Guernsey: Offshore Relocations - Moving Your Business To Guernsey

Moving your business to Guernsey.

With an environment that helps business to flourish and a lifestyle that helps you reconnect with the good things in life, Guernsey is the small Island that has so much to offer.

Those setting up a company in the Island can do so quickly and with a minimum of fuss. It's all part of the Islands business culture which is based on the can-do approach. The States of Guernsey and the private sector both see enabling business to flourish as the key driver.

Rules, regulations, fees and licences to operate are in place only where strictly necessary. In fact for some businesses, all that is required is to register with Income Tax and Social Security. While most financial services businesses will need to be registered with the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, there is no automatic requirement for off–Island business to register with government in order to operate.

Organisations such as Locate Guernsey and Finance Guernsey aim to provide a service which can streamline the transition of your business to the Island, pointing you in the right direction in regards to key issues such as immigration, tax, and company registry, so that moving is easy and stress free.

Among the first steps to take will be:

Registering your business with Income Tax registering your business and your staff with Social Security Employing staff Finding premises Participating in the Guernsey business community

Why businesses choose Guernsey

Guernsey offers a geographically convenient business centre close to many of the major European cities, but also a safe and friendly place in which to live.

The key factors making Guernsey so attractive include:

  • Guernsey is self–governing and has its own system of taxation and a long–standing, fair and competitive tax regime that meets 0ECD standards of transparency and information exchange;
  • Guernsey has a favourable personal and corporate tax regime with no capital gains, inheritance or value-added taxes
  • Companies generally pay tax at 0% although financial services companies pay tax at 10% and utility companies at 20%
  • Economic and political stability.
  • Government which is willing and keen to encourage inward investment and business relocation
  • Proximity to London and an ability to deal with New York and Hong Kong in the same business day
  • Ability to demonstrate real substance in the jurisdiction
  • The personal tax rate is a flat 20%, after deduction of personal allowances and reliefs – note there is the ability for those with high incomes to cap their liability. Additionally there is a special regime for those who are resident in Guernsey, but not solely or principally resident, where a single annual standard charge of £30,000 is paid. These residency definitions relate chiefly to the number of days spent in Guernsey during a tax year of charge and, in many cases, during a number of preceding years
  • Modern and flexible legislation
  • Good supply of infrastructure resources including office space and support services
  • Skilled local workforce
  • Government which is willing and keen to encourage inward investment and business relocation

Establishing a Guernsey workforce

Guernsey law requires everyone who is working to obtain a document from the Housing Department to show that they are lawfully housed.

If businesses intend to employ nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area, then a work permit will be required for those people. This is separate to the matter of Right to Work licences administered by Guernsey's Housing Department. Work Permits in Guernsey are issued by the Guernsey Border Agency, part of the Home Department.

All Open Market housing is listed on a register, and the Housing Register can be searched on-line. Any housing not listed in the Housing Register is Local Market. There are a number of ways in which people living in Guernsey can be housed lawfully and full details can be found on the Housing Department's website.

There are no controls over who can own a property on the Island. However, there are controls on who can occupy the property – the housing market is split into two sectors:

  • Local Market – where there are controls on who can live in the accommodation and for how long;
  • Open Market – whilst there are some controls for Open Market accommodation, all Open Market Part A properties can be owned and lived in by anyone for any length of time.

If you need to bring over certain key essential staff with your business then the Housing Department can grant Employment Related Housing Licences, (also known as Right to Work documents) as these enable employers to recruit staff who are not resident in Guernsey. The Department, when granting these licences, will always have regard to whether the skills you need are already available on the Island.

There are different types of employment-related licences:

  • Short term – these are granted for periods of up to 9 months or up to a maximum of 3 years.
  • Essential – these are issued for up to 15 years but the vast majority are granted for 5 years.

Depending on the nature of the role that requires an employment related licence, there will be some restrictions on the type and size of accommodation that these licence holders can occupy, based on the size of the property

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