What You Need To Know About Crossing The Border From Spain To Gibraltar As A Brit

Many Britons are reluctant to book trips to Gibraltar right now due to news that Spain has been tightening its restrictions to Gibraltar and refusing entry to a number of Brits. But why is their entry being refused? And what do you need to do if you’re entering Spain from Gibraltar as a Brit?

What Has Prompted This Change?

On 14th November 35 foreign nationals, most of them from the UK, were denied entry into Spain from Gibraltar. The Gibraltan Government confirmed this and then a week later there were anecdotal reports of long delays for vehicles crossing the border.

The reason for these delays and for the number of Britons being denied entry is because they couldn’t provide certain proof or documentation for their entry into Spain, such as hotel bookings or onward flights.

This is not a new situation. Security at the border to Gibraltar is periodically tightened and when this happens there are reports of delays and of Britons being refused permission to cross the border. The reason for this is not clear. Sometimes this is reported as being the result of overzealous border officers and sometimes it is thought to be down to diplomatic pressure that Spain wants to exert on the UK and Gibraltar.

The British Government website states that: “Spanish border checks can cause delays when crossing between Spain and Gibraltar”, so it’s important to leave plenty of time to be able to cross. 

What Are The Current Rules For British Travellers?

When discussing the travel rules for UK nationals we’re back to our old friend Brexit which is impacting travelling to all EU nations for Britons. Since 1st January 2021 UK citizens have been considered third-country nations and therefore must comply with the entry requirements set out in the Schengen Borders Code, including the need to justify the purpose of travel and conditions of their planned stay, as well as have sufficient means of supporting themselves for their stay and their return.

In simple terms this means that you have to demonstrate you have enough cash to pay for your trip, be able to clearly state where you’re going and why, and have a hotel room booked or an address if you’re planning to stay with friends or family.

Britons also can't stay in the EU for over 90 days in any 180 days.

What Documents Do Britons Need To Travel To Spain From Gibraltar?

If you are a Briton hoping to travel from Spain to Gibraltar then you must carry your passport, and this must be valid having been issued less than 10 years in advance and with at least 3 months left on the passport after the date that you plan to leave Spain.

You may be asked to show additional information though this is not true of all travelers. But you should be prepared with a valid return or onward ticket, enough money to cover your expenses during your stay, and proof of accommodation for your stay.

What If You Are A Resident Of Spain?

If you are a Spanish resident hoping to travel to and from Gibraltar then the British Government states that "your passport should not be stamped when entering or leaving Spain". But you will need to show your passport and you will also have to provide proof of residence such as your TIE card (la tarjeta de identidad de extranjero).

Your passport may be stamped even if you show your TIE card in advance. There are considerable reports of this being the case. But if you can avoid having your passport stamped then you should do this as a missing stamp from a previous visit could result in denied entry.

What Happens If You Are A Resident Of Gibraltar?

If you are a resident of Gibraltar then the system is slightly different. Residents in Gibraltar are typically issued with various different coloured Gibraltar Civilian Registration cards.

Magenta cards are issued to British nationals, blue cards are given to EU nationals, and green cards are issued to non-EU nationals, while red ID cards are issued to Gibraltarian citizens. You are most likely to be denied entry to Spain if you are a Gibraltar resident in posession of a magenta card.

The Borders and Coastguard Agency of Gibraltar stated: “The BCA are not aware of any British national who presented their passport and a Gibraltar red ID card, to have been asked to provide reasons for travel”.

Negotiations between the EU and the UK regarding Gibraltar remain in place. It is likely that these negotiations will continue for a while, which means that the friction that occassionally occurs when entering and leaving the country is likely to continue too.

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