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Moving to Gibraltar

Located on the very southern tip of Spain, Gibraltar is a tiny British Territory covering an area of less than 4 square miles (7 km). Locals fondly refer to their home as 'The Rock' in tribute to the soaring Rock of Gibraltar that dominates the space. Surrounded almost completely by water, Gibraltar is joined to Spain by a land border of just 0.75 miles (1.2 km) as a comparatively long coastline of 7.5 miles (12 km) winds around Gibraltar.

At first glance, Gibraltar may not stand out as an expat destination, but it has long held a reputation as an international banking centre, especially when it comes to offshore banking. While some expats are attracted by lucrative employment offers within the financial industry, others come here to spend their twilight years on the Mediterranean coast. It’s especially popular among British retirees.

Though it has a small population of just 33,000, Gibraltar's diminutive size means that it's far from spacious and accommodation is hard to find. Residents on the island are far outnumbered by tourists, which frequently exceed 10 million a year. It follows that tourism is a thriving industry, with plenty of opportunities for seasonal workers or those looking to start a business.

Gibraltar is a British colony with a local government. They are entirely self governing aside from matters of defence and international fairs, which are handled by Britain. Despite this, Gibraltar's culture is largely influenced by its Spanish neighbours rather than its British rulers. Those unused to the relaxed, languid lifestyle typical of Spain may take a while to adjust to life in Gibraltar.

Still, with around 300 sunshine days a year, the lifestyle on The Rock is generally excellent. Even expats moving here for career-related reasons are sure to find some time to kick back, relax and enjoy their beautiful surroundings.


Fast facts

Population: 33,000

Neighbouring countries: Spain is to the north and is the only land border of Gibraltar, Morocco lies across the Strait of Gibraltar to the south, and the Mediterranean lies to the east.

Geography: Gibraltar is a small territory on a peninsula at the southern tip of Spain. The peak of the Rock of Gibraltar is its highest point and the rest of the territory is sea-level lowlands. 

Political system: Devolved representative democratic parliamentary dependency under a constitutional monarchy

Main languages: English and Spanish

Major religions: Roman Catholicism

Money: The Gibraltar Pound (GIP) is divided into 100 pennies and is pegged to the British Pound. To open a bank account, expats will usually have to present a valid passport and proof of address.

Tipping: A service charge is generally included in restaurant bills and a 10 percent tip for good service is standard.

Time: GMT+1

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs most commonly in use are the round two-pin type or the rectangular three-pin plug typical of Europe and the UK respectively.

Internet domain: .gi

International dialling code: +350

Emergency contacts: 190 (medical and fire) and 199 (police)

Transport and driving: Thanks to Gibraltar's small size, it's quite easy to get around on foot. Others prefer to drive cars or motorcycles. For public transport, there is a well-established bus network, which makes it easy to get around, and there are taxis available as well.

Weather in Gibraltar

Gibraltar has a Mediterranean climate, with a hot, dry phase from May to September and a cool, wet period from October to April. Temperatures don't vary much throughout the year. Winters are cooler but mild and summers are warm but not hot.

Sunshine lovers are sure to enjoy the summer months – especially June and July, when there are typically 11 hours of sun a day. Even in the deep winter months of November, December and January, there are usually at least a few hours of sun a day to break up the overcast skies.

Embassy contacts for Gibraltar


British embassies

  • British Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 588 6500

  • British High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 237 1530

  • British High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6270 6666

  • British High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 421 7500

  • British Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 205 3700

  • British High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 924 2888


Embassies responsible for Gibraltar

  • United States Embassy, London: +44 20 7499 9000

  • Canadian High Commission, London: +44 20 7004 6000

  • Australian High Commission, London: +44 20 7379 4334

  • South African High Commission, London: +44 20 7451 7299

  • Irish Embassy, London: +44 20 7235 2171

  • New Zealand High Commission, London: +44 20 7930 8422

Public Holidays in Gibraltar

 

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Commonwealth Day

9 March

14 March

Good Friday

2 April

15 April

Easter Monday

5 April

18 April

Workers' Memorial Day

28 April

28 April

May Day

1 May

1 May

Spring Bank Holiday

31 May

30 May

Queen's Birthday

14 June

13 June

Late Summer Bank Holiday

30 August

29 August

Gibraltar National Day

10 September

10 September

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Boxing Day

26 December

26 December

Working in Gibraltar

Gibraltar’s local economy is largely based on tourism, shipping and the financial sector, with plenty of opportunities available to expats with skill and experience in these areas.

