Moving to Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are made up of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm and altogether cover a land surface area of less than 80 square miles (207 sq km).

While they’re not completely self-governed, they aren’t truly British colonies either. Legally, they’re tied to Great Britain, but their history and customs are tied to France.

Even though the Channel Islands have been a dependency of the UK since the Norman Conquest in 1066 and English is the official language, they have a distinctly French character. This influence can be seen in the relatively laid-back beach and country lifestyles most islanders lead group, as well as in the local cuisine.

Since 1290, the islands have been governed as two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Jersey (comprising the island of Jersey and the uninhabited islets of Minquiers and Écréhous) and the Bailiwick of Guernsey (comprising the islands of Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, Brecqhou, Herm, Jethou and Lihou). Each Bailiwick has its own legal and healthcare systems, and separate immigration policies.

Jersey, perhaps the best known of the Channel Islands, has flourishing financial, tourist and agricultural industries. The slightly smaller island of Guernsey also boasts strong financial and agricultural sectors.

Fast facts

Population: 160,000

Capital city: St Helier (also the largest city)

Other major cities: St Peter Port and St Anne’s

Neighbouring countries: France, Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

Geography: There are seven permanently inhabited islands, of which Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark are the most populous. Most of the smaller islands and inlets cluster around Guernsey and Jersey, falling under the territorial bodies of the Jersey and Guernsey bailiwicks.  

Political system: The islands are dependent territories of the British Crown and their general well-being is ultimately the responsibility of the UK government. However, they have their own elected legislative assemblies, as well as their own legal system, administrative bodies and fiscal policies.

Major religion: Christianity

Main languages: English

Money: The currency of the UK is the British Pound Sterling (GBP), which is subdivided into 100 pence. In order to open a bank account in the UK, most banks require proof of income and employment, evidence of a local address and a passport.

Tipping: 10 to 15 percent of the bill in restaurants, hotels and taxis is the norm if a service charge has not already been added.

Time: GMT +1

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs have three flat blades.

Internet domain: .uk; .je (Jersey); .gg (Guernsey, Alderney and Sark)

International dialling code: +44

Emergency contacts: 999 or 112

Transport and driving: Drive on the left-hand side. There are three airports, one on Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney respectively, transporting people between islands, the UK mainland and France (via a private company). Visitors can ferry between the UK mainland and the islands, as well as between some islands by public and private charters. Alderney and Jersey operate railway services and Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey have bus services. Car or taxi hire is available on Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey, while cycling or walking are popular modes of transport.

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