EU relocation & asset protection
Personal & Business relocation to the European Union
We provide tailor made family office services and build asset protection strategies
From ancient times people have always been looking for new horizons and new opportunities, reaching far beyond their own countries and continents. At the times when borders and entry restrictions between countries (passports, visas, etc.) were non existent, the main and the only problem they had to solve was the distance. People conquered oceans and crossed deserts with the only hope to find better life.
When the advanced technologies of the last two centuries and the Industrial Revolution changed the world landscape, distances became easier to traverse and travel became neither as expensive nor as difficult as it was before. Unfortunately, another problem emerged then. In fact, one that was much harder to overcome – the necessity of advanced administrative and legal support in order for the individual to relocate to another country. Those who were able to solve that soon found out, that moving their business is even more complicated.
The big journey
The main reasons for one to take the “big journey” and look for another place of residence and even new citizenship are comfort of living, personal and financial safety and new opportunities. These are the three driving forces behind any decision of any individual to change his personal living circumstances. Moving to another country, either alone or with the whole family isn’t an easy task to do. The administrative obstacles are immense. Not only there are direct restrictions that need to be solved, such as visa and residency permit (eventually new citizenship), but there are also other indirect consequences, such as tax and inheritance issues.
EU vs USA
During the last decades, the undisputed main destinations for people from around the world to look for better life are the USA and the European Union. While the US provides opportunities mainly for the low profile immigrants who are looking for better paid jobs or for people with extraordinary innovative ideas, the EU offers different perspectives, mainly suitable for those who have already achieved some financial independence in life.
Full legal support
We will provide full legal support to those willing to relocate to the EU or wishing to obtain EU citizenship. We will also administratively support the whole procedure of changing the legal and fiscal residency and will advise on all aspects and consequences of the process. We will also arrange all financial facilities associated with the relocation to the EU such as private banking, corporate financing, etc.
The advantages of the EU in terms of obtaining residency or citizenship are immense. We will outline the most important of them, however even touching on all topics doesn’t seem to be possible. In each person’s individual circumstances, there may be different opportunities that the residency (or citizenship) in the European Union can provide.
Comfort of living in the European Union
The EU is the only place on earth that can provide residency opportunities of virtually endless variety. EU citizens are allowed to freely settle, work, study and retire within all EU member states as well as Switzerland and Norway. This provides all EU citizens (irrespectively of the national citizenship) the unique opportunity to make their choice of residing in any European country, including the EU overseas territories. Imagine being an EU citizen and having the opportunity to reside without any formalities in sunny Greece or vibrant Paris. You can buy your dream home in cozy Italian village, drinking local wine, watching the sunsets over the Mediterranean. Or you can chose to own medieval castle in France, modern apartment in downtown Frankfurt or large luxury villa in the outskirts of Barcelona.
The diversity of the EU
When it comes to choice of residency, the EU has simply no alternatives. It is the greatest political achievements in all times. The diversity that Europe can offer is simply one of its kind. Especially for the financially independent citizen, having the option to freely relocate to all EU countries (as well as Switzerland and Norway) and to own real estate property there is a mind-blowing opportunity.
The ultimate freedom of choice
But it is not just the living in the EU that makes its citizenship so attractive. As citizen of the Union, the individual is allowed to work, study, retire, do business and everything else in all EU member states the same way as if it was in his own home country. Travelling between the different countries doesn’t even require holding a passport, as the Schengen agreement abolishes all border checks.
Travelling with EU passport provides another advantage to its holder. EU foreign policy aims at ensuring equal opportunities to all EU nationals in terms of visa-free travel to third (non EU) countries. It is well known that EU passport holders enjoy the ultimate opportunity for hassle free worldwide travel and the highest number of countries that can be visited without entry visa.
We will assist with:
- Obtaining EU citizenship;
- Arranging EU legal residency;
- Real estate purchase in the EU;
- Tax & administrative assistance;
- EU banking introduction;
- Full legal support.
