Seychelles: Law of Offshore
Seychelles International Business Authority
The International Trade Zone Act 1995 and the International Trade Zone Regulations 1995 provide for the establishment of free trade zones, which are delimited by a declaration of the Finance and Communications Minister, and can be for one company or many. The existing International Trade Zone (SITZ) on Mahe is established under the Act. Activities within the Zone are governed by the Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA), which issues licenses to incoming companies.
Licenses are available for manufacturing, assembling, redistribution or service activities; retailing is not normally permitted within the Zone or from it, but SIBA has authority to give consent for it. SIBA can request information at its discretion from an applicant for a license. See Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes for details of fees and taxes payable in the SITZ.
The Authority is responsible for the physical security of the Zone, and controls access to it. Officials of SIBA or of the Zone or police officers can search vehicles and shipments moving in and out of the Zone, and have power to seize goods they suspect are illegitimate. A license issued by SIBA can be revoked if the holder does not begin, or ceases the activity covered by the license. There is an appeal process, eventually to the Supreme Court. License holders must keep records of their activities, and these can be inspected by SITZ on demand, as can premises occupied by licence-holders. Information obtained by SITZ may not be divulged except on a Court order.
The concessions available to licence holders in SITZ include:
- Exemption from customs duties on capital equipment to be used in SITZ;
- Exemption from Business Tax, Trades Tax and Withholding Tax;
- Exemption from social security contributions;
- Exemption from fees in respect of 'gainful occupation permits' (work permits);
- Entitlement to employ 100% foreign labour;
- Permission to acquire interests in immovable property or a company owning such an interest, for the purpose of carrying on activities in SITZ.
These concessions are given by way of disapplying the relevant other Acts or parts of them.