Beneficial Ownership Visualisation System (BOVS)

The Beneficial Ownership Visualisation System (BOVS) specifies how to illustrate beneficial ownership structures using a BOVS Diagram. It is designed to visualise these structures as clearly as possible.

We offer these specifications to anyone building visualisations of beneficial ownership structures, to support their choices over how to represent different aspects of ownership. The specifications are compatible with any brand, style, colour scheme or language, and are provided under the GNU Free Documentation Licence.


Example of a BOVS diagram

The above shows an example of a BOVS diagram. This describes a situation where:

  • We are interested in who ultimately owns and controls Widgets, Inc.
  • There is a Company that owns 50% of Widgets, Inc., and controls 25% of it (e.g. has 25% of the voting rights). Its name has not been declared, so we label it Anonymous Company B.
    • Amy owns 100% of Anonymous Company B, and therefore owns 50% of Widgets, Inc.
    • Another Person controls 100% of Anonymous Company B, and therefore controls 25% of Widgets, Inc. The name of this other Person has not been declared, so we label them Anonymous Person A.
  • Bob has an interest in Widgets, Inc. via an unknown chain of interests in at least 2 intermediary Entities.
    • Though we lack knowledge about the unknown chain, we know the ultimate result is that Bob owns 50% of Widgets, Inc., and has 75% control of it.


BOVS ensures your diagrams are easy to understand, because:

  • All of your diagrams will follow a consistent logical approach.
  • Your diagrams will be consistent with those published by OpenOwnership and many other organisations.
  • You will benefit from the design principles we followed when creating the System, in particular to avoid accidental ambiguities.

BOVS can save you time, because:

  • Beneficial ownership structures can be more complex than they appear, especially as they often contain unknowns. Visualising these clearly can be surprisingly challenging.
  • The System is designed to be applicable to any situation that can be described by the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard (BODS).

How to draw BOVS Diagrams

The System includes a number of rules and features, so we’ve divided it up to make it easier to get started. You have to follow a few Core Rules, but you can then pick and choose the Optional Features your diagrams need.

Core Rules If you’re new to BOVS, start here.
Optional Features Ways to enhance your diagrams further.


We provide a number of resources to help you create BOVS Diagrams.

Free BOVS Resources