Canary Islands Offshore

The Canary Islands enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, nearly equal to that of the US. Its economy is primarily based on providing financial services for international business and luxury facilities for tourists.

If you would like to open a bank account in the Canary Islands or would like to form an offshore company here, please contact us.

The Special Economic Zone (ZEC)

The Canary Islands Special Zone has been created within the fiscal and economic regime of the Canary Islands for the purpose of encouraging the economic and social development of the islands and the diversification of their manufacturing and service sectors.

The ZEC was initially The Canary Islands Special Zone authorised by the European Commission in January 2000.

In early 2006, the Department of Economic Affairs and Finance of the Canary Islands Government suggested the introduction of improvements to the Canary Islands Economic and Fiscal Regime, including the extension of the time frame of the low tax zone beyond 2008 of 25 years for companies in the service sector and 50 years for companies operating in the industrial sector.

In addition, a suggestion has been made for solving the problems related to double taxation on profits. This modification aims to make the ZEC a real stimulus for attracting companies with newly-created economic activity. At present, companies with their head office in mainland Spain are subject to double taxation on profits, which makes it difficult for them to set up in the low tax zone.

Following the announcement of an extension in December 2006, the benefits provided by the ZEC will initially be available until December 31, 2019, although this may be further extended if the European Commission authorises it.

Any company intending to carry out manufacturing, commercial or service activities within the territory of the Canary Islands may register in the ZEC; financial services are excluded.

Permitted manufacturing, processing, handling and goods distribution activities include:

  • Fishing;
  • Food, beverages and tobacco;
  • Clothing;
  • Leather goods and footwear;
  • Furniture and related products;
  • Paper, publishing, graphic arts and reproduction of recorded material;
  • Building materials;
  • Machinery and mechanical equipment;
  • Electrical, electronic and optical materials and equipment;
  • Chemicals;
  • Recycling;
  • Wholesale and distributive activities;
  • Packaging, bottling and canning

Permitted service activities include:

  • Transport and related activities;
  • IT;
  • Natural resources and waste disposal;
  • Telecommunications;
  • Advertising;
  • R + D;
  • Education and Training;
  • Consultancy;
  • Legal and fiscal services;
  • Other services

Service companies registered under the ZEC may be set up in any part of the Canary Islands.

Production, processing, handling and distributive activities must be located in certain Designated Areas at:

  • On the island of Grand Canary
    • The Port of La Luz and Las Palmas
    • Gando Airport
    • The Arinaga Industrial Estate
  • On the island of Tenerife:
    • The Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
    • Los Rodeos and Reina Sofía Airports
    • The Granadilla Industrial Estate

There are Designated Areas on each of the other Canary Islands.

Any Company wishing to set up in the ZEC must satisfy a number of requirements, of which the most important are:

  • A ZEC Company must be newly incorporated;
  • At least one of the persons authorised to manage and act on behalf of the Company must be resident in the Canary Islands;
  • A ZEC Company must make an investment of at least EUR100,000 (EUR50,000 in some locations) in fixed assets related to the activity within the first two years subsequent to authorisation;
  • A ZEC Company must employ at least five persons (reduced to three in some locations) in the ZEC area within the first six months subsequent to authorisation and must retain this number of employees, on average, throughout its lifetime;
  • A ZEC Company must present a description of its activities, with particular mention of its economic viability, international focus, contribution to the economic and social development of the Canary Islands and solvency.

Taxation of ZEC Companies

ZEC companies enjoy the following tax benefits:

  • Corporation tax (levied in Spain at 30%) is charged at 4% on profits derived from ZEC activities. The rates depends on:
    • Net creation of employment;
    • The period of inclusion in the Register of ZEC Companies;
    • Whether the activity is new or pre-existing;
    • The type of activity
  • ZEC companies are exempt from Capital Transfer Tax and Stamp Duty in the following circumstances:
    • Purchase of goods and rights for the conduct of the business activity of the ZEC company within the geographical area of the ZEC;
    • Company operations except liquidation;
    • Stamp duty on documents connected with the company’s operations in the geographical area of the ZEC
  • ZEC companies are exempt from Canarian Indirect General Tax (Canarian Sales Tax) on delivery of goods and provision of services from one ZEC Company to another, and on imports.
  • International Double Taxation Treaties and the EU Parent-Subsidiary Directive: the Canary Islands are an integral part of the territory of Spain and the European Union. Therefore ZEC companies may take advantage of Double Taxation treaties signed by Spain and the EU’s Parent-Subsidiary Directive. ZEC Companies are not obliged to deduct tax from payments for tangible assets made by them.

Registration of a ZEC Company

Application, authorisation and registration are the three steps required of companies wishing to set up within the ZEC.

The application must be presented together with the description of the intended activities.

The Consortium Board will then decide on the application and will inform the applicant of its decision within the space of two months from the date of presentation.

The new company must be incorporated by a Notary Public and must be registered on the proper Registers (this may be done prior to authorisation being received).

Once authorisation has been received, the company must be registered on the Official ZEC Register, which is managed by the Consortium Board.

ZEC Companies are subject to the following fees:

  • Registration fee
  • Annual fee to remain on the Official ZEC Register

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