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Gibraltar


Gibraltar

HISTORY AND POLITICAL STRUCTURE

Gibraltar is a small peninsula located on the southern coast of Spain. It covers a total area of 6.5sq km and its coastline stretches for 12km only; there is a 1.2 km borderline with Spain. The Strait of Gibraltar links the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Gibraltar enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate. Its highest point is the rock of Gibraltar which reaches 426m and is surrounded by narrow coastal lowland. The supply of fresh water is limited and there is no agriculture.

In July, 2009, the population was estimated at around 29,000. The official language is English although Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian are also spoken. The ethnic groups settled in Gibraltar include Italian, English, Maltese, Portuguese and Spanish.

The history of the Rock of Gibraltar is rich and varied due to its strategic location. Once dominated by Rome, the cape fell to the Goths who ruled for a further 3 centuries. The Berber Tarik-ibn-Zeyad took Gibraltar in 711, giving the Rock its name (a corruption of Jebel Tarik, Tarik’s Rock). Gibraltar remained under moorish occupation for six centuries. Spain finally reclaimed Gibraltar in the late 15th century, and kept it until the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713), when the Treaty of Utrecht ceded the Rock to Great Britain “for ever.” Spain’s last attempt to take it back by force was in 1779.

During the nineteenth century, Gibraltar developed into an impregnable fortress and a prosperous society developed within its walls. It remained a key British military and naval outpost until very recently and British culture has heavily influenced most aspects of Gibraltarian life. In modern times Spain has pursued its claim to Gibraltar in every possible way short of force of arms; but the population will have none of it, and no resolution of the problem is in sight.
Gibraltar is predominantly Roman Catholic (74%) with Protestant, Muslim and Jewish minorities.

In 1830 Gibraltar became the Crown Colony of Gibraltar with legislative powers vested in a Governor; a Charter of Justice created an independent Judiciary. Gibraltar is now a dependent territory of the UK with internal self-government based on a Constitution of 1969. The UK remains responsible for defence, foreign affairs and internal security.

Gibraltar has its own House of Assembly, comprising fifteen elected members and two nominated members; the last elections were in 2007. The two main parties are the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (led by Joe Bossano) and the Gibraltar Social Democrats (led by Peter Caruana). The latter is currently in power.

The Chief Minister who is appointed by the Governor heads the Council of Ministers who are responsible for matters such as trade, economic development, education, public services, and housing. There is an advisory Gibraltar Council. Gibraltar is politically stable and as a British colony since 1704 its legal systems are based on English models, although of course EU law applies in most areas. There are three levels of court, and a Court of Appeal.

In December 2006, Gibraltarians accepted a new constitution for the jurisdiction, which aimed to give it more autonomy from the United Kingdom over its own internal affairs. In a referendum, 60.24% of those who turned out voted ‘yes’ to the new constitution, while 37.75% voted to reject it. 60.4% of Gibraltar’s 20,061 registered voters turned out to vote. The constitution, agreed in April of that year by then UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Peter Caruana, and between Gibraltar’s two main political parties later in the year, saw the UK retaining international responsibility for Gibraltar. However, the new constitution ceded certain powers previously in the possession of the British government to Gibraltar, and allowed the jurisdiction to have its own independent judiciary.

ECONOMY

The economy used to be substantially dominated by the British naval dockyard and military presence, but major cutbacks over the last few decades have reduced the share of such expenditure to a small fraction of the local economy. Magnificent port facilities remain, so that shipping and tourism are the mainstays of the economy. Several million people visit Gibraltar annually, many of them evidently stepping ashore from cruise liners (see below for recent visitor numbers). There is a fair amount of local construction work on the hotel/conferencing sector, and to accommodate
wealthy expatriates.

The Government has primarily, however, pinned its hopes for the future on the financial services sector, which has been growing rapidly. Growth in the technology sector is also promising, with a number of large betting and gaming companies taking advantage of the low-tax regime and good telecommunications facilities.

The currency is the Gibraltar pound (£G) = 100 pence and is at par with the British pound. There are no exchange controls in Gibraltar.

In his June, 2005, budget speech, Chief Minister Peter Caruana noted that Gibraltar’s Finance Centre continued to grow and remained in healthy shape despite the challenges brought by both the EU’s insistence that the territory change its offshore tax regime and the Savings Tax Directive.

