The record keeping and record retention obligations of all BVI companies and limited partnerships have changed as a result of amendments to the Mutual Legal Assistance (Tax Matters) Act, 2003 (MLAT) and the Partnership Act, 1996 (PA 1996). The amending acts were published in the Official Gazette on 26 November 2012 and copies can be accessed using the links above. The amendments are effective immediately (having come into force from the date of assent on 12 November 2012).

All companies and limited partnerships registered in the BVI are now required to maintain "records and underlying documentation" and to keep such records and underlying documentation for a minimum of five years. The records and underlying documentation can be kept at any location(s) but if they are not kept at the office of the company's registered agent the company must provide a written record to its registered agent of the physical address of the place or places at which the records and underlying documentation are kept.

Prior to the changes, the main record keeping requirement for a BVI company was in section 98 of the BVI Business Companies Act 2004 which requires a company to keep records that are sufficient to show and explain the company's transactions and which will, at any time, enable the financial position of the company to be determined with reasonable accuracy. Section 98 remains applicable to all BVI companies.

Little guidance is given as to what comprises the records and underlying documentation of a company save that accounts of a company are expressly included.

The amendments to MLAT and PA 1996 have been made in direct response to the Phase I Peer Review Report on the BVI produced by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes dated August 2011. Harneys will shortly issue comprehensive guidance on the new requirements.