ROD) but it's not available for public inspection unless the company decides to do so in accordance with section 231 (1) of the Act. Although filing the Register of Charges is not mandatory many companies choose to file it because lenders may require it. If a company acts a borrower it has to provide the lender with a security interest. The lender will require the company to file the charge in the register of charges in order to have more priority than other future loans.

Companies have to maintain a Registry of Shareholders (Members) at the Registered Office but that isn't public neither. Funds are an exception to these rules because they are regulated entities and therefore they have to file annual returns and financial statements.

Regular companies may choose to file any of the mentioned Registers to the BVI Registrar and in that case they will have to keep filing the Register(s) each year. This requirement may be stopped by giving a formal notice to the BVI Registrar.

Financial Statements

The requirements for financial records are detailed in section 98 of the BVI Business Companies Act 2004

A company shall keep records that are sufficient to show and explain the company’s transactions; and will, at any time, enable the financial position of the company to be determined with reasonable accuracy. A company that contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10,000. So financial statements for a BVI company are not available because the company doesn't have to file them or even keep them at its Registered Office.

Independent audit of accounts is not required either with the exception of Segregated Portfolio Companies (SPC) in accordance to Section 159 (2)(b)(v) of the Act

Directors

The list of the directors of a BVI company is not publicly available in general, even if the company has filed a Register of Directors. The reason for this is that most of the filings of Register of Directors are private. The company is not required to file this document as public. Most requested copies of this filing will only show that the company has filed a Register of Directors and not the names of the individuals as expected.

The Register of Directors is filed to the BVI Registry of Corporate Affairs using Form R410 titled "REGISTRATION TO REGISTER OF DIRECTORS/MEMBERS, THE BVI BUSINESS COMPANIES ACT, 2004, Section 231". The contents of the Register are in accordance with section 118 (1) of the Act.

The particulars of directors maintained in the Register include the following fields for individuals:

  • Full Name
  • Each former name (if any)
  • Date of appointment or nomination of the individual as a Director or Reserve Director
  • Date of cessation of the individual as a Director or Reserve Director
  • Address for the service of documents
  • Usual residential address (if different from service address)
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
In case of corporate directors the fields maintained are:
  • Corporate name (name of the company or entity)
  • Company number (corporate registration number if available)
  • Date of appointment or nomination of the corporate entity as a Director or Reserve Director
  • Date of cessation of the corporate entity as a Director or Reserve Director
  • Registered office (or principal business address)
  • Address (in case of a company incorporated in the BVI just the company number)
  • Place of incorporation
  • Date of incorporation

Newly incorporated companies in BVI have to file its register of directors within 21 days of the appointment of the first directors. It's mandatory for all companies to notify their registered agent of any changes in the Register of Directors within 15 days of the modification. For older companies incorporated before 1 January 2016 the deadline was 31 March 2017 and a penalty of US$8,000 was established. This penalty was reduced to US$5,000 on the Amendment of Schedule 3 (September 2018).

Companies that didn't file their Register of Directors by the end of 2018 will be struck off from the BVI Registry on 2 January 2019. So there will be no BVI companies without a Register of Directors filed by 2019.

Here's a sample Register of Directors. Please note that this document is available only for companies that file it as public. Most BVI companies file it as private.

Sample Register of Directors BVI

Shareholders

Shareholders of BVI companies are listed in the Register of Members which is defined in section 41 of the Business Companies Act. They are not publicly available. There are three types of members:

  • Shareholders holding registered shares
  • Guarantee members
  • Unlimited members

A company shall keep a register of members containing names and addresses of the shareholders along with the number and class of shares hold. Additional information include the date on which each shareholder was entered in the Register and the date on which the shareholder was ceased (if that's the case). Persons who are no longer members of a company may be deleted from the Register in accordance with section 41 (4)

In case that the company has the ability to issue bearer shares, the Register should contain the number and date of the certificate, number of bearer shares for each class and name and address of the approved custodian of the certificate

Unless the directors prevent it, the shareholders have right to inspect the memorandum and articles, the register of directors, the register of members and minutes of meetings. However the directors can oppose to this if they are satisfied that it would be contrary to the company's interests according to section 100 (3)

Here's a sample of a Register of Members. Please note that this document is not available for most BVI companies. Only in certain cases is filed to the Registry.