Caruana added: “The gaming industry continues to grow impressively and has now become a significant part our economy. As at April 2005, there are now 15 operators employing 1,107 people, compared to 11 operators employing 837 people in June last year. This represents a 32% increase in jobs in less than 1 year,” he explained.

“This growth in the gaming industry has produced not just 1,107 jobs, but also a substantial increase in Government revenue. Not only do those 1,107 people pay income tax to Government, but the industry also paid £4.3 million to Government last year in Gaming Tax. This is up from £1.8 million in 2000/01, an increase of 138%. This yield is expected to rise this year as Government increases, not the rate of Gaming Tax, but the cap to which it is subject.”

In August 2006, the Gibraltar authorities revealed that the economy was performing well, with GDP growth in 2005 estimated at 7%, after 10.4% growth in 2004. Per capita GDP was expected to record a new high of GBP21,000, the 10th highest in the world.

 

The Government estimated revenue of GBP250 million (up 1.63%) in 2006-07 and expenditure of GBP232.7 million (up3.88%), resulting in a surplus of GBP17.3 million. Public debt remained static in absolute cash terms at GBP93 million. This represented 15.7% of GDP, compared with the OECD benchmark of 40% and the EU target under the Maastricht Treaty of 60%.

Inflation ran at 2.9% and employment within the economically-active Gibraltarian population was estimated at 97% at the time the figures were released, representing almost full employment.

The government stated at that time that Gibraltar’s economy was well diversified, with tourism and financial services accounting for approximately 30% of the economy each, the port and shipping 25%, and service-related activities such as telecommunications, ecommerce and e-gaming accounting for the remaining 15%.

WHY CHOOSE GIBRALTAR WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS?

Foreign investment in Gibraltar is actively promoted by the government largely to create job opportunities. Tax concessions have traditionally been governed by The Development Aid Ordinance. Concessions have usually been available to light industries who intend to export from Gibraltar, with any corporation with a development aid licence granted by the governor for a project that will benefit Gibraltar’s economy exempted from paying income tax on profit earned from the development until the total gains from the development exceed the percentage of approved capital expenditure. To qualify for a licence, projects are usually required to provide at least two housing units in Gibraltar; create new industry; provide a material and immovable asset in Gibraltar; develop the tourist industry; provide new employment opportunities or tangibly enhance the economic or financial infrastructure of Gibraltar.

Advantages of the Jurisdiction of Gibraltar

The following are the advantages of starting a Business in Gibraltar:

Together with the highly reputable British Isles of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, the crown colony of Gibraltar belongs to High Disclosure Offshore Centres which provide for greater legal certainty. It is the only British offshore centre that is part of the European Union. It is the only British offshore centre that can and will increasingly be able to provide financial institutions with passporting rights and access to the single European market for financial services.

A number of factors make Gibraltar an attractive place to conduct offshore business:

  • Good geographical location and bilingual (English and Spanish) territory
  • Cost effectiveness and attractive fiscal regime for offshore investors
  • Excellent reputation, stable government and special status within the European Union. · Excellent infrastructure and communications.
  • Favorable tax status for offshore banks. 
  • No exchange controls.

In addition to the opportunities arising from Gibraltar’s status in the EU, it is also the only jurisdiction that offers a flexible tax regime (25-year certificates), a specific exclusion form the EU requirement to levy VAT, and regulatory standards matching the EU and UK but retaining the flexibility of a small jurisdiction. All these factors make Gibraltar unique in many respects, and all of them are able to attract offshore investors.

Placing an order for the formation of a company

The Gibraltar Companies Ordinance, which is based on the Companies Act 1929 of the United Kingdom which has been amended and enhanced. The tax status for various types of Gibraltar companies is established primarily by the Gibraltar Companies (taxation and concessions) Ordinance of 1967.

The formation of a Gibraltar International Business Company can take place by using an order form which can be provided by the Registry Agent.

The Registry Agent will check the name availability of the company (whether there is no company under such name already). In Gibraltar the law requires that all financial service providers know the identity of their client so the actual contact details must be indicated at the Registry Agent.   This information remains confidential.