Personal and financial safety in the European Union
Legal stability and predictability in the EU
When it comes to personal safety, one would probably think immediately of personal physical safety. This is not quite what we meant to write about in this paragraph. While EU, in terms of low crime rate, outperforms by far the United States, let alone the other less developed countries, it is another term of safety that matters even more. The personal safety that is a milestone of the EU’s policies and values is the safety of the EU individuals, their rights and of course, their obligations. There is no other Union in the world, other than the EU, that is spending that amount of effort in order to harmonize the different legislative systems into one common, 100% democratic and predictive legal system.
The European Union is hosting the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It ensures that all of its citizens can directly submit claims when they believe that their rights have been violated – an option that is non existent anywhere else on that level.
International recognition and balanced policies
Legally, all EU citizens are protected by common EU policies and are enjoying friendly business climate and positive acceptance worldwide. The European Union is trying to keep balanced position on international level, which combined with the EU’s financial and political influence, can virtually guarantee the EU citizens a smooth business environment without any danger of any international sanctions being imposed on them (as is the case with many other countries, i.e. Russia, Iran, Libya, Syria, etc.).
Social safety and benefits
Likewise with personal safety, when one hears about financial safety, the idea of social benefits and minimal wages might come to mind. And again as in the previous paragraphs, we didn’t mean just that. The European Union is built upon the values of social solidarity and equality. All EU citizens enjoy ultimate social protection and comprehensive coverage. However, for the financially independent citizen, the protection of its wealth is much more important. EU regulations provide optimal shelter for personal asset with the backing of the European financial regulations.
Diversity in taxation and legal opportunities
Taxation in the EU is different among all states. While there are many discussions to harmonize the tax rates EU-wide, this perspective is for the moment looking as way too distant. With tax rates of 50% and more in some countries such as France, Sweden and Germany, at the other side of the scale is Bulgaria with its flat tax rate of 10%. In the following paragraphs we will explain in more detail how can this opportunity be utilized for legal tax optimization purposes.
We will assist our clients with their assets protection strategies on all levels within the EU and will ensure full tax compliance and legal protection for their personal and business affairs.
Opportunities in the European Union
Lucrative investments in EU real estate
Being resident or citizen of the European Union can provide you with the opportunity to explore a whole new and wide range of opportunities. For the financially independent person, the most important will be the ability to own and invest in real estate properties of any kind in all EU member states. The investment potential of the European properties is unmatched anywhere else in the world. Whether an ultra expensive posh property in the Cote d’Azur in France or an affordable villa in Spain, there is everything for everyone’s taste in the EU. New luxury resorts are being built all the time everywhere around the world. There are tropical paradises where everyone dreams of spending their holiday. However it is only Europe that has historical properties with ever rising value and prestige.
Banking throughout the EU
The access to the investment facilities and services of the EU financial centers is another opportunity that is otherwise not easily accessible. EU, together with Switzerland, provide the best banking facilities and investment products to its residents. Many products are not available for USA residents (aka US persons) or residents of non EU countries altogether.
We will assist with:
- Private Banking facilities;
- Tax optimization advice;
- Investment feasibility studies;
- Assistance for business financing.
Large choice of universities
Easy access to academic institution and organization is also reserved for the EU residents under preferential conditions. While one can argue where the best universities are located, whether in the EU or in the USA, it is without any doubt that in EU one can get the best value for his money in terms of education. The choice of university in Europe is also significantly larger than is in the USA. The traditions in science and art in Europe can not be compared to any other region in the world. The academic institutions also conform with this statement.
Tax optimization opportunities due to the low tax rate in Bulgaria
Taxation in the EU, although harmonized within the common framework and rules, has left the option to every member state to decide on its own tax rates. This is considered as another democratic value of the EU and at the same time represents a great opportunity for the European residents. By changing his residence, the EU citizen can optimize immensely his taxes and can ensure that much more wealth is passed on to his heirs. As we will explain below, a tax residence in Bulgaria is currently the ultimate choice of many Europeans living in high-tax countries who seek both capital preservation and tax optimization.
