Establishing a VASP licence in the British Virgin Islands - YB Case 2024

Establishing a VASP licence in the British Virgin Islands

Establishing a VASP licence in the British Virgin Islands

Definition and significance of a VASP licence in the BVI

Obtaining a VASP licence in the BVI is a crucial step for organisations wishing to operate legally within the cryptocurrency and blockchain sectors in this jurisdiction. The VASP licence grants licensees the authorisation to provide a range of services related to digital assets, including cryptocurrency exchange, storage, asset management, fund transfer, exchange platform operations, ICO/STO organisation, digital asset issuance and offering, as well as crypto wallet services.

The importance of registering a VASP licence in the BVI extends beyond merely legalising the company's activities in this territory. It also serves to bolster client and partner trust, facilitate cooperation with international banks and payment systems, and demonstrate the organisation's transparency and compliance with international AML/CTF/KYC standards. This is paramount not only in strengthening the company's position in the global market, but also in ensuring its long-term sustainability and development amidst ever-tightening regulatory requirements.

The BVI is widely regarded as one of the most attractive jurisdictions for registering and operating a cryptocurrency business, owing to its stable legal framework, favourable tax regime, and high level of confidentiality. The registration of a VASP licence in the BVI allows companies not only to consolidate their presence in one of the leading offshore financial centres, but also to actively develop their activities within a legally regulated environment, ensuring a robust protection of the interests of both the organisation and its clients.

Benefits of a BVI VASP licence

  • The VASP licence provides companies with a robust legal foundation for their operations, enhancing trust with customers and partners, and enabling them to officially offer a wide range of services in the cryptocurrency field.
  • Licensing in the BVI ensures the fulfilment of stringent criteria in the areas of AML/KYC/CFT, thereby strengthening the company's reputation and reliability.
  • Licensed companies gain the opportunity to collaborate with the world's leading banks and financial institutions, expanding their operational capabilities and access to international markets.
  • The BVI's active regulation of the VASP sector encourages innovation and provides safeguards against financial crime, promoting business growth and development.
  • Obtaining the licence means securing approval from the FSC, and establishing procedures in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Navigating the VASP licence process in the BVI: A practical guide for cryptocurrency businesses

The procedure for securing the BVI VASP licence is a sequential process, commencing with the thorough preparation and submission of the requisite documentation, and culminating in the issuance of a licence that legally authenticates the entity's activities within the digital asset sector.

Evaluating company structures for VASP registration

Selecting the appropriate company structure for VASP licence registration requires careful analysis and a comprehensive understanding of both the company's business model and the requirements set forth by the BVI regulatory authorities.

There are various company types in the BVI that can be registered to obtain a VASP licence. The selection of the most suitable structure depends on numerous factors, including ownership structure, business objectives, and the specific privacy and tax requirements of the organisation.

One popular option for obtaining a VASP licence in the BVI is the LLC, which offers flexibility in management and operations, while also providing protection for the owners' personal assets from business risks. This company structure allows for a clear delineation of rights and responsibilities between shareholders and managers, an important aspect for entities engaged in virtual asset transactions.

Another viable option is the IBC, which is the most commonly utilised legal entity in the BVI for international transactions. IBCs offer significant tax benefits, including exemption from income taxes, dividends, and royalties. For VASP licence registration, this structure may be preferable due to its efficiency and confidentiality.

Reservation of the company name is paramount significant, as the name must be unique and reflective of the company's scope of activities, while also adhering to the BVI regulatory requirements. Reserving a name involves verifying its availability and submitting an application to the BVI registration authority. Once the name is approved, the company can proceed to the stage we described below.

The activation of a VASP licence in the BVI commences with the meticulous preparation of a comprehensive dossier, which is a crucial juncture in the licensing process. This stage involves the creation of a detailed business plan that outlines the proposed business model, the range of cryptocurrency and digital asset services to be offered, as well as market analysis, marketing strategy, and financial forecasts.

Companies are also required to compile and submit comprehensive documentation confirming their identification and ownership structure. This includes articles of association, registration certificates, beneficial ownership details, and other documents mandated by BVI regulators.

Particular emphasis is placed on the development and presentation of policies and procedures relating to AML, CFT, and KYC. Detailed descriptions of internal policies and procedures for compliance with these standards must be prepared, encompassing processes for customer verification, transaction monitoring, and internal controls.

Additionally, to register a BVI VASP licence, a company must demonstrate that it has the necessary resources to support its operations, including a robust technical infrastructure, qualified personnel, and financial stability.

