Companies which are incorporated in Guernsey but which are owned by non-residents of Guernsey and do no business with Guernsey resident individuals or corporations can be granted exempt status in Guernsey.
The population of Guernsey is approximately 60,000.
Guernsey enjoys a special relationship with the European Union (EU). This is defined by Protocol 3 to the 1973 Treaty of Accession of the UK to the European Community, which can only be changed by the unanimous resolution of all the member states (including the UK). Although Guernsey is not a member state there are special arrangements under Protocol 3 for the free movement of manufactured and agricultural goods between Guernsey and the EU member states.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND ECONOMY
Financial services—banking, fund management, insurance, etc.—account for about 55% of total income in this tiny Channel Island economy. Tourism, manufacturing, and horticulture, mainly tomatoes and cut flowers, have been declining. Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a popular tax haven. The evolving economic integration of the EU nations is changing the rules of the game under which Guernsey operates.
The official and spoken language is English.
Guernsey Pound (£G).
TYPE OF LAW
Common Law based on English Common Law.
A GUERNSEY EXEMPT COMPANY
Companies which are incorporated in Guernsey but which are owned by non-residents of Guernsey and do no business with Guernsey resident individuals or corporations can be granted exempt status in Guernsey. Such companies have the following characteristics:
Guernsey exempt companies pay no taxes in Guernsey but are subject to a flat rate corporate duty of £600 per annum irrespective of profit.
A minimum of two shareholders are required and Corporate shareholders are permitted. Please note that details of the beneficial owner of the company must be communicated to the Guernsey authorities but that information is protected by secrecy provisions. Bearer shares are not permitted. A share register must be maintained at the registered office address of the company and must be available for inspection by any member of the public. Details of shareholders are also maintained on the public file at the Companies Registry but anonymity can be preserved by the use of nominee shareholders.
A minimum of one director is required and Corporate directors are permitted. Details of directors must be kept at the registered office and appear on the public file kept at the Companies Registry but anonymity can be preserved by the use of third party directors. There is no requirement to have resident directors.
An annual return which gives details of the current directors and shareholders and any change in the shareholders since the last return or, in the case of a company filing its first annual return since the date of incorporation, must be filed at the public registry in January of each year and a filing fee of £100 is payable. It should be noted that fines are payable if a company fails to file its annual return on the due date.
Incorporation can be achieved within approximately 14 working days. Ready made companies are not available as the requirement to reveal details of the beneficial owner before incorporation means that it is not possible to incorporate companies except upon the instructions of a client.
RESTRICTIONS ON NAME AND ACTIVITY
Names must end with the word “Limited”. The following words and their associated activities can not be used: Assurance, Bank, Building Society or any other words deemed sensitive or offensive.
There are no specific statutory provisions governing secrecy in relation to companies but English Law, which applies within the jurisdiction, does impose a common law duty on professionals to keep the affairs of their clients confidential.
Clients wishing to incorporate a Guernsey exempt company are now required to give a legalised undertaking that the beneficial owner(s) have never been declared bankrupt, that the company will not be used to evade any UK tax liability, and that no new/additional beneficial owners will be introduced within the first six months after incorporation. These documents must be excecuted in the presence of a notary.