alt.gibraltar FAQ Version 2.20

Questions answered in this document


1.1  Political Status        [revised]          
1.2  Nationality                   
1.3  The European Union
1.4  Self Determination
1.5  The Constitution
1.6  The Legal System
1.7  System of Government
1.8  Present Government           


2.1  General Information
2.2  The CIA world factbook         
2.3  Post Codes
2.4  The ferry to Spain
2.5  The ferry to Morocco     
2.6  The Airport
2.7  The Currency                    
2.8  Telephones 
2.9  Mobile Phones          
2.10 Internet                [revised]          
2.20 Water                  


3.1  Drug Smuggling
3.2  Tobacco Smuggling
3.3  Money Laundering
3.4  Harmful tax practices  


4.1  Information on the Web  [revised]
4.2  The alt.gibraltar Newsgroup
4.3  Acceptable use policy

8.   EMPLOYMENT       
9.   WEBCAMS                   
13.  TALKS WITH SPAIN        [revised]
17.  GAMBLING                         
18.  MOD DISPUTE             [new]
19.  UEFA                    [new]


1.   Is Gibraltar part of Spain ?

a.   No;  Despite being on the tip ofthe Iberian Peninsular  at
     the  entrance of the Mediterranean, Gibraltar has been
     British since 1704.

     The  Spanish ceded the territory to the British in perpetuity 
     under the treaty of Utrecht (1713).

     There is no possibility of any change of sovereignty in the
     foreseeable future.(see item 13 below)

     Gibraltar has the status of a 'UK Overseas Territory'

1.1  Are  the  Gibraltarians happy with the present political
     status ?

a.   Generally yes. Some voted against the new constitution in a
     referendum in 2006 because they did not consider it went far
     enough, others opposed it because they wanted union with the
     UK.  The majority approved it.

     The  status  of Gibraltar is discussed at the  United Nations 
     regularly. Political  Development has been delayed because of 
     the outdated Spanish territorial claim.

1.2. Do the Gibraltarians want to remain British ?

a.   Yes.  The  referendum in 1967 achieved a  turnout  of  95.8%
     12,138  voted to remain British 44 for Spain and there  were
     55 spoiled papers. Annexation by Spain is still viewed  most
     unfavourably and is a major local issue.

     The referendum held on 7th November 2002 produced a
     similar result, with an 87% turnout 17.900 voted against
     any shared sovereignty deal with Spain with only 187 in
     favour of considering it.

     Gibraltarians have the right to full British citizenship.
     Most have exercised it.

1.3  Is Gibraltar part of the EU ?

a.   Yes; It joined in 1973 under Article 227(4) of the Treaty of
     Rome.  Relevant EU directives are speedily  translated  into
     local law.

     Due  to  the  UK Government not having  made  the  necessary
     provisions,  however, residents of Gibraltar are  unable  to
     vote in elections for the EU parliament and are pressing for
     this right.

     It  is not part of the Agricultural policy (no  agriculture)
     or  the Customs Union which allows local Government  to  set
     import duties and be exempt from the EU VAT scheme.

1.4. Do the Gibraltarians have the right to self-determination?

a.   The UN Special Committee on decolonisation in May 1999 ended
     with the statement:

     "In the process of decolonisation, there was no  alternative
     to  the  principle of self-determination, which was  also  a
     fundamental human right"

1.5  Does Gibraltar have a written constitution ?

a.   Yes  under  the  Gibraltar  Constitution  Order  1969,   The
     preamble of which includes the much (miss) quoted phrase :

     "Her majesty's Government will never enter into arrangements     
     under  which  the people of Gibraltar would pass  under  the
     sovereignty  of  another  state  against  their  freely  and
     democratically expressed wishes"

     This is also a feature of the new 2006 constitution.

1.6  What is the legal system in Gibraltar ?

a.   Gibraltar law is based on English law.

     The  Judicature  including the Supreme Court  and  Court  of
     Appeal   are  defined  by  the  Gibraltar  Constitution   EU
     directives are transposed into Gibraltar law.

