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Where's Sark?

Or: "why isn't Sark on any Country List on any internet resource?"

Because Sark has been, as they say "a world apart", it has been under the radar of most international bodies. But now the internet is so globally widespread, it's become a real problem. Whether we're looking at recommendation sites, search engines or just buying something on the internet, Sark can be difficult, if not impossible, to find.

Why's that? Until very recently, Sark has not been on the international standard list (ISO 3166), Sark is excluded from the vast majority of country & territory lists you find on any website.

Why? Everyone uses ISO 3166. ISO establishes codes that represent the current names of countries, dependencies and other areas of particular geopolitical interest, on the basis of lists of country names obtained from the United Nations. The Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey and all BOTs (other than MoD bases) are on this list. Sark is not, despite being on the UNSD M49 list and in the UNTERM database.

ISO 3166 is the basis of most “drop down” country menus used on applications, websites, ecommerce and government information worldwide. Search engines confuse Sark’s location which puts further hurdles in the way of inbound tourism – a significant part of the island economy. The exclusion of Sark presents many challenges for people and businesses on the island as well as every transaction between the island and the outside world.

  • Customs
  • Shipping cost
  • Delivery option
  • Correct tax regime

According to these lists, the correct despatch and tax cannot be offered – and Sark itself does not seem to exist.

But now, we have established Sark on the key international references and, most importantly, the ISO 3166 list.

  1. Allocated 680 on the UN Standard country or area codes for statistical use M49 (Cllr Mailtland, Chief Pleas in 2011).
  2. CQ, CRQ and 680 reserved for Sark on ISO 3166 (BSI and SarkID Group in 2020)

This means we can start the immense task of correcting and updating the lists we see everywhere. Just some examples:

HMRC uses ISO Codes for Customs declarations, VAT and personal tax. Sark not being on the list means refunds can’t be correctly processed.

Ordering goods

Ebay listings can’t be properly located.

Many delivery tracking sites can’t track to/from Sark.

Even can't correctly record location at BSI

Or even register properly at ISO

It's a massive, global task but we have to start somewhere. Getting an internet ccTLD is the next key step.


An earlier version of this is available as a downloadable pdf which should be easily printable.