The Cook Islands comprises a group of 15 islands located between Tahiti in the east and Samoa and Tonga in the west. The main island of Rarotonga is 3,000 km north-east of Auckland, New Zealand and the township of Avarua on that island is the administrative and commercial centre of the Cook Islands.
Total population of the Island group is approximately 19,000. The indigenous population is Polynesian but English is spoken by most of the community.
Great Britain proclaimed a Protectorate over the Cook Islands in 1888 and in 1901, the Islands were ceded to New Zealand. The Cook Islands became fully self-governing in 1965 under the Cook Islands Constitution Act 1964. Since obtaining self-government, the Cook Islanders have retained New Zealand citizenship.
The Government has reaffirmed continuing support and encouragement for the development of Rarotonga as a financial centre.
There are two main political parties, the Democratic Alliance Party and the Cook Islands Party which between them hold all seats in Parliament. Both parties support the Cook Islands status as an offshore financial centre.
Executive authority is vested in Her Majesty the Queen. The Queen’s Representative is appointed upon the advice of the Cook Islands Government. Executive Government lies with a cabinet comprising the Prime Minister and nine other Ministers appointed by the Prime Minister.
The Cook Islands has growing international stature and is a member of the South Pacific Forum, the Asian Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
The Cook Islands economy is primarily tourism based however there has been a substantial expansion in the offshore industry with the advent of innovative and progressive legislation to facilitate the establishment of a variety of offshore structures including international business companies, offshore banks, offshore insurance companies and wealth preservation trusts.
Air New Zealand operates various Boeing 747 and 767 flights through Rarotonga to Auckland, Tahiti, Hawaii, Los Angeles and Fiji, which provide direct access to the United Kingdom, USA, South East Asia, Australia as well as Europe.
Rarotonga has a satellite international telephone and facsimile system. Direct dialling to Rarotonga is available from most countries. Internet and e-mail access is also freely available.
The official language is English however Cook Islands Maori is spoken widely.
New Zealand Dollar.
Only in relation to certain dealings in New Zealand Dollars. There are no local restrictions on the movement of funds to or from the Cook Islands in other currencies and funds may be held and business transacted in the Cook Islands in any currency.
TYPE OF LAW
Based on English Common Law.
PRINCIPAL CORPORATE LEGISLATION
The International Companies Act 1981-1982.
TYPE OF COMPANY FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND INVESTMENT
International Business Companies, which may be no liability companies, companies limited by guarantee, unlimited companies and mutual companies.
PROCEDURE TO INCORPORATE
Filing of Memorandum of Incorporation with the Registrar of International Companies.
RESTRICTIONS ON TRADING
Cannot trade within the Cook Islands or undertake the business of banking or insurance unless licensed under the Offshore Banking Act or the Offshore Insurance Act.
POWERS OF COMPANY
A Cook Islands International Company has the same powers as a natural person.
LANGUAGE OF LEGISLATION AND CORPORATE DOCUMENTS
SHELF COMPANIES AVAILABLE
TIME TO INCORPORATE
Anything identical to or similar to a company already incorporated.
LANGUAGE OF NAME
The name can be in any language but must be accompanied by a translation in English.
SUFFIXES TO DENOTE LIMITED LIABILITY
Limited or Ltd.
DISCLOSURE OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP TO AUTHORITIES
ISSUED SHARE CAPITAL
There are no minimum requirements.
CLASSES OF SHARES PERMITTED
Bearer shares, preference shares, redeemable shares, shares with or without voting rights and shares of no par value.
BEARER SHARES PERMITTED
International entities including International Companies are exempt from taxation.
US€ 1,00 payable on the registration of the company and US€ 500 annually thereafter.
All companies must lodge annual returns accompanied by audited accounts however this latter requirement can be dispensed with by company resolution.
The minimum number of directors is one. Directors may be either a body corporate or a natural person. They may of any nationality and need not be resident in the Cook Islands.
A Cook Islands resident secretary must be appointed.
The minimum number of shareholders is one.