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This article is about both the eponymous island itself and the whole administrative unit and jurisdiction of Guernsey of which it is by far the largest component. For the whole Bailiwick that also includes Alderney and Sark, see Bailiwick of Guernsey. For other uses, see Guernsey (disambiguation).
Jurisdiction of Guernsey
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Sarnia Cherie  (official) a
Guernsey (zoom), administrative divisions - de - colored.svg
Parishes of Guernsey
Status Part of a Crown dependency
Capital St. Peter Port (St. Pierre Port)
49°27′N 2°36′W / 49.450°N 2.600°W / 49.450; -2.600
Official languages
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups North European (predominant)
Part of Bailiwick of Guernsey
 •  Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
 •  Lieutenant Governor Vacant since 6 Sep 2015
 •  Chief Minister Jonathan Le Tocq
 •  Administrative separation from mainland Normandy
 •  Liberation
from Nazi Germany

9 May 1945 
 •  Total 78 km2 (223rd)
30.1 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 0
 •  2014 estimate 65,849 (206th)
 •  Density 844/km2 (14th)
2,170.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2003 estimate
 •  Total $2.1 billionc (176th)
 •  Per capita £33,123c (10th)
HDI (2008) 0.975[1]
very high · 9th
Currency Guernsey Pound, Pound sterlingd (GGP, GBP)
Time zone GMT
 •  Summer (DST)  (UTC+1)
Drives on the left
Calling code +44e
ISO 3166 code GG
Internet TLD .gg
a. For occasions when regional distinguishing anthem required.
b. English is the only official language. French sometimes used for legislative purposes.
c. Now extinct.[2]
d. The States of Guernsey issue their own sterling coins and banknotes (see Guernsey pound).
  • +44 1481 (landline)
  • +44 7781 (Sure Guernsey Ltd)
  • +44 7839 (Guernsey Airtel)
  • +44 7911 (Jersey Telecom / 24 Seven Communications Ltd)

The Jurisdiction of Guernsey is a possession of the Crown in right of Guernsey in the English Channel, off the coast of Normandy. The jurisdiction embraces not only all ten parishes on the island of Guernsey, but also the much smaller inhabited islands of Herm, Jethou and Lihou together with many small islets and rocks. The jurisdiction is not part of the United Kingdom, however defence and most foreign relations are handled by the British Government.[3]

The whole jurisdiction lies within the Common Travel Area of the British Isles and is not a member of the European Union, but has a special relationship with it, being treated as part of the European Community for the purposes of free trade in goods. Taken together with the separate jurisdictions of Alderney and Sark it forms the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The two Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey together form the geographical grouping known as the Channel Islands.


Main article: History of Guernsey

Around 6000 B.C., rising seas created the English Channel and separated the Norman promontories that became the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey from continental Europe.[4] Neolithic farmers then settled on its coast and built the dolmens and menhirs found in the islands today.

During their migration to Brittany, Britons occupied the Lenur islands (the former name of the Channel Islands[5]) including Sarnia or Lisia (Guernsey) and Angia (Jersey). Travelling from the Kingdom of Gwent, Saint Sampson, later the abbot of Dol in Brittany, is credited with the introduction of Christianity to Guernsey.[6]

In 933 the islands, formerly under the control of William I, then Duchy of Brittany were annexed by the Duchy of Normandy. The island of Guernsey and the other Channel Islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Duchy of Normandy.[6]

The island of Guernsey seen from 33,000 feet looking North

During the Middle Ages, the island was a haven for pirates that would use the "Lamping Technique" to ground ships close to her waters . This intensified during the Hundred Years War, when, starting in 1339, the island was occupied by the Capetians on several occasions.[6] The Guernsey Militia was operational in 1337 and would help defend the Island for a further 600 years.

In 1372, the island was invaded by Aragonese mercenaries under the command of Owain Lawgoch (remembered as Yvon de Galles), who was in the pay of the French king. Lawgoch and his dark-haired mercenaries were later absorbed into Guernsey legend as invading fairies from across the sea.[7]

Castle Cornet seen at night over the harbour of St Peter Port.