Sample Register of Members BVI

Beneficial ownership

The ultimate beneficial owner of a BVI company is not available for the public. However, registered agents must keep the following information about the beneficial owner of a company:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Residential Address
  • Nationality

This information is required in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, Section 4 and it's a best practice KYC policy.

The Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System Act (BOSS) was introduced in 2017 and it's designed to be a searchable database of beneficial ownership information. However access to this database is restricted to BVI Authorities and it was designed with confidentiality in mind. The system was developed by Binder Dijker Otte (BDO). Authorities competent to use the secure search system include the Financial Services Commission, the International Tax Authority, the Financial Investigation Agency and the Attorney General's Chambers. This act applies only to business companies and not to trusts or partnerships. Registered agents have to enter and keep updated beneficial owner data within 15 days of identification of the beneficial owners. The required information to be entered in the system is the same as the one that registered agents have to hold in their internal records. The prescribed information is described in section 10 (3) of the BOSS Act.

Available records

Although the available information from a public company search is limited to a list of filings that can be requested too, and no public information about directors or shareholders, individuals or companies with legitimate interest (for example victims of fraud or creditors) can actually have access to comprehensive details about the company. This is possible because the key information actually exists and it's being properly recorded and stored. Rules on confidentiality in the BVI fall back on English common law principles but the fact that ownership information is not available for public inspection is not uncommon in Civil Law territories.

In order to start your research about a BVI company, enter the company name and click start search here

Application for Incorporation

Sample BVI Application for Incorporation

Download a PDF Version of the BVI Application for Incorporation

Memorandum & Articles of Association

Sample BVI Memorandum and Articles of Association

Download a PDF Version of the BVI Memorandum & Articles of Association

Notarization, Legalisation and Apostille

Documents filed by a BVI business company to the Registry of Corporate Affairs can be notarized by a BVI notary public. This also applies to documents retrieved from the Registry such as Certificates of Good Standing and company searches. Foreign countries may require the documents to be notarized and/or legalised if the foreign country is a member of the Hague Convention. The British Virgin Islands is also a member of the mentioned Convention so it's possible to Apostille documents that bear a BVI official signature. If the document lacks an official signature it has to be notarized first. Contact us if you require these services.

Company numbers

BVI Company numbers are numeric with no letters or other characters. The current BVI Business Companies Act 2004 (Number 16) appeared in the BVI Gazette on 29th December 2004 and came into force on 1st January 2005. On 1st January 2009 the companies that were incorporated under the previous Companies Act were re-registered under the current Act and their company number was changed adding 700,000 to it.

It's possible to conduct a search using the company number only. In fact this is actually faster than searching by company name as sometimes there are very similar names.

Some companies have their number as a name, for example "BVI Company Number 7432732 Limited" is a valid legal name of a BVI Company

How many BVI active companies exist?

We track the official figures published by the BVI Financial Services Commision since 2016 and as of 30th June 2021 there were 364,980 active companies in the BVI, down from 372,196 that were active on end of Q1 2021

Number of BVI Active companies
Number of BVI Active entities (non companies)

Legislation

The original Act came into force on 15 August 1984 and it was named "International Business Companies Act, 1984". It allowed the incorporation of IBCs in the British Virgin Islands. This Act was amended several times and it was replaced by the BVI Business Companies Act which came into force on 1 January 2005 and it's still valid. The current Act has been amended several times as well. Here's a comprehensive list of the companies acts.

BVI Act name Date when it came into force
International Business Companies Act, 198415 August 1984
BVI Business Companies Act, 20041 January 2005

News and updates

Scaling business in southern Africa through BVI corporate structures British Virgin Islands (BVI) corporate structures present a tremendous opportunity to facilitate investment and scale businesses

The 63th volume (Q2 2021) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 9,114 new incorporations, a 17% higher than Q1 2021 and a total number of companies of 364,980 (2% less). It's an important increase of new BVI companies.

