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The Cook Islands comprises a group of 15 islands located
in the South Pacific between Tahiti in the east and Samoa
and Tonga in the west. The main island of Rarotonga is 3,000
km northeast of Auckland, New Zealand. The Cook Islands
consists of two main groups, a southern group of nine "high"
islands which are of volcanic origin and the northern group
which comprises of six atolls. The majority of the
population lives in the southern group.
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 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 dialing to
Rarotonga is available from most countries. Internet and e-mail access is also
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.
Based on English Common Law.
The International Companies Act 1981-1982.Limited Liability Company Act 2008
International Business Companies, which may be limited by
share or by guarantee, or which may be no liability,
unlimited companies and mutual companies.
Filing of Memorandum of Incorporation with the Registrar
of International Companies by a licensed trustee.
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.
A Cook Islands International Company has the same powers
as a natural person.
Anything identical to or similar to a company already
The name can be in any language but must be accompanied by a translation in
Limited or Ltd.
There are no minimum requirements.
Preference shares, redeemable shares, shares with or
without voting rights and shares of no par value.
International entities including International Companies
are exempt from taxation. A fee of US$300 is payable on the
registration of the company and US$300 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.
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