Gibraltar is an ideal assignment for many expats thanks to its convenient location and the fact that English is the language of business. EU and EEA citizens do not need a visa to live and work in Gibraltar. However, non-EEA citizens looking to take up employment will need work and residence permits to do so legally.


Job market in Gibraltar

Thanks to Gibraltar's favourable tax conditions, the country's financial services – particularly offshore banking – is a thriving industry.

Tourism is another major sector. With millions of tourists heading to Gibraltar each year, there's plenty of work to be found in this industry, especially in the busy summer months.

Gibraltar has also become a global leader in the online gaming industry, thanks once again to its favourable tax climate, as well as other aspects such as reliable internet connectivity and a well-developed regulatory system. Companies running online gambling are particularly prominent in Gibraltar.


Finding a job in Gibraltar

Word of mouth and personal recommendations are the best way to secure a job in Gibraltar, but those who haven't yet made the move should explore online job portals, expat forums and recruitment agencies.

The difficulty of obtaining a job depends very much on the industry. Those with specialised skills in one of Gibraltar's main industries stand a good chance of finding work.

As English is commonly spoken throughout Gibraltar, it's possible to get a job without knowledge of Spanish. However, Spanish skills can sometimes set applicants apart from those that don't speak the language.


Work culture in Gibraltar

Gibraltar's work culture is similar to the that of the UK in many ways. Politeness, punctuality and respect are important cornerstones of working life.

The standard work week is 40 hours, with 48 hours a week being the legal maximum. Employees are allowed 15 days of leave per year. After eight years of service, this increases to 25 days of leave per year.

Doing business in Gibraltar

Thanks to its generous tax policies, EU membership and economic stability, Gibraltar is in many ways an ideal place to start a new business or expand an existing business. This is especially true for those with an interest in one of Gibraltar's major industries such as financial services, tourism, shipping or online gaming.

Just as the contrasting Spanish and British influences are evident in everyday-living in Gibraltar, so have they affected the business culture in different ways too. While the social life of Gibraltar is casual, most business is conducted in a formal British manner.


Fast facts

Business hours 

9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.

Business language

English is the official language of business in Gibraltar. Spanish may be used in dealing with companies from Spain that operate in Gibraltar. 

Dress

Businessmen and women are expected to dress smartly in Gibraltar, with most men wearing suits to the office. In summer, short-sleeved shirts and lightweight slacks are commonly preferred. 

Greetings

A firm handshake is recommended when expats greet locals. Despite the friendliness of local businesspeople, do not presume to be on a first-name basis from the initial meeting – rather take the lead from local counterparts.

Gender equality

There are women in management positions in Gibraltar and many work in the thriving service sector, but they’re still underrepresented in politics. 


Business culture in Gibraltar

Communication

Businesspeople in Gibraltar tend to be direct and to the point. Expats are advised to take the same approach. In addition, it's important to remain calm even under pressure. Emotional displays such as raising one's voice are regarded negatively and are sure to have an adverse effect on business outcomes.

Business meetings

Appointments must be made in advance and expats should never to arrive without one – even the most informal meetings are prearranged. Going into business meetings, expats should be well prepared and ready to answer any questions.

Time

Punctuality is very important – it's better to be early than late, as lateness is regarded as a sign of disrespect. If something has come up and it's impossible to arrive on time, expats should let associates know immediately.


Dos and don'ts of doing business in Gibraltar

  • Don't dress sloppily, even on hot days

  • Do be well-prepared for meetings

  • Do arrive on time

  • Don't interrupt other speakers during meetings, especially more senior associates

Accommodation in Gibraltar

Expats can choose to buy or rent a property in Gibraltar, but many opt to rent because of the short-term nature of their assignments. Due to limited space, there is a high demand for housing in Gibraltar, prices are high, and the few new developments are mostly highly sought-after luxury units.

Many expats choose to live on the Spanish side of the border, in particular in Sotogrande, an upmarket resort town 15.5 miles (24 km) up the coast from Gibraltar. 


