Financial Services Commission relaxes restrictions on company names


This week (19 February, 2015), the Financial Services Commission removed restrictions on the use of the following words in the names of BVI Business Companies –

  1. “BVI”;
  2. “British Virgin Islands”;
  3. “Council”;
  4. “Ntl”;
  5. “Int”;
  6. “Intl”;
  7. “VI”; and
  8. “Virgin Islands”

Prior to this relaxation, these words and others which were all designated as restricted in a September 2011 statutory notice, could not be used in the name of a BVI Business Company, without the prior written consent of the Financial Services Commission.

The relaxation was made by Statutory Notice No. 11 of 2015.

The move is welcome, particularly for international conglomerates, who wish to keep company names uniform, but distinct, by appending the name of the jurisdiction of incorporation.

Words related to regulated activities, such as Insurance, Re-insurance, Fund, Mutual Fund, Hedge Fund, Money Services, Savings, Savings & Loans, Trust Company, Trust Corporation, and others still require the written consent of the Financial Services Commission, to be used as part of the name of a BVI Business Company.  The full list may be found in the Schedule to Statutory Notice No. 57 of 2011.  The restriction includes any derivative or cognate form of the words or phrases and whether or not the words or phrases are spaced, in brackets or punctuated or are in the singular or plural.

Approval for use of a restricted word is sought via simple electronic application through VIRRGIN, the electronic filing system of the Registry of Corporate Affairs.

As a reminder, in relation to funds, since March 2014 (see Financial Services Commission Industry Circular 2 of 2014) BVI Business Companies or partnerships that are closed ended or private equity funds not licensed in the BVI, may nevertheless use the word “Fund” as part of their name subject to the approval procedure set out in the preceding paragraph.  Prior to March 2014, the use of the word “fund” was restricted to licensed public, private or professional funds, or a person who holds an investment business licence, under the Securities and Investment Business Act, 2010 (“SIBA”).

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