DEFINITION of 'Offshore'

1. Located or based outside of one's national boundaries. The term offshore is used to describe foreign banks, corporations, investments and deposits. A company may legitimately move offshore for the purpose of tax avoidance or to enjoy relaxed regulations. Offshore financial institutions can also be used for illicit purposes such as money laundering and tax evasion.

2. Offshore can also refer to oil and gas drilling operations that are conducted in the ocean.


Many countries, territories and jurisdictions have offshore financial centers (OFCs). These include well-known centers like Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, and less-well-known centers like Mauritius, Dublin and Belize. The level of regulatory standards and transparency differs widely among OFCs. Supporters of OFCs argue that they improve the flow of capital and facilitate international business transactions.

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