Economy of Jersey

The economy of Jersey is a highly developed social market[7] economy. It is largely driven by international financial services and legal services, which accounted for 39.5% of total GVA in 2019, a 4% increase on 2018.[8] Jersey is considered to be an offshore financial centre.[9] Jersey has the preconditions to be a microstate, but it is a self-governing Crown dependency of the UK.[10] It is considered to be a corportate tax haven by many organisations.[11][12]

Economy of Jersey
View of the Esplanade, St Helier, Jersey.JPG
Finance offices in St Helier in 2014
CurrencyPound sterling (GBP, £)
Jersey pound (JEP, £)
1 January - 31 December
GDP£4.89 billion ($6.63 billion) (2019)[1]
GDP per capita
£45,320 (2019)[1]
RPI 2.7% (March 2020)[2]
Labour force
53,790 (December 2011)[3]
Labour force by occupation
financial and legal (24%), wholesale and retail (16%), public sector (13%) (2011)[3]
Unemployment4.7% (March 2011 est.)[4]
Average gross salary
£2,816 / $4,363 mean monthly (2011)[3]
Main industries
Financial and legal services, construction, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, agriculture, transport and communications. (2008).[5]
Export goods
light industrial and electrical goods, dairy cattle, foodstuffs, textiles, flowers[6]
Main export partners
 United Kingdom,  France
Import goods
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, mineral fuels, chemicals[6]
Main import partners
 United Kingdom,  France
Public finances
Revenues$846 million (2011 est.)[3]
Expenses$928 million (2011 est.)[3]
Economic aidNone.
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

Other sectors include construction, retail, agriculture, tourism and telecommunications.[13] Before the Second World War, Jersey's economy was dominated by agriculture, however after liberation, tourism to the island became popular. More recently, the finance industry recognised worth in operating in Jersey, which has now become the island's dominant industry.

In 2017, Jersey's GDP per capita was one of the highest in the world at $55,324. In 2019, the island's economy, as measured by GVA, grew by 2.1% in real terms to £4.97 billion.[8] In December 2020, there were 1,350 people actively seeking work.[14]



Until the 19th century, cider was the largest agricultural export with up to a quarter of the agricultural land given over to orchards. In 1839 for example, 268,199 imperial gallons (1,219,260 L) of cider were exported from Jersey to England alone,[15] but by 1870 exports from Jersey had slumped to 4,632 imperial gallons (21,060 L).[16] Beer had replaced cider as a fashionable drink in the main export markets, and even the home market had switched to beer as the population became more urban. Potatoes overtook cider as the most important crop in Jersey in the 1840s. Small-scale cider production on farms for domestic consumption, particularly by seasonal workers from Brittany and mainland Normandy, was maintained, but by the mid-20th century production dwindled until only eight farms were producing cider for their own consumption in 1983.[17] The number of orchards had been reduced to such a level that the destruction of trees in the Great Storm of 1987 demonstrated how close the Islands had come to losing many of its traditional cider apple varieties. A concerted effort was made to identify and preserve surviving varieties and new orchards were planted. As part of diversification, farmers have moved into commercial cider production, and the cider tradition is celebrated and marketed as a heritage experience.


The knitting of woollen garments was a thriving industry for Jersey during the 17th and 18th centuries.[18]

Ship buildingEdit

Jersey was the 4th largest ship building area in the 19th century British Isles.[19] See History of Jersey.

Historical exchange ratesEdit

Jersey pounds per US dollar - 0.55 (2005), 0.6981 (January 2002), 0.6944 (2001), 0.6596 (2000), 0.6180 (1999), 0.6037 (1998), 0.6106 (1997); the Jersey pound is at par with the British pound.

Government spending and economic managementEdit


Jersey does not have inheritance, wealth, corporate or capital gains tax.[20]

Personal TaxEdit

Until the 20th century, the States relied on indirect taxation to finance the administration of Jersey. The levying of impôts (duties) different from those of the United Kingdom was granted by Charles II and remained in the hands of the Assembly of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats until 1921 when that body's tax raising powers were transferred to the Assembly of the States, leaving the Assembly of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats to serve simply as licensing bench for the sale of alcohol (this fiscal reform also stripped the Lieutenant-Governor of most of his effective remaining administrative functions).

