For many reasons, moving to or simply working in Gibraltar is a great idea in 2021 and beyond. Below you’ll find a list of the key features of living, working and doing business in Gibraltar that will help you get a sense of the lifestyle and benefits Gibraltar can offer, why you might want to move here and the main things to bear in mind when doing so.
- Immigration to Gibraltar
- The Economy
- Financial Services
- The Port
- The Gibraltar Parliament
- Key questions and answers about employment in Gibraltar
- Health Services
- Gibraltar Companies
- Business Licensing
Immigration to Gibraltar
British Nationals are able to come to Gibraltar to live and work subject to complying with certain administrative requirements. Gibraltar is proud to be a cultural melting pot that, over the years, has seen people from all over the world make Gibraltar their home. As a centre for leading international businesses in gaming, insurance and other financial services fields, Gibraltar welcomes citizens from around the globe, whether by virtue of their or British citizenship or where workers come from further beyond, by means of work permits issued by the Department of Employment. Hassans is able to assist in these applications as well as with applications based on the Category 2 qualifying status or on the High Executive Possessing Specialist Skills (HEPSS) basis. Find out more about Immigration
The official currency in Gibraltar is the Gibraltar Pound. The Gibraltar Government prints the Gibraltar Pound which is accepted interchangeably at equal value with the Great British Pound. Our banks track the Bank of England’s rates of interest as they are amended from time to time. Local businesses accustomed to trading in a busy tourist environment also widely accept Euros. Contactless payments are possible at the vast majority of establishments, especially post Covid-19 amid measures taken to reduce the exchange of physical cash.
Gibraltar’s economy is powered by a diverse range of activities which widely fall into one of four categories – tourism, financial services, online gaming and the port. Gibraltar attracts millions of tourists by land, sea and air every year. Air passengers now arrive and leave via Gibraltar’s international airport (https://www.gibraltarairport.gi/) which serves most of the main London airports and regional centres such as Manchester and Bristol, with additional flights to Southampton which commenced in 2021. Gibraltar Airport also welcomes private charters from other destinations. Arrivals by land consist of day tourists coming across on foot or in car/coach, as well as the many thousands of workers that come in and out of Gibraltar every day. Gibraltar also welcomes a significant number of cruise calls by the world’s leading companies during an extended peak season between May and November each year, even if these arrivals have been temporarily but unavoidably impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gibraltar offers world-leading facilities to the financial services sector, a speed to market unmatched anywhere else and the range of solutions that meet the needs of both today’s entrepreneurs and established businesses. Having offered a financial services passport into the EU (mostly the UK) since its accession to the EU on 1 January 1973, Gibraltar is set to continue to offer unfettered access to the UK to its many insurance companies post-2021. One in five cars in the UK is insured by a Gibraltar company, such is the importance of this particular element of financial services business to Gibraltar. Visit our Financial Services page for more information. Gibraltar’s Fintech story is also worth reading about – a story of dynamism and informed understanding leading to the creation of the first regulatory environment for the delivery of financial services on distributed ledger technology – read more on our Gibraltar Fintech page.
In Gaming, Gibraltar is the base for the best that the international online gaming/gambling industry has to offer; well-regulated, protecting players and ensuring our operators are operating to the best standards. Gibraltar pioneered regulation for the industry and continues to be a global leader in this context, offering a prestigious centre for online gaming and gambling business. Visit our Gaming Law page for more details.
Finally, Port services make up the last of the four main areas of economic activity in Gibraltar. Gibraltar’s strategic location, modern port facilities and legal system based on English Common Law are just some of the reasons why it is one of the key locations for ship arrest in the Mediterranean as well as a desirable Red Ensign registry, outside VAT, to register and finance vessels. For more information, visit our Admiralty & Ship Arrest page as well as our Ship and Yacht Finance and Registration page.
The Gibraltar Parliament
The Gibraltar Parliament is a 17 member parliament and the legislature for Gibraltar. Under the terms of the Gibraltar Constitution Order 2006, the Gibraltar Parliament is the legislative body for Gibraltar, with the Government of Gibraltar acting as the executive, and the judiciary the third distinct and separate component of our democracy. Elections to the Gibraltar Parliament occur roughly every four years. The party holding the majority in the Parliament is tasked with Government.