Types of accommodation in Gibraltar

The undersupplied market means that it can take a while to find somewhere to live. But given time and determination, expats moving to Gibraltar will be able to find a home that suits their lifestyle and needs.

Properties range from studio flats and townhouses to large standalone houses and villas. It is possible to rent both furnished and unfurnished properties. Many apartment blocks have shared facilities such as swimming pools and laundry rooms.


Finding accommodation in Gibraltar

Expats looking to rent or buy a property in Gibraltar have a number of options when it comes to finding the perfect home. Online property portals are a good place to start, as are the classifieds sections of local publications, for those who are already in Gibraltar. Expats can also approach a local real-estate agent to help navigate the sometimes difficult process of finding and securing housing. 


Renting accommodation in Gibraltar

Once an expat has found the right property, they will need to pay a deposit (usually equivalent to one or two months of rent) as well as the first month's rent in advance. They may also be required to provide references and proof of income to the prospective landlord or estate agent. 

Most rental contracts are signed for a year and are renewable. At the end of the lease, the deposit is returned in full as long as the property is returned in a good condition.

Healthcare in Gibraltar

Expats will enjoy high standards when it comes to healthcare in Gibraltar. Many of the doctors and nurses have trained abroad (often in the UK) and hospitals are equipped with the latest facilities and equipment. 

It’s not always practical for medical specialists to be employed full time in Gibraltar, but they are flown in from the UK on a rotating schedule. Patients may also be referred out to the UK or a nearby Spanish hospital if their healthcare needs are unable to be met locally.


Public healthcare in Gibraltar

The government-funded Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) manages the country’s healthcare facilities and services, which are closely modelled after those of the NHS in the UK. There are three main public facilities managed by the GHA, providing primary, secondary and mental health care.

Expats employed in Gibraltar make compulsory contributions to social services. This entitles them to the use of public healthcare. To sign up, expats must show proof of identity and will have to prove that their social security contributions are up to date. This is done by providing the GHA with one's tax number or obtaining a letter from the Contributions Unit confirming payment. 


Private healthcare in Gibraltar

Despite Gibraltar's small size, there are a number of private options available for expats who aren’t entitled to free healthcare at public facilities. In order to cover the cost of using private clinics and doctors, expats are advised to take out private medical insurance.


Pharmacies in Gibraltar

Normal pharmacy hours are from 9am to 6pm or 7pm during the week, and from 9am to about 1pm on Saturdays. However, is always a pharmacy available after hours, on weekends and on public holidays.

The various pharmacies in Gibraltar work on a rotating duty roster to determine which pharmacy stays open. All pharmacies are obligated to have a notice in their window indicating the current duty pharmacy. It's also possible to download a copy of the duty roster from the GHA website.


Emergency services in Gibraltar

The Gibraltar Ambulance Service can be reached by dialling 190. Paramedics are highly trained in patient assessment and are able to carry out basic, intermediate or advanced life support as necessary. These ambulances will often take patients over the border into Spain for treatment, though less complex cases may be treated locally in Gibraltar instead.

Education and Schools in Gibraltar

Education in Gibraltar largely follows the British model with a few structural differences, and expats can choose from a small selection of state schools. There are also a couple of private schools and while there are no international schools in Gibraltar, many expats working in Gibraltar live over the border in Spain and send their children to nearby international schools there. 


Public schools in Gibraltar

Education in Gibraltar is compulsory from ages four to 15, during which time it is provided free of charge. Nursery school is optional and can be attended at age three, prior to the start of formal schooling.

First school (otherwise known as primary school) is compulsory and attended from ages four to seven. Middle school is from ages eight to 11, while secondary school with sixth form is for ages 12 to 18. Though students can legally stop attending school at age 15 after the completion of the GCSEs, most students continue to attend school and move onto the sixth form.

It's worth mentioning that public primary schools in Gibraltar are co-educational, while public secondary schools are single-sex. There are around a dozen public primary schools to choose from, but only two public secondary schools.


Private and international schools in Gibraltar

Private schools in Gibraltar include Loreto Convent School, a co-educational primary school, and Prior Park School, a co-educational secondary school. Both are Roman Catholic schools with teaching taking place through the lens of Catholic beliefs and conventions.

Due to the extremely limited availability of private schools in Gibraltar, parents who want to pursue this route should apply well ahead of time to secure a spot.