The first income tax in Jersey was introduced in 1928.[21] Income tax has been levied at a flat rate of 20% set by the occupying Germans during the Second World War.[22] Jersey's tax is not entirely regressive, however. Exemption thresholds apply to those on lower incomes and tax reliefs exist for married couples, single parents, child day care and children. Residents living in Jersey under the high value residency scheme are charged 20% on the first £725,000 and 1% on anything over that amount.[20]

Until February 2020, married women in Jersey did not have control over their own tax affairs. Since 1928, married couples were required to file tax receipts under their spouse's name, married women's earning were considered part of their spouses' earnings and male permission was required for women to be treated separately or to discuss her financial affairs with the tax office. For couples in same-sex marriages, the older partner was required to give permission for the younger. In 2020, a vote in the States Assembly (40 pour, 2 abstentions) to reform the law to give both marriage partners equal rights over the couple's tax affairs passed to come into force from 2021.[23]

Goods and services taxEdit

Historically, no value added tax (VAT) was levied in Jersey, with the result that luxury goods have often been cheaper than in the UK or in France. This provided an incentive for tourism from neighbouring countries.

The States of Jersey introduced a goods and services tax (GST) in 2008. It was originally set at 3%, but rose to 5% on 1 June 2011 as part of the 2011 States budget.[24] To try to prevent islanders living below the poverty line, the States of Jersey introduced an Income Support service in January 2008.

Although this is a form of VAT, there are a number of significant differences between the European VAT and Jersey's GST. It is charged at a much lower rate than UK or French VAT, so Jersey can still act as a low-tax shopping jurisdiction on certain items. However there are far fewer exemptions to GST policy. For example, no VAT is charged on female sanitary products (the so-called 'tampon tax') in the UK[25] while GST still applies in Jersey.[26]

Coroporation TaxEdit

Jersey has a corporate income tax. The standard rate for all corporations is 0%, however Jersey is not a corporate-tax free jurisdiction. A 10% tax applies for regulated financial services companies and a 20% maximum tax rate applies for larger corporate retailers and utility and property income companies.[20]

On 5 June 2021, global finance ministers, including the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, at the G7 agreed to set a new global minimum tax rate of 15% (although all G7 countries have higher tax rates) and to ensure that major corporations, such as Amazon and Microsoft, pay taxes in the countries where they operate, not those where they have headquarters. It will affect the island and take a number of years to implement, meaning Jersey's "zero-ten" tax policy will no longer be possible.[27] On 16 May, Chief Minister John Le Fondré had criticised the move led by Joe Biden. He said in an interview with the i newspaper that the US should look "closer to home before involving themselves in the tax policies of others", citing Delaware's tax regime.[28] Former Senator Ben Shenton said the zero-ten system was nearing its "sell-by" date and the zero percent rate was reinforcing Jersey's image as a tax haven.[29]

Tax havenEdit

Many have criticised Jersey's tax policies and labelled the island as a tax haven, although some, including the Government of Jersey,[30] do not recognise that label. Despite the island's small size, it is recognised as a large offshore finance centre. Jersey Finance estimates that Jersey trusts control £1 trillion in assets. According to the Tax Justice Network, Jersey suffers from the "Finance Curse", a term used to described to illustrate a low-tax jurisdictions over-reliance on the finance sector (which accounts for over 50% of the island's GVA and directly accounts for 25% of the island's jobs) and a lack of a viable alternative development strategy.[31] Even in the modern day, Jersey continues to encourage high-wealth individuals to settle in the island to take advantage of lower tax rates.[32]

Jersey has a long history of tax avoidance, being one of the first offshore financial services markets. Jersey has a long history of low-tax and duty-free economic activity. Jersey's situation between France and England meant that Jerseyman took up smuggling of goods into French and English ports. For example, Jean Martel of St Brelade, organised brandy and textile smuggling into both sides of the Channel.[33] In the 1920s, high net worth individuals from Britain would emigrate to the island (or simply shift their wealth there) for tax purposes.[31]

In 2020, the Tax Justice Network, a UK tax advocacy group, placed Jersey 7th in its list of "The top 10 countries that have done the most to proliferate corporate tax avoidance and break down the global corporate tax system"[34] and 16th in its Financial Secrecy Index. below larger countries such as the UK, however still placing at the lower end of the 'extreme danger zone' for offshore secrecy'.[35] The island accounts of 0.46 per cent of the global offshore finance market, making a small player in the total market.[36] A large proportion of the financial services conducted in Jersey are tax-driven, meaning they are booked there without the requirement of adding value.[37]

