Living and Working in Guernsey

At Eldad Elim Church we are delighted to welcome ex-pats from many different nations who are coming to live and to work in Guernsey.  They bring a rich, cross-cultural atmosphere to our worship and family life and we are grateful to have them with us.  If you are thinking of coming to Guernsey for work or any other reason you may find the information contained in this article helpful.  Please understand that this is the product of our own research and we cannot be held liable for the accuracy of any information herein which must be checked out with the relevant authorities and departments responsible within the island.  Much useful information can be found at the island's government's website www.gov.gg If we can help you in any way, please do get in touch by emailing us at info@eldadchurch.org.gg

Education

There are very good schools here, generally smaller in size than the UK and often with a higher degree of parental participation. Secondary Schools are:

  • Les Beaucamps High School (with a new building opened in 2012)
  • La Mare de Carteret – on the West Coast
  • St Sampsons High  (in a new suite of buildings at Baubigny)

These offer education up to and including GCSE (age 16). There is also a Grammar School which offers education up to 18 (AS level and A Level). If children arrive post 11 age, there is a written entrance test for the Grammar School. The above schools are free.

The colleges offer a private schooling atmosphere, with education up to 18. Elizabeth College for boys and Ladies College for girls both have a good academic reputation. Elizabeth College is right by the Eldad Elim Church in St Peter Port and the Ladies College at the top of the hill heading west out of Town.

There is a private school called Blanchelande College at Les Vauxbalets in the rural parish of St Andrews. Set up with a principally Roman Catholic ethos, this has an excellent reputation for standards of pastoral care and discipline, and an improving one for academics.

There is also the College of Further Education offering vocational courses in areas like IT, accounting, health, childcare, catering, tourism, office studies etc for 16 – 18 year-olds. They offer Advanced GNVQ, A levels and their equivalent. This college is free.

Social Security/Health

The island has its own system for health and social security, separate from the NHS and the DSS in the UK. This means that your pension contributions will be made towards a Guernsey pension payable as a supplement to any pension earned in other jurisdictions on a pro rata basis for the number of years that you spend here.

There is a non means-tested child allowance available for children up to 18 years. The wife of any incoming couple  should apply at the Dept of Social Security benefits section, Edward Wheadon House, Le Truchot, St Peter Port, tel.  (01481) 732500.

Specialist healthcare and hospital costs are covered by your SS Contribution after the first 13 weeks. Primary care (GPs, physiotherapists, dentists) all charge fees. They are high, so your employer may pay for a family medical scheme for you, at least to cover GP treatment, but probably not dentists. All dentistry here is private.  It will be necessary to register with a medical practice soon after your arrival. If you are not covered by a scheme, there are charitable schemes with reasonable rates run by the Odd Fellows (01481) 723827 or the Foresters Friendly Society (01481) 728864.

Conveyance by ambulance in an emergency is chargeable (around £130 plus) so look out for that as a benefit in your insurance policy. Some cover it but others don’t. If not, there is an annual insurance available from St Johns Ambulance every December to cover the following year at a cost of around £40 per family. Prescription charges are around £3.70 per item.

Income Tax

There is a totally separate scheme for taxation. This may mean that in your first year you will neither have to pay tax in the UK nor in Guernsey as you may not earn enough to qualify in either jurisdiction or if you do may be due a refund from one or both. See the Income Tax people in Cornet Street soon after your arrival to obtain a tax code and thus avoid paying emergency tax for too long. Their telephone number is  (01481) 724711. The tax year in Guernsey runs concurrent with the calendar year – no more April 5th for UK taxpayers (unless you still need to pay tax or declare income there of course).

There is an annual assessment in January in which you can declare any extra earnings above salary, and this will be taxed on a PAYE basis.

Cars and Driving

There is no VAT. This makes new cars etc cheaper here, though not second-hand cars, which apart from small hatchbacks probably come cheaper in the UK. If you export a car from the UK to Guernsey you must register it within 14 days  of your arrival. Go to the Vehicle Licensing and Licensing Dept in Bulwer Ave St Sampsons with all your documents relating to the car and they will do the necessary.  Their telephone number is  (01481) 243400. They may send you to weigh the car at a public weighbridge, and then issue you with a new registration number containing no letters. Number plates can be made up at most garages or at the motor shop on the area of the Island known as the bridge.. Car tax (road fund licence) no longer exists in Guernsey but you must display an insurance disc with which your insurer will provide you.

