What this is: There are many reasons you may want to do business in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). Tax breaks, similar regulatory laws…or maybe your company won a project on the islands. Whatever the reason, the process requires careful consideration and patience.
What this means: To successfully qualify/register your business in the USVI, there are steps to take to ensure compliance. Here are some things to look out for if you’re considering doing business in the USVI.
Doing Business in the USVI
As an unincorporated US territory, the tax system would be quite familiar, but USVI economic development programs also provide tax exemption incentives for gross receipts tax, excise tax, property tax and customs duties, along with a possible 90% income tax exemption.
Note that these benefits given to companies in the USVI are legally sanctioned by the US government, so it’s not considered a corporate or offshore tax haven.
Requirements for a USVI Business License
Once an entity secures a USVI Certificate of Qualification, it must also apply for a business license before engaging in business operations. Standard business licenses are applied for and acquired from the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA).
To get your USVI business license, you’ll need the following:
- A completed business license application. If your trading address in the USVI is being provided by your corporate registered agent, then your application will need to be accompanied by an original Letter of Authorization for use of the registered agent’s address.
- A copy of the Certificate of Qualification from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, evidencing the registration and existence of the company in the USVI, together with a copy of consent from your registered agent (to act in that capacity) and the usual supporting documents, such as a company’s articles and bylaws or an LLC’s operating agreement.
- A Tax Clearance Letter from the USVI Bureau of Internal Revenue. (The USVI Bureau of Internal Revenue will need a copy of the document issued by the US IRS assigning the company’s EIN.)
- Police Records Check for the officers of the corporation. This review is conducted electronically on behalf of the applicant by the DLCA.
- Copies of valid government-issued identification (driver’s license or passport) for the officers, as listed on the license application. If the company is an LLC and there is only one member, manager or officer, we will need to provide a copy of the ID for the sole individual.
- Zoning Approval from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources. This review is also conducted electronically on behalf of the applicant by the DLCA.
- Copy of the Certificate of Inspection from the Fire Department. It’s required that the Certificate of Inspection be in the entity’s name, accompanied by an original Letter of Authorization for use of the registered agent’s address.
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In addition, the following listed professions must be certified by their respective board to practice in the USVI:
- Architects, engineers and land surveyors
- Barbers, beauticians and manicurists
- Construction contractors
- Public accountants
- Real estate appraisers
- Real estate commissioners
- Social workers
These profession-based exams are administered by the pertinent professional board at the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
Be aware that some businesses will also need to submit to a review by the Department of Health depending on the type of license requested (food-related businesses, counseling practices, massage therapists, etc.)
Don’t Expect Fast Turnaround Time
Starting your business in the USVI requires patience from the applicant. Once all required documents and payments have been submitted, obtaining the business license may take 6 to 8 weeks (with no guarantees). Would you expect anything less than island time? Working with a trusted service provider can help with the process.
What steps are required in order to register as a foreign corporation in the USVI?
You must file a Certificate of Appointment of Process Agent and Sworn Statement with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The certificate must be accompanied by a copy of the company’s Certificate of Incorporation and any amendments, a Certificate of Good Standing from its domestic jurisdiction, a signed consent of the registered agent agreeing to act in that capacity and a simple statement of the foreign corporation’s assets, liabilities and capital stock. You can read more at US Virgin Islands: Incorporation and Registration in a Nutshell.
This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.