Tax Research UK classes Jersey as a tax haven.[38] It too claims Jersey is a tax haven, citing its "half-hearted commitment to transparency".[39] Jersey's finance industry featured in a BBC Panorama documentary, titled "Tax me if you can",[40] first broadcast on 2 February 2009.[41]

It is arguable that the people who benefit from Jersey's new tax structure are the owners of the large businesses that are separate or support the financial service based businesses. This is because they do not have to pay any corporation tax but will still benefit from the island's business.[42]

In 2020, the Corporate Tax Heaven Index ranked Jersey 8th for 2021 with an haven score (a measure of the jurisdiction's systems to be used for corporate tax abuse) of 100 out of 100, however only has 0.51% on the Global Scale Weight ranking.[12]

As of 2020, the European Union does not consider Jersey to be a tax haven ("non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes"). Jersey cooperates with the EU and implements all its commitments.[43] When the list was established in 2017, Jersey was initially on its "grey list" (Annex II), however was removed from the list entirely in March 2019.[44] One of the mitigation measures Jersey put in place was the "Economic Substance Law" in 2019.[45] Under the law, companies within its scope must be directed and managed, conduct Core Income Generating Activities ("the key essential and valuable activities that generate the income of the company and these activities must be carried out in Jersey") and have adequate employees, expenditure and physical assets in Jersey.[46] The chair of the EU Tax Matters Subcommittee Paul Tang has however criticised the list for not including "renowned tax havens" such as Jersey.[47] In January 2021, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to include on the blacklist of countries those that use a 0% corporate tax regime, which includes Jersey. However, the final decision still rests with the EU's Economic and Financial Affairs Council. Robert Palmer, director of Tax Justice UK, said, "post-Brexit the UK tax havens have lost their protector within the corridors of Brussels".[48]

Furthermore, in 2017 the OECD ranked Jersey as a 'compliant' country in terms of tax transparency in its Global Transparency Barometer.[49]

The Netherlands however does consider Jersey to be a tax haven. Jersey was placed on their tax avoidance "blacklist" in 2019. The list includes any jurisdiction with a corporate tax rate below 9%. As a result, companies registered in Jersey must pay 20.5% tax on interest and royalties received from the Netherlands from 2021.[50]

However the former Chief Minister of Jersey, Terry Le Sueur, has countered these criticisms, saying that "Jersey [is] among cooperative finance centres".[51] Jersey has tax information exchange agreements with 40 countries, double taxation agreements with a number of other countries (with more "ready for signing").[52]

In September 2013 the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, said it was not fair any longer to refer to any of the overseas territories or Crown dependencies as tax havens, as they have taken action to make sure that they have fair and open tax systems.[53] Its information privacy law also provides exemptions that other European countries do not, for example in the way Trusts do not have to disclose as much information to Benficiaries about use of their personal data as is normally required under such laws.[54]


The absence of VAT also led to the growth of a fulfilment industry, whereby low-value luxury items, such as videos, lingerie and contact lenses were exported in a manner avoiding VAT on arrival, thus undercutting local prices on the same products. A number of companies, including off-island companies Tesco, HMV and Amazon and on-island companies and Blahdvd, operated this model.[55]

In 2005 the States of Jersey announced limits on licences granted to non-resident companies trading in this way. Low-value consignment relief provided the mechanism for VAT-free imports from the Channel Islands to the UK. In April 2012, the UK closed this loophole, leading to the closure of many island businesses and the loss of a number of jobs on the island.[55]

The Social Security department introduced a Back to Work programme to deal with the job losses and Jersey Post had to suffer significant cut-backs in response to a reduction in fulfilment. The States appealed against the UK decision, but this failed. As a result of the new rule, the UK tax authorities reported a 200% rise in import VAT from the Channel Islands, estimated at £95 million per year.[55]

Welfare stateEdit

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced Co-Funded Payroll to support businesses.[14]


Financial and legal servicesEdit

International Finance Centre

Jersey-based financial organisations provide services to customers worldwide. In December 2020, it was reported that there were 13,510 jobs within this sector.[56] The finance sector profits were about £1.18 billion in 2015.[57]

Jersey is one of the top worldwide offshore financial centers[58] It has been criticised for its tax practices, with many calling the island a tax haven.[59] It attracts deposits from customers outside of the island, seeking the advantages such places offer, like reduced tax burdens. In 2020, Tax Justice ranked Jersey as the 16th on the Financial Secrecy Index, below larger countries such as the UK, however still placing at the lower end of the 'extreme danger zone' for offshore secrecy'.