Bulgarian residency – the unique option within the EU
Pay less tax in the EU than virtually anywhere else in the world
EU residency, as already explained above, provides the opportunity for each EU citizen to decide freely in which country to reside. In respect of choice or residency and freedom of travel, it matters not what citizenship one holds (as far as it is EU citizenship of course), nor it matters in which country one resides officially. In tax matters however, the situation is quite different.
In recent years we are witnessing more and more applications from citizens of EU countries with high tax rates to change their tax residency to Bulgaria and to even obtain Bulgarian citizenship (along with Bulgarian residency). In 2016, the amount of applications from citizens of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy, etc. to relocate legally to Bulgaria has sky-rocketed. The main reason behind that flow of this special type of “immigrants” is without any doubt the favorable tax regime in the Balkan country alongside the simplified administrative requirements applied for businesses and individuals alike.
Golden opportunities for citizens of USA and UK
Another flow of Bulgarian residency and citizenship applications is coming from citizens of the United Kingdom and the United States. While the UK citizens are looking for safe EU harbor after the BrExit is implemented, the USA applicants are mainly trying to find better tax arrangement for their profits as well as to ensure they can live in Europe without any administrative hurdles.
Bulgarian investment citizenship
We will assist with our clients’ applications for Bulgarian citizenship by investment, citizenship by naturalization and by origin, residency in Bulgaria as well as all administrative and legal aspects of the relocation of private individuals and companies to Bulgaria.
The advantages of Bulgarian residence for personal taxation
Different tax policies within the EU
Personal tax legislation and the applicable tax rates are the most important part of each country’s fiscal policy. While corporate tax is complex and companies are usually allowed to make profits as well as losses, personal tax is being applied to the income of the private individuals, who are often not being allowed to deduct any costs (with some exceptions of course). Corporate accountancy is in general being handled by professional and experienced accountants who take care of the administrative burden. In contrast, personal tax is supposed to be an easy task to undertake. Unfortunately, in recent years, the administrative load in some high tax countries (ie France) has become almost unbearable, as are the tax rates applied. Luckily, this is not the case in Bulgaria.
Lowest tax rate in EU
Bulgaria is applying the lowest personal tax rate from all countries in the European Union. Namely, Bulgarian tax residents are taxed at flat rate of 10% on their income/profit. Dividends received by private individuals are taxed at 5%. These rates are flat and do not increase progressively, which make it the ideal solution for high net worth individuals, who would otherwise pay many times more, if they were taxed in another EU country.
The Bulgarian personal tax code foresees many exceptions, in which cases the income of the Bulgarian tax residents is completely free of any personal or other tax. Such is the income from financial securities, shares, bonds and mutual funds, traded in regulated stock exchanges or issued by EU countries. Other exceptions include proceeds (profits) of real estate sales (if certain criteria are met) and many others. Bulgaria therefore ranks in the top EU countries in terms of tax exempt revenues.
No inheritance tax
Passing your wealth on to your beloved ones is often associated with paying huge inheritance tax to the Government. Not the case in Bulgaria – the Balkan country has abolished the so much feared elsewhere inheritance taxes and is now not applying any tax on inheritances.
No wealth tax
Bulgaria doesn’t apply wealth tax on its residents. For the high net worth individuals and families this is like a breath of fresh air as it not only saves them the hassle to declare their wealth and submit balance sheets of their holdings and accounts, but also saves them a real fortune, especially on the long term. Many wealthy residents of European countries, such as France, Italy, etc. have been targeted in recent years with heavy administrative load and hefty tax bills.
Setting up business structures in Bulgaria
Tax and cost optimization
Business taxes (tax rates, legal optimization options, etc.) are essential for the successful operations of any enterprise. In the global worldwide landscape today, corporate taxation remains one of the last feature that distinguishes the companies from different countries (as the companies otherwise operate in quite similar conditions in the global business framework). Bulgarian companies, as all EU entities, enjoy full access to the European market. At the same time however, because of the advantageous fiscal regime in Bulgaria, these companies provide much better financial conditions and are therefore the ultimate choice for many influential business owners. Even more importantly, for passive companies, accumulating their profits from the proceeds of their accumulated wealth, the rate at which they are taxed is of even greater importance. Wealthy individuals, keeping all or part of their assets within such entities, can benefit from the Bulgarian fiscal legislation in order to increase their wealth potential.