     The Judicial Committee of the UK Privy Council is the court of 
     final appeal. 

1.6.1 Is Legal aid available ?

a.   Yes on a similar basis to that in the UK

1.7  How is Gibraltar Governed ?

a.   The Governor is appointed by the UK Government and represents
     the Queen as head of state.

     Apart from defence and foreign affairs, other matters are under
     the control of the locally elected Government.  The House of
     assembly now renamed the Gibraltar Parliament has 17 
     elected members, nine in Government and eight forming the 

     The Government is headed and controlled by the Chief Minister.

1.8  Who is in Government ?

a.   The Gibraltar Social Democrats won the October 2007 election
     for a further four year term.
     see their website at:


2.1  Does Gibraltar depend on Spain for essential services ?

a.   No;  Gibraltar has its own electricity  generation and
     adequate desalination plant.  There are two radio  stations,
     one  TV  station  a modern digital  telephone  exchange  and
     satellite earth station, an international airport, a  number
     of newspapers, and two ISP's

2.2  Is the CIA World Factbook entry on Gibraltar correct ?

a.   It used to have a number of glaring errors, but the most
     recent version corrects these, however many people reproduce
     old inaccurate versions on their websites, so please refer to 
     the updated original at:

      Their map is pre-war and out of date.

2.3  Does Gibraltar use Post codes or ZIP codes ?

a.   No, its not needed because of the size of the territory.

2.4  Why is there no ferry service Gibraltar - Algeciras ?

a.   The  United Kingdom and Spain agreed in 1984 that sea ferry
     links between the Spanish port of Algeciras and the port of
     Gibraltar would be renewed. Spain's Council  of  Ministers
     issued  a  decree on the 31 January 1985 (published in the
     boletin del Estado of the 5 February  1985)  giving legal
     force to the restoration Maritime communications.

     However, applications  by commercial operators to resume
     maritime and air links have been refused by the Spanish

2.5  Is there a regular ferry service to Morocco?

a.   There is a service operated on an occasional basis for locally
     employed Moroccans, as they experience difficulty in crossing 
     the frontier to use the Spanish service.

     MH Bland who operated a hydrofoil service have gone over to
     using the Algeciras ferry, but offer a service including a
     bus from Gibraltar and back to the terminal.

2.6  Is there a Gibraltar airport?

a.   Gibraltar  has  an  International airport  with  flights  to
     London and Madrid.  Spanish  restrictions on aircraft movements 
      were removed in December 2006.

2.7  What is Currency in Gibraltar?

a.   The  Pound sterling; with notes issued by the Government  of
     Gibraltar. UK notes and coins are universally accepted.

     Gibraltar also issues its own coins which are the same  size
     and value as the UK but differ in design, a range of  stamps
     and unique telephone cards.

     The EURO is accepted in a wide range of shops and businesses
     but not the Post Office or Government offices. it should  be 
     noted that it is not legal tender and there is this no  actual
     obligation to accept it or any other foreign currency.  

     Exchange rates may vary. 

     Large denomination Euro notes are not accepted by local banks 
     for security reasons.

2.8  What is the telephone system?

a.   Gibraltar has a System/X digital telephone exchange and a 
     modern digital fibre backbone operated by Gibtelecom.

     International circuits are provided by a satellite earth
     station, microwave links to Morocco, and modern submarine
     fibre cables.  The connection to Spain is via a digital 
     fibreoptic cable.

     Gibraltar has a country code of 350 allocated by the ITU
     the competent international agency but Spain refused to
     accept this and treated Gibraltar as part of the Cadiz
     province with a code of 9567.  This was finally resolved
     in February 2007.

     The restrictions caused problems with the Gibraltar numbering 
     plan which needed to be extended in the same way the UK has
     repeatedly done to allow for new services.

2.9  What about mobile phones?

a.   The local operator is Gibtelecom which offers a GSM900
     service with roaming agreements with most other operators
     except Spain - again because of political reasons Madrid
     refused to accept the existence of Gibraltar. Like the
     350 code this was resolved in February 2007.