However The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) have all endorsed Jersey as a top international finance centre. In 2017’s OECD Rating, Jersey scored top marks from the OECD on tax transparency, receiving a "fully compliant" rating and as recently as 2019 The European Council of Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) have formally confirmed Jersey a Co-operative Jurisdiction. In addition, a MONEYVAL Assessment by the Council of Europe rated Jersey compliant or largely compliant in 48 of their 49 assessment areas, the highest score amongst all states assessed.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the total value of banking deposits held in Jersey decreased from £137.8bn to £131.6bn while the net asset value of regulated funds under administration increased by £12.6bn to £378.1bn. There were 33,626 live companies on Jersey's register.

Jersey shares The International Stock Exchange (TISE) with Guernsey, where it is based.[60]


Construction represented 7% of GVA during 2019.[8] In June 2020 it was reported that 5,970 people were employed full-time in the construction and quarrying sector.[56]

St Helier has a lot of ongoing construction projects. The reclamation of land opened in the 1980s new land for development in the town centre. This has led to development projects such as the Jersey International Finance Centre,[61] Horizon[62] and the new St Helier Waterfront project.[63]

The GVA of the construction sector declined by 1% between 2018 and 2019.[8]

Retail and wholesaleEdit

As of June 2020 there were 6,940 jobs within Jersey's wholesale and retail trades.[56] Retail and wholesale declined by 1% between 2018 and 2019.[8]

Jersey has a large range of local and national shops. SandpiperCI Limited operate a chain of stores in Jersey, their franchises include well-known names, such as Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Iceland, and Costa Coffee.[64]

A number of online retailers, and fulfillment houses operate from the Channel Islands, including Jersey, supplying a variety of low-value goods such as CDs, DVDs, video games, and gadgets. Residents of the EU were choosing to order goods from Jersey, so as to benefit from a tax relief known as Low-value consignment relief (LVCR). UK residents, in particular, were taking advantage of this situation.

A local company, grew substantially during the time that LVCR applied to Jersey. Notably, Amazon UK also took advantage of this by dispatching some low-value items from Jersey.

In April 2012 the UK Government made law changes to prevent the Channel Islands continued exploitation of LVCR, meaning that UK residents would have to pay the full VAT amount on items imported from the Channel Islands.[65] Some goods are still sold and distributed from Jersey, despite these changes.


In 2017, 33,301 vergées were dedicated to agriculture, with each holding having an average area of 78 vergées. Since 2006, there has been a reduction in the number of smaller holding areas, as have the number of larger holdings (64 in 2006 to 53 in 2017).

The Rural Support Scheme was introduced in 2017 to replace the Single Area Payment. 75% of agricultural areas by surface area are subject to RSS.

There has been a reduction in the total number of agricultural workers since 2007.

10-year averages of staff numbers during peak season months.
2007 2012 2017
Full-time 678 635 488
Part-time 138 188 114
Seasonal 1031 837 834
Total 1847 1660 1436

The total value of all export crops has increased since 2013. In 2017, it is £42.5 million. The primary exported crops are potatoes (£31.6m), narcissus flowers (£891k), courgettes (£184k) and cauliflowers (£22k). The number of Jersey Royal potatoes cultivated has increased by 18% between 2007 and 2017.

The total area dedicated to glasshouses from 2013 to 2017 has reduced from 275.8k m2 to 174.3k m2.

The Jersey breed of dairy cattle is known worldwide. In 2017, there were 4,842 cattle in Jersey. The gross sales value of the milk delivered to Jersey Dairy in 2017-18 was £13.9 million. Milk products go to the UK and other EU countries.[66]

Tourism and hospitalityEdit

Hotel de France

Hospitality (hotels, restaurants and bars) made up 4.2% of Jersey's GVA in 2019.[8] It is estimated that the wider contribution of tourism in particular is 8.3% (2017).[67] Tourism is important for Jersey's taxation, making £12.5 million in GST (15% of the total). However, total spend is much higher, around £250 million. This creates 6,470 jobs.[68]

Most tourist attractions are operated by private companies and nonprofit organisations, including companies owned, or funded by the States of Jersey. Elizabeth Castle, for example, is controlled by Jersey Heritage. Some other attractions are owned by the National Trust for Jersey. One notable attraction is Jersey Zoo in Trinity, a wildlife park founded by conservationist Gerald Durrell.

