Choosing a suitable Forex license to establish a brokerage company, is a key business decision that requires taking many parameters into consideration including a set of regulatory procedures and compliance with domestic, community and international provisions and requirements.
So, before you start planning and structuring your business you need to consider which regulatory jurisdiction offers you the best options to run your business.
The forex market is growing every day, and numerous Forex brokerage companies are becoming active and being licensed in an increasingly regulated, competitive, and demanding setting. That is why each case should be analyzed properly, since one or more factors may play a decisive role.
Below, we present the main criteria to consider when choosing the most appropriate forex license for running the business:
Registration and maintenance cost – costs depend on the jurisdiction you might have a really high cost when registering a new entity and numerous of procedures involved. Some jurisdictions are well known for their low fees and requirements, which means the incorporation process is more accessible and less time-consuming.
Broker forex licenses – Although there are few offshore jurisdictions where Forex brokerage firms are not regulated, the list is constantly shrinking and many brokers need to make a crucial decision about whether to run a regulated business and which jurisdiction is best for their business needs.
The broker license is pretty expensive and obtaining it takes time (from several weeks to a year). However, you must be aware that doing business in an offshore jurisdiction where Forex is unregulated might be negatively viewed by your partners (investors, clients and banks).
With a License you can:
Political system stability – Be sure that the chosen country has a legal system, transparent economic policy, and a stable currency without restrictions on the repatriation of investments. Moreover, there shouldn’t be any risk that a new government coming to power or under international political pressure the tax exemption might be chosen, or any other political factors which might affect the business.
Tax regime – Some offshore regimes have lower taxes, but there are some, with the status of zero taxation. However, tax exemption is not always the decisive factor.
Black lists – A list of jurisdictions that are considered as not cooperation at a global level in a global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. This list is regularly updated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
What exactly does the FCA do when it comes to regulating the retail FX / CFD industry?
Protecting Consumers: One of the main roles of the FCA is to protect consumers and ensure that consumers don’t become victims of scams or end up being tied into unfair contracts. Supervise Firms: The organization plays a significant role in supervising the activities of regulated firms. The FCA performs regular assessments of firms’ conduct, with the largest firms being continuously assessed over rolling two-year periods.
Fines and Disciplinary Action: The FCA has the power to fine investment services firms which breach UK regulatory law, these fines can be substantial and are a powerful tool when disciplining and encouraging firms to operate within the law. In addition the FCA has the power to revoke firms operating license should the regulatory breaches be particularly severe or the FCA doesn’t feel the firm will implement changes to prevent future breaches.
Warnings: The FCA regularly releases warnings regarding the operation of unregulated firms. This helps protect consumers from doing business with unregulated firms and is an important part of consumer protection. You can find warnings regarding unregulated firms here.
FCA: The European Gold Standard?
Many Forex traders see FCA regulation as the gold standard of European financial regulation and prefer if possible to only trade with firms regulated by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority. Why is the FCA so popular with the retail traders? It is partly due to the fact that British financial services regulation goes above and beyond the minimum standards set out by the EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). For instance, the FCA has more demanding capital requirements than the minimum demanded by MiFID, while a number of jurisdictions opt for the bare minimum required by the EU directive. Additionally, the UK’s investor compensation scheme offers more protection than the minimum laid out in MiFID providing £50,000 of cover should a brokerage collapse financially. The FCA is also at the forefront when it comes to regulating new products with it being suggested that the FCA may become the first EU financial regulator to seriously scrutinize copy trading and require the social trading platforms to be regulated, as they may constitute a form of portfolio management
While this can make it significantly more costly to operate from the jurisdiction, many firms see being regulated and based in the United Kingdom as a significant advantage when it comes to marketing their services to potential customers. There has been a trend in recent months for brokerages based in other EU jurisdictions to seek a FCA license in addition to their current regulatory licensing from a MiFID regulatory body, with CySEC regulated eToro and Estonian regulated Admiral Markets both having recently acquired a full FCA licensing.
There are so many more brokers applying for a CySEC license that is essentially the same as the FCA one, and those who possess it can accept UKbased individuals, that we recommend the following:
One of the main and largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea became one of the top locations in the world to obtain a Forex license. Due to the combination of highly-skilled professional services, modern infrastructure and a wide variety of investment opportunities mostly because of the country’s attractive tax regime together with its EU Member status, individuals can operate a Forex business in a tax-friendly jurisdiction.
Cyprus boasts one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe, which amounts to 12.5%.
Moreover, The Cyprus Securities and Exchange (CySEC) is a Forex licensing and regulatory
body and is notable for being one of the top licensing bodies in the world – obtaining the CySEC license takes between 4 to 8 months.
