The British Virgin Islands (BVI) International Tax Authority (ITA) BVI Financial Account Reporting System (BVIFARS) opened on 15 April 2015. BVIFARS is the web-based application through which BVI financial institutions are required to submit their FATCA returns to the ITA.

The ITA released Version 2.0 of FATCA Guidance Notes on 20 March 2015, which contained guidance notes in respect of the BVIFARS which can be found here.

BVI reporting financial institutions have until 1 June 2015 to enroll with BVIFARS and notify the ITA of:

  • their name
  • institution type
  • GIIN
  • address of their registered office (which must be within the BVI)

30 June 2015 is the deadline for submission of FATCA reports by BVI financial institutions. The deadline for 2015 has been extended from 31 May 2015, but the annual submission for 2016, and going forward thereafter, will be on 31 May.

The reporting format is consistent with currently published Schemas by the IRS for U.S. FATCA and by the OECD for the Common Reporting Standard, and will be in XML format.

Does my BVI financial institution have to notify the ITA and file a FATCA report?

Broadly, "financial institutions" are defined in the relevant BVI legislation and guidance notes under the categories of investment entities, custodial institutions, depositary institutions and specified insurance companies. A BVI financial institution is any financial institution organised under the laws of or resident in the BVI.

All BVI financial institutions will be reporting financial institutions unless they fall within a narrow range of exemptions which will be relevant in very few cases. Therefore, for instance, the vast majority of hedge and private equity funds will be reporting financial institutions.

Pursuant to BVI guidance notes all BVI reporting financial institutions have to register on the IRS website and obtain a global intermediary identification number (GIIN).

There is no requirement to file a nil return if a reporting financial institution has no relevant clients/investors/customers. However, there will be a facility for reporting financial institutions to submit nil returns if they so wish.