BVI accounting records - Update 2012


Changes to BVI record keeping obligations

Following the Phase 1 Peer Review Report published in August 2011 on the British Virgin Islands by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, new legislation has been introduced that affects the record keeping obligations on all BVI incorporated companies and limited partnerships.

In November 2012 amendments to the Mutual Legal Assistance (Tax Matters) Act 2003 (‘MLATA’) and the Partnership Act 1996 (‘PA 1996’) came into force.

Record Keeping Obligation

Under the legislation all BVI registered companies and limited partnerships are now obliged to keep and maintain at the office of the registered agent or elsewhere outside the BVI ‘…the records and underlying documentation of the company.’ This obligation is in addition to the requirement to keep and maintain records under the BVI Business Companies Act 2004.

The records and underlying documentation must be ‘sufficient to show and explain’ the transactions of the company and to enable the financial position of the company to be determined with reasonable accuracy. The legislation provides little more guidance as to what comprises records and underlying documentation, save that it expressly includes the company’s accounts.

Time Period

Such records and underlying documentation must be kept for a period of at least five years. The period of five years is calculated from the date of completion of the transaction or termination of the business relationship to which the records and documentation relate.

Location of Records
Should the records and underlying documentation not be kept at the registered agent’s office, the company is required to provide the registered agent with the address of where the records and documents are held and, should the address change, provide the new address within 14 days of the change.

Limited Partnerships’ Obligations

The obligation imposed by the PA 1996 is in almost identical terms to the MLATA, requiring the general partners to maintain records and documents at the registered office of the partnership or elsewhere outside the BVI. The records and documents are subject to the same test of relevance as for companies and, in addition, the register recording the details and contributions of each partner is also required to be maintained at the registered office or elsewhere.