Vanuatu

The Happiest Place on Earth

Voted in the Global Happiness Index as the Happiest Place on Earth, Vanuatu is a nation in the Pacific Ocean, located off the North East coast off Sydney, Australia comprised of 83 islands, with a total land area of 14,700 square kilometers, and territorial waters extending to 450,000 square kilometers. Home to some of the world’s most amazing beaches, pristine forests, and majestic landscapes, Vanuatu is a tropical paradise attracting tourists and investment from around the world.  

The population is approximately 300,000, of which some of Vanuatu 95% are indigenous “Ni -Vanuatu” of Melanesian origin with the remainder consisting of Europeans, other Pacific Islanders, and Asians. English and French are the official languages of the country, whilst Bislama (local dialect) is the national language. Depending on daylight saving, Vanuatu is 11 to 12 hours ahead of GMT (i.e. 1 hour ahead or the same time as Sydney and, 3 hours ahead of Hong Kong). Business hours in Port Vila are 7.30 am to 11.30 am and 1.30 pm to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.

Government & Law

Vanuatu is a parliamentary democracy. Independence was attained on 30 July 1980, after 74 years of joint rule by Britain and France. Before Independence, the country was known as the New Hebrides. The legislature consists of a single chamber, 52 member parliament for which general elections are held every four years.

The Head of State is the President of the Republic, who is elected for five years by an electoral college consisting of Members of Parliament and the Presidents of the Regional Council. The legal system is based on English law and adjudicated upon by the Supreme Court of Vanuatu.

Economy

Vanuatu’s economy has received significant benefits in the recent past from tourism, light industrial, and agricultural sectors. Since it’s inception in 1969, the Financial Center has contributed significantly to the Vanuatu economy. Vanuatu currently has no personal or corporate income taxes, nor are there any withholding taxes, capital gains taxes, gift, estate or death duties for residents or nonresidents.

The local currency, the Vatu (Vt) floats against a basket of currencies and is consequently stable. There are no exchange controls and bank accounts can be held in any of the major international currencies which are freely traded in Vanuatu. There is no local restriction for either residents or non-residents on the movement of funds in any currency into or out of Vanuatu.

Financial Center of The Pacific

Vanuatu is the longest established offshore financial center in the Pacific (over 30 years) and is in a favorable time zone for those conducting business in the Asia Pacific region.
The statutory framework for the operation of the offshore Financial Centre comprises the Companies Act (which is based on English law), the International Companies Act, and Acts and regulations relating to Banking, Insurance, Stamp Duties, and Trust Companies.

This framework is administered by the office of the Financial Services Commissioner and Reserve Bank of Vanuatu in the case of banking and insurance. This is adjudicated upon by the Supreme Court of Vanuatu.

Shipping

The Vanuatu international ship registry is open to owners of any nationality. Vessels flying the Vanuatu flag receive friendly treatment in ports throughout the world. Vessels are registered with the international shipping registry which is administered by Vanuatu Maritime Services Limited (“VMSL”) a privately held Vanuatu company operating under contract to the Vanuatu Government as the Maritime Administrator. VMSL operates the Central Registry and day to day activities from it’s offices in New York.