- For other places with the same name, see Channel Islands (disambiguation).
The Channel Islands are located just off the coast of France mainly in the Bay of St Malo. Formally they are Crown Dependencies, which means in simple terms they are self-governing in all respects except for Defence and Foreign Affairs, which are the responsibility of the United Kingdom.
The Islands fall into two separate Bailiwicks (historic feudal divisions), each of which has its own separate government. Guernsey, Alderney and Sark (comprising the Bailiwick of Guernsey) is effectively a Customs Union with no customs controls between them (despite the fact that Sark levies taxes on alcohol and tobacco at a much reduced rate to the rest of the Bailiwick!)
| Bailiwick of Guernsey |
Smaller than Jersey, and pretty, with a smaller town but less open countryside than Jersey. It also includes the islands of Alderney, Sark, Herm, and many smaller offshore islands.
| Bailiwick of Jersey |
The largest and most developed of the islands, with the most to do.
The larger islands are divided into Parishes (Alderney is one parish, the Parish of St Anne).
The Channel Islands have been inhabited for over 5,000 years and have a long and colourful history. During WWII they were occupied and retain many military structures, both from this period and from the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
They count their independence of any ties to France from the year 1204.
Today, the Islands' Head of State is the Queen of United Kingdom who is represented in the Islands by her Lieutenant-Governors. Her role derives from Her status as the successor to the now-defunct Duchy of Normandy (the Islanders' version of the Loyal Toast, is "The Queen, our Duke". The Islands laws are a mixture of local legislation, customary law (heavily influenced by the English Common Law), Acts of the UK Parliament which have been extended to the Islands and (some) European Union Law in respect of (e.g.) the free movement of people and of goods. The Islands have their own tax systems, currencies (at par with the GBP), banknotes, and individual Parliaments. The relationship with the EU is complex and little understood (they are in the European Union Customs Union but outside the ambit of fiscal and social legislation, for example).
English is spoken throughout the islands, but there are still remnants of the old Norman patois.
Like the UK, the Channel Islands are outside the Schengen Agreement but form a Common Travel Area with the UK, Republic of Ireland and Isle of Man.
The Channel Islands have their own airline, Aurigny which offer flights to the Islands' airports from London and elsewhere.
- Guernsey airport (IATA: GCI) - to/from the UK (London Gatwick, London Stansted, Bristol, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Exeter, Manchester and Southampton), France (Dinard and St Brieuc), Jersey, Alderney, Germany (Dusseldorf and Stuttgart) and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
- Jersey airport (IATA: JER)
- St Peter Port, Guernsey - to/from the UK (Poole, Portsmouth and Weymouth), St Malo in France and other Channel Islands.
In Alderney, there is the Alderney railway, a heritage railway line and the only remaining railway line in the Channel Islands.
There are no trains in Guernsey, Jersey or Sark.
If you are from the United Kingdom most foods will be the same.
Due to their quasi independent status, taxes on drink are lower than in the United Kingdom, and so prices can be lower.
A lot of the people here are friendly and will be happy to assist you around the islands.