Find A Job
Gibraltar’s relationship with the UK, its lifestyle and the fact that it is English-speaking means that it is an attractive proposition for expats who are seeking work, particularly if they come from the UK. It also affords possibilities of becoming a cross-border worker, living in Gibraltar and working in neighbouring Spain, for example, or vice versa. It is estimated that around 9000 people cross the border every day for employment purposes.
If you have qualifications and experience in finance, insurance, IT, or the gaming industry (a number of international gaming companies have made the Rock their headquarters in recent years), it is worthwhile checking out vacancies here, and you may also be able to pick up casual work in the hospitality industry.
Your status as a potential employee will depend on your nationality: if you are an EU national, you will be able to apply for a 5 year work permit in the country after 6 months’ residence. You can apply for a residence permit, but may need to prove that you can support yourself and will not become a burden on the state.
Conditions for non-EU nationals are stricter and will depend on whether a company can find someone from the EU/EAA to fill the position. If you are not from the EU and wish to work in the territory, you will need to apply to the Employment Training Board and you will only be able to do so once you already have an employment contract. The work permit will run for 12 months and must be renewed at the end of this term. Your employer will also have to ensure that you have accommodation.
If you are from the UK, however, since Gibraltar is a British territory, you will be allowed to work without a residence permit.
The above conditions also apply if you are intending to be self employed in Gibraltar. You will need to register with the Employment Office and the Income Tax office; most expats do so as a sole trader. The process is usually straightforward.
If you are applying for a work permit, you will need to submit:
• an application form
• a copy of your passport
• your spouse’s passport and marriage certificate if applicable
• notice of your terms of engagement
• a copy of the Notification of Vacancy
• copies of your qualifications
You will also need to submit a processing fee (currently £52).
You are likely to be more successful finding employment if you are a member of a skilled profession (such as medicine or accountancy). Due to the growing presence of the gaming industry in Gibraltar, a background of employment in online gaming may also be to your advantage. Gibraltar is a small territory and correspondingly has a small labor pool: jobs may therefore be limited and you may not find it easy to change jobs.
Since Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, you will not need to be bilingual in Spanish if you want to work here, although speaking Spanish may be helpful if you are living over the border in Spain (where property is somewhat cheaper) and if you plan to live in Gibraltar and work in Spain, speaking the language might well be essential.
Typical working hours are similar to the UK: business hours typically run from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. over a 5 day week. Gibraltar thus works a 40 hour week.
On average, Gibraltaran salaries are around 20% lower than similar positions in the UK. The minimum wage is currently set at £6.75 but is due to experience a staggered rise over the next few years to £7.50 and will then continue to increase commensurate with the rate of inflation.
The minimum paid annual leave entitlement is set at 15 days for employees working at least 5 days a week, increasing to 25 days once the employee has been employed for 8 years.
If you have been continuously employed for more than I year before the birth of your child you will be entitled to 14 weeks’ maternity leave. If you have been paying a sufficient number of social security contributions, you will be entitled to a Maternity Allowance, a weekly sum paid over 18 weeks. You may also be eligible for a Maternity Grant, a lump sum payment after the birth of your child.
Your spouse will be able to work if they are a British citizen (with no need for a work permit) or an EU national, but they will not automatically be granted residence if they are not an EU national (even if you are a Gibraltan citizen yourself!)
Recruitment agencies (for instance, RecruitGibraltar) prefer to interview applicants personally and there tends to be a preference also for local applicants. It may, therefore, be worth your while to visit Gibraltar first and apply for work when you are there.
You can also make speculative applications.
Applying For A Job
A standard one page CV/resume is recommended. You will not need to have anything translated.
The Equality Act legislates against discrimination on the basis of sex, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age or age group, pregnancy or maternity leave, racial or ethnic origin, or gender reassignment. You should not experience questions at interview which violate the terms of the Equality Act, therefore.
Qualifications And Training
If you are qualified in a particular field (such as medicine) in the UK, your qualifications will be treated as analogous in Gibraltar. Generally, professional qualifications across the EU are transferable.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Gibraltar is a British territory and visas are issued by the British government. So, as a general rule, if you need a visa for Britain, then you will need one for Gibraltar. Visas do not guarantee the right to reside or to work; see ‘Work Permits’ and ‘Residency’ below.
