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Starting a Business in Guernsey


Starting a Business in Guernsey

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Why Start A Business In Guernsey?

Guernsey's one of those islands that could never have been. Its history is all rising waters, jutting peninsulas and continental cut-offs. But thankfully, Mother Nature was kind during her bone-stretching, finger-cracking topographical shifts. Guernsey was meant to be. And for such a small island, it vaunts much clout.

Guernsey has a population of roughly 65,000 people. Regardless of its close proximity to France, its lifestyle is fundamentally English, and English is the official language. The Channel Islands have a special relationship with the UK, which, in turn, affects their relationship with the European Union. EU protocol (Treaty of Rome) requires the free movement of industrial and agricultural goods between UK territory and the Union, and goods imported from outside the community are subject to the same Common Customs Tariff and agricultural tariffs as United Kingdom mainland. The fiscal isolation of the Guernsey is recognised, though, and, aside from ensuring the proper functioning of free trade, they are excluded from the regulations of the Treaty of Rome.

Guernsey has no regulations restricting the flow and repatriation of capital. This allows businesses and financial institutions to acquire maximum dexterity in the management of their capital. The abolition of exchange controls has vastly helped Guernsey, and it is not likely that the government will ever consider reintroducing them. There are no impositions or limitations on investment capital, whether going in or out of Guernsey.

The state has minimal intervention on matters of business and economy. This is rather idiosyncratic of past - some would say antiquated - economic practices. Its laissez-faire approach and comparatively low rates of taxation provide all the incentives needed for the budding entrepreneur. Consequently, there are no specific incentives granted to investors.

Guernsey is widely acknowledged as a successful liberal economy due to the virtual absence of limitations on the import and export of products and goods. It provides many opportunities for upstart companies, and also offer their services as a 'testing' nation for products before they are introduced to larger markets. Indeed, with a such a small population of people, Guernsey makes a perfect testing ground for products or services before they are unleashed on the United Kingdom and other markets.

And with an impressive finance sector (and all the knowledge that comes with it) Guernsey provides many attractive opportunities for the financial industry, in particular. Recently, the online gambling industry has also shown much interest.

One major flaw to establishing a business in Guernsey, however, is that there is a shortage of labour. With practically no unemployment on the island, finding suitable workers can prove arduous, and you will need to seek sound professional advice from a recruitment agency, or contemplate the possibility of employing workers from overseas.

What is the population?

The population of Guernsey is 65,000 people.

What is the climate like?

Guernsey's climate is temperate. The hottest months are August and September when temperatures average 26C. Conversely, the coldest month is February, where it has actually snowed on several occasions. However, the temperature scarcely drops below zero.

What is the currency?

Like the UK, Guernsey uses the Pound (£).

What is the time difference?

The time in Guernsey is GMT

What are the languages?

Despite its geographical proximity to France, Guernsey's official language is English.

Economic Overview

Guernsey's main industries are banking and tourism.

Guernsey is regarded as a paradigm of a free enterprise economy with low taxes, a free flow of capital, a talented, flexible workforce and a sophisticated financial and entrepreneurial infrastructure. These idiosyncrasies have brought Guernsey to its position today of a top offshore financial centre.

The finance industry - banking, fund management, insurance - constitute about one quarter of employment and about 55% of total income. Tourism, manufacturing, and horticulture (mainly tomatoes and cut flowers) have been decreasing. Financial services, construction, retail, and the public sector have been steadily accelerating.

Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a favourable tax haven. The progressive economic integration with other European Union countries is slowly transposing the environment under which Guernsey operates.

Other sectors important to Guernsey's economy are the light industrial sector, including boat building, computing and data-processing, crafts and textiles, electronics, engineering, the film industry, plastics and pharmaceuticals, and sales and distribution operations.

The government will only allow businesses that will make an exceptional contribution in terms of revenue with minimal demands for staff to set up and operate.

Recently, manufacturing has not been a significant sector of Guernsey's economy. However, it has been acknowledged by the government that, in order to maintain a balance within the economy, a light industrial base is also needed. To finalise this, land has been sectioned for industrial use and various electronic equipment fabricators and other technology-based industries have been enticed to the island.


Guernsey Airport is located only three miles outside the island's capital. It has flights to and from most major destinations within the United Kingdom as well as some in Europe. Flights to London take approximately 45 minutes.

Guernsey's two main ports are St. Peter Port and Saint Sampson Port. They offer commercial port facilities for sea passengers and freight. Regular ferries connect Guernsey to the UK and France.

What are the essentials I need to know?

Workforce and labour

The wages of Guernsey's labour force can be fundamentally equated to that of the United Kingdom. Salaries differ among the various sectors of the economy depending on qualifications, training required, or availability. The government has not legislated any licit minimum wage, but there are negotiated minimum wages within some industries.

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