In the mid-16th century, the island was influenced by Calvinist reformers from Normandy. During the Marian persecutions, three women, the Guernsey Martyrs, were burned at the stake for their Protestant beliefs.[8]

During the English Civil War, Guernsey sided with the Parliamentarians. The allegiance was not total, however; there were a few Royalist uprisings in the southwest of the island, while Castle Cornet was occupied by the Governor, Sir Peter Osborne, and Royalist troops. In December 1651, with full honours of war, Castle Cornet surrendered,[9] it was the last Royalist outpost anywhere in the British Isles to surrender.

Wars against France and Spain during the 17th and 18th centuries gave Guernsey shipowners and sea captains the opportunity to exploit the island's proximity to mainland Europe by applying for Letters of Marque and turning their merchantmen into privateers.

By the beginning of the 18th century, Guernsey's residents were starting to settle in North America.[10] The 19th century saw a dramatic increase in prosperity of the island, due to its success in the global maritime trade, and the rise of the stone industry.

During World War I, approximately 3,000 island men served in the British Expeditionary Force. Of these, about 1,000 served in the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry regiment formed from the Royal Guernsey Militia in 1916.[11]

For most of World War II, the Bailiwick was occupied by German troops. Before the occupation, many Guernsey children had been evacuated to England to live with relatives or strangers during the war. Some children were never reunited with their families.[12] The occupying German forces deported some of the Bailiwick's residents to camps in the southwest of Germany, notably to the Lager Lindele (Lindele Camp) near Biberach an der Riß. Guernsey was very heavily fortified during World War II out of all proportion to the island's strategic value. German defences and alterations remain visible.


Main article: Politics of Guernsey

The deliberative assembly of the States of Guernsey (États de Guernesey) is called the States of Deliberation (États de Délibération) and consists of 45 People's Deputies (reduced to 38 from 2016), elected from multi- or single-member districts every four years. There are also two representatives from Alderney, a semi-autonomous dependency of the Bailiwick, but Sark sends no representative. The Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff preside in the assembly. There are also two non-voting members: H.M. Procureur (Attorney General) and H.M. Comptroller (Solicitor General), both appointed by the Crown and collectively known as the Law Officers of the Crown.

A Projet de Loi is the equivalent of a UK Bill or a French projet de loi, and a Law is the equivalent of a UK Act of Parliament or a French loi. A draft Law passed by the States can have no legal effect until formally approved by Her Majesty in Council and promulgated by means of an Order in Council. Laws are given the Royal Sanction at regular meetings of the Privy Council in London, after which they are returned to the Islands for formal registration at the Royal Court.

The States also make delegated legislation known as 'Ordinances (Ordonnances)' and 'Orders (Ordres)' which do not require the Royal Assent. Commencement orders are usually in the form of Ordinances.

The Lieutenant Governor is the representative of The Crown in right of the république of the Bailiwick of Guernsey".[13] The official residence of the Lieutenant Governor is Government House. Since 15 April 2011 the incumbent had been Air Marshal Peter Walker until his death in office on 6 September 2015.

Each parish is administered by a Douzaine. Douzeniers are elected for a six-year mandate, two Douzeniers being elected by parishioners at a parish meeting in November each year. The senior Douzenier is known as the Doyen (Dean). Two elected Constables (Connétables) carry out the decisions of the Douzaine, serving for between one and three years. The longest serving Constable is known as the Senior Constable and his or her colleague as the Junior Constable.

The legal jurisdiction of Guernsey needs Royal Assent from the Privy Council for its primary legislation (in a similar fashion to Alderney and Sark). Each jurisdiction raises its own taxation,[14] although in 1949 Alderney (but not Sark) transferred its fiscal rights to Guernsey.

External relations[edit]

Several European countries have a consular presence within the jurisdiction. The French Consulate is based at Victor Hugo's former residence at Hauteville House. The German Honorary Consulate is based at a local design and advertising agency.