The 62th volume (Q1 2021) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 7,732 new incorporations, a 26% higher than Q4 2020 and a total number of companies of 372,196 (1.5% more). This seems an upward trend but we have to be careful with Q1 data as it's usually higher than Q2 due to the timescale of deletion of companies from the Registry

Offshore SPACs Offshore jurisdictions, including the British Virgin Islands (BVI), have proven to be particularly well-suited to SPACs given their business-friendly, flexible and internationally recognised legal regimes

Steps In Safely Reopening Economy British Virgin Islands has shared its perspective on how it intends to safely reopen the economy

The 61th volume (Q4 2020) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 6,108 new incorporations, a 2% lower than Q3 2020 and a total number of companies of 366,364 (3% less). After latest spike, this means a slight decline in company incorporations

Commission to be “one-stop shop” for trade laws will reclassify businesses, up some fees, and implement new processes related to investment, work permits and trade licenses under the umbrella of the new Trade Commission

Shipping registry to become statutory body, economic pillar Premier Andrew Fahie has announced plans to make the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR) a government statutory body

Slight Q3 spike in incorporations offers hope New company incorporations climbed by 32 percent to reach 6,254 in the third quarter of 2020 after three straight quarters of falling numbers

British Virgin Islands retains status as leading financial centreThe British Virgin Islands are now a leading jurisdiction for company formations, registration of investment funds and structured finance issuers.

The 60th volume (Q3 2020) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 6,254 new incorporations, a 32% higher than Q2 2020 and a total number of companies of 380,049 (2% more). This represents a strong recovery of the BVI as a reputable offshore jurisdiction.

The 59th volume (Q2 2020) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 4,725 new incorporations, a 11% lower than Q1 2020 and a total number of companies of 375,832. The latter number is slightly higher (0,05%) than the previous figure of Q1 2020

British Virgin Islands announces plans to finally make company ownership information public Premier and Minister of Finance of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) Andrew A. Fahie announced the establishment of a "publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership for companies."

The 58th volume (Q1 2020) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 5,275 new incorporations, a 5% lower than Q4 2019 and a total number of companies of 373,917. The total number of active companies is the lowest in our records.

7% tax on all $$ leaving the BVI via money transfers The new legislation mandating that a seven percent tax to be taken from all wire transfers leaving the BVI through money transfer agencies has come into effect. Non-compliant agencies will be fined.

The 57th volume (Q4 2019) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 5,596 new incorporations, a 20% lower than Q3 2019 and a total number of companies of 387,344. Both figures are the lowest in our records.

British Virgin Islands: EU Upgrades BVI To Whitelist Status BVI government welcomes whitelist status announcement

Economic substance legislation to receive an additional investment of $150,000 from the British Virgin Islands Government

The 56th volume (Q3 2019) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 6,975 new incorporations, a 9,5% higher than Q2 2019 and a total number of companies of 402,234 which is an increase from last quarter and it's a similar figure to the end of Q4 2018.

A hedge fund report analyzes the BVI as a hubspot with more than 1.500 hedge funds registered.

The British Virgin Islands signed another Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding among the members of the Caribbean Association of Insurance Regulators (CAIR). Members include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Granadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands

The British Virgin Islands signed a Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding among several Caribbean countries

The 55th volume (Q2 2019) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin reported 6,365 new incorporations, a 12% lower than Q1 2019 and a total number of companies of 396,932, the lowest since 31st December 2017.

The 54th volume (Q1 2019) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin was released. New incorporations in Q1 2019 were 7,214, 20% less than the previous period and one of the lowest values of the last years. Total number of companies is 408,848 which is an increase.

The 53th volume (Q4 2018) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin was published. The number of new incorporations in Q4 2018 was 8,916 and it's an increase by 4.43% when compared to the number of new incorporations in Q4 2017. Total number of BVI active companies is 402,907 (31st Dec. 2018), a 4.6% decrease from 30th September 2018.

The European Union announced that it recognises the British Virgin Islands as a cooperative jurisdiction. The Economic Substance Act (bill passed in 20 December 2018) address the EU's specific concerns.

The 52th volume (Q3 2018) of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin was published. The number of new incorporations in Q3 2018 increased by 25.34% when compared to the number of new incorporations in Q3 2017. Total number of BVI active companies is 422,594 (30th Sept. 2018), a 1.3% increase from 30th June 2018.

Economic Substance Act An Act to introduce the substantive economic substance requirements; to amend the Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System Act, 2017

The 51th volume of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin was published. It reported 417,125 active business companies in the Registry, a 3.69% decrease from the previous known figure

BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2018, Segregated Portfolio Companies (BVI Business Company) Regulations, 2018, Segregated Portfolio Companies (Insurance) Regulations, 2018 and Segregated Portfolio (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 2018 entered into force

The 50th volume of the FSC Quarterly Statistical Bulletin was published. It reported 432,529 active business companies in the Registry

BVI Business Companies (Amendment of Schedule 1)(No. 3) Order, 2018 entered in force