Border Crossings, Gibraltar
Might seem a little obvious but when you're already on the Costa Del Sol and are just taking a bus 20-30 km down the road, it's easy to forget that you actually have to cross a border. If the worst comes to the worst and you do forget it, you can spend some time In La Linea. Not the most exciting place in the world but with the Rock, rearing up directly opposite, you at least have an interesting and dramatic view.
I didnt know whether to laugh or cry.
We were due to get married in Gibralter at 11 am, and at 10.30 am we still waiting were in a long traffic queue arriving from the Spanish side.
The only official on duty that morning, stopped checking cars through to Gibraltar and walked up and down the road, gazing at the traffic queue, smoking a cigarette.
At five minutes to 11 he stamped out his cigarette end with his shoe, walked back to his booth and allowed several cars to pass including us!
Remember that to travel into Gibraltar you require your passport or your Id Card if you are an EU national. Gibraltar is not part of Shengen and some nationalities require a visa for Gibraltar. As a general rule if you need a Visa for UK you will need a Visa for Gibraltar. Another thing is that if you require a Schengen Visa. To enter Gibraltar and return to Spain you must have a Multiple Visa for Schengen. A drivers license or residence card is not a valid travel document. Email me if unsure or need more information.
Gibraltar is a self governing British colony so if you are traveling there from Spain you need to remember to bring your passport along with you. Although the border guards didn't even glance at our passports going in either direction nor did they stamp our passports (we asked!), you still need to bring one with you in order to cross the border from Spain into Gibraltar and vice versa.
If you are daytripping to Gibraltar with a car, park on the Spanish side of the border in La Linea or you may be facing a REALLY long queue to get out. Walking across the border was a breeze, they barely even looked at our passports and there was no queue in either direction. But we did see quite a long line of cars on our way out!
Once across the border, there are buses that can take you through Gibraltar or you can walk should you have lots of time.
If you are entering Gibraltar from Spain, please be aware that any items, such as clothing or electronics are subject to taxation. Second hand goods are not taxed. The tax is a small percentage of the cost of the items; If you must go into Gibraltar with newly bought items from Spain, make sure to remove packaging and any labels, as you might be able to convince them it is second hand.
The ques at the border are ridicolous.The Spainish goverment makes life as difficult as possible for people crossing the Gibraltan border, this includes checking your passport, then your luggage, the your car and then if your really unlucky your passport again.Catch a bus from La Linya or Algeciras its much easier.
The length of the queue to get in and more often out of Gibraltar is a barometer of the political relationship between the Uk and Spain.
Although Franco closed it completely, that is now most unlikely, but you may still have to wait for a couple of hours.
Leave you car in spain and walk. Buses are available from the border crossing.
Alternatively, the last time I went to Gibraltar we rode across on bicycles. This way we actually managed to get through without getting off the bike, holding the page up to the officers as we passed!
If you are in Gibraltar and wish to travel into Spain, you must go through the border and show your passport and open your bag(s) for inspection.
Legally you can only take one carton of 200 cigarettes and one bottle of alcohol every 10 days across into Spain after 9am and before 9pm, anything over this amount or outside the times will usually result in your items being confiscated and your passport stamped, which means you cannot bring any cigarettes or alcohol into Spain for 10 days.
Don't try to jump the queue for cars entering Gib... apparently I came pretty close to being banged up for arguing with the little fella on a moped. When he spits fire and suggests "Madam, you go to the back!" just do as he says.
We drove in to Gibraltar through the Spanish boarder town of La Linea. The first day No problem either ways, the second day again got through the boarder very quickly but returning to Spain it took us 2 hours to get through the boarder.
Admitedly I dont know if this was due to a genuine traffic jam, or the Spanish boarder guards deliberately holding it all up.
Either way it made it a very long day. I think next time we would park in spain & walk accross.
When crossing to Gibraltar from Spain you wont fail to notice the oil refineries between La Linea and Algeciras. Unfortunately the fumes they emit can be quite unpleasant and can sometimes even reach the town of Gibraltar itself.
If you decide to drive up to the rock, expect your car to become part of the Apes' playground.
Also, getting into Gibraltar is no problem but when leaving, plan on spending about an hour in a queue at the border. We showed our US passports and were waved through, but the border guards seemed to be giving most Spaniards a pretty hard time.
expect to queue when you're leaving Gibraltar.
The Guardia Civil takes extraordinary pleasure in searching any (!) car, truck, mobile home, motorbike, scooter etc. Maybe it's some sort of revenge for having to endure the British presence on the Hispanic peninsula. (But Gibraltar gets destroyed in any second-rate Spanish spy movie anyway.)
If you're coming from Spain by car, don't drive the car into Gibraltar unless you really have to. It's not a problem getting the car in, but you are liable to have to wait for at least an hour to get back across the border from Gib into Spain.