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Gibraltar/La Línea border - times, what to expect?

Gibraltar/La Línea border - times, what to expect?

Old Aug 8, 11, 9:40 am
  #1  
mkt
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Question Gibraltar/La Línea border - times, what to expect?

Any tales of what to expect? It appears that I'll be doing this next month.

I'll be entering Gibraltar by air from LHR. Would this be considered an international flight? And if it is, should I enter Gibraltar as a US citizen to avoid any potential hassles? Or would it hassle-free to enter as a Spanish citizen? If it's considered a domestic flight, I'll just enter as a Spanish citizen in Heathrow and leave it at that.

From there, I'll be driving to Barcelona with a friend. Obviousl at this border, I'll be entering as a Spanish citizen, and my friend will enter as a German citizen. Any word on what to expect as far as hassles, border formalities, etc? The car we're driving is registered in Germany.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by mkt; Aug 8, 11 at 9:40 am Reason: adding word border to title
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Old Aug 8, 11, 4:18 pm
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Why use your US Passport entering the UK? It's easier to use your Spanish passport as you 1) will get zero questions from the UK passport control, 2) they won't stamp the passport, and 3) you get to use the EU/EEA/EFTA passport queue. LHR is the only airport where I've seen a huge discrepancy between the EU and non-EU lines, so use every advantage you have to speed the process.

I don't believe your passports will be checked upon arrival in Gibraltar. You are still in the UK and the EU, so I believe it's considered a domestic flight. I've only done the crossing via land, and I didn't have to wait more than a minute or two leaving (weekday in the morning). The UK doesn't have exit controls, including Gibraltar. Therefore, you will show your (Spanish) passport. It's likely that the Policía Nacional won't even open your EU passports.

This can be problematic if you're entering the Schengen Area for the first time because I remember my US passport wasn't even checked for a stamp when my friend (Spanish passport) and I left Gibraltar in his car. Now, this is likely because the officer saw my friend's passport and mine and his Spanish vehicle registration and assumed we had originated in Spain. This might have been caught had I not been officially stamped into the Schengen Area upon my departure. This is one of a few corner cases in the Schengen Area because, in my experience, the exit controls going into Gibraltar (and the entry into Gibraltar) aren't that strict.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 5:59 pm
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LHR-GIB is regarded as an INTERENATIONAL flight and not a UK domestic flight. All passengers will go through passport control on arrival in GIB as GIB is not part of either the UK or Shengen for immigration purposes and is regarded as being outside the EU for customs purposes. If you enter using your US passport you will be asked very basic questions by friendly immigration staff and passport will be stamped. If you enter using Spanish passport your passport will not be stamped and you should not normally be asked any questions.

There are no GIB exit controls at the frontier. For those who don't need a Shengen Visa, Spanish passport control (Policia National) is usually just a matter of waving your passport at the policeman who is standing on the sidewalk outside his box. Probably with a US passport they are supposed to stamp but 99.99% chance they won't bother (as they have to go to the office to stamp). I cross this frontier on an almost daily basis and have seen US/Canada/Aust/NZ/Japan etc just walking through. In fact, the only passports/ID cards that I have ever seen swiped or checked are Spanish ones.

But at La Linea you will be checked by Spanish Cuutsoms (Guardia Civil). If you enter on foot and have baggage it is almost always x-rayed by customs. If entering by car, things have eased up from a few years ago when almost everybody was made to open the trunk of their cars. A German vehicle will of course draw their attention as a non-local vehicle and therefore there probably is a higher chance than not that they will at least make you open the trunk and probably send you to have luggage x-rayed. They are not unplesant and rarely ask questions (at least as far as non-spanish speakers are concerned); they just search. This is due to the large amount of smuggling across the frontier as GIB is duty free with very low cigarette prices.

Last edited by Ben8282; Aug 9, 11 at 6:21 pm
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Old Aug 9, 11, 6:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Majuki View Post
I don't believe your passports will be checked upon arrival in Gibraltar. You are still in the UK and the EU, so I believe it's considered a domestic flight.
Gibraltar has a separate immigration regime from the UK, as do the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. A normal UK visa or entry clearance is NOT normally valid for travel to Gibraltar and a separate specific application for entry must be made. This is not a mere formality - I know of multiple non-EU citizens who have been refused Gibraltar visitor visas despite holding UK visas.
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Old Aug 9, 11, 8:24 pm
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Thanks for the correction. For some reason I remember reading on here that Gibraltar had the same visa regime as the UK since it is part of the EU whereas the Isle of Man, etc. are not. I knew about it being outside of the EU customs union. I guess my friend and I got the easy treatment going in and out. The Spanish officer just looked at my picture (didn't stamp) as did the Gibraltar official. Upon leaving Gibraltar, I flashed my passport and my friend showed his DNI, but the PN didn't seem too interested in us and waved us through. This was with a Spanish registered car about three years ago.
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