Less than a two-hour flight from New York, Bermuda fosters a collaborative business culture that sees government, industry and regulators working together for the jurisdiction’s commercial success. That history has created a highly respected and successful financial centre recognised for worldwide standards of compliance, regulation, transparency and infrastructure. With 91 tax treaty partners around the world, Bermuda is rated a first-class domicile by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Top global service-providers have created a workforce of experienced, internationally trained and qualified professionals. Notably, the Island is the world’s largest captive domicile, one of the top three reinsurance centres, and the leading market for property catastrophe insurance and insurance-linked securities.
LOCATION, TIME ZONE & ACCESS
Bermuda is a 21-square-mile, self-governing British Overseas Territory, 650 miles (1,000 km) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, NC, with daily direct flights to US gateway cities, Toronto and London. Its favourable Atlantic Standard Time makes it ideal for companies serving global markets.
Bermuda is globally respected for its leadership and proven record on compliance and transparency. The jurisdiction has more than 90 treaty partnerships with nations around the world. In 2016, the European Union awarded Bermuda full equivalence with Europe’s Solvency II insurance regulatory regime.
MAJOR INSURANCE CENTRE
Bermuda is one of three major insurance centres, the most important property and catastrophe market, and the largest captive insurance market. The island also has the world’s largest share of ILS listings ($19 billion, more than 75 percent by Q1 2016).
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE CENTRE
Bermuda is a centre for funds, trusts, HNWI offices, shipping, aviation and new ventures. Asset management, trust and private client business, family-office structures, shipping and aviation companies and related registries—plus new ventures such as tech start-ups and biomed companies—contribute to its economy.
Bermuda is home to a wealth of world-class talent. Auditors, financial advisers, lawyers, IT specialists, actuaries, re/insurance underwriters, brokers, fund administrators, corporate secretaries and a full gamut of support services operate in the City of Hamilton.
An estimated 3,700 international business employees—including 2,000 (60%) Bermudians—contribute directly to all economic sectors in Bermuda, from retail to transport. More than 60% of Bermuda’s vital foreign revenues can be attributed to IB activity.
The island’s economic model supports close to a half-million jobs globally. This includes an estimated 350,000 jobs in the US and more than 100,000 in the UK through trade, foreign direct investment, and portfolio investment capacity, facilitating economic globalisation.
Bermuda has a track record of ‘firsts’—the world’s first captive insurers, the first true excess liability carriers, the first property catastrophe insurers and “cat” bonds. In 2009, Bermuda was the first offshore jurisdiction to be included on the OECD’s white list of compliant, transparent countries.
Bermuda is a highly collaborative jurisdiction. Industry, government and regulators work closely together to facilitate speed to market and innovative, expeditious resolution of client issues.
LEGAL & POLITICAL STABILITY
Bermuda’s legal system marks its 400th anniversary in 2016. With courts dating back to 1616, the island uses English common law, with recourse to the UK Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Bermuda’s government is a stable Westminster-style parliamentary democracy.
Bermuda is a tax-neutral jurisdiction, with zero income, corporate, withholding or capital gains taxes. Its consumption-based system does, however, levy payroll tax, import duties, social insurance, and custom duties on goods and services—a major component of the island’s tax revenues.
Bermuda has secure, modern and world-class physical and technological infrastructure including excellent telecommunications, broadband and a fully electronic Bermuda Stock Exchange. An example? Hamilton’s businesses suffered no down-time after two hurricanes within a week hit Bermuda in 2014.
STANDARD OF LIVING
Bermuda has one of the highest standards of living in the world, with excellent education, services and access to top-tier healthcare. The island has a temperate climate, sub-tropical physical beauty, world-famous beaches, golf courses and the northernmost coral reefs.
Bermuda will host the 35th America’s Cup in June 2017. It marks the first time in the regatta’s 166-year history that a defender—Oracle Team USA—will sail in foreign waters by choice. One the circuit’s run-up stages, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, was staged in Bermuda in October, 2015.
GLOBAL COMPLIANCE & TRANSPARENCY
Bermuda is recognised as a leader on tax-transparency issues by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and G20 nations. The island is compliant with US and UK anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorist financing (ATF) requirements, and has no banking-secrecy laws.
Bermuda is fully cooperative with global partners through its 41 tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs). Bermuda has held a TIEA with the United States since the USA-Bermuda Tax Convention Act 1986. It was our first TIEA and possibly one of the world’s first such agreements.
BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REGISTER
Bermuda’s corporate beneficial ownership register was established more than 60 years ago, enabling qualified authorities to share essential information on incorporated companies.
BERMUDA MONETARY AUTHORITY (BMA)
Established in 1969, the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) is a world-respected regulatory body. The BMA works closely with industry, government, and international regulatory bodies to keep Bermuda’s oversight of financial entities responsive and contemporary. Its sophistication as a commercial insurance regulator speeds capital to markets to take on global insurance risk.
Bermuda is one of seven jurisdictions deemed qualified by the US National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The Bermuda Monetary Authority is a full member of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), a member of the Group of International Finance Centre Supervisors, and a founding member of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS).
The Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) is a full member of the World Federation of Exchanges and an affiliate member of IOSCO. The BSX is recognised by the SEC as a Designated Offshore Securities Market; by the UK FCA as a Designated Investment Exchange; by the UK HM Revenue & Customs as a Recognised Stock Exchange; and by Canada’s Ministry of Finance as a designated exchange.
In 2016, the island achieved full equivalency under Europe’s Solvency II regulatory system for insurers. The decision puts Bermuda’s commercial re/insurance companies on equal footing with European Union markets, while providing EU businesses, insurers and consumers critical access to the Bermuda market’s capacity and claims-paying record. The decision does not affect captives (special purpose insurers).
The Bermuda Monetary Authority has signed agreements with most European Union (EU) member states on the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), a pre-condition to allowing non-EU AIFMs access to EU markets. Bermuda is to be among the next group of third-country assessments for non-EU passport rights—of benefit to Bermuda-based hedge-fund managers and EU-based investors.
Bermuda’s funds industry is establishing an AIMA (Alternative Investment Management Association) Bermuda branch in 2016.
Bermuda has signed Model 2 intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) with the US and UK under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), along with Chile, Hong Kong, Japan and Switzerland.
Bermuda is working on next steps for OECD standards for Base Erosion & Profit Shifting (BEPS) compliance. The island is expected to require Bermuda multi-nationals to file country-by-country reports in 2017 for CY 2016, putting Bermuda in good standing with OECD member states in compliance.
Bermuda does not qualify as a ‘tax haven’ under the OECD’s definition. The OECD identifies four factors that should all be met to qualify jurisdictions as tax havens: lack of transparency; lack of information exchange; no substantial activity; and no or nominal tax on income. In a 2009 report, the OECD found: “No or nominal tax is not sufficient in itself to classify a country as a tax haven.”