Tax professionals' guide to relocating to the Channel Islands

Background

The Channel Islands are an archipelago in the English Channel, just off the French coast of Normandy and 120 km from the English coast. In terms of employment for tax professionals, the two options are Guernsey or Jersey. They are both crown dependancies, so not part of the UK, but members of the Commonwealth (and the EU until 2019). There is passport-free movement between the UK and Jersey and Guernsey.

The total population is over 160,000 with around 100,000 based in Jersey and 60,000 in Guernsey.

The total area of the islands is 198 square km.

Employers

From the 1960s onwards, Jersey and Guernsey have focussed on becoming offshore financial centres, on a par with Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Jersey has more of a reliance on finance than Guernsey, which has horticultural and light industries too.

There are a large number of tax professionals working in Guernsey and Jersey. Many works for accountancy firms (the Big 4 as well as medium sized firms and boutique practices). There are also a substantial number of tax specialists that work for trust & wealth management companies, be they independent or part of an international group or bank. Finally, there are also in-house tax professionals that work for corporates whose head office is based in the Channel Islands.

Working and living in the Channel Islands

Jersey:

To live in Jersey you do not need immigration permission if you are a national of an EU/EEA member state or a Swiss national. However, to work in Jersey in the legal or finance sectors you do require a work permit, which is granted for up to 3 years to people who are professionally qualified and earning more than £40k per year.

A residential status determines where you can work and live in Jersey and there are 4 categories: Entitled, Licensed, Entitled for Work and Registered. More detail can be found here: http://www.gov.je/Working/Contributions/RegistrationCards/Pages/ResidentialStatus.aspx

If you are relocating to Jersey then you are almost certainly in the Registered category.

Guernsey:

Employment permits are granted to people who have been invited to live in Guernsey because of their employments skills, eg specialist tax knowledge. These permits enable the older to live and work on the island for a fixed period of time.

Guernsey has two property markets, the Open market and the Local market. The Open market route is very straightforward and available to anyone who holds an EU passport. It is also available to non-EU passport holders, but the Guernsey Border Agency will review your application. Lots more information can be found on the Locate Guernsey website: http://www.locateguernsey.com

Taxation

The personal tax rate for both Jersey and Guernsey is 20% of net income after allowances, so it is pretty attractive, especially for higher earners.

Transport

Guernsey

There are regular ferries from St Peter Port in Guernsey to Portsmouth & Poole in the UK, France and Jersey.

Direct flights go to Rotterdam, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Bristol, Geneva, Grenoble, Jersey, Southampton, Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester, Norwich, London Gatwick & Statsted, Alderney, Dinard and East Midlands. Please note that some of these direct routes only operate during the summer months.

Everyone drives on the left hand side of the road with speed limits of 25 mph or 35 mph. There are good taxi and bus services, so the hiring or purchase of a car is not essential.

Jersey

Jersey offers more direct flights than Guernsey. There are summer and winter timetables that can be found here. Airports include Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster/Sheffield, Dublin, Durham Tees, Exeter, Edinburgh, Inverness, Geneva, Glasgow, Guernsey, Liverpool, Luton, London (Stansted, Gatwick and City), Malaga, Manchester, Newcastle, Palma, Southampton and Tenerife.

Health

Jersey is not part of the UK National Health System and has its own rules. When you first move to the island you will have to pay for most healthcare eg visiting a doctor and non-emergency treatment. Therefore you may wish to take out insurance before you arrive. Treatment within the Emergency Department is free of charge.

Similarly, healthcare in Guernsey is also not free of charge and European Health Insurance cards are not valid.  More detailed information can be found here: https://www.gov.gg/healthcareforvisitors/travellers

Accommodation

The Jersey Evening Post has a useful property section that can be viewed online.  A tax professional looking for a one bedroom flat to rent would need to budget from £600 to £900 per month.

In Guernsey the rental prices are slightly cheaper, with a 1 bed apartment starting at £550. More info here.

Schooling

There are 3 schooling systems in Jersey:

- private fee paying schools

- free States of Jersey schools

- fee paying States of Jersey schools

To access free education in Jersey you must have the appropriate immigration status. More information can be found here.

In Guernsey there are 2 options:

- States Maintained Education

- Private/Grant-Aided Education

More details can be found via this very useful link.


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