Lowest corporate tax rate in the EU
Same as with personal taxation, Bulgaria applies flat tax rate of 10% for corporations as well. In other words, Bulgarian companies are taxed with 10% on their profits. This is again a flat rate and doesn’t depend on the amount of revenues realized. Obviously the corporate tax is, in similarity to the personal tax in Bulgaria, the lowest in the EU. For that reason, both passive and active companies are much better off being domiciled in Bulgaria than in any other EU country. For passive companies, counting on their accumulated assets to provide revenue, the low corporate tax rate in Bulgaria is of even greater importance, as they don’t count on commercial (high) profits, but on investment proceeds, which are in general lower.
Favorable investment climate
Bulgarian Stock Exchange is constantly outperforming all major European and American indices. The investment climate in Bulgaria is extremely favorable for business start-ups and Initial Public Offerings (IPO’s).
We will assist with:
- Obtaining Bulgarian citizenship;
- Arranging Bulgarian tax residency;
- Prestige property acquisition in Bulgaria;
- Company registration and administration in Bulgaria;
- Tax compliance in Bulgaria;
- Banking introduction in Sofia.
Bulgaria has implemented robust legislative measures for capital protection and protection of the foreign investments. The legislative texts provide peace of mind and full confidence to the foreign investors in the country.
First class office spaces and premises
In the last 15 years Bulgaria has made significant effort in setting up many international business centers and high class office spaces. Currently, many of the business premises in Bulgaria are outperforming in terms of quality most of the western European office spaces.
Highly qualified workforce
The Bulgarian labor market can offer exceptionally qualified specialists in virtually all business sectors. Especially good track record have the software developers and IT specialists as well as the professionals in the pharmacy and medical industry. The young generation in Bulgaria is almost fluent in English. Many other languages, such as German and French are being widely used and spoken. Many multinational companies have already taken advantage of the highly skilled Bulgarian workforce and have already set up business offices with large number of local personnel.
Family Office solutions & long term Asset Protection
Comfort & Safety
Family offices have existed for centuries with their roots starting from aristocratic Europe. Later, the values and ideas of the family offices have spread into the Americas and the rest of the world. Currently, there are many different types of family offices. Still the main principle remains always the same, namely: “hiring someone highly professional to take care of the customer’s complex financial, legal and other affairs and to represent his interest in the best possible manner”.
While family offices and asset protection services are in general overlapping in many areas and aspects, there are certainly some important differences. Asset protection strategies and solutions provide exclusively services for (mainly passive) asset protection and eventually transition of wealth. On the contrary, family offices are much more advanced structures and are also delivering wide range of administrative and business oriented services to the client.
Where traditions matter the most
Traditionally, family offices have been operated from countries with political neutrality, robust privacy laws and well developed financial industry. That is why the main centers serving clients worldwide are located in Zurich, Geneva, Luxembourg, London, Frankfurt, New York, Tokyo, etc. Offshore centers, like Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda have also had their share of the family office industry. In today’s global world however, one location is just not enough to host all different requirements of the family office client. It is this great and important synergy between traditions, current legislation and the client’s personal situation and requirements.
We have combined all these factors and have structured our family office services to take advantage of the exceptionally favorable tax legislation in Bulgaria, as EU country, and the traditions of the Swiss financial services sector. Each client’s portfolio and requirements are carefully evaluated in order to find the optimal ratio and provide family office services from Sofia (Bulgaria) and Geneva (Switzerland).
In order to determine the specific client’s situation, we perform careful due diligence of the customer’s personal and financial affairs, take into consideration the comprehensive reporting and compliance requirements by the United States’ FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), the European Union’s revised Savings Tax Directive and the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s) initiatives on a new single global standard for automatic exchange of information (AEOI). Then we prepare client-specific proposal, based on the purpose of the family office and the underlying assets or services it is intended to provide.