While the jurisdiction of Guernsey has complete autonomy over internal affairs and certain external matters, the topic of complete independence from the British Crown has been discussed widely and frequently, with ideas ranging from Guernsey obtaining independence as a Dominion to the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey uniting and forming an independent Federal State within the Commonwealth, whereby both islands retain their independence with regards to domestic affairs but internationally, the islands would be regarded as one state.[6]


Situated around 49°35′N 2°20′W / 49.583°N 2.333°W / 49.583; -2.333, Guernsey, Herm and some other smaller islands together have a total area of 71 square kilometres (27 sq mi) and coastlines of about 46 kilometres (29 mi). Elevation varies from sea level to 110 m (360 ft) at Hautnez.

There are many smaller islands, islets, rocks and reefs in Guernsey waters. Combined with a tidal range of 10m and fast currents of up to 12 knots, this makes sailing in local waters dangerous.

The island of Guernsey has a population of around 63,000 in 24 square miles (62 km2) and forms the legal and administrative centre of the jurisdiction of Guernsey and the shopping and service centre for all three jurisdictions. The parliament of the whole jurisdiction of Guernsey, including the nearby inhabited islands of Herm, Jethou and Lihou,[14] is the States of Guernsey.[15]


Financial services, such as banking, fund management, and insurance, account for about 37% of GDP.[16] Tourism, manufacturing, and horticulture, mainly tomatoes and cut flowers, especially freesias, have been declining. Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a popular offshore finance centre for private equity funds.

As with other offshore centres, Guernsey is coming under pressure from bigger nations to change its way of doing business. Guernsey is changing the way its tax system works in order to remain OECD (and EU) compliant. Tax revenues are 18.2% of GDP.[17] From 1 January 2008 it has operated a Zero-Ten corporate tax system where most companies pay 0% corporate tax and a limited number of activities are subject to taxation, including banking activity (taxed at 10%), regulated utilities and income from the sale of land or building (taxed at 20%). As a result, annual accounts showed an overall a fiscal deficit of £24m in 2011, which it aims to eliminate by economic growth and government expenditure restraint. The deficit is currently supported by drawing funds from reserves built up during periods of surplus. At present the island has no national debt.

Guernsey also has a thriving non-finance industry. It is home to Specsavers Optical Group, which manages the largest optical chain in the UK and Ireland and also operates in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain. Healthspan also has its headquarters in Guernsey.[18]

Guernsey issues its own sterling coinage and banknotes. UK coinage and (English, Scottish and Northern Irish-faced) banknotes also circulate freely and interchangeably.[19]

Public services, such as water, wastewater, the two main harbours and the airport are still owned and controlled by the States of Guernsey. The electricity, and postal services have been commercialised by the States and are now operated by companies wholly owned by the States of Guernsey. Gas is supplied by an independent private company.

Sure telephone boxes on Guernsey

Guernsey Telecoms, which provided telecommunications, was sold by the States to Cable & Wireless plc, rebranded as Sure and was sold to Batelco in April 2013. Newtel was the first alternative telecommunications company on the island providing a range of residential and business telecommunication services as well as high specification data centres. Wave Telecom which became JT, owned by Jersey Telecom, also provides some telecommunications excluding local loop services. Newtel was acquired by Wave Telecom in 2010. Wave Telecom then became Join Together. Both the Guernsey Post postal boxes (since 1969) and the telephone boxes (since 2002) are painted blue, but otherwise are identical to their British counterparts, the red pillar box and red telephone box. In 2009 the telephone boxes at the bus station were painted yellow just like they used to be when Guernsey Telecoms was state-owned.

During late 2011, the UK decided to end VAT relief on Channel Islands goods. This is no longer being contested by the Guernsey Government and several private firms.[20]

Data centres are a growing part of the Guernsey economy and are helping it diversify away from mainly finance related industries.

Guernsey now has the official ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code GG and the official ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 code GGY; market data vendors, such as Reuters, will report products related to Guernsey using the alpha-3 code.

In 2013 there were over 31,000 people employed in Guernsey, with 3,000 being self-employed. 2,038 employing businesses of which 20% are in the finance industry.[21]


Individuals resident in the Jurisdiction of Guernsey (which does not include Sark) pay income tax at the rate of 20% on their world wide income.

Guernsey has a 0% corporation tax rate on most companies.