Transport, storage and communicationEdit

This sector accounted for 3.5% of GVA during 2019.[8] In December 2020, this sector had 1,950 private sector jobs in transport and storage and 1,810 private sector jobs in information and communications.[69]

Most of the telecoms infrastructure is owned by Jersey Telecom.

In December 2020, there were 154,300 vehicles registered in Jersey.[14]

In 2008, most goods imported and exported were transported by Huelin-Renouf,[70] Condor Logistics,[71] and other smaller operators, via either Saint Helier harbour, or Jersey Airport.

During the period 1984 to 1994, British Channel Island Ferries were responsible for much shipping to and from the United Kingdom.

Genuine JerseyEdit

Genuine Jersey is a brand icon found on products made locally within the island. The brand was launched in 2001 by local businessmen who wanted to differentiate their products from imported goods and is now particularly visible island-based brand that supports local businesses and promotes island products broadly to locals and visitors. Jersey holds an enviable positions amongst island jurisdictions for its internationally famous products such as Jersey milk and the Jersey Royal potato. The use of the word "Jersey" in the name of these products helps to connect place with product branding and to build the recognition of the island brand. The Genuine Jersey organisation has various links with the Government of Jersey and the organisation exists in a public-private sphere in Jersey's small island political and commercial landscape. In restaurants, Genuine Jersey dishes can have 20% non-local ingredients. Contemporary green politics allows the Genuine Jersey brand to align itself with environmental goals in the modern age of buying local.[72]

Cost of livingEdit

Jersey has a high cost of living, due to transport costs and a lack of competition. In January 2021, Numbeo, an online cost-of-living index, reported that Jersey was the "world's 'most expensive place to live'."[73]


In Jersey, inflation is based on the All Items Retail Prices Index (RPI). In March 2020, this stood at 182.1, where June 2000 is 100. The largest increases in RPI were in housing, household services, leisure services. Underlying inflation, as measured by the annual change in RPI(Y), increased by 2.3% over the twelve months to March 2020.

Historically, the highest RPI change was in September 2008 at 6.4% and the lowest was in September 2009 at -0.6%.[74]

Annual average API (2000 = 100)
Year Inflation Year Inflation
1949 4.3 1985 47.8
1950 4.4 1986 49.6
1951 4.6 1987 51.9
1952 4.9 1988 55.5
1953 5 1989 60
1954 5.1 1990 65.7
1955 5.3 1991 71
1956 5.6 1992 75.3
1957 5.9 1993 78.2
1958 6.1 1994 80.3
1959 6.3 1995 83.2
1960 6.3 1996 85.8
1961 6.4 1997 89
1962 6.7 1998 92.9
1963 7 1999 96.2
1964 7.2 2000 100.4
1965 7.4 2001 104.2
1966 7.7 2002 108.7
1967 7.8 2003 113.4
1968 8.2 2004 118.9
1969 8.5 2005 122.6
1970 9.1 2006 126.4
1971 10 2007 131.8
1972 10.7 2008 137.9
1973 11.8 2009 138.9
1974 14.3 2010 142.5
1975 17.4 2011 148.9
1976 20.2 2012 153.6
1977 23.4 2013 155.9
1978 25.9 2014 158.5
1979 29.1 2015 159.5
1980 33.6 2016 162.2
1981 37.3 2017 167.2
1982 40.1 2018 173.8
1983 42.5 2019 178.8
1984 44.9

Seasonal workersEdit

The workforce in Jersey tends to increase during the summer months, with around 3,500 more people employed in the summer of 2008 than in the winter of 2007.[75] These seasonal workers are mostly employed in agriculture, hotels, restaurants and bars.

International economic relationshipsEdit

Jersey has long been part of the UK's customs area. When the UK was part of the European Union, Jersey was part of the European Union Customs Union. In 2018, Jersey became part of a customs union with the United Kingdom. Therefore, there are no tariffs between the territories and a common external tariff on places outside the customs union. However Jersey retains the ability to impose specific prohibitions and restrictions at its border and retain autonomy in customs systems and fiscal matters.[76]

See alsoEdit


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  • Jersey in Figures, 2005, States of Jersey

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