Shelf corporation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A shelf corporation, shelf company, or aged corporation is a company or corporation that has had no activity.[1] It was created and left with no activity – metaphorically put on the "shelf" to "age". The company can then be sold to a person or group of persons who wish to start a company without going through all the procedures of creating a new one.

Reasons for buying[edit]

Common reasons for buying a shelf corporation include:

  • To save the time involved in taking the steps to create a new corporation.
  • To gain the opportunity to bid on contracts. Some jurisdictions require that a company be in business for a certain length of time to have this ability.
  • To show corporate longevity in order to attract consumers or investors.
  • To gain access to corporate credit.

These reasons are open to criticism. Many years ago, it would take months to properly incorporate a business. However, it is now quite easy, at least in Australia, Canada, the United States, Western Europe and Dubai, to do so. In fact, it can now be done in as little as a couple of hours in some jurisdictions. In Australia, a new company can get registered within 10 minutes. A corporation might end up "on the shelf" precisely because of a bad business history.

A number of consortia "produce" and sell shelf corporations, promoting the fact that the new buyer can at the same time have a corporation with a long history,[2] and yet have complete control over the establishment of the corporation's board of directors and shareholder profile.

One item to be aware of is the re-aging of the shelf corporation. If the credit bureaus learn about the company being under new management, they will list it on their reports, effectively "re-aging" the company.


A Reuters report described Wyoming Corporate Services as an example of a vendor of shelf companies, which were literally stored in mailboxes labelled as "corporate suites" in the main room of a 1,700-square-foot (160 m2) brick house a few blocks from the Wyoming State Capitol. Over 700 companies were available at prices depending on their age, ranging from $5,995 for a six-year-old company to $645 for one recently created. It is one of scores of similar businesses setting up shop, primarily in Delaware, Wyoming, and Nevada due to regulatory considerations.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The New York rules of professional conduct : rules and commentary. Spring 2011. New York: Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 630. ISBN 9780199826100.
  2. ^ Grow, Brian; Carr, Kelly. "Special report: Nevada's big bet on secrecy". Reuters. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  3. ^ Carr, Kelly; Grow, Brian. "Special Report: A little house of secrets on the Great Plains". Reuters. Retrieved 17 October 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Michael Spadaccini, Incorporate Your Business: In Any State (2007), p. 253.
  • Mark William Walma, Patricia McCann-Smith, The Fundamentals of Corporate Law and Procedure (2000), p. 54.