Requirements for the Registration of an IBC

  • Director: Minimum of one Director. Corporations are permitted.
  • Secretary: A secretary is required.
  • Shareholder: Minimum of one shareholder. Corporations are permitted.
  • Shareholders and Directors may be the same.
  • Shares & Capital: In Gibraltar, there is no minimum Authorized Share Capital, though the standard is 2,000 British  Pounds.
  • Name of the Company: Must end with one of the following suffixes: Limited or Ltd, Corporation or Corp, Incorporated or Inc.
  • Company must have a registered office and a registered agent in Gibraltar.

Required Documents to register the company:

  • Notarized copy of your Passport.
  • Notarized Copy of utility bill for address verification less than 3 months old
  • Application documents.

When all the details are confirmed and the payment for the relevant fees received, the Registry Agent will prepare the Memorandum and the Article of Association of the new International Business Company. These will be filed with the Registry of International Business Companies in Gibraltar. There is no need to sign any statutory info, the initial company formation documents are prepared and signed on your behalf by the Registered Agent always under the procedures set by the Gibraltar the Companies (taxation and concessions) Ordinance of 1967. The Registered agent will file the corporate documents of the company, will pay the applicable registration fees and arrange for the documents to be submitted to the Gibraltar Registrar of companies for registration. All the relevant documents will be kept in the Registered Agents office.

Corporate documents of an IBC:

  • Original certification of incorporation of IBC
  • Memorandum and article of Association
  • First minutes and Corporate Resolutions containing the appointment of directors, allocation of shares and share certificates, copies if the Registry of Directors and the Registry of shareholders need them.
  • Share transfer forms, trust declarations, appointments of representative (power of attorney) and the Corporate Seal.

Foreign investment in Gibraltar is actively promoted by the government largely to create job opportunities. Tax concessions have traditionally been governed by The Development Aid Ordinance. Concessions have usually been available to light manufacturers who intend to export from Gibraltar, with any corporation with a development aid license granted by the governor for a project that will benefit Gibraltar’s economy exempted from paying income tax on profit earned from the development until the total gains from the development exceed the percentage of approved capital expenditure.

To qualify for a licence, projects are usually required to provide at least two housing units in Gibraltar; create new industry; provide a material and immovable asset in Gibraltar; develop the tourist industry; provide new employment opportunities or tangibly enhance the economic or financial infrastructure of Gibraltar.

 

GENERAL OVERVIEW

Location

European Union (self-governing British Overseas Territory; joined EU with UK in 1973); located at entrance to Mediterranean; not an island.

Time zone

GMT + 1 hour.

Population

31,045

Capital

Gibraltar.

Airport(s)

Gibraltar.

Language

Official language: English; Spanish also widely spoken.

Currency

Sterling Pound (GBP); also Gibraltar pounds are issued at par.

Political system

Parliamentary democracy.

International dialling code

+350.

Legal system

English law as varied by local statute.

Centre’s expertise

Funds, including experienced investor funds, trusts, insurance and reinsurance, captives, pro­tected cell companies, wealth management.

TAX

Personal income tax

Choice between allowance - based (17 - 40%) and gross income-based (up to £25,000 : 20%; £25,001 - £100,000 : 30%; over £100,000 : 40%) ; special tax residence schemes for high-net-worth individuals and high executives possessing specialist skills.

Corporate income tax

33% (20% for small companies); low flat rate of tax across the board of 10 - 12% is introduced.

Exchange restrictions

None.

Tax treaties

Under negotiation.

SHARE CAPITAL

Permitted currencies

All major currencies.

Minimum authorised capital

No specific minimum.

Minimum share issue

One.

TYPE OF ENTITY

Shelf companies

Timescale for new entities

Three days; same day if urgent.

Incorporation fees

£50 (£100 for urgent incorporation).

Annual fees

Annual return: £45; filing of accounts: £10; filing of particulars of directors or secretaries: £10.

DIRECTORS

Minimum number

Private company: one but a minimum of two is advisable; public company: seven.

Residency requirements

None.

Corporate directors

Yes.

Meetings/frequency

Any location; once a year.

SHAREHOLDERS

Disclosure

Yes.

Bearer shares

Share warrants to bearer are permitted but these are required to be immobilised.

Minimum number

One.

Public share registry

Companies House.

Meetings / frequency

Once a year; any location.

ACCOUNTS

Annual return Audit requirements

Yes; certain derogations for small - and medium - sized companies.

OTHER

Registered office

Yes.

Domicile issues

Company naming restrictions

Yes.

Quality

We provide quality through customised solution in every aspect