Antigua Offshore Banking Guide

The Caribbean has seen plenty of scrutiny lately as the U.S. continues to crackdown on illicit money flows. However, the situation seems to have stabilized, recently, and many of the typical island tax havens are operating normally. Subsequently, this article will give you a quick update on the status of Antigua Offshore Banking.

The Caribbean has seen plenty of scrutiny lately as the U.S. continues to crackdown on illicit money flows. However, the situation seems to have stabilized, recently, and many of the typical island tax havens are operating normally. Subsequently, this article will give you a quick update on the status of Antigua Offshore Banking.

Is Antigua Still a Tax Haven?

Antigua Offshore Banking
Antigua is Still a Tax Haven in 2022

Yes. Even in 2022, Antigua still maintains an International Business Company (IBC) register and is a zero-tax jurisdiction for offshore companies.

As long as the corporation is foreign-owned, it will be subject to no tax or government impost and this includes income and capital gains taxes. Subsequently, the structures are very flexible and provide excellent tax minimization benefits. In contrast, the domestic headline income tax rate for companies is 25% which is still reasonable, in comparison to most western countries, especially when noting there is no capital gains tax of any kind.

Additionally, there are no personal income taxes in Antigua following major law changes in 2016. This has meant that Antigua has become one of the key locations for those looking to move their tax residency away from their legacy brand countries.

However, it should be noted that, domestically, there is a basic property tax regime (0.2% to 0.5%) on unimproved land which is owned by non-residents of the island state. In most cases, this is unlikely to impact someone setting up an offshore entity, but it may factor into your plans if you intend to seek residency.

Ultimately, Antigua is still firmly a tax haven but has the benefit of not being on the OECD’s uncooperative tax havens list.

Antiguan Country Background and Stability

Banking Guide for Antigua Tax Haven
Antigua Remains a Stable and Vibrant Nation

Antigua is relatively stable from both an economic and political perspective. The nation ranks 2.5 (strong) on the political stability index and there appears to be little in the way of coups or civil unrest on the islands.

Additionally, Antigua is one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous nations, due to tourism and the cruise ship industry, and reported a strong GDP result of US$1.64 billion in 2021. Subsequently, there are plenty of economic reasons for Antiguans to rejoice given their position as one of the wealthiest nations in the Caribbean.

The offshore sector is also favorably viewed by the government and regulatory sector given its significant contribution to GDP and high-quality local jobs. Therefore, major changes to the taxation treatment of IBCs are unlikely in the medium term.

What is the Current Status of Antigua Offshore Banking

Antigua went through a period of cleaning up its reputation following some high-profile scandals within the banking sector. Subsequently, the past few years have seen the revocation of bank licenses by institutions that were unable to meet the new requirements.

There has been considerable consolidation within the offshore banking sector and the licensed banks, with actual operations, have been reduced considerably. However, the sector is now starting to grow again and, for those with an Antiguan connection, local banking services are easily obtainable.

List of Antigua Offshore Banking Institutions

I’ve detailed the major offshore banks operating within Antigua and Barbuda for your viewing. Please note, that these details were correct as of the 5th of May 2022, but changes may occur with their application requirements.

Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank

ECAB is a full-service financial institution that offers both personal and corporate banking services to onshore and offshore clients. They actually purchased the Bank of Nova Scotia’s operations on the island and therefore, have the largest network of bank branches.

The bank has allowed some remote opening, given the COVID pandemic, but typically requires a visit to provide all the required identity documents. Additionally, you will also need to show a connection to Antigua, whether that be property ownership or a business, to demonstrate a good reason for possessing an account.

Basic Requirements for a Personal Account (not resident in Antigua):

  • Passport
  • Proof of Address (utility bill not older than 90 days)
  • Original bank reference sent directly to ECAB
  • Demonstratable economic association with Antigua
  • Source of Funds declaration and proof
  • Confirmation of US citizenship (if applicable)
  • Tax residency certification form
  • Tax identification number for each jurisdiction you are resident in

ACB Caribbean Group

ACB is primarily a domestic banking operation that was previously known as the RBTT Bank Caribbean Limited. They do not have a focus on offshore banking, and you would need to attend a branch in person with a good economic reason as to why you want to open a bank account.

First Caribbean International Bank

CIBC is a full-service offshore bank with branches throughout the Caribbean and the United States of America. They offer a wide range of transactional banking products as well as wealth management and corporate/institutional banking.

For account opening, you will require the typical identity and proof of address documents. However, for those non-residents in Antigua you will need a professional reference and also proof of why you desire an account.

D Bank Limited

D Bank is a small boutique bank with a single branch in Antigua. They are primarily wealth management and money market-focused. However, they do entertain account applications from those based offshore and have an easy onboarding process.

BRS Banque S.A.

BRS is a private bank operation with a focus on wealth management as well as transactional home banking. The account opening requires the typical KYC/AML documents and procedures, and they are also happy to onboard US persons with the additional FATCA reporting. Expect a significantly higher minimum account opening and, likely, need to include wealth management as a service.

Risks of Antigua Offshore Banking

Maintaining the Ability to Send and Receive Transfers is Critical for Antigua

As mentioned, the Antiguan banking sector has faced some challenges over the past few decades with some high-profile failures and slips. This has meant that there it is difficult for the local banks to maintain correspondent bank accounts with other banks.

Subsequently, one of the largest risks that you potentially face in banking in Antigua is the general loss of correspondent facilities. If another U.S. crackdown was to occur, you could find it difficult to move funds in and out of the island nation. This has happened in the past with other offshore banking jurisdictions like Belize and it remains a possibility, although unlikely now.

Ultimately, the downside risks of banking in Antigua are more around the slowness of transfers and the lack of significant choices in the offshore sector.

My Preference for a Caribbean Banking Jurisdiction

Unless you have a specific reason to bank in Antigua, I would suggest you look further afield to offshore locations that primarily cater to non-resident account holders. Otherwise, you could end up with a banking facility that doesn’t fit your requirements and is difficult to use.

Thankfully, the Caribbean is blessed with quite a few significant offshore banking sectors, and I believe you would be hard-pressed to go past the Cayman Islands given its role as a financial hub. To a lesser extent, the Bahamas also provides a myriad of services to non-residents.

Ultimately, you need to always assess whether a banking jurisdiction fits your personal needs, and, in some cases, Antigua might do that. However, I would strongly advise you to look elsewhere your needs are really just transactional in nature.

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