The most business friendly environment in the Pacific region
One of the most versatile of the International Business Companies (IBC) jurisdictions in the world. The independent state of Samoa, formerly, and even now at times is addressed as Western Samoa. While investment into Samoa is rather limited, using Samoan registered companies, trusts, or banks can be extremely flexible.
In July of 1997, Western Samoa changed its name to The Independent State of Samoa. It became a republic in 2007, following the death of king Malietoa Tanumafili II.
In 2011, Samoa skipped one day, omitting the 30th of December. This was done to facilitate trade with Australia and New Zealand. Previously 23 hours behind Sydney, it is now three hours ahead. The nation’s previous time zone was chosen to facilitate trade with the USA.
Samoa is an independent group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand. The main entry point into Samoa is Falelolo International Airport, located 35 km from Apia on the island of Upolu. Polynesian Airlines operates daily flights between Apia and Pago out of Fagalii Airport, which is located about 5km from the Central Business District.
International Companies (IC)
Formed in 1987, the International Companies Act, an ingenious legislation, Asset Protection. This clause states that, if a specified event occurs, a member of the company can elect to have his shares vested in a specified person. A specified event being, for instance, a court order, foreign government expropriates, or any other event. In such a case, the ownership of the company can be immediately shifted to another person (legal or natural).
The annual fee for IC’s can be discounted for, by paying them in advance for a fixed term of 5 or 10 or 20 years. IC’s are exempted from all tax payments.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
This was included in the International Companies Act in 1996 by an amendment.
Segregated Fund International Companies (SFIC)
This offers strong asset protection. A SFIC is allowed to create investment cells, where the rights and liabilities of members and creditors are separate for each segregated fund. It is incorporated mainly to allow shareholders to carry on multiple business activities via a single entity, along with the ability to segregate and isolate risks.
International Partnerships (IP)
A Samoan IP is an offshore partnership, in which one partner must be a licensed trustee, international company or a foreign company. No need to lodge a partnership agreement. This form of partnership was formed under the International Partnership & Limited Partnership Act, issued & revised in 1975 & 1998 respectively.
IP’s don’t require annual filings and are not subject to audit unless required. IP’s are also exempt from tax.
Special Purpose International Companies (SPIC)
A unique form of legislation, introduced in 2012, is a fusion of a foundation & company, which means that a director is required but not shareholder. It is not owned by any; hence, there is no need of legal ownership.
They are alternatives to a trust and companies registered under the Special Purpose International Companies Act (SPICA) have to maintain accounts.
It can act as a holding company, and can act as a company, if only used for a charitable cause. It can be used as a vehicle for asset protection.
All companies must have a minimum of one director, one shareholder and one secretary. Corporate directors are permitted. All companies must have a registered office and a Resident Agent in Samoa. Registers of directors, members and secretaries are to be kept in the registered office. The register of members or a copy of the registers shall be maintained at the registered office within 1 month of the date of incorporation.
Companies are usually formed within one day. Document submission may take 5 days.
As per the Income Tax Act 2012, income tax is levied on the taxable income for the previous calendar year. From Jan 1st 2013, the company tax rate is 27%. Tax laws also include transfer-pricing rules.
Non-resident companies are taxed at 27% on their taxable income derived from sources in Samoa to the extent attributable to business carried on through a permanent establishment in Samoa. The top marginal tax rate for individuals is also 27%. This applies to assessable income over $20,000 per annum.
Visitors to Samoa can apply for a 60 day Visitor Permit on arrival in Samoa. No form is required. Travellers must have onward tickets, visas for the next country, a passport valid for at least 3 months and sufficient funds to support themselves.
A business Visitor Permit is issued for persons normally employed and paid offshore who are visiting Samoa to a company branch, to conduct business negotiations with a Samoan company or to attend a business conference.
Temporary Resident Permit for conduct of business in Samoa (to establish a business or invest in Samoa):