23.02.2023 Universepay

Offshore and onshore license obtaining: differences and benefits

Licensing of financial activities is one of the mandatory requirements for conducting honest and legal business in every state, regardless of the type of activity. For companies in the fields of gaming, brokerage, crypto, banking, etc., a financial license is also required. However, in order to register your activity officially, you need to decide on the jurisdiction, its conditions, legislation, and legal norms. In this article, we will discover offshore and onshore license obtaining differences and benefits and suggest an action plan for registering your business.

What is onshore?

Onshore jurisdictions are developed countries where international agreements with other countries in the field of financial and tax information exchange are implemented and all FATF and OECD requirements are met. In such jurisdictions, there is no preferential taxation for companies, regardless of where they operate. As a result, all companies are taxed on the same terms and at the same rate.

An onshore company is a legal entity established in a transparent jurisdiction, where the activities of companies are subject to ordinary business laws and taxation of various types.

Advantages of onshore companies

  • Ease of opening an account: a company can open an onshore account with any bank that provides relevant financial services.
  • The right to apply for double tax treaties: businesses can enter into double tax treaties.
  • Increased business prestige: onshore licensed companies are considered more honest and reliable.
  • Disadvantages of onshore companies

  • Relatively high tax rates without exemptions, large fines are provided for non-payment of duties.
  • Strict requirements for compliance with company reporting in the country of registration and accounting.
  • Limited confidentiality according to international agreements.
  • Where can I register an onshore company?

    The most popular onshore jurisdictions for obtaining a financial license are the UK, Singapore, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania, some US states, and so on.

    What is offshore?

    Offshore is the exact opposite of onshore. Offshore jurisdictions are countries where non-resident companies can register a business and pay taxes at preferential rates (sometimes there is no taxation at all). In such territories, there are no agreements on the exchange of tax and financial information. Besides, the lists of owners are not publicly available.

    An offshore company is a legal entity registered in a state that provides a preferential tax regime.

    Advantages of offshore companies

  • Reduced tax rates or no taxation at all.
  • Increased level of confidentiality: offshore jurisdictions do not maintain open and publicly available registers with data on the activities of the company and its owners and beneficiaries.
  • Fewer corporate and financial reporting requirements.
  • Affordable cost of obtaining a license.
  • Disadvantages of offshore companies

  • The presence of mandatory annual fees for the renewal of the financial license.
  • Prohibition from doing business in the country of registration (not in all states).
  • A lower level of trust in the company, as there is no transparency of business data and no strict requirements for doing business.
  • Where can I register an offshore company?

    The classic offshore zones are Seychelles, Vanuatu, Nevis, the Isle of Man, Curacao, Comoros, Belize, etc.

    Onshore jurisdiction

    Offshore jurisdiction

    Physical presence in the jurisdiction

    Most often mandatory

    Usually optional
    (except in rare cases)

    Tax rate


    Reduced or none

    Reputation of the jurisdiction



    Transparency of the company's activities

    Open sources contain information about the company

    Information is not disclosed or is disclosed to a limited extent

    Maintaining financial statements

    Accounting, financial auditing, and reporting to the tax authorities are mandatory

    The requirement for reporting is optional

    Application of the Double Tax Treaty (DTA)



    Time of obtaining a license

    Relatively long, depends on the jurisdiction

    Relatively fast, depends on the jurisdiction

    Cost of obtaining a license

    Relatively high

    Low compared to onshore jurisdictions

    Why is it better to obtain a financial license in an offshore jurisdiction?

    Having discussed offshore and onshore license obtaining differences and benefits, UniversePAY would advise you to opt for an offshore jurisdiction. If you are considering a gaming, brokerage, crypto, and banking business, you will definitely need a license to provide services legally.

    Obtaining a license is mandatory not only for offering services on the market directly, but also for the provision of professional intermediary activities. However, license obtaining in offshore jurisdictions will be much cheaper, easier, and faster, and the operational capabilities will almost be the same. On top of that, companies registered in offshore jurisdictions have a general legal capacity and can conduct any activity that is not prohibited by law. Nevertheless, each type of financial license and place of registration has its own requirements, a list of documents, and monetary commissions.

    Get an offshore or onshore financial license from UniversePAY’s professionals with over 8 years of experience. Write to us via e-mail at info@universepay.eu or on social networks, and we will help you choose the most attractive jurisdictions, taking into account the requirements of your business.

    Contact us now!