The current Chief Minister of Gibraltar is the Hon Fabian Picardo QC, MP., who leads the GSLP Liberal Government since its original election in December 2011. The latest election was held on 17 October 2019. Further details and access to proceedings/Hansard of Parliamentary proceedings can be found at www.parliament.gi
Key questions and answers about employment in Gibraltar
- Does Gibraltar Employment Law apply to foreign nationals working in Gibraltar?
Yes, Gibraltar employment law applies to all employees working in Gibraltar. It is also likely the case that Gibraltar employees who are working, as part of their employee obligations, abroad are also likely to be able to rely on the application of Gibraltar Law to their employer/employee relationship;
- Are my statutory employment law rights as an employee limited in any way?
Employees acquire employment rights under the laws of Gibraltar in respect of redundancy payments, minimum periods of notice on termination, minimum payments for sick leave and set periods of time when exercising rights to maternity or parental leave. Certain rights, such as the right to claim for unfair dismissal, do not accrue before the expiry of 52 weeks continuous service.
- What do I need to do to employ a worker in Gibraltar?
An employer is required to be registered under the Business Trades and Professions Registration Act 1989 and may also require a licence under the provisions of the Fair Trading Act 2015. In addition the employer is required to be registered with the Income Tax Office in Gibraltar and to advertise the vacancies at the Gibraltar Employment Service.
- How do I apply for a Gibraltar visa?
Online applications can be made by visiting the UK’s immigration service page for visa applications and select ‘Visit, study, work or settle in certain British Crown Dependencies, Commonwealth countries or British overseas territories.’ Once selected, follow the prompts to file the application.
- Do I need a work permit to work in Gibraltar?
If you qualify as an ‘entitled worker’ as described below then you do not require a permit to work in Gibraltar. Those who do not qualify as an entitled worker must have a permit to work in Gibraltar which must be secured ahead of commencement of employment. The work permit, if granted, will only be granted for a period of 12 months at a time and the employer making the application will be required to place a deposit with the Director of Employment in a sum equivalent to the cost repatriating the employee which is the subject of the application. Applications tend to take between two to three weeks. Applications for a work permit must be to the Civil Status and Registration Office;
- What is an ‘entitled worker’?
- European Economic Area (EEA) nationals;
- Family members of EEA nationals;
- Persons entitled to seek and take up employment in Gibraltar; and
- Swiss nationals.
- Is there a minimum wage in Gibraltar?
Yes. The minimum wage in Gibraltar is £7.50 per hour
- Are there any whistleblower provisions in Gibraltar?
Yes – since the creation of the Employment (Public Interest Information) Act 2012, there is a statutory protection for employees who make a disclosure in the public interest, including the right not to be subjected to a detriment, or dismissed. An employee who suffers a detriment can bring a claim for compensation in the Employment Tribunal. There is no minimum qualifying period of service for making such a claim.
Gibraltar has a buoyant residential and commercial real estate market with a variety of predominantly apartment-based properties available for purchase or rent. Prices in Gibraltar are significantly higher than across the border in Spain and it is for that reason that many employees choose to live in Spain while working in Gibraltar. The key issue to bear in mind in that context is the tax treatment for income arising from work in Gibraltar in respect of those deemed tax residents in Spain. We are able to offer advice on those issues. For more information, visit our Gibraltar Tax page.
The key headlines for tax in Gibraltar are that corporate tax is levied at a flat rate of 12.5%, personal income tax is charged at an effective rate of 25% on the first £50,000 of income and that Gibraltar does not levy any capital gains tax, inheritance tax or tax on passive income. We also have specific programmes designed to meet the needs of high net worth individuals and their families as well as high executives possessing specialist skills (HEPSS). Add to that the wide range of structuring options available in Gibraltar, and Gibraltar represents an attractive proposition in tax to bolster the many other appealing features of moving to and living in Gibraltar. For more information, visit our Gibraltar Tax page.