  • A 10% rate (income from banking business and, with effect from 1 January 2013, extended to domestic insurance business, fiduciary business, insurance intermediary business and insurance manager business)
  • A 20% rate (income from trading activities regulated by the Office of the Director General of Utility Regulation, and income from the ownership of lands and buildings)

Guernsey levies no capital gains, inheritance, capital transfer, value added (VAT / TVA) or general withholding taxes

Personal gains made by regular trading in, for example, equities or goods is assessed as income rather than a capital gain and is consequently taxed as income.


Ports and harbours exist at St Peter Port and St Sampson. There is a paved airport: Guernsey Airport but no working railway. The States of Guernsey wholly own their own airline, Aurigny Air Services. The decision to purchase the airline was made to protect important airlinks to and from the island and the sale was completed on 15 May 2003. It was announced that the States would sell Aurigny to a rival Channel Islands' airline, Blue Islands, in July 2010, but the talks fell through in September 2010 due to uncertainty as to whether arrival/departure slots at Gatwick Airport could be guaranteed.[22]

The Guernsey Railway, virtually an electric tramway, began working on 20 February 1892 and was abandoned on 9 June 1934. It replaced an earlier transport system which was worked by steam, the Guernsey Steam Tramway. The latter began service on 6 June 1879 with six locomotives. Alderney is now the only Channel Island with a working railway.[23]

Guernsey also has a public bus service, operated by CT Plus on behalf of the States of Guernsey Environment Department.[24]


The population is 62,948 (Jul 2015 est.).[25] The median age for males is 40 years and for females is 42 years. The population growth rate is 0.775% with 9.62 births/1,000 population, 8 deaths/1,000 population, and annual net migration of 6.07/1,000 population. The life expectancy is 80.1 years for males and 84.5 years for females. The Bailiwick ranked 9th in the world with an average life expectancy of 82.39 years.[26] 1.54 children are born per woman. Ethnic groups consist of British and Norman descent.

For immigration and nationality purposes it is UK law, and not Guernsey law, which applies (technically the Immigration Act 1971, extended to Guernsey by Order-in-Council). Guernsey may not apply different immigration controls to the UK and EEA nationals free movement rights to enter, and remain in, the territory of the British Islands (also in Guernsey), although there are de facto restrictions on occupation of housing by everyone.

The housing market is split between local market properties and a set number of open market properties.[27] Anyone may live in an open market property, but local market properties can only be lived in by those who qualify – either through being born in Guernsey (to local parents), by obtaining a housing licence, or by virtue of sharing a property with someone who does qualify.

Housing licences are for fixed periods, and are usually only valid for 4 years and only as long as the individual remains employed by a specified Guernsey employer. The licence will specify the type of accommodation and be specific to the address the person lives in.[28]

These restrictions apply equally regardless of whether the property is owned or rented, and only applies to occupation of the property. Thus a person whose housing licence expires may continue to own a Guernsey property, but will no longer be able to live in it.

There are a number of routes to qualifying as a "local" for housing purposes. Generally, it is sufficient to be born to at least one Guernsey parent and to live in the island for ten years in a twenty-year period. Once "local" status has been achieved it remains in place for life. Even a lengthy period of residence outside Guernsey does not invalidate "local" housing status.[29]

Although Guernsey's inhabitants are full British citizens, an endorsement restricting the right of establishment in other European Union states is placed in the passport of British citizens connected solely with the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. If classified with "Islander Status", the British passport will be endorsed as follows: 'The holder is not entitled to benefit from EU provisions relating to employment or establishment'. Those who have a parent or grandparent born in the United Kingdom itself (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), or who have lived in the United Kingdom for 5 years, are not subject to this restriction.[30]

Emergency services[edit]

As in the United Kingdom, both 112 and 999 serve as emergency telephone numbers.


Guernsey Grammar School.
Elizabeth College, in St Peter Port, Guernsey

The Education Department is part way through a programme of re-building its secondary schools. The Department has completed the building of La Rondin special needs school, the Sixth Form Centre at the Grammar School and the first phase of the new College of Further Education – a performing arts centre. The construction of St. Sampsons High was completed summer 2008 and admitted its first students in September 2008.

