6 December 2021

What Are The Cayman Islands Special Economic Zones?

Cayman Enterprise City


Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) is home to a vibrant community where global business thrives. The award-winning special economic zones offer accelerated offshore set-up with personalised service so international businesses can quickly and efficiently establish a physical presence in the Cayman Islands while remaining focused on what they do best.
When you're setting up an offshore business, there are a lot of things to consider in advance.
Cayman Islands Government, Public Sector
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When you're setting up an offshore business, there are a lot of things to consider in advance.
Understanding special economic zones (SEZ) in the Cayman Islands and how they are able to benefit your business and help you to grow an international presence is a definite plus. Operating a business within Cayman Enterprise City, Cayman's only special economic zone operator, guarantees you're setting up a genuine offshore physical presence.

What are special economic zones (SEZs)?

According to UNCTAD, there are now over 6,000 SEZs around the world located in nearly 150 countries. SEZs are defined by the World Bank as areas "in a country that are subject to different economic regulations than other regions within the same country." These areas are typically characterised by more liberal economic laws, offering advantages to investors who are physically situated within the zone such as duty-free benefits, tax incentives, relaxed labor and land-use restrictions, and streamlined procedures.

Cayman's SEZs were established in 2012 to stimulate economic growth, attract foreign direct investment (FDI), promote technological innovation, create new types of employment, and to help diversify the economy of the Cayman Islands. Cayman's business-friendly government has granted a number of globally competitive concessions for businesses that establish a physical presence within the Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) SEZs.

With CEC, companies can take advantage of fast-track business licencing, a 5-day visa process, professional corporate relocation services, and access to a network of global business professionals. CEC's special economic zones eliminate red-tape, excessive costs, and uncertainty that one would normally experience when establishing a physical presence offshore. Additionally, there is no minimum capital requirement to incorporate a SEZC with CEC.

What does SEZC mean?

Each company registered in Cayman Enterprise City's SEZs is required to include the "SEZC" designation, as in for example "ABC Trading SEZC". The letters "SEZC" in your company's name designate it as a 'Special Economic Zone Company'.

The SEZC designation confirms that your company has met the stringent licensing and due diligence screening requirements of The Special Economic Zones Act, maintains a genuine physical presence in the Cayman Islands within CEC's award winning, globally recognised special economic zones, and is subject to ongoing regulatory oversight by The Cayman Islands' Government's Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA), which regulates all special economic zones in the Cayman Islands.

All SEZCs have access to the following special concessions:

  • Easy company formation
  • No taxation on corporate profits, capital gains, or personal income
  • 100% foreign ownership permitted
  • 100% exemption from import duties
  • A 4-6 week fast-track physical presence set up, inclusive of business license and work visa approvals
  • Reduced import duty, business licensing, and work visa fees
  • Five year residency granted for employees and their dependents

On top of this, additional CEC benefits include:

Why should we consider CEC's special economic zones?

CEC's special economic zones represent the largest innovation ecosystem in the region and include some of the world's most innovative companies, everything from start-ups to globally established publicly listed companies.

Global companies within new and innovative business sectors like to see that the Cayman Islands has a well-regulated and globally recognized free zone which features an expedited business licensing regime, bundled concessions, and ongoing business support.

Keep in mind that special economic zones differ by country, and while they're advantageous in all areas, there are clear advantages to setting up within CEC. A big part of the allure is a fast-track system that features an expedited business licensing regime that can have companies fully established within four to six weeks, including renewable five-year work/residency visas for staff which can be processed in as little as five days. With CEC, global companies can quickly and cost-effectively establish a genuine physical presence offshore with staffed offices within Cayman's SEZs.

If you'd like to explore options for your business and find out more about living and working in the Cayman Islands we invite you to read our eBook.

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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