The next stage entails applying to register the VASP licence with the BVI regulator, accompanied by the payment of the requisite fees. It is crucial to note that the regulator may request additional data or clarification on the information already provided. Maintaining active and timely communication with the regulator at this juncture is paramount, as it can expedite the application approval process.

Once all the regulator's requirements have been met and the documentation has been thoroughly verified, the decision to issue the licence is made. This point marks a pivotal milestone in the BVI VASP licence process, as it formally endorses the company's legal status as a digital asset service provider. This, in turn, expands the company's business opportunities within the jurisdiction and bolsters its reputation among clients and partners. Generally, the timeframe for securing a licence can range from several months to a year.

To fully conduct business and execute financial transactions, it is necessary to establish a bank account. Opening a bank account for a VASP-licensed company in the BVI may require an additional set of documents, including confirmation of company registration, documents for managers and beneficial owners, as well as a detailed description of the proposed business activities.

Upholding compliance standards: KYC obligations for BVI VASP entities

Establishing a corporate entity necessitates the implementation and rigorous compliance with procedures, which occupy a central role in financial services regulation. These procedures are mandatory for all companies applying for a VASP licence in the BVI, and their importance cannot be overstated.

The KYC process commences with the collection and verification of customer personal data, including, but not limited to, full name, date of birth, residential address, and identification numbers. For legal entities, this process also involves scrutinising the company's legal status, its beneficial owners, and governance structure. In addition to data collection, companies are required to analyse the information to identify potential risks associated with the client and determine whether the client is on any sanctions lists or lists of persons linked to criminal activity.


Particular emphasis is placed on the constant monitoring of customer transactions. This includes monitoring for unusual patterns in financial transactions. Such monitoring allows companies to respond to suspicious activity in a timely manner by taking the necessary steps, including notifying the relevant regulators.

The significance of KYC procedures for companies in the BVI also lies in strengthening trust between financial institutions, their clients, and regulators. Compliance with KYC not only contributes to the creation of a transparent and secure financial environment, but also enhances the company's reputation as a reliable partner and service provider in the field of virtual assets.

Beneficial ownership registration and mandatory agent notification

The registration of beneficial owners in the BVI begins with the identification of individuals or legal entities who directly or indirectly own a significant share of the company or have significant influence over management decisions. In the BVI context, a significant share is generally defined as holding 25% or more of the shares or voting rights in a company. All beneficial ownership must be documented and provided to the registered agent, who in turn will ensure that this information complies with local legal requirements.

Companies must promptly inform the agent of any changes to the ownership structure, including the addition or removal of beneficial owners, as well as any changes to their ownership percentage. This allows the agent to maintain up-to-date information about the company's structure, which is critical for meeting regulatory and tax obligations.

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Recommendations for the BVI VASP licensing process

We are pleased to offer personalised guidance and support at every stage of the VASP licensing journey. To connect with our team of experts, please navigate to the Contact Us section of our website and select your preferred method of communication. Our professionals will be delighted to address any inquiries you may have, provide the requisite information, and commence the preparation for your BVI VASP licence application process.

Tip 1

Meticulous preparation and regulatory understanding

Firstly, thorough preparation and a comprehensive understanding of the BVI regulatory requirements are key to success. Companies that have successfully obtained a VASP licence emphasize the importance of the initial research phase and consultation with local legal and financial experts. This allows them to anticipate all the nuances and requirements of the regulator in advance, minimise the risks of application rejection, and expedite the licensing process.

Tip 2

Robust risk management and compliance systems

The second important aspect is the development and implementation of comprehensive risk management systems, including measures to combat AML/CTF, as well as robust KYC programmes. Successful cases demonstrate that BVI regulators place a strong emphasis on the efficiency and reliability of these systems. Companies that exhibit a high level of responsibility and transparency in these areas have a better chance of successfully obtaining a licence.

Tip 3

Active engagement with regulators

The third factor common to successful cases is the active engagement with regulators throughout the entire process of obtaining a licence in the BVI. This includes providing complete and accurate information about the company's activities, its founders and key personnel, as well as risk management systems and internal controls. Open dialogue and a willingness to cooperate with regulators build trust and can greatly simplify the licensing process.

Tip 4

Adaptability and agility

Finally, successful companies often exhibit a high level of readiness to adapt their business models and operational processes in response to changes in BVI legislation and regulatory requirements. Flexibility and the ability to quickly respond to new regulatory demands are important qualities for successful long-term operation under the VASP licence.

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