Onshore, offshore and mid-shore. What is the difference?

Share this postShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone


Onshore is a financial centre in full-customs territory which doesn`t provide tax benefits regardless of company operating on this territory or abroad. These are traditional companies in full-customs jurisdictions.

The onshore zone requires from you several duties such as:

  • Holding of accounting report in the country where the company has been registered
  • Tax remission

Tax benefits may be obtained only at operating a particular type of business. Onshore involves information exposure. Executive group, chief and shareholders fall within the registry. Thus, the company becomes taxable, but taxes can be reduced to minimal at rational business organization.



Offshore company is a company registered in country with preferential tax treatment, having a particular type of property category and restrictions on economic business management within the country of registry. Offshore allows to run international business paying only fixed annual fee at the place of registration. Two offshore companies’ types are distinguished:

  1. Offshore used to reduce taxation
  2. Offshore built up for capital formation and international settlements.

Many customers prefer quite the opposite instead of onshore. Offshore zones have either minimal or no taxes. But it`s necessary to pay annual fee. Registered offshore company is considered to be a legally competent process owner / coordinator of an activity at the international market. Company registry is done within a very short time. Besides, you are permitted to open a bank account in the creditable bank and obtain credit if necessary. Company owner is not obliged to stay within the offshore jurisdiction all the time. He can manage business from the home country, while other duties are performed by the nominal director. Some  jurisdictions don`t require financial statement and audit admission. Another important thing is that they provide the owner with privacy, and in many cases specified service use is allowed. There is no monetary control.

The disadvantages include several factors. The first, and most important – the choice of proper economic area takes much time. Every offshore zone has its peculiarities depending on taxation, financial reporting requirements, privacy, and etc. due to the fact that the risk to lose business exists. Offshore companies not always have the opportunity to obtain credit.

Side-by-side comparison of the onshore and offshore areas:

Taxation Onshore companies are registered in economically developed countries, where high taxation rates are applied. Legislation of countries with developed economy doesn`t provide any benefits depending on whether the company business is carried on within the country of registry or outside the territory of onshore jurisdiction. The single tax benefit is the opportunity to use the concluded interstate agreement, allowing to avoid double taxation. Onshore companies are regarded as the taxpayers in the country of registry. The biggest advantage of the offshore companies consists in the small or even zero taxation considering restrictions for certain rules (it is forbidden to run business in the country of registry, commercial deals conclusion with legal bodies and individuals, etc.).
Privacy Information on beneficial owners remains public. Practically any legal or individual body can obtain the data on company structure along with the list of chief executives and shareholders, having filed the request to the corresponding public institution. The legislation of most offshore  jurisdictions allows to protect information on true company owner or owners. Reports on chief executive and shareholders are not mentioned in public company registrar. Besides, the use of nominal executive’s service is acceptable. Single offshore countries approve release of shares payable to bearer that many banks accept.
Reporting Onshore companies consistently pay taxes at the place of registration, which, in its turn, burdens them to run complete business accounting and submit corresponding accounting and tax reporting. No taxation in the country of registry removes the requirements for financial and accounting reports. In the offshore areas government bodies do not need such reporting, as taxation does not depend on reports’ results.
State control Onshore companies business is subject to closer control of government bodies in the country of registry. But due to this fact onshore companies possess higher business worthiness. Thus, their commercial deals attract much lesser attention. Usually the majority of offshore jurisdictions does not keep monetary or any other type of monitoring the offshore companies operations. Under competent registry, official jurisdiction bodies will not even know any information about the bank where offshore company account exists. The main disadvantage is that the legislation of many countries, where international companies carry on business, involves tightened control and certain legal restrictions at business enforcement.
Registry and company maintenance cost Registry and maintenance of onshore companies requires significant finance investments. Provider`s service cost while company registry in economically developed country may turn out to be much higher than in offshore jurisdictions countries. Current close monitoring of full and punctual tax payment will require engaging well-paid auditors and professionals on accounting. For the purpose of increasing the competitive performance, most offshore jurisdictions tried to make the existing legislation to the extent of registry and further business of international trading companies. Thus, the registration of the offshore companies itself and further handling labor (including obtaining additional documents, extracts etc.), is done within the shortest time without large financial expenses.


Mid-shore is a jurisdiction providing the opportunity of non-resident companies to register and imposing changeable taxation rates. Mid-shore ranks middle position between traditional offshore areas and high tax rate top jurisdictions. Mid-shores hold out the opportunity to register non-resident companies upon availability of changeable tax rates. This area is very popular with public at large. The mid-shore jurisdictions include: Hong Kong, Singapore, Malta, Labuan, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Great Britain, etc.

If you run operating business and work with partners worldwide, this area is perfect for you. In mid-shore, as well as in the onshore zones, all companies are charged taxes. It should be noted that mid-shore  jurisdictions allow you to create banking account anywhere in the world. In general it is similar to offshore, but there is one essential difference: OECD “whitelist” includes mid-shore areas.

The conducted studies hold a belief that very soon mid-shore may be ahead of offshore. By 2020 mid-shores can replace traditional offshores, or at least gain popularity and force of attraction in the eyes of companies. Conducted inquiries showed that clients give preference to British Virgin Islands in terms of asset protection, but by 2020 Singapore will become the most favorable territory for this purpose.

Mid-shores are on the march as they fully conform to all requirements made by international standards on tax transparency (public company register) and provide businessmen with consistent and reliable banking and financial sectors.

Each of three economic areas has its advantages making compensation for weak points. The most important is the choice of jurisdiction based on your business type. You can contact us by phone +357 25 316119 or any other way convenient for you.