     Spanish networks can be accessed in Gibraltar, however 
     coverage is a problem and only GIBTEL provides a good 
     signal locally.

     GPRS was introduced in 2004.

2,10 What is the Internet network identifier?

a.   The ISO two letter code for Gibraltar is .gi

     Local domain names are managed by the Gibraltar NIC

2.11 What Internet facilities are there?

a.   Gibraltar has two ISP's Sapphire Networks Limited (previously
     GibNet Limited) and Gibconnect, part of Gibtelecom.  

     Details of their access numbers and connectivity can be
     found on:

     Locally most households have at least one computer with
     an Internet connection.

     There are a number of 'Internet shops' who cater for visitors
     and casual users, and pay terminals in the local Burger King
     the airport and other places.

     There are commercial wireless 'hot spots' at the local marinas

2.12 What about commercial connectivity ?

a.   Both ISP's sell high speed circuits connected by fibre back
     to London.  There is diversity in cables to prevent a failure 
     caused by a failure in Spain cutting off access.

2.20 WATER

2.21 Can I drink the water ?

a.   Yes, we do all the time.

2.22 Where does it come from ?

a.   AquaGib Ltd. is now responsible for water supplies to Gibraltar 
     under a License Agreement. The company operates various
     desalination plants and wells.

     The water is pumped from the different sources to blend at the 
     storage reservoirs, where the water can receive additional 
     treatment if required in the form of chlorination and 

     When a reservoir is full the water is analysed for chemical 
     content and bacterial purity to ensure that it complies with the 
     provisions of the Gibraltar Public Health Ordinance which 
     incorporates the EU Directive 98/83 of 3 November 1998 
     regulating the quality of water to be used for dietetic purposes.  

     Once the water is found to comply it is transferred by means of 
     pumps to the service reservoirs and receives marginal 
     chlorination to assist in maintaining its bacterial purity once 
     it enters the distribution system. Before a service reservoir is 
     put into supply it is further analysed to check its compliance 
     with the above standards.     


3.1  Is Gibraltar centre of drug smuggling?

a.   This is an unfounded claim made in the Spanish media. In
     order to prevent this happening it is illegal for anyone to
     own or bring speedboats of the kind used for smuggling into 
     Gibraltar waters.

     Locally the Royal Gibraltar Police drugs squad enforce the
     law which is stricter than in the United Kingdom.

     For international co-operation see the GCID web site on

3.2  Is there is a lot of Tobacco smuggling in Gibraltar ?

a.   The local duty on tobacco is low, and this has in the  past,
     generated a trade in cigarettes, mainly to Spain.

     To stop this the Government introduced tough laws on owning
     speedboats and the possession of tobacco.

     Under current law, which is strictly enforced, it is illegal
     to  be in  possession of 2000 cigarettes. This has rather
     limited the trade.

     Recent legislation makes it an offence to attempt to ask people
     to take tobacco over the frontier, as tourists were molested by
     Spanish women asking them to do this.

3.3  Is there money laundering in Gibraltar?

a.   The US State department comment in 1998 was:

     "Money laundering on an all-crimes basis was criminalized in
      1995,   All  financial   institutions, insurance   companies,
      bureaux  de change, accountants, company  formation  agents,
      casinos, attorneys   and   others  are  obliged   to   report
      suspicious transactions.

      Gibraltar  is within the EU as part of the UK Member  State.
      It  implemented the EU Money Laundering Directive  in  1995,
      and its  anti-money laundering legislation is fully in  line
      with EU requirements."

      The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee investigation 
      similarly concluded:

     "The series of allegations which Spain makes against Gibraltar 
      appear almost wholly to be without substance. In many cases, 
      it is not just the Government of Gibraltar but the British 
      Government as well which is traduced. It is deeply regrettable 
      that allegations are made that cannot be sustained by a basis 
      in fact." 

      Despite this the allegations continue, although there is never
      any evidence to back them up.

