Bank Licensing - Vanuatu

About Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s banking sector is modest but developing. The country has a number of commercial banks, both domestic and international. These banks provide a variety of banking services, including deposit taking, lending, foreign exchange, and payment processing.

Vanuatu is working to increase financial inclusion in rural and remote communities. The government and other stakeholders are supporting initiatives such as mobile banking, financial literacy programmes, and microfinance services to enhance access to financial services.

Vanuatu has established itself as a global financial centre, drawing offshore corporations, trusts, and financial institutions. To assist foreign financial transactions, the country provides favourable tax incentives, secrecy provisions, and a simple corporate registration process.

Vanuatu is an island country located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago is located around 1,750 kilometres east of Australia, 500 kilometres north of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and south of the Solomon Islands. Vanuatu is about 2.5 hours by plane north of Brisbane and 3.5 hours by plane from Sydney, Australia.

According to Worldometer’s elaboration of the most recent United Nations data, Vanuatu’s current population is 327,665 as of Sunday, May 14, 2023.

Bislama is the primary language spoken by the majority of Vanuatuans. In Vanuatu, nearly a hundred different languages from the Oceanic subgroup of the wider Austronesian family are spoken, although almost everyone also speaks Bislama as a second language.

The legal system in the Republic of Vanuatu is a mix of English common law, French civil law, and indigenous customary law.

1. Beneficial Regulatory Environment

Vanuatu’s financial sector is well-regulated, with a favourable regulatory environment. The Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC) manages and regulates the country’s banking activities, ensuring conformity with international standards and best practises.

2. Low Capital Requirements

In comparison to many other jurisdictions, Vanuatu has comparatively low capital requirements for acquiring a banking licence. This makes it easier for smaller financial institutions or startups to set up shop in the country.

3. Tax Benefits

Vanuatu provides lucrative tax breaks to large financial institutions that are licenced in the country. These advantages may include:
a. Low Corporate Tax Rate – Vanuatu has a low corporate tax rate, which can result in significant tax savings for international banks.
b. No Withholding Tax – Vanuatu does not levy withholding tax on interest payments paid to non-residents, making international banking operations more tax efficient.
c. No Capital Gains Tax – Vanuatu does not impose a capital gains tax on the sale of shares or other financial instruments owned by multinational banks.

4. Privacy and Confidentiality

Vanuatu has privacy laws and regulations in place to preserve consumer information confidentiality. Banks licenced in Vanuatu can offer their clients privacy and confidentiality.

5. International Banking Operations

Vanuatu’s banking licence permits international banking operations, allowing for a variety of activities such as:
a. Foreign Currency Operations – Banks can execute transactions and maintain accounts in a variety of foreign currencies, facilitating international trade and cross-border activities.
b. International Fund Transfers – Banks can support foreign fund transfers, such as remittances, assuring efficient and secure worldwide capital movement.
c. Correspondent Banking Relationships – Having correspondent banking links with overseas banks allows Vanuatu’s licenced banks to get access to global financial networks and perform international transactions.

6. Reputation and Stability

Vanuatu maintains political stability and a strong international financial centre repute. It belongs to international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and follows international anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CFT) standards.


License: International Bank License
Timeframe for Approval: 3 to 4 months
Regulator: Reserve Bank of Vanuatu

Company Structure

Local Director: At least 2 individual directors (at least 1 director must be a resident of Vanuatu)
Local Shareholder: At least 1 shareholder (can also be a legal person, no nationality or residency restrictions)
Local Registered Office: Required
Local Staff: Required
Compliance Officer: Required
AML/KYC: Required
Audit: Required
Economic Substance: Required
Corporate Tax Rate: 0%
Currency: Vanuatu Vatu (VUV)
Minimum Paid-up Capital: 500,000.00€
Capital Requirement: $500,000
Tax Structure: Zero (0%) Percent Tax on Offshore Profits
  1. Preparation of application forms
  2. Reviewing and amending documents and information as are specified by the Reserve Bank
  3. Incorporation of the company
  4. Bank account setup
  5. License application with the Reserve Bank
  6. Local office setup within 30 days after issue of license
  1. International Banking Operations
    1.1 Accepting Foreign Deposits
    1.2 Foreign Exchange Services
    1.3 International Fund Transfers
  2. Privacy and Confidentiality
  3. Asset Protection and Wealth Management
    3.1 Trust Services
    3.2 Investment Advisory
  4. 4. Tax Benefits
    4.1 Low or No Corporate Tax
    4.2 No Withholding Tax
    4.3 No Capital Gains Tax
  5. Regulatory Environment

Documents required by all involved individuals

(including but not limited to directors, shareholders and beneficial owners)

  • Passport copy (Notarised)
  • Utility Bill issued within the last 3 months (Notarised)
  • CV or Resume for each involved individual
  • Two professional reference letters
  • Qualifications (Notarised)
  • Business Plan
  • Statements Of Physical Presence
  • Statement Of Financial Relationships
  • Declaration Of Legal Representative
  • Statement On Bank’s Proposed Online Presence
  • Marketing Material Disclosure

For Corporate Shareholders

  • Articles of Association in English
  • Registered office address documents (Notarised)
  • Company Register of director/s
  • Company Register of UBOs (shareholder register, or incumbency certificate, or share certificates)
  1. Formation of Vanuatu International Business Corporation.
  2. Preparation and drafting of shareholder & officer agreements
  3. Preparation and drafting of narrative business plan
  4. Prepare five year financial projections
  5. Preparation and drafting of current financial statements
  6. Preparation and drafting of personal financial statements for owners
  7. Identification and draft letters naming principal representative and auditor
  8. Draft and prepare required bank charter and prospectus
  9. Preparation and drafting application with Vanuatu Financial Services Commission
  10. Respond and draft responses to FSC application inquiries.
  11. Facilitate and consummate bankcard relationship with Visa & Mastercard
  12. Preparation and drafting of policy agreements and related documents
  13. Facilitate and consummate IBAN/SWIFT and correspondent bank relationship
  14. Provide for required physical presence and local director
  15. Preparation and review of bank deposit, loan and related agreement