Cayman Islands: The Cayman Islands

Last Updated: 27 September 2007

General information

The Cayman Islands are comprised of three beautiful islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The capital, George Town is situated on the largest of the three islands, Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is located approximately five hundred miles south of Miami, Florida. The three islands have a total land area of approximately one hundred and two square miles, with Grand Cayman having an area of seventy-six square miles, Cayman Brac fifteen square miles and Little Cayman, eleven square miles. There is a total resident population of approximately 30,000 people, with 28,000 living on Grand Cayman.

Christopher Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands on The10th of May 1503, on his fourth and last voyage to the New World; they were named "Las Tortugas" because of the many turtles found there and, later, their name was changed to "Caymanas", being a word derived from the Carib Indian word for the crocodile family, subsequently shortened to "Cayman."

The Islands are a British Dependent Territory. They were acquired by settlement and celebrated three hundred and twenty-five years of British rule in 1995. They have consistently rejected all offers of independence.

Representative Government was introduced in 1832 and today the Islands have a high degree of internal autonomy. There are fifteen members of an elected Legislative Assembly which enacts the laws which govern the country. The members of the Legislative Assembly are elected every four years and together with the Speaker sit in the Assembly: in addition, three official members are appointed from persons holding public office by the Governor, who is the Queen's representative in the Islands, acting pursuant to instructions given to him by Her Majesty through the Secretary of State by instrument under Public Seal.

Unlike the United Kingdom, the Islands have a written constitution which was first extended to them in 1962 and since then has been amended several times. The present Constitution was laid before the United Kingdom Parliament on the 1st of August, 1972, and came into force on the 22nd of August, 1972.

Section 5 of the Constitution establishes an Executive Council which is responsible for Government policy. The Executive Council consists of the Governor and eight persons - the Financial Secretary, the Attorney-General and the Chief Secretary (the three official members) and five members who are elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly from their number.

The Islands have enjoyed a tax free status since the late seventeenth century. In 1966, the Legislative Assembly enacted a series of laws which not only enhanced the Islands' usefulness as a financial centre but also gave persons wishing to invest either in or through them a flexible and secure place so to do. Since that date, the Cayman Islands have grown and developed and today are recognized as the world's leading tax haven and a financial center of great importance. Confidentiality is respected and enforced by law. The Islands have modern Trust and Companies Laws, and legislation which entitles certain trusts and companies to obtain guarantees against the imposition of Caymanian taxes for fixed periods of time.

Even in the absence of this exempting legislation, in the Cayman Islands none of the following taxes are levied on individuals, trustees or corporations:-

  • Income tax
  • Corporation tax
  • Capital gains tax
  • Value added tax
  • Estate duty or inheritance tax
  • Gift tax
  • Sales tax
  • Land tax

Customs or import duties are levied on certain goods imported into the Islands, and stamp duty is charged on certain documents (for example, transfers of land in the Islands, mortgages, debentures, leases and promissory notes) if executed in the Islands or on being sent into the Islands if they were wholly executed abroad. Because of its tax free status, companies incorporated and trusts created in the Islands are often used as vehicles to legitimately reduce their owners' tax burden.

The official and spoken language is English.

The currency of the Islands is the Cayman dollar which is tied to the United States dollar at a fixed rate of :CI$1.00 = US$ 1.20.

Communications and Transportation
The islands have excellent communication services including the latest fiber optics telecommunication links. The islands are served by a number of major airlines, including; American Airlines, British Airways, Northwest Airlines, US Air, Air Jamaica and the islands own flag carrier, Cayman Airways. There are several daily flights from Miami, daily from Charlotte and several flights each week from Atlanta, Houston, Tampa and Kingston. There are also weekly flights from London via the Bahamas.

The Confidential Relationships (Preservation) Law as amended ensures that all information is kept in the strictest confidence. Any breach of the law will result in heavy fines and/or imprisonment. It is an offence to divulge or to seek to obtain information. If bribes are offered or taken, the penalties are doubled.

In addition to the offshore financial industry, the Islands are blessed with beautiful white sand beaches, clear blue waters and magnificent coral reefs. They have a growing tourist industry with many first class hotels, condominiums and restaurants.
The diving on the island is world renowned.


1. Economically and politically stable as a British Crown Colony.

2. Absence of all forms of direct taxation:

  • No income tax
  • No Capital gains tax
  • No withholding tax
  • No gift tax
  • No inheritance tax
  • No corporation tax
  • No value added tax
  • No sales tax
  • No property tax
  • No foreign exchange tax
  • No estate duty

3. Excellent cooperative working relationship between the public and private sector.

4. Ideal location.

5. Privacy laws.

6. No exchange control - no restriction on the amount of money which may be brought into or taken out of the country.

7. No tax treaties, and therefore no exchange of information with foreign governments (other than as required by the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States - see above).

8.The ability to safeguard funds and property by investing in or through the Islands prior to the imposition in the investor's country of exchange control regulations.

9.Sophisticated communication links.

10. Laws conducive to the conduct of business in a financial center.

11.Well developed financial infrastructure with highly qualified professional persons.

12. In excess of 500 licensed banks and trust companies and more than 350 licensed insurance companies.

13.Warm climate all year round, friendly local people and good recreational facilities.

14.Efficient and reasonable Government regulatory bodies and strict anti-money laundering legislation to discourage use of the Islands' facilities for laundering money.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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