3.4  What does the OECD say about Gibraltar?

a.   The OECD is pleased to announce that Gibraltar has made a 
     commitment to improve the transparency of its tax and regulatory 
     systems  and to establish effective exchange of information for 
     tax matters with OECD countries by 31 December 2005. 

     Gibraltar was among 35 jurisdictions identified by the OECD in 
     June 2000  as meeting the technical criteria for being a tax 
     haven. As a result of having  made a commitment in accordance 
     with  the OECD's 2001 Progress Report on the OECD's Project on 
     Harmful Tax Practices, Gibraltar will not be included in the 
     list of unco-operative tax havens to be issued shortly.    


4.1  Where can I find more general information about Gibraltar ?


4.2  How can I get answers to things not covered in the above ?

a.   Post a sensible question to the newsgroup alt.gibraltar

4.3  What is the purpose of the alt.gibraltar news group?

a.   The  purpose of the newsgroup is to provide a forum  for  an
     informal  discussion of life in Gibraltar. Spam,  abuse  and
     messages  relating  to outdated territorial claims  are  not

     It is implicitly understood that Gibraltar belongs exclusivly  
     to its inhabitants and the newsgroup shall reflect this view.


5.1  Are Spanish fishing boats excluded from Gibraltar waters ?

a.   The  Nature Protection Ordinance protects all  wild  animals
     and  birds  and restricts fishing in Gibraltar  waters  with
     certain types of net, irrespective of nationality.


6.1  What happened with the three IRA terrorists in 1988 ?

a.   According to the IRA they were on 'active service' which is
     understood  to  mean they came to plant a bomb.   They  were
     shot  by the SAS and a subsequent inquest held in  Gibraltar
     determined that their killings were lawful. The case was taken
     to the European Court of Human Rights by their families.

6.2  Is there still a British Army presence locally ?

a.   Since  Spain is no longer considered a  military  threat, the
     British  Army which had been a feature of life on  the  rock
     since 1704 has been totally withdrawn and their role is  now
     undertaken by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.


7.1  Why doesn't Gibraltar drive on the left side of the road ?

a.   Originally  it  began  the same as the  UK,  but  when  cars
     started  coming   in from Spain, there  were  understandably
     disputes and accidents. The Governor at the time decided  it
     would  be sensible to follow the continental  practice.  His
     foresight has saved many lives.

7.2  Are Gibraltar driving licences issued without a test?

a.   No. The test is similar to the UK, but includes things  like
     parking  in  confined spaces, which is a required  skill  to
     drive  locally.  The Gibraltar licence and test conforms  to
     EU  requirements and is valid in EU countries,  although  the
     Spanish sometimes dispute this.

7.3  Can I take the driving test in Gibraltar.

a.   Only if you are a resident.

7.4  Can a UK mainland registered  car  be MOT'd at the Gibraltar 
     MOT test station?

a.   No, Only cars that are registered in Gibraltar can be tested 
     in the Gibraltar test station.   UK registered cars can only 
     be tested in the UK, even if they are insured in Gibraltar.


8.1  Can I get a job in Gibraltar

a.   Citizens of EU countries can seek employment and reside in
     Gibraltar.  Civilians living locally must hold an Identity
     card issued by the immigration department. 

     Non-Gibraltarians must hold a residence permit.  This is 
     normally issued for a period of five years on application.

     Non EU citizens are only likely to be permitted to live and 
     work  in Gibraltar if they already have a job offer and their 
     employer satisfies Government that their skills are unique.

     There are strict laws and procedures to control employment 
     and little scope for evasion.

8.2  Are there special arangements for high net worth individuals?

a.   Yes, you should consult a Gibraltar lawyer for details.
     There are a list of laywers on


9.1  I want to see what its like in Gibraltar NOW!

a.   There is a WEBCAM on showing the Rock.
     The frontier webcams have ceased operation. There is also
     a good one on with a fast update.

10.1 Can I get married in Gibraltar?

a.   You can get married in Gibraltar but you must contact the
     registry office in advance.  You must prove that you are single 
     and of different sex.    However the registry office can only 
     process four ceremonies per day, as resources are limited.  