You can enter Gibraltar without a visa, and remain there for up to six months, if you are in any of the following categories:
• British citizens
• People granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or people granted the right of abode in the UK, provided they have not been absent from the UK for more than two years
• Holders of UK residence permits issued for a period of 12 months or more, UK biometric residence permits, or a UK multiple entry visa issued for six months or more
• Citizens of EU countries or holders of EU family permits (note that Gibraltar is included in the terms of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU – this includes a transitional phase until the end of 2020, during which all previous travel arrangements with the EU still apply; it is not yet known what arrangements will apply after 2020)
• Citizens of Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives Islands, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City and Venezuela
• Holders of a multiple entry United Kingdom visa that is valid for at least one year
• Holders of diplomatic passports, who are travelling on duty
• Holders of service, temporary service and diplomatic passports issued by the Holy See
• Holders of passports issued by Hong Kong or Macao
• Holders of a ‘Laissez Passer’ issued by the United Nations
Citizens of Australia, Canada and the USA can enter Gibraltar without a visa and remain for up to three months.
Citizens of Morocco, the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, India or Russia, who hold multiple entry Schengen visas that are still valid for at least seven days after their intended date of departure, can enter Gibraltar without a visa for a maximum of 21 days.
Anyone not in the categories above should acquire a visa before entering Gibraltar.
If in doubt, you can check to see whether you need a visa on the Government of Gibraltar website.
Apply for your visa through your nearest Embassy or High Commission. You will be guided by a series of questions – regarding length of stay, purpose of stay etc. – to the most appropriate visa for your purposes.
It is assumed that you want to enter Gibraltar for one of three reasons: to visit, to work, or to study.
This will be covered by default by whatever visa you use to enter Gibraltar. If you want to stay longer than the visa allows, you will either have to renew it or apply for residency. See ‘Residency’ below.
There is no work visa as such for Gibraltar. If you hold a passport from an EU or EEA country, then you can work in Gibraltar without a visa or work permit. However, if you are planning to stay for more than six months, you will need to apply for residency; see ‘Residency’ below.
If you enter Gibraltar on a visa, then you can look for work, but you must have a work permit before starting employment; see ‘Work Permits’ below.
The University of Gibraltar is the only higher education institution in Gibraltar. It can provide advice on visa requirements for anyone applying to study there.
Students from the UK and the EU can study in Gibraltar without a visa.
Students from anywhere else must apply for a visa to study.
Non-EU nationals must have a work permit before commencing employment. The employer applies for the work permit on the employee’s behalf, once the job has been secured. Failure to secure a work permit incurs a fixed penalty notice of £3,000 on the employer, but you will also lose your job, so make sure this is done.
Work permits are issued for a specific post with a specific employer for a period not exceeding 12 months. See the Government of Gibraltar website for the rules and for an application form.
Holders of a work permit can also apply for a residence permit. Note that spouses and dependants of non-EU nationals with a work permit are not automatically entitled to reside in Gibraltar, and must apply in their own right; see ‘Residency’ below.
No permit needed
Only Gibraltarians and British nationals employed by HM Government can remain in Gibraltar without a residence permit.
EU citizens are awarded a six-month residence permit on entry, which can be extended to a five-year residence permit (renewable) if they find work or start a business. All other nationals staying beyond the period of their visa must hold a residence permit. Non-EU citizens must apply for residency, even if they already have residency in another EU state.
Marriage to a Gibraltarian does not automatically grant the right to a residence permit. Note that the rules for men and women are NOT the same. A man who marries a Gibraltarian woman is automatically granted a residence permit. A woman who marries a Gibraltarian man must apply for a permit.
Family members of permit holders may stay in Gibraltar for up to three months, provided the qualifying person can provide suitable accommodation for them. To stay longer than three months, the family members must apply for residency themselves.
Residence permits are granted by the Civil Status and Registration Office. They are normally issued for one year, and they can be renewed annually provided the Immigration Authorities are satisfied that there has been no material change of circumstances. Applicants must provide:
• Identity documents
• Proof of either accommodation in Gibraltar suitable to their needs, or their ability to obtain it
• Proof of ability to support themselves, as well as family, if applicable
• Proof of insurance
• Proof of registration with the Employment Training Board, if employed or self-employed
• A business registration certificate and a certificate from the Department of Social Security, if self-employed
Successful applicants are also issued with a Gibraltar Civilian Registration Card, which is an official EU photographic identification document.
