The offshore business jurisdiction of Guernsey is the second largest island of the British Channel Islands. Citizens speak both English and French, although the former is the official language. This small island, whose capital is St. Peter Port, is an associate member of the European Union and under European law.
The island of Guernsey is twenty-five square miles of mostly level terrain. It is located approximately thirty miles from the Normandy coast of France and seventy-five miles from Weymouth, England.
Guernsey is unique in that it issued interest-free money, as well as using gold and silver coins, during a fourteen year period following Napoleon’s wars. This move stimulated the economy, enabling the country to keep the job of creating money out of the central bank. Even today, financial services like banking, insurance, and fund management make up thirty-two percent of local income, which may be behind the jurisdiction’s decision to restrict offshore company formation in the business of banking and insurance.
The offshore business formation vehicle that Guernsey specializes in is the Exempt Private Company (or EPC). EPCs must have at least two, but no more than twenty shareholders, and no corporation may have any beneficial interest in the EPC’s shares.
Guernsey does not require corporate taxes, nor is auditing required; however, accounts must be maintained on the company. Only one director is required for a Guernsey EPC, and he or she does not need to be a local resident. A registered office in the jurisdiction is necessary, and the company must have a secretary. Director and share holder meetings can be held anywhere, either within the jurisdiction or even via a virtual meeting. Like most jurisdictions, an EPC in Guernsey cannot do business within the jurisdiction.
While confidentiality is important to most investors interested in offshore business formation, one should realize that in Guernsey, the authorities have the right to know the details of the beneficial owner of an EPC.
While individuals may choose a name for their company, they are required to end it with the word “Limited.”