     Their  telephone  number is 78303 and you should contact them 
     for full information. 

     If your need is less urgent you can write to them at:
     The Registry of Births. Marriages, and Deaths
     Sir Joshua Hassan House

     Famous  people  married in Gibraltar include John Lennon and
     Yoko Ono and more recently Sean Connory.

     For full details  see:

     Before contacting the registry office as it contains most of
     the information you need to know.

     There is currently no provision in law for same sex marriage.


11.1 Whats all the fuss about the nuclear submarine ?

a.   For some time Gibraltar has had a 'Z Berth' which means it
     has facilities for accommodate nuclear submarines on
     recreational visits.  This facility has been used regularly 
     by British and American submarines, including Trident boats.

     The British Trafalgar class nuclear powered attack submarine
     HMS Tireless arrived in Gibraltar in March 2000 after sustaining 
     a leak in its primary cooling system whilst near Sicily.

     The scope of the defect was originally described as a pinprick
     but turned out to be a larger and generic defect.  Despite local
     protests, it was decided on the grounds of safety to repair it in

     The Government of Gibraltar commissioned their own report on
     safety and permitted the repair to take place.  

     The submarine finally left on 7th May 2001.

     In 2004 it returned on a routine visit.  There was a lot of
     complaint in the Spanish media but no protest locally.


12.1 Can I find somewhere to live in Gibraltar ?

a.   Traditionally finding somewhere to live has been the number one
     problem in Gibraltar.  During WW2 the population was evacuated
     and there was a delay in repatriation due to lack of suitable
     accommodation, much having been taken over by the military.

     Several housing estates were built, however this remained the
     largest local political issue, until the reclamation project
     when the new private estates built and the Government estate
     coupled with the release of MoD property no longer used, has
     largely solved the problem for local residents.

     Renting housing remains a problem as the private sector is 
     expensive and there is more demand than supply.
12.4 What about living in Spain ?

a.   Many non-Gibraltarians working in Gibraltar live in Spain which
     has the advantage of size and space.  

     The problems are the frontier, where the delay to cross by car
     can be considerable, although many park their cars in La Linea
     and cross on foot.

     Living in Spain is easier for EU nationals now that Spain is
     a full member, but the issues are beyond the scope of this FAQ.


13.1 What dialogue is there with Spain ?

a.   In 1980 as a democratic government emerged in Spain the British
     initiated a process of discussion culminating in the BRUSSELS
     AGREEMENT of 1984.  This is a Bi-lateral forum which does not
     explicitly recognise the Government of Gibraltar as being the 
     legitimate representative of the people of Gibraltar.

13.2 Why does the Chief Minister not attend these 'Brussels' talks ?

a.   Sir Joshua Hassan did attend talks until the 1987 Airport 
     agreement was entered into above his head. 

     Joe Bossano, his successor, consistently refused to participate 
     in a process he believes to be structured towards a sell-out 
     to Spain.

     The current Chief Minister, Peter Caruana believes in dialogue
     providing it is safe and he can participate fully.  He has stated
     he will not attend talks under the Brussels agreement.

13.3 What are the Tri-lateral talks about ?

     In December 2004, the new Spanish Socialist Government agree to
     engage in trilateral talks where Gibraltar would have equal 
     standing. The topics covered are believe to be joint use of the 
     Airport, restrictions on telecommunications, and pension increases 
     for former Spanish workers who lost their jobs when the border 
     was closed.  

     At a historic meeting in Cordoba in September 2006, the parties
     announced an agreement on the issues discussed, leading to flights
     from Madrid, the removal of restrictions on telecommunications 
     better movement at the frontier and a deal for Spanish pensioners.

13.4 What about talks on a local level ?

a.   The Gibraltar Government regularly holds talks with the mayors
     of neighbouring Spanish communities about issues of mutual

     The Government is committed to "good neighbourly relations with

13.5 Why were Gibraltarians upset with Jack Straw ?

a.   Mr Straw stated that he 'is the foreign secretary for Gibraltar'
     although he was never elected him to that office here.

