HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT
England and France have long been interested in the Seychelles, with England finally winning out in 1814. From then until 1976, they were under English rule as a Commonwealth until they gained their independence, when socialism had taken over the country’s administration. The Seychelles remained socialist until 1993, when a new constitution was ratified and free elections were held.
The Seychelles is a Republic, with a President and a Council of Ministers. The legislative branch is a unicameral National Assembly (also called the Assemblee Nationale).
In the Seychelles, the legal system is based on English common law, French civil law and customary law, and judges for both the Court of Appeal and the Supree court are appointed b y the President.
COMMERCE AND TRADE
Agriculture: Coconuts, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava (tapioca), bananas; poultry; tuna
Industry: Fishing, tourism, processing of coconuts and vanilla, coir (coconut fiber) rope, boat building, printing, furniture; beverages
Exports: Canned tuna, frozen fish, cinnamon bark, copra, petroleum products to the UK, France, Italy, Mauritius, Japan, Spain and the Netherlands
Imports: Machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals from Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, France, Singapore, Italy and the UK
FREE TRADE ZONE
The Seychelles International Trade Zone (SITZ) offers exemptions from payments into social security and customs duty; the ability to hire all foreigners for one’s business and/or crew; and no fees for work permits, called “gainful occupation” permits.
BANKING, FINANCE AND INVESTMENT
The Seychelles have bloomed economically in the last 30 years since declaring independence, and now enjoys a solid position as one of the world’s upper-income countries. Almost three-quarters of revenue is derived from the tourism industry, which employs almost a third of the country’s population. Previously, the Seychelles rupee had been overvalued, which led to a significant drop in its value after being depreciated in 2006.
Fiscal year: Calendar year
The Seychelles Offshore Banking Department and Central Bank allow numbered accounts. Banking licenses are divided between banks that wish to conduct business domestically and those whose transactions will be happening outside Seychelles borders – and then there is a third category for those who will have mixed clientele. The process of applying for a bank license takes about three months, and you can be refused a license without explanation. Bank audits are prepared yearly and published as public record. Transactions up to SCR100,000 are subject to a limited investigation until the final destination of the funds are discovered
ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, C, COMESA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
The Seychelles recognizes the importance of foreign investment, and as such has implemented several types of incentives for foreigners who wish to invest there. These include non-detrimental taxes; import duty exemption; asset depreciation; and attractive tax credits.
Foreign property owners have received the proper authorization to purchase their land or pre-existing structure.
The Seychelles is not a backpackers’ paradise; proof of sufficient funds is necessary for lengthy stays, and often for short stays upon arrival.
Work permits are called “gainful occupation permits,” and are issued by Seychelles authorities for any foreigner who has shown the rightful candidacy for the position in question.
The Seychelles International Business Company (IBC) is far and away the most common type of company formation for this offshore jurisdiction. No minimum amount of paid-up capital is needed. No audit is required. Company officers or board members do not have to be of a particular nationality. The Seychelles does not have to be the location for annual meetings; in fact, they can be held by conference call from and to anywhere in the world. No more than one director and one shareholder need to be named on the Articles of Association.
This amazingly flexible business entity does have a few restrictions, most of which are commonplace among these types of offshore companies. No Seychelles residents can be involved in IBC transactions. IBCs may not own property in the Seychelles, whether undeveloped land or with pre-existing structures. Bank and insurance licenses are mandatory for those performing this kind of service
Other types of Seychelles companies, which each have their own rules and stipulations, include the protected cell company, which must categories each asset as cellular or non-cellular; limited partnership, which must have at least one partner liable for debts and cannot conduct business in the Seychelles; and a special license company, which requires a Seychelles-based company secretary.
The Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA) oversees the area concerning Seychelles trusts. There are a few stipulations and rules regarding trusts here, which are as follows.
Once the trust is activated, the settlor may not live in the Seychelles for the rest of the time the trust is active; since the duration is 100 years, it would be safe to say that the settlor may never live in Seychelles. However, at least one trustee must be a resident of the Seychelles. One trustee can be an International Business Company owned by the settlor, which means that the settlor can also be a trustee.
Rents, real estate profits, royalties, property commissions, and withholding taxed income are subject to personal taxation.
Corporations are taxed only above SCR250,000, and at a rate of 40 percent. All totals under that amount are tax-exempt. This goes for corporations and non-incorporated entities. Losses can be carried forward for five years, but not back. These losses can include those assumed in real estate dealings.
Withholding taxes are levied on a sliding scale from 10 to 40 percent.
Double Tax treaty agreements are in effect for Belgium, China, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Oman, Malaysia, Mauritius, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Cyprus, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Malaysia, Russia and Egypt. The Seychelles has also discussed double tax deals with Tunisia, Malta, India and the Czech Republic.