Education in Gibraltar is largely state provided but there are also a growing number of private nurseries and schools. The availability of choice in education is one of the key requirements of both entrepreneurs and executives relocating to Gibraltar, and Gibraltar now offers just that. The public sector schools have seen huge investment in infrastructure which is expected to continue as additional new schools are built. Primary and secondary schooling in Gibraltar is compulsory and free to Gibraltar residents – for more information, visit the Gibraltar Department of Education‘s website.
The Gibraltar Health Authority is the core of healthcare in Gibraltar, offering free and extensive healthcare to registered users. The Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) was set up under the Medical (Gibraltar Health Authority) Act 1987 and its purpose is to provide healthcare in Gibraltar, which is home to just over 34,000 residents. Gibraltar enjoys similar healthcare, and standards of health care provision, to most Western European countries. The GHA operates a Group Practice Medical Scheme, which is a contributory scheme and enables registered persons to access free medical treatment. For further information visit www.gha.gi
Gibraltar offers a huge range of modern and relevant solutions for the establishment of a business entity, ranging from companies to partnerships of various different kinds, as well as the protected cell company – a vehicle used widely by insurance companies and private clients alike. For more information on all of these options please visit our Gibraltar Company Management expertise page or read our Insights post on setting up a business. Hassans’ trust and corporate services provider, Line Group Limited, is a leading provider in Gibraltar company incorporation and trust services.
The Office of Fair Trading was established in Gibraltar on 7th October 2015 by means of the Fair Trading Act 2015. Under the Fair Trading Act, any business wishing to either trade or provide a service in Gibraltar must hold a business licence issued by the Business Licensing Authority. For full details of the Business Licensing regime, visit the Office of Fair Trading’s Business Licensing information.
Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU on 23 June 2016. On 31st January 2020 Gibraltar, along with the rest of the family of British nations, left the EU and entered the implementation period of the Withdrawal Agreement reached by the EU/UK in 2019. The European Union had, at the conclusion of negotiations on the implementation period in December 2019, conceded that the terms of any subsequent agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK would NOT apply to Gibraltar without Spain’s approval. This was, in effect, a restatement of the veto all member states enjoy in the context of trade deals made by the EU.
On 24 December 2020, the UK and EU announced that a trade agreement had been reached that managed to bridge both parties’ positions on key issues of fishing quotas, level playing field and dynamic alignment on matters of climate change, employment rights and others. Negotiations between the UK and Spain in relation to Spain then concluded a few days later.
On 31 December 2020, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, The Hon Fabian Picardo, QC, MP, announced that a framework for an agreement between the United Kingdom and Spain had been reached in relation to Gibraltar.
The fundamental features of the agreement included the mutually agreed ‘parking’ of the historical positions relating to sovereignty over Gibraltar, opening the door for Gibraltar to become part of the Schengen Acquis, with Spain as the responsible member state/interlocutor for Gibraltar.
The framework agreement paves the way for a further year of negotiations during which it is expected the practical elements of the deal’s implementation will be agreed. The extension of the Schengen area to Gibraltar and, therefore, the extension of the control-free movement of persons to Gibraltarians and Gibraltar residents is expected to protect, even improve, fluidity across the border between Gibraltar and Spain. Further negotiations continue on the issue of goods as a separate issue. For further details, read our article – Gibraltar joining Schengen makes it the Ultimate Residence, by Partner Isaac Levy. Negotiations between Gibraltar, the UK and Spain on a future Treaty on the future relationship of Gibraltar and the EU, were authorised to begin by the EU Council and commenced in October 2021.
On financial services, the preponderance of financial services activity conducted from Gibraltar was UK facing and, in the context of the UK Financial Services Bill 2020, direct access to the UK by Gibraltar companies is guaranteed. Further opportunities may yet arise in relation to a potentially differentiated solution currently being actively negotiated. As the nature and detail of those opportunities becomes clearer, Hassans will be on hand to advise clients on how best to navigate the changes and take full advantage of the possibilities linked thereto.