Created Date:
28 July 2020

Relocation: Your move to Guernsey...

An increasing number of wealthy individuals, entrepreneurs and financial services principals have chosen to move to Guernsey with their families in recent years, with some also relocating their businesses to the Island. Here, Carey Olsen property partners Jason Morgan and Davey Le Marquand look at some of the practical issues to consider when contemplating a move to Guernsey.

How does Guernsey's residential property market operate?

There are two designated classes of housing in Guernsey: Local Market and Open Market. The Local Market has significantly more properties on it and is available for occupation by people either born and brought up in Guernsey, or those qualified to live in such accommodation for other reasons, such as by virtue of their employment circumstances, or in some cases their potential economic contribution to the Island.

The Open Market is therefore available to all those people who do not have the particular qualifications enabling them to live in Local Market accommodation.

Which market would be available to me?

The Open Market is usually the most obvious option for people coming to live in Guernsey who do not hold local residential qualifications. That said, recent changes to Guernsey’s population management regime, combined with Guernsey’s entrepreneurial visa scheme, offer increased scope for people moving to the Island to live in Local Market properties. It is also worth noting that there are no financial criteria that need to be fulfilled to be able to live on the Open Market, making the process of moving to Guernsey easier than in some other jurisdictions.

Ultimately, the right to occupy property on either market is controlled by domestic population management legislation, which also has a bearing on who can work in Guernsey. The Population Management (Guernsey) Law 2016 ("the Population Law") came into force on 3 April 2017 and replaced the previous Housing (Control of Occupation) (Guernsey) Law 1994. The Population Law requires everybody aged 16 and over who lives and/or works in Guernsey to hold either a certificate or a permit relevant to their residence. Certificates are issued to lawful householders – people who then have a right to live and work anywhere in Guernsey. There are three types:

1. Open Market Certificates (Part A for private home, Part B for hotels, Part C for residential care or nursing homes and Part D for a house in multiple occupation);

2. Established Resident Certificates; and

3. Permanent Resident Certificates.

In broad terms, anyone can live and work in Guernsey indefinitely if they live in a Part A, B, C or D house on the Open Market Housing Register and they are the lawful occupier of that house. Open Market Certificate holders can accommodate immediate family members, while Part A Certificate holders can also house extended family members.

A permit is issued to a person whose ability to live and/or work in Guernsey is conditional. This may include working in a specific job, living with a specific person or other appropriate conditions.

When a permit holder completes eight years of continuous lawful residence on the Local Market, they can generally obtain an Established Resident Certificate. This gives the holder the right to live and work in Guernsey, provided the holder remains in Guernsey from this point until they have accumulated 14 years of continuous lawful residency.

What is the choice of property like on the Open Market?

Less than 10% of the current population lives on the Open Market, which has a stock of approximately 1,700 properties. As the properties are fewer in number and occupancy controls are less stringent, Open Market property prices tend to be higher than Local Market ones but the Open Market also includes many of the Island's most desirable houses.

Carey Olsen’s leading property team can give clear and comprehensive advice on the acquisition process from start to finish. Our department comprises specialist lawyers and conveyancers with extensive experience and an unrivalled knowledge of Guernsey property law. To find out more, please download our Relocating to Guernsey guide.


An original version of this article was first published in Cooper Brouard's Guernsey Property Guide, July 2020.

© Carey Olsen 2020.