Jurisdiction Spotlight: Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands…

IBC legislation? Check.

Mobile bearer shares? Check.

LLC legislation?

Modern, responsive corporate registry? Check.

Politically stable? Check.

Low tax even for resident persons? Check.

Tiny banking sector giving it an internationally low profile? Check.

Mostly clean reputation? Check.

Maritime services (yacht registration, flag of convenience)? Check.

Interesting flag? Check.

The first time many of you hear about this jurisdiction? Check.

Set sail for the South Pacific!


A convenient backyard for the US to test nuclear weapons, the Bikini Atolls of the Marshall Islands were subject to 23 nuclear detonations between 1946 and 1958. At the time, the islands belonged to the US. The Marshall Islands gained independence in 1979 which in 1986 was changed to a Compact of Free Association with the US.

Marshall Islands is a sovereign nation. It has especially close ties with the US, which in part shields it from international criticism. The US is responsible for military defense and for providing aid.

Geography and Demography


Marshall Islands map

Full Name: Republic of the Marshall Islands (Aolepān Aorōkin M̧ajeļ)
Official language(s): Marshallese and English
Other major languages: None
Type of government: Parliamentary republic
Area: 181 km²
Timezone: UTC+12
Population: 74,000
GDP per capita: 3,200 USD
Currency: United States Dollar (USD)

Incorporation and Business


Despite being very secretive, the Marshall Islands is fairly small in business and holding and its practically non-existing banking sector has led to the jurisdiction being left mostly alone.

It’s a fairly unknown jurisdiction outside of maritime vessel registrations, where it is by contrast one of the largest jurisdictions since the late 1940s competing with Panama and Liberia.

General Information

Marshall Islands is similar to Liberia in that the government is its own incorporation service provider. The registered agent for non-resident domestic companies is The Trust Company of The Marshall Islands.

The corporate registry is controlled by the Marshall Islands Maritime and Corporate Registries but is effectively run by a government-appointed organization called International Registries, Inc. This organization is based in the USA, which worries some. Others see it as an advantage. Most don’t seem to care.

Although supposedly limited to legal and financial professionals (intermediaries), registrations can sometimes be done directly with the registry but many opt for using an intermediary service provider, as they may be able to help with bank account opening.

Opening a bank account for a Marshall Islands company be very difficult, especially with mobile bearer shares. A good trustee or fiduciary is essential.

Marshall Islands companies are commonly used as asset protection vehicles or flags of convenience for ships.

The costs of forming a Marshall Islands company varies from anywhere from a little under 1,000 to around 2,000 USD and annual maintenance is around half the incorporation cost.


There is no dedicated regulator of the corporate services sector. Enforcement effectively falls on the financial intelligence unit, law enforcement, and ultimately the Marshallese courts.

The IRI is capable of striking off non-compliant companies.

International Business Company (IBC)

Often referred to as non-resident domestic companies (NRDC), these are pretty typical IBCs. The most notable feature is perhaps that mobile bearer shares are still permitted.

Requirements are typical:

  • One director required. Corporate directors permitted.
  • One shareholder required. Corporate shareholders permitted.
  • One secretary required. Usually provided by the registered agent.
  • No paid up share capital required (usually 50,000 USD capital authorized, 500 bearer shares).
  • Registered address in the Marshall Islands required.



Record Keeping

Required but need not be submitted. Bare minimum requirements.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Marshall Islands LLC legislation is based on the Delaware and Wyoming laws. Series LLCs are permitted. (See more under Series LLC in my Offshore, USA article.)

Requirements are typical:

  • At least one member. Can be corporate.
  • Registered address in the Marshall Islands required.


Not a taxable entity. Members are taxed and non-resident members are not subject to any Marshall Islands taxation.

Record Keeping

Required but need not be submitted. Bare minimum requirements.


There are two types of partnerships: General and Limited.

In a general partnership, all partners are personally liable, whereas in a limited partnership, some members can be excluded from personal liability.

These types of entities are rarely used for trading except for in situations that call specifically for a partnership. In most cases, an LLC or IBC (NRDC) is used.

Public Records

Company name and type is public information and searchable online.

Banking Sector

None to speak of.

There are two commercial banks: the Bank of Marshall Islands and Bank of Guam.

Living in Marshall Islands

Nationals of the USA, Palau, and Micronesia can settle down freely in the Marshall Islands.

Obtaining a work permit is not easy. Jobs can only be given to non-residents or non-citizens if the position cannot be filled by a local. While the workforce in Marshall Islands is quite small and limited, it’s not particularly easy to move to Marshall Islands to set up a company, which means foreigners are usually dependent on a local company to hire them.

Citizenship is generally not attractive but can be applied for after five years of residence. Dual citizenship is not recognized except for children born abroad to Marshallese citizens.

Final words

Marshall Islands is a highly secretive jurisdiction for corporations and provides a very easy means to incorporate.

Although the registry is in the US, the jurisdiction is a sovereign nation.

Banking is problematic, although far from impossible. Opting for registered shares makes bank account opening easier.

See also


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