Types of family offices
Family offices exist in wide varieties and types, based on the main purpose of the client. At the one side of the spectrum are the offices with purely assets protection objectives. The sole purpose of these family offices is preservation of the capital of the family and ensuring smooth transition trough the generations. At the other side of the spectrum are the offices that are least demanding in terms of asset management, but require great deal in daily administrative support of the family affairs, such as arranging access to universities, schools, etc. Obviously, there are virtually unlimited varieties in between. We have identified the following main four types of family offices, which we most of the time implement in our asset protection and administrative support strategies:
Investment family office
This type of family office is suited for those who seek “Family Investment Manager” to take care of their investment portfolio. Our team, together with the client, will create its investment strategy to be consistent with the client’s goals. The degree of risk will be carefully evaluated and reassessed regularly. The client will enjoy single point of contact within our organization, consolidated financial reporting on regular basis, special emphasis and legal compliance on tax matters.
We will assist with:
- Private banking facilities in Sofia and/or Geneva;
- Secure storage out of the banking system.
Inheritance family office
This type of family office seeks and focuses on the preparation for and the transition of wealth. Together with the client, our team will prepare multi-generational plan for the client’s assets, ensuring smooth and tax efficient transfer of his wealth. Our team will often work together with the client’s heirs to ensure they are prepared for the responsibilities that come with the inheritance.
Business family office
This is one of the most common types of family offices in recent years. It is intended for those whose main source of wealth is their operating active business. Our team will work closely with the client to ensure professional collaboration between the family members and management bodies responsible to represent the interests of the family and its financial affairs. The family office will provide legal and professional support to the responsible managers, within the organization of the client, thereby assisting enormously in virtually all aspects of the client’s ongoing businesses. Our team will also provide advice and support on dividends policies as well as avoidance of family conflicts.
Administrative family office
This type of family office resembles to a certain degree the business family office. The main difference is that the main purpose of the client is to have its financial affairs administered, rather than his business being assisted. We will often provide safekeeping and secure storage facilities for the client’s family documentation in either Sofia or Geneva.
The main elements of the family office
Family office professional services comprise of different elements. While pure asset and wealth management deal exclusively with the financial assets of the client, the broader family office services take care of virtually all aspects of the client’s family life. Each family office type comprises of one or more of the elements described below. While the list is in no way exhaustive, it gives an approximate idea of the main elements of each modern family office.
Making arrangements to keep in safe location the client’s document inventory, such as copies of entity’s incorporation documents and ongoing accountancy and legal paper, ID documents, tax returns and other related documents, annual reports, minutes of meetings, private and corporate contracts, notary deeds, wills, testaments, etc. Maintaining and updating summary of the client’s family assets and ownerships.
Handling and advising the client’s on his investment policy statements, asset allocation, investment due diligence and investment reporting. Investment management is strongly correlated with tax management as the investment decisions should be always weighted against eventual tax liabilities that they may trigger.
Monitoring and advice of the client about his family’s tax planning and optimization, tax compliance on local and international level as well as the coordination between the client’s personal tax matters and those of his entities and trusts. Providing on regular basis tax updates in line with the international evolvement in the tax codes and adjustment of the client’s targets and objectives.
Receiving and settling all outstanding payables and track of vendor payments. Maintenance of the client’s cash balances. Facilitation of the cash flow reporting. Introduction of internal control standards.
Review of the estate plan of the client’s family and preparation of flow chart and comprehensive analysis. On regular basis, preparation of estate plan review and issuance of monitoring reports.
Organizing of comprehensive trust administration and management as well as all accountancy related services. Arranging the necessary infrastructure in order to meet the obligations of the trustee.
Development of the client’s family educational plans in order to meet all aspects of the family’s wealth.
Organizing family gathering facilitation and succession planning.
Art collecting and auctioning
Participation on behalf of the client in art and other auctions. Professional advice on investment feasibility, etc.