As there are no international schools in Gibraltar, expats who are set on sending their child to one of these will have to extend their search beyond the border and into Spain. The nearest international school is in Sotogrande, and there are a few in Marbella too.

Some of Spain's international schools offer boarding facilities, but with the availability of regular and cheap flights to the UK, many expats and local Gibraltarians choose to send their children to boarding schools in England.


Special-needs education in Gibraltar

As a small territory, Gibraltar has limited special-needs resources available, though the government continues to make an effort to provide support for students who need it.

Gibraltar's secondary schools, and two of its primary schools, have dedicated Learning Support Facilities designed to provide assistance to students with special needs. Should more comprehensive support be required, there is a dedicated special school in Gibraltar, St Martin's School.


Tutors in Gibraltar

Tutors in Gibraltar are useful for both expats and locals. Some hire tutors to help students with problem subjects, such as maths or science, while others make use of language tutors to help children pick up English faster or maintain a mother tongue.

There are few tutoring companies in Gibraltar itself, but as the territory largely follows the British curriculum it is fairly easy to find a tutor online.

Transport and Driving in Gibraltar

Being less than seven square kilometres in area, walking is often the best way of getting around in Gibraltar. That said, many people living in Gibraltar use cars and motorcycles to get from one point to another. There is a sparse public transport system consisting only of a bus service.


Public transport in Gibraltar

Gibraltar has a reliable, relatively inexpensive bus service consisting of a handful of bus routes. Buses are mostly run by the Gibraltar Bus Company, a government entity, with a few exceptions being operated by Calypso Transport (a private company). Gibraltar Bus Company buses are blue, while Calypso Transport runs red double-decker buses.


Taxis in Gibraltar

Taxis are easily found in Gibraltar. They can be caught at taxi ranks all around Gibraltar and can be used for both everyday and tourism purposes. Ride-hailing applications such as Uber are also available in Gibraltar.


Driving in Gibraltar

Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Gibraltar. Most residents own a car, even though it’s very easy to get around solely on foot. All vehicles have to be registered with the authorities. 

Expats with a driver's licence from an EU country can drive in Gibraltar on this licence until it expires. Once it does, they can easily swap it out for a local Gibraltan licence. Expats with a non-EU drivers' licence should get an International Driving Permit before moving to Gibraltar. Once they have been in the country for six months, they'll need a local licence. Non-EU expats cannot do a direct driver's licence swap and will have to take a two-part driving test to obtain a local licence.


Cycling in Gibraltar

Owing to its small size, Gibraltar is well suited to travel by bicycle. Expats can either buy their own bicycle (new or pre-owned) or can make use of the bike-sharing scheme known as Redbike. Managed by automated terminals, Redbike is operational 24 hours a day, and bicycles can be rented from and returned to any combination of terminals throughout Gibraltar.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Gibraltar

Gibraltar has long held a reputation as a banking centre, and expats can expect the full range of banking services from both local and international banks. It’s also a popular location for offshore banking.


Currency in Gibraltar

The official currency in Gibraltar is the Gibraltar Pound (GIP), which is divided into 100 pence. Its value is pegged to the British Pound. UK notes and coins are also accepted in Gibraltar.

Currency is available in the following denominations:

  • Notes: 5 GIP, 10 GIP, 20 GIP, 50 GIP and 100 GIP

  • Coins: 1 pence, 2 pence, 5 pence, 10 pence, 20 pence and 50 pence; and 1 GIP, 2 GIP and 5 GIP


Banking in Gibraltar

A good variety of local and international banks offer cheque and savings accounts, credit cards, online banking, ATMs and foreign exchange services.

To open a bank account in Gibraltar, expats must usually appear at the relevant branch in person. Required documents include identification (driver’s licence or passport) and proof of address (rental agreement or utility bill).

ATMs are widely available, and are usually easy to find at banks and in shopping areas.


Taxes in Gibraltar

In Gibraltar there's no capital gains tax, VAT or sales tax. However, other types of tax, such as income tax, do apply.

Expats classified as resident for tax purposes only pay tax on income earned in Gibraltar, while non-residents for tax purposes pay tax on their worldwide income. Expats are considered a tax resident if they’re present in Gibraltar for at least 183 days of any tax year.