Barbados has an appeal that extends beyond pristine beachscapes, a rich cultural environment and the charming lifestyle that it offers. In fact, the jurisdiction has long been recognised, by those in the know, as a solid environment in which and from which to do business and establish a variety of international business vehicles and legal arrangements, including trust structures.

Barbados’ trust law is based on the principles of English common law, as varied by Barbados statute. It is tri-partite and permits the creation of three types of expressly created trust: the international trust, the offshore trust and the domestic trust.

An international trust carries features which are de rigueur for trusts established in leading offshore jurisdictions, such as protector, non-charitable purpose trust, asset protection and anti- forced heirship provisions. The core requirements of an international trust are: a direction in a written trust instrument that the International Trusts Act applies; settlors and beneficiaries (subject to certain exceptions) who are not resident in Barbados at the time of creation of the trust or the addition of assets; at least one Barbados resident trustee; and trust assets which do not include Barbados real estate. An international trust is deemed to be non-domiciled in Barbados for tax purposes and only Barbados sourced income and overseas sourced income, which is remitted to Barbados, is subject to tax. Income and capital distributions to non-resident beneficiaries are not subject to tax and the international trust is exempt from exchange control restrictions and indirect tax, ad valorem stamp duty or other imposts on transactions undertaken by its trustees.

An offshore trust is a trust, the trustee of which is licensed under the International Financial Services Act, the settlors and the beneficiaries (subject to certain exceptions) of which are non- Barbados resident and the assets of which are solely comprised of foreign currency or securities. Its main attraction is its exemption from all taxes, duties and exchange control requirements in Barbados. Subject to the terms of the trust instrument, and the consent of any co-trustee, the assets of an offshore trust may be invested in a common trust fund established by the international financial institution and the scope exists for the sale of interests in a common trust fund between offshore trusts. An offshore trust can also offer substantial tax planning advantages when a Barbados international business company (an “IBC”) is incorporated in the structure. An IBC, all of the shares of which are part of a common trust fund, enjoys a zero rate of tax, provided, amongst other things, that its activities are restricted exclusively to the business of buying, selling, holding or managing securities. Ordinarily, IBCs are subject to low corporation tax rates ranging from 1% to 2.5% depending on income levels. However, incorporating an IBC in an offshore trust can result in an effectively tax-free structure and offers tremendous scope for creative tax planning.

A domestic trust is one in which the trustee is a Barbados resident individual or company licensed under the Financial Institutions Act. Its worldwide income is taxable; it is subject to value added tax; and it may only be exempt for exchange control restrictions if the trust has foreign assets, non-Barbados resident beneficiaries and deals primarily in foreign currency. One of the central advantages of a domestic trust is that, if properly administered, it may be able to benefit under Barbados’ expanding double taxation treaty network under which Barbados enjoys advantages agreed bilaterally with each of several countries (more than 18 at the time of writing) and is useful in structures which require a trust which is prima facie taxable.

Barbados therefore offers a variety of opportunities and advantages for an international clientele and astute estate and tax planners – not least of which is our reputation as a clean jurisdiction with “right-sized” regulation. In addition, it is a jurisdiction that enjoys political and economic stability, modern infrastructure and advanced telecommunication systems. With the added value of a well-educated workforce; a cadre of highly skilled professionals and reputable service providers; and an exceptional quality of life for those who live and work on the island or visit on business or pleasure, Barbados is certainly a place, which merits your trust.

About the Authors

Melanie Jones
Melanie Jones -

Melanie Jones is an attorney-at-law at Lex Caribbean and a Director of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation.

Tara Frater
Tara Frater -

Tara Frater is a Senior Associate in the Barbados office of LEX Caribbean, a pan-Caribbean regional law firm. Tara is member of the firm’s International Business Group and the Entrepreneurial Business Unit. Her practice is diversified and includes corporate, commercial, regulatory and trust and estates work. She is, in addition, a qualified Trusts and Estates Practitioner (TEP), and has lectured at multiple trust training seminars.