In the past, students could leave school at the end of the term in which they turned 14, if they so wished: a letter was required to be sent to the Education department to confirm this. However, this option was undertaken by relatively few students, the majority choosing to complete their GCSEs and then either begin employment or continue their education. From 2008 onwards, the school leaving age was raised to the last Friday in June in the year a pupil turns 16, in line with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means students will be between 15 and 10 months and 16 and 10 months before being able to leave.

Post-GCSE students have a choice of transferring to the state run The Grammar School and Sixth Form Centre, or to the independent colleges for academic AS/A Levels/International Baccalureate Diploma Program. They also have the option to study vocational subjects at the island's Guernsey College of Further Education.

There are no universities in the island. Students who attend university in the United Kingdom receive state support towards both maintenance and tuition fees. In 2007, the Education Department received the approval of the States Assembly to introduce student contributions to the costs of higher education, in the form of student loans, as apply in the UK. However, immediately after the general election of 2008, the States Assembly voted in favour of a Requête which proposed abolishing the student loans scheme on the grounds that it was expensive to run and would potentially discourage students from going to, and then returning to the island from, university. In 2012, the Education Department reported to the States Assembly that it had no need to re-examine the basis of higher education funding at the present time.

People from or associated with Guernsey[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Filling Gaps in the Human Development Index, United Nations ESCAP, February 2009
  2. ^ F. Le Maistre, The Language of Auregny, Jersey/Alderney 1982.
  3. ^ Darryl Mark Ogier (2005). The government and law of Guernsey. States of Guernsey. ISBN 978-0-9549775-0-4. 
  4. ^ "La Cotte Cave, St Brelade". Société Jersiaise. Retrieved 10 October 2007. 
  5. ^ "Guernsey, Channel Islands, UK". BBC. Retrieved 10 October 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c d Marr, J., The History of Guernsey – the Bailiwick's story, Guernsey Press (2001).
  7. ^ de Garis, Marie (1986). Folklore of Guernsey. OCLC 19840362. 
  8. ^ Darryl Mark Ogier, Reformation And Society In Guernsey, Boydell Press, 1997, p.62.
  9. ^ The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 65. p. 621. 
  10. ^ Guernsey's emigrant children. BBC – Legacies.
  11. ^ Parks, Edwin (1992). Diex Aix: God Help Us – The Guernseymen who marched away 1914–1918. Guernsey: States of Guernsey. ISBN 1-871560-85-3. 
  12. ^ "Evacuees from Guernsey recall life in Scotland". BBC News. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "Review of the Roles of the Jersey Crown officers" (PDF). 30 March 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Background briefing on the Crown Dependencies: Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man" (PDF). Ministry of Justice. 
  15. ^ "About the Bailiwick of Guernsey". Channel Islands Brussels Office. 
  16. ^ "Guernsey Gross Domestic Product First Release 2010". States of Guernsey. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "Guernsey Facts and Figures". States of Guernsey. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "About Healthspan". Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "About Guernsey". Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  20. ^ "Guernsey-based Healthspan to challenge VAT decision". BBC Guernsey. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  21. ^ "Number of Employing Organisations Up". Island FM. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Aurigny sale to Blue Islands 'no longer on table'". BBC News. 14 September 2010. 
  23. ^ Notes on the Railway taken from The Railway Magazine, September 1934 edition.
  24. ^ home – – the home of Guernsey's bus service. Retrieved on 2013-09-19.
  25. ^ "Guernsey’s Population Nudges". Island FM. 
  27. ^ "Guernsey's Two Tier Housing Market". States of Guernsey. 
  28. ^ "Where can licence holders live". States of Guernsey. 
  29. ^ "What is a Qualified Resident?". States of Guernsey. 
  30. ^ "What is Islander status?". States of Guernsey. 
  31. ^ "Welcome to the Guernsey Ambulance & Rescue Service website". Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  32. ^ "Fire & Rescue Service". Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  33. ^ "Sea Safety". Guernsey Harbour Authority. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°27′N 2°36′W / 49.450°N 2.600°W / 49.450; -2.600