You will also need to surrender your UK driving licence and obtain a local one, at the same place, although this does not need to be done until you have been here for 12 months.  Also be aware that certain categories of vehicle require a medical if you wish to retain them on your license (eg. mini bus).

If you bring a car, notify your insurer of the change of address as you may save some money!

The island has an over-all speed limit of 35mph. In places well marked it reverts to 25mph or even less. You will need to buy a parking clock from the Press Shop on the Bridge, or from stationers in Town (and elsewhere) or the Police Station. Look out for parking restrictions usually advertised on signs near parking areas. A single yellow line means no parking at any time, unlike the UK there are no double yellow lines (and no speed cameras). Traffic wardens are active, especially in Town!

Food

There are still regular house deliveries of milk and newspapers. Look out for local delivery vans to arrange this if required. Basic foodstuffs are a little more expensive than in the UK. There are Waitrose, The Co-op, Iceland and M & S food stores on the island.

If you take out a share option with the local Co-op stores you will gain a 4% dividend on every purchase which makes a tidy cash sum each April or May if you shop with them regularly. Apply at the Homemaker Store in Lowlands or pick up a form at any Co-op store.

Churches

There are a number of denominations and other Christian groups in Guernsey. Many church leaders connect together informally on a monthly basis, and many churches, like Eldad Elim Church, are part of the Evangelical Alliance. Each of the 10 parishes has a parish church, mostly served by a Rector or Vicar. The Roman Catholic church has two large buildings in St Peter Port and one in the north at Delancey. In addition, in St Peter Port there is an Anglican church called Holy Trinity which is evangelical and part of the New Wine network of churches, and a high Anglican congregation at St Stephens. There are several Methodist churches, 2 Baptist Union (Shiloh at Landes du Marche and Spurgeon in St Peter Port), 3 Elim churches (Vazon on the West Coast, Delancey in the north-east, and Eldad in Town), a New Frontiers church called Church on the Rock, a Salvation Army corps and several smaller groups.

Banks & finance

All of the High Street clearing banks are represented here but are separate companies from the UK. (NatWest Offshore Ltd for instance) You may want to transfer your account locally. Cash machines are available, and the network of them is increasing. UK banknotes are only dispensed at the airport ATM or the Barclays one in Town, otherwise Guernsey notes are used.

Only a small list of Pension Funds are recognised by the Guernsey Tax Authorities as being approved for tax-free contributions. You will need to consult an independent financial advisor about setting up a Pension Fund if you do not already have one, or making the necessary transfers if you do. Locally acceptable schemes are called RATS and can be set up through an IFA.

Sterling notes are spendable here, even those issued in Jersey! Guernsey notes are not spendable in the UK, but can be exchanged at any bank.

Postage

UK postage stamps cannot be used in Guernsey. Post boxes are blue, and items posted before 2pm daily will usually leave the island that day. (There is a later ‘last collection’ box at the Post Office HQ called Envoy house in La Vrangue). Anything later than that remains overnight. There are no collections or deliveries on Saturdays except for urgent express ones.

Mobile Phones

3G and 4G GSM mobile phones can be used here as ‘roamers’, but incur high charges for both incoming and outgoing calls. A local pay-as-you-go SIM card can be fitted into a UK handset (as long as it is unlocked) to offer a free incoming service and vouchers can be bought to give reasonable rate outgoing calls. There are 3 mobile operators on the island – Sure (C&W), JT (Wave Telecom) and Airtel Vodaphone.

Immigration

Passport & Immigration matters are dealt with at the White Rock (the main harbour). Housing licences and Right to Work Documents by the Housing Authority at Sir Charles Frossard House in the Charroterie, St Peter Port. Social Security payments and benefits are found in the Truchot area of St Peter Port. This diversity will involve some running around!

Housing Market

This is an area where specialist advice should be sought at an early stage from one of the many Estate Agents in Guernsey.  There are basically two main areas of housing - the Local Market available to anyone with local market qualifications - and the Open Market which is expensive but open to any incomer.  Incoming workers can obtain a housing licence giving them a 'right to work' document and enabling them to live in local market accomodation but only for a set period (often 3-5 years).

A great way to learn about the island is to take an island tour coach trip from outside Picquet house in St Peter Port, right by the bus terminus. The drivers are usually a mine of local information.