Geography, Population, LanguagesJersey Offshore Company Formation

Jersey is situated off the north-west coast of France. It is about 160 km south of England and only 20 km from France. It is the largest of the Channel (Normandy) Islands. The total land area is 117 sq. km. The environment is mainly rural. Its pleasant coastlines are very attractive to tourists. The main port is St. Helier. The population of Jersey is about 91,000, and there are measures in place to restrict future growth due to immigration. English is used in all aspects of the Island’s financial and commercial life. However, French remains the official language of Jersey’s Royal Court, but it is used only on ceremonial occasions.

History, Political Structure and Law

The Island of Jersey, along with the other Channel (Normandy) Islands, originally formed part of the Duchy of Normandy. Their present Constitution dates back to 1066, when William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, became King of England. The Channel Islands have remained possessions of the English Crown, though they are self-governed autonomous territories. The constitutional relationship between the Channel Islands and the United Kingdom are unique, differing from colonial and overseas dependencies of the Crown. The Island’s Parliament and legislative assemblies have the exclusive right to legislate on domestic affairs (including taxation), although Jersey’s foreign affairs are the UK’s responsibility.

The system of Law is largely based on English Common Law but with many French features.

Economy and Infrastructure

The financial services sector provides Jersey’s main source of income, and the tourist industry has always been very important to the Island’s economy. There are various other less significant sources of income, including agriculture and fishing.

Air services from Jersey are excellent, with particularly frequent services to London. There are also flights to many European centres, including Paris and Amsterdam. Jersey relies on sea transport for the importation of the majority of its goods. Jersey boasts an excellent telecommunications system as it uses the UK digital network.

Jersey is in a very favourable situation owing to the proximity of the UK and the Continent, and although the legislation on Free Trade adopted by the European Community applies to the Island, the politics of taxation planning does not affect Jersey. The currency is the Pound (GBP), which is on a par with the UK Pound, and there is no exchange control.

Company Incorporation

The principal Corporate Legislation is the Companies Jersey Law, 1991 (amended).

The type of Company used for international trade and investment is an Exempt Company. A Jersey company has all the powers of a natural person. The language of legislation and Corporate documentation is English.

There are some restrictions applying to trading and business activity. A Jersey Exempt Company is not allowed to trade within Jersey or engage in the business of banking, deposit taking, insurance, assurance, reinsurance, fund management, asset management (other than its own assets) or any other activity associated with the banking, finance and insurance industries.

Incorporation procedure involves submission of the Memorandum and Articles of Association to the Financial Services Department. The address of the company’s Registered Office, the names, nationalities and addresses of the directors and shareholders, character references relating to the beneficial owners and a full description of the proposed company’s trading and/or investment activities must be provided. A Registered office must be maintained in Jersey. Off-the-shelf companies are not available owing to the requirement to disclose beneficial ownership and trading activities.

Company names are subject to the following requirements:

The name must be approved by formal application to the Financial Services Department.

  • The name of a Jersey registered company can be in any language that uses the Latin alphabet as long as the authorities are advised of the meaning on the name application form. The name will then be approved or otherwise, subject to current guidelines regarding the use of certain words.
  • A name similar or identical to that of an existing company or registered entity is unacceptable.
  • Names of well-known multinational companies are not permitted without prior written consent.
  • Names that imply illegal activities are not permitted.
  • Names that imply royal or government patronage, either local or foreign, are not permitted.
  • The following names and their derivatives require consent or a licence: Jersey, Bank, Building Society, Savings, Loans, Insurance, Assurance, Reinsurance, Chamber of Commerce, Council, Co-operative, Trust, Trustees, Finance, International or their foreign language equivalents.
  • A Company with limited liability must end its name with Limited or Ltd., or with the French equivalent Societe avec Responsabilite Limitee or SARL.

The minimum number of directors is one. A director must be a natural person, and may be of any nationality and not necessarily resident in Jersey. A Company secretary is required, and this can be a natural person or a corporate body, of any nationality and need not be resident in Jersey. If a company has one director, the latter cannot simultaneously be company secretary. The minimum number of shareholders is normally two. However, if the company is to be a wholly owned subsidiary, only one shareholder is required.

Normally authorised share capital is GBP 10,000 (or its foreign currency equivalent), although minimum authorised capital may be a nominal GBP 2, normally with two shares of GBP 1 each, or the foreign currency equivalent. All shares issued must be paid in full in cash.

The following classes of shares are permitted: registered, preference, redeemable, non-redeemable shares and shares with or without voting right. Bearer shares are not permitted.

Annual Taxation and Fees

Taxation depends on the type of the Company:

  • Exempt Companies do not pay any Jersey taxes.
  • Resident Jersey Companies pay income tax at a rate of 20% on world-wide income.

There are double taxation agreements with the UK and Guernsey, but they only apply to resident individuals and companies.

Exempt companies pay a licence fee – an annual tax exemption fee is GBP 600.

Financial statements are required for Resident Companies but not for Exempt Companies, although the Financial Services Department reserves the right to call for accounts at any time.