Hidden costs of cheap offshore company formation

image Hidden costs

Welcome to ICO Services. If you are here looking for a cheap and fast offshore company formation, we're sorry – we can't help you with that.

What we offer is a legitimate offshore company formation service that can help you in protecting your assets in the right way, at the most cost effective ways. We are transparent in our fee schedules, and while we absolutely can't guarantee the cheapest price, we can guarantee that we'll help you with the best possible solution for your assets.

But why all the statements above? Well, you see, the thing is that people looks for online offshore asset protection for the wrong reason, with the wrong mindset.

So, what's the right mindset? We've mentioned in a blog post that asset protection should be your number one reason for going offshore. Protection from what? Most likely, from uncertain economic and political situation of your home country; from unfair taxes; from potential lawsuits – all should be done legally.

But to do those, you must be aware that there are costs associated with the company setup; some of them are actually hidden from potential clients.

Intangible hidden costs: Risks of doing things wrong that you even don't know it

1. Minimal/no proper consultative conversation

The problem with 'cheap' is that you'll only get what you're paying for: (Questionable) company formation, without proper consultative talk on what can or can't do with offshore companies. This causes non-monetary costs in the form of risks – risks of setting up an offshore company illegally, that can actually put you into jail – even with all the good intentions that you have with your offshore settings.

2. Misconceptions

Some people think that going offshore is for evading taxes. True that some offshore jurisdictions offer plenty of tax benefits. But going offshore with this kind of reason can be very dangerous for you and your business.

You need to understand that you need to abide by the laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which your business operates. 'Smuggling' your wealth or hiding your business profits from your responsibilities (e.g. Paying taxes) offshore is not the way to do it.

3. Focus too much on secrecy

In fact, you need to run away from those cheap offshore company formation that focuses too much on secrecy. The reality is this: While it's true that your offshore entity acts as a wall between your assets and the 'bad guys', that doesn't mean that your account is untouchable; your offshore account is simply hard to find, that's all.

A persistent lawyer, for instance, can always find a way to crack the barrier – and things are even easier with the global pressure upon offshore company formation and wealth protection.

Tangible hidden costs: Fees that you're not aware of

1. Cheap initial setup, expensive annual fees

'Cheap' offshore company formations that you found on the Internet are typically offering affordable initial fees for setup and premiums – and fail to inform (for whatever reasons) the annual fee schedules.

While at ICO Services our publicly listed annual fees are all-inclusive of Government fee, registered address and registered agent fee, some of those cheap online offshore company formation services are charging you on per-additional-item basis, giving a running total that's quite hefty, to a point that going offshore would cost you more than doing business or securing your assets onshore.

2. Unitary tax system

If you think that the costs of maintaining your offshore company and/or bank account should only comprise the mentioned above, think again: The 'beauty' of offshore setup is that you have the flexibility to play by the rule on both onshore and offshore laws/regulations.

That said, you need to understand your home country's laws and regulations regarding taking your asset offshore – and comply to those.

Here's an example: Some jurisdictions – including the United States – adopt a unitary tax system, which consider the profits that your company make – from whichever branches you have – are taxed collectively, as a single, taxable entity. That said, wherever you generate your profits from – whether they're onshore or offshore – you will need to pay taxes to your home country. So, in other words, other than the fees to maintain your offshore company, you will still need to pay taxes as if your company resides in your home country.

As always, there is a way to minimize the liabilities – e.g. Moving your headquarters to an offshore jurisdiction, - but the resources consumed to make it work are quite considerable.

3. Lawyer's, accountant's, or consultant's fees

'Just do it' with your company setup is not recommended. Firstly, unless you're an experienced lawyer in International law, you need to acquire knowledge about the local laws and regulation – before you decide to get incorporated offshore.

DIY the nitty gritty is a mission impossible. You'll most likely need help from a lawyer who is well-versed in local laws and regulations, as well as global regulations regarding offshore company formation and wealth protection; and we all know that lawyers' fee is quite considerable. The same goes for accountant and/or consultant.


Again, a wrong reason and mindset defeat the purpose of going offshore. If you are not careful, setting up an offshore company may be the worst financial decision that you make for your business – and personal wealth.

Do your due diligence. Consult with trusted experts (you can consult with us to for free, if you want!) and be sure to shop around. Visit online forums and pay attention to opinions – particularly scam reports – on International corporate service providers.

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