     On the 12th July 2002 the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, in a 
     formal statement in the House of Commons, said that after twelve 
     months of negotiation the British Government and Spain are in 
     broad  agreement on many of the principles that should underpin 
     a lasting  settlement of Spain's sovereignty claim, which 
     included the principle that Britain and Spain should share 
     sovereignty over Gibraltar. 

     The above was the wording of the 2002 referendum and the 
     question  was:

     Do you approve of the principle that Britain and Spain should 
     share sovereignty over Gibraltar?

     With a massive turnout 99% said they did not.


14.1 Why are Gibraltarians so often seen in the streets demonstrating ? 

a.   Its a locally accepted democratic method of expressing the view
     of the people, after all elections occur only every four years,
     and most protests are about issues supported by the Government.

     Gibraltar demonstrations are noted for being very peaceful events
     attended by a wide section of the community from the very young
     to the pensioners.


15.1 What happens in the Gibraltar Port ?

a.   The Straits of Gibraltar are one of the most active shipping 
     routes in the world and the Bay of Gibraltar is a popular 
     location for picking up supplies, making crew changes, and 
     the refueling of ships - known as 'Bunkering'.

     Most ships simply anchor in the bay unless they are unloading
     containers of cargo destined for Gibraltar itself.

     In order to try and damage the economy of Gibraltar the Spanish
     government publishes false accusations, including in November
     2002 the accusation that Gibraltar was in some way responsible
     for the MT "Prestige" disaster. In fact the only connection was
     that ship once took on fuel in the Bay.


16.1 Is Gibraltar part of the EU

a.   Gibraltar joined the EEC under the British Treaty of Accession
     in 1973, with certain derrogations in relation to the Customs
     Union and agricultural policy.

16.2 Why is there no VAT/IVA

a.   As Gibraltar is not part of the Customs Union, import duty is
     applied to all goods locally which replaces the need for this
     tax at the point of sale.

16.3 Does Gibraltar elect a MEP ?

a.   In 1994 the Self Determination for Gibraltar Group (SDGG) started
     a campaign for Gibraltarian participation in elections for the
     European Parliament.  This was not supported by HMG and the case
     taken to the European court of Human Rights (ECHR) following its
     decision, and despite opposition from Spain the UK enacted 
     legislation for Gibraltar to vote as part of the South West 
     region  of the United Kingdom.

     The first election took place in June 2004 producing a landslide
     win for the Conservative Party.

17.1 Why are there so many internet casinos and gambling sites in 
     Gibraltar ? 

a.   This was identified as a growth market and Government offered a
     good infrastructure and tax climate to encourage operation of 
     Internet  gambling sites.

17.2 How are they regulated ?

     All gaming operations in Gibraltar require licensing under the 
     Gaming Ordinance.  Gaming licences, including for telephone and 
     internet betting, are issued by the Office of the Financial 
     and Development Secretary on behalf of the Government. 

17.3 Is it easy to get a licence ?

     The Government only licences companies with a proven track 
     record in gaming, of reputable standing and with a realistic 
     business plan. Licences are generally difficult to obtain.

18.  What is the dispute with the MoD

     In January 2007 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that the
     company SERCO had been appointed to provide services to the Naval
     Base against an 'in house' bid by the existing workforce. The
     unions promise continued industrial action.

19.  What happened with UEFA

     Gibraltar made an application to join UEFA, the European 
     governing body for football, some years ago.  Although its 
     membership rules were changed to exclude Gibraltar, after
     Spanish pressure, the Court for Arbitation in Sport (CAS)
     ruled Gibraltar must be admitted.  After further lobbying by
     Spain, the application was rejected.  This is the subject of 
     ongoing legal action

     Speaking at the UEFA conference, Spanish FA president 
     Angel Maria Villar Llona told delegates: "This is a political 

     This FAQ (c) Jim Watt 2009 may be reproduced in whole only
     with no addition or alteration.
     Information is believed accurate, however no liability 
     whatsoever is accepted.