Guide to Trust Law & Trustees Services in the BVI

In addition to being the world’s leading international finance centre in which to set up companies, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is now regarded as one of the world’s premier trust jurisdictions.

The general principles of the trust laws of the BVI are derived from those of English trust law.  The principles of English common law and equity apply, as supplemented by BVI statute. The original Trustee Act was based on the English Trustee Act 1925 and Variation of Trusts Act 1958 but has now been updated by the Trustee (Amendment) Acts, 1993, 2003 and 2013. Other significant statutes relating to trusts and trustee services in the British Virgin Islands are the Virgin Islands Special Trusts Act, 2003  as amended in 2013 (VISTA), the Banks and Trust Companies Act, 1990 and the Financial Services (Exemptions) Regulations, 2007 (as also amended in 2013).

Trusts in the BVI may be established by persons in any part of the world with property or investments in any part of the world.  Trusts may be discretionary or fixed interest in nature or indeed any other type of trust recognised under English common law. Income from the trust capital may be accumulated for the entire length of the period of the trust and since May 2013 the Trustee Act enables new beneficiary trusts to have a fixed perpetuity period of up to 360 years as an alternative to the old common law period of lives in being plus 21 years.

BVI trusts are in general exempt from registration and filing requirements and there are also very wide exemptions from taxation in the Trustee Act.

There are further provisions in the Trustee Act giving statutory recognition to protectors and authorising the reservation of specified powers to settlors of BVI trusts.  The statute also includes provisions enabling standard trustee powers to be incorporated by way of reference to a schedule to the Act, thereby enabling the length of trust deeds to be reduced.

The full Overview on Trust Law & Trustees Services in the BVI, by Christopher McKenzie, which reflects the recent amendments to BVI trust law, may be accessed here:

To view a PDF version, please click this link – An Overview of Trust Law & Trustee Services (Updated June 2019)

O'Neal Webster is a leading offshore law firm in the British Virgin Islands providing superior legal services to clients globally. The firm is a member of Lex Mundi, the world's largest association of independent law firms.

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