Originally published in Campden FB, Summer 2010
Guernsey is seeing increasing numbers of both individuals and businesses relocating to its shores, writes Peter Niven, chief executive of Guernsey Finance.
During the last two years, as the world has been picking itself up off the floor of the global financial downturn, our lawyers, tax advisers and estate agents have seen growing numbers of inquiries from ultra high net worth individuals and corporate entities from both the UK and further afield about establishing a base on the island.
Our most famous new resident is current Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button; while BlueCrest Capital Management – Europe's third largest hedge fund manager – has moved its corporate headquarters to Guernsey. Encompassing both sides of the same coin, private equity giant Terra Firma continues to build up its presence in Guernsey and chairman Guy Hands has decided to buy a property and live on the island.
Many of Guernsey's benefits are long-standing but the global economic conditions and the response to them from onshore jurisdictions has thrown them into sharper relief.
Lifestyle: Guernsey combines many of the reassuring elements of UK culture with the benefits of living abroad. The island is English speaking, uses the British pound Sterling and is in the same time zone as the UK but enjoys a more temperate climate.
In addition, there are short journey times for on-island commuting, a good range of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and a host of recreational opportunities ranging from yachting and water activities to sport and music.
Integration: Moving to Guernsey is made easy by the potential for seamless integration into the local community, where there is no distinct divide between the native population and new arrivals.
Tax (personal): Personal income tax is levied at a maximum of 20% and individuals/married couples can take advantage of tax capping arrangements: £100,000 for non-Guernsey sourced income; or £200,000 on all income. There is no inheritance tax or value added/general sales tax.
Education: Guernsey provides an extremely high quality of schooling. There are no shortages of places, UK curriculum and examinations are followed and results are impressive. Many continue their studies at UK universities, although further courses and qualifications are increasingly available on-island.
Housing: There are no restrictions on purchasing property but there are on occupation – any EU national can take up residence in an open market property; local market properties are available to those qualifying by birth/period of residency or moving to the island as a designated key worker.
Financial services infrastructure: Guernsey plays host to a finance industry with unique breadth and depth. Banking, fiduciary, funds and insurance service providers are supported by expert lawyers and accountants, a dynamic stock exchange, world class telecommunications and a robust yet pragmatic regulator.
Reputation: Over the last five decades the island has established a reputation as a leading international finance centre, for example it was among the first to be placed on the OECD 'white list'.
Tax (corporate): Guernsey is reviewing its system of corporate taxation but is committed to maintaining a competitive, sustainable and internationally accepted regime. Currently in place is 'Zero-10', where all companies are taxed at 0% except for banks who are liable at 10% on certain activities. There is no withholding tax on dividends paid, no capital gains tax and no value added/general sales tax.
Travel links: Guernsey's good links to the UK and continental Europe mean that travelling for business or to visit family/friends is quick and simple. For example, the actual flight time to and from London is usually 45 minutes, enabling day trips in either direction.
This is a brief glimpse of what Guernsey offers as a relocation destination for individuals and businesses.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.