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Moving on a small island

Oct 09, 2012
The Channel Islands have become a second home to F1 racing drivers, pop stars, reclusive business men and of course the finance industry, where accountants perform financial alchemy for the rich and famous including comedians and members of successful boy bands.
The Islands are a British Crown Dependency and are not part of the UK or the EU, although Britain is responsible for their defence and foreign policy.  During the Second World War the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Commonwealth to be occupied by the German army.  Under their rule the Islands became a fortress and many relics from those dark days can still be seen in the form of huge concrete structures still looking out to sea towards the English coast.

Today, around 160,000 people live on the Islands and there is a healthy market for removals, both internally and overseas. However, only a few companies have developed the knowledge and expertise to deal with the many challenges that operating on the Islands present.

White & Co has been moving people and goods to and from the Channel Islands since the 1960s and has branches on the main islands of Jersey and Guernsey. An average of 170 containers are shipped to each island every year from the company’s base in Portsmouth containing everything from household effects, for private and corporate clients, to new furniture from major retailers on the mainland.  A daily groupage service is also available which can be accessed through any of Whites 14 branches in the UK. 

“Sometimes we’re asked to ship some very unusual items,” said Operations Manager Daniel Burton. “Over the last five decades we’ve been asked to ship all kinds of weird and wonderful items to the Islands including a life-size fibreglass rhino for a well known actor, mannequins kitted out in full ladies lingerie, a life-size copper horse, swimming pools, boats, priceless pieces of artwork, antiques - you name it we’ve more than likely shipped it.” The company also ships vehicles to both islands using the roll-on roll-off ferry service from Portsmouth.

The housing and roads on the Islands have evolved over many years rather than been carefully planned.  This has inevitably led to narrow streets and difficult access to many properties. Most roads outside the Islands’ capitals are little more than country lanes with severe access problems. Permission has to be granted by the authorities for moves within St. Peter Port and St. Helier, which usually takes between two and four weeks to obtain.  Vehicles over seven-foot-six are not allowed to operate on Jersey without a special permit and there are similar restrictions on neighbouring Guernsey. White & Co operates a fleet of small vans to transport items decanted at the docks from 20ft containers; although on rare occasions it is possible to deliver the whole consignment directly to the address.

A recent change in legislation requires removals companies to complete an online manifest for all shipments (household & new furniture) destined for Jersey; this is not yet required for Guernsey but will probably be introduced soon.  Another fairly recent change is the introduction of a goods and services tax (GST) on new furniture entering Jersey charged at 5%. At present Guernsey does not levy the charge but is expected to follow Jersey’s lead before long. Mercifully the islands are not subject to the 20% VAT charged on the mainland. Customs are always looking to charge duty on alcohol being shipped to the Islands. In some cases shipments can be detained awaiting collection of as little as £10 duty, so it’s important to advise clients not to include alcohol amongst their household effects.

White & Co also ship to the nearby islands of Sark and Alderney, which has its own challenges as Guernsey Branch Manager Steve Hammer explained. “Alderney is not too much of a problem, we can ship 20ft containers there for delivery via small vans and fly our staff across to meet the containers and unload.  But for Sark we have to cross load into 8ft, 350cuft containers which are then shipped across to the Island and carted about behind tractors. A tractor being the only powered vehicle allowed on the Island.”

Undertaking a move to the Channel Islands is clearly far from straightforward given the vehicle restrictions, difficulties with access and customs regulations. Using White & Co’s trade service may provide the answer for removals companies quoting for a Channel Island move. “They can either deliver the consignment to one of our branches, or we’ll collect it from the removals company’s depot and have it shipped in one of our 20ft containers,” said Daniel Burton. “We’ll handle all the customs clearance and complete the move on the Islands. We have good trade rates so there is plenty of room to make a decent margin – we’ll take care of everything.” 

Moves to the Balearics

White & Co also operates a weekly road train service from the UK to Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza and is able to offer destination delivery and shuttle services to trade customers throughout the Balearics.

Enquiries and bookings should be made through White & Co’s Bournemouth office.
Tel: 01202 577 062

Daily service to the Isle of Wight

White & Co operates a daily service to the Isle of Wight from its Portsmouth Branch, with competitive rates for both full and part loads.
Contact: (Daniel Burton) 02392 663 221

Photos: Channel Island roads tend to be on the narrow side, and accessto properties can be difficult.

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