The costs of obtaining licenses range from 2,000 EUR to 51,000 EUR depending on the type of licence you need. When applying, you should also know the requirements of a share capital, which depending on a license ranges from 80,000 EURto 1,000,000 EUR and must be maintained at all times.
An English-speaking country is a well-regulated and stable jurisdiction. The Belize International Financial Services Commission is a globally recognized financial regulator that has a set of strict, rigorous rules that must be satisfied in order to obtain a Forex license. On the other hand, obtaining it is relatively quick (the average time is around 40 days) and inexpensive (500 USD$ Government fee for a license application) with the initial capital of 100,000 USD$. One of the biggest benefits for Forex company owners doing business in Belize is that they are able to start and operate their FX company without having to pay any corporate tax within the country. Moreover, Belize also boasts very strong secrecy laws, which makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for governments and researchers to determine who the beneficial owners and shareholders of a company are.
A favorable tax regime with a corporate tax rate amounting to 15%, which might be reduced to a net effective tax rate of 3%and the relatively low cost of setting up a Forex company in this small island attract many investors from all over the world. Obtaining a Mauritius Forex Brokerage license seems to be inexpensive and easy. A Forex Brokerage license is issued by The Financial Services Commission (FSC) which is the regulatory authority responsible for the regulation, supervision, and inspection of all financial services other than banking and global business in Mauritius.
Not only is the waiting time for a license easy to obtain (takes 4 to 5 months) but also the minimum capital requirement is only 17,000 EUR.
It makes a highly reputable and catchy business jurisdiction that offers you easy access to the Asia/Pacific region. Limited bureaucracy, low start-up costs, and clear procedure when applying for FSP regulation (accepting applications since 2010) make this jurisdiction very attractive to new investors. However, if you wish to register your company in New Zealand, you must remember several requirements that entered into force in 2013:
– New Zealand FSP Registered companies must have a physical office in New Zealand,
– a Compliance Director must be employed at the office,
– all client record keeping, KYC, and AML procedures must be handled from an office in New Zealand. This facilitates on-site compliance inspections,
– The company must be a registered corporation and comply with the business law within the jurisdiction of New Zealand.
– a minimum required capital must be 1,000,000 USD$,
Moreover, the financial regulatory authority responsible for accepting Forex broker license applications is New Zealand Financial Markets Authority. Licensing process takes around 40 days and the initial setup costs approximately 14,000 USD$.
However, if you wish to meet the criteria and establish an entity there you may use one of the professional services consultancy firms there.
One of the most popular jurisdictions, Where the financial services industry is overseen by the Financial Services Commission and among others, BVI FSC is responsible for issuing BVI broker licenses. Fx Brokerage License can be obtained within 6 to 8 weeks. The initial capital requirement starts from 30,000 USD$, depending on the type of license, the whole process takes typically 3-4 months with costs around 20,000-30,000 USD$.
With steady growth in investment services Malta, as a part of the EU, has become a desirable jurisdiction for Fx Companies. However, such companies need to be specifically formed for the purpose of providing Forex services, with special Memorandum and Articles of Association and full required documentation. The jurisdiction’s regulator The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has played a key role in a growing investment field and it’s responsible for the issuing of all financial licenses including Forex licenses. Unfortunately applying for a Fx license is a quite long, complicated, and expensive process. Depending on which category of license you will apply for, the required initial capital will range from 125,000 EUR up to 730,000 EUR. The cost of obtaining the Fx license is approximately 35,000 USD$ with the time frame of 6 months.
These small independent Islands at the Indian Ocean with a stable political and economical structure, offer an excellent business conditions to all entrepreneurs. Among many privileges that Seychelles offers, are flexible company law and no taxes levied on business income, dividends and banking transactions. If you’re planning to conduct a Fx brokerage business fully outside the Island and you do not have an operating office in Seychelles, only the registered address, then technically there is no need to apply for a Seychelles license. On the other hand, if you wish to cooperate with a reputable Forex platform provider, you should apply for an Fx Broker License. Since 2014, requirements to obtain the Seychelles license from the Seychelles Financial Service Authority (FSA) have significantly changed. When applying, a local office in Seychelles for the purpose of liaising with the local regulator and maintaining local records is required. Furthermore, the minimum paid the capital amount to 50,000 USD$. The whole application process costs approximately 13,000 USD$.
Note that, when applying for a license in all mentioned jurisdictions you need to pay some additional fees like stamp duties, certificates, and proof of license. Moreover, you need to submit a full package of documents including a business plan that meets all the requirements for obtaining a license, and passing a fit and proper test.
Above we describe only a few jurisdictions that offer you the possibility to engage in Forex activities, however, the list is inexhaustible. When choosing a suitable jurisdiction for your business, and before starting the application process. it is crucial to conduct research on all the requirements and consider the pros and cons against your own business needs and objectives.