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
Property prices for both tenants and purchasers are high in Gibraltar, due to the scarcity of land. The Gibraltarian government has established the Housing Advisory Council to provide advice on all aspects of housing availability, cost and affordability for property rental and sales.
There are no restrictions for foreigners, as long as they have the relevant permissions to live on the island. Properties range from studios to luxury apartments and villas. Listings can be found in local newspapers, such as the Gibraltar Chronicle, through estate agents and by using online property portals. The main local portals are Mulberry Estates and Property Gibraltar. Major UK based estate agents, such as Savills and Chestertons, also provide details of rental and sale properties.
Rental prices vary according to location, property type and what facilities are included. A typical furnished studio with one bathroom in the town area would cost you between £850 and £1,100 per month. Similar studios in Ocean Village would cost you between £1,000 and £1,500. A two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in the same area would cost you between £1,200 and £1,500. The equivalent in Ocean Village would cost you between £1,650 and £2,000.
You will need to pay a deposit of between one and two months’ rent, plus the first month’s rent in advance. Both furnished and unfurnished properties are available, and utilities may or may not be included in the monthly rental fee. If utilities are not included, either you or your landlord can arrange these, but you will need to pay a deposit per service connection. You are responsible for settling and cancelling any utility accounts that you take out in your own name.
The standard ‘long-term lease’ is a one-year renewable agreement, although some landlords will consider a six-month term. The contract covers all aspects of the tenancy, including duration, notice period, payment terms, any services included in the rental, and maintenance and repair liabilities. It should be agreed by both parties and witnessed.
The landlord (or estate agent, where applicable) should provide a property inventory detailing the condition of the property and a list of its contents. You should verify these details and confirm your agreement as soon as you move in. The inventory will be checked on departure, and any damages may be deducted from your deposit. Your money will usually be returned to you within fifteen days of you leaving.
You will be responsible for your household insurance, unless otherwise specified in your tenancy agreement. You may also be asked for references from previous landlords. You are responsible for notifying the local authorities of your residence, and you should ensure that the property can be registered as your main address for ID purposes. There are some rental properties that will not allow this.
Landlords are obliged by law to provide three months’ notice for any rent increase. If the tenant is in arrears with rental payments, the landlord can initiate legal proceedings. The courts prefer to set a payment period for overdue rent, rather than to evict the tenant.
Although property in Gibraltar is expensive, there are initiatives through the Housing Advisory Council to develop more affordable housing. There are no restrictions for foreigners buying property on the open market, although expats from non-EU countries need to prove their work and residency status. Property sold on the local (or restricted) market is only available for people with a minimum of three years’ residency.
Prices vary depending upon location, and many properties located in luxury developments may or may not include additional services and management fees. Most properties are leasehold, and they are usually sold fully furnished, excluding ‘personal items’. These factors need to be considered when setting your purchase budget.
To secure your chosen property, you must pay an initial 2% deposit to take it off the market. The estate agent produces a memorandum of sale for the purchaser’s and vendor’s lawyer, thereby enabling them to prepare and agree the contract. At this time, you should arrange your financing. There are many international banks with branches in Gibraltar, as well as local mortgage providers. Estate agents will be able to recommend suitable lenders, and it is advisable to engage the services of a local mortgage broker to assist in finding the most competitive rates.
Your lender will organise a valuation survey, for which you will be charged. However, this type of survey only considers the property’s value, so you may prefer to arrange for a full structural survey. If you do not need a mortgage, you are under no obligation to undertake a survey, but it is still advisable to do so. When the contracts have been exchanged, an additional 8% deposit is required.
There are a number of new developments underway in Gibraltar, available for purchase ‘off plan.’ Specifics vary, but normally you will need to put down a non-refundable 2% reservation fee to secure the property. Contracts are then drawn up and exchanged. An additional 10% is paid once a certain number of units have been sold. A further payment of 9% is paid on completion of the foundations, and another 9% when the overall superstructure is complete. The remaining 70% is paid on sale completion.
Once you have completed your purchase, you will be liable for stamp duty of up to 3% of the property value, plus up to 0.2% on your mortgage loan. You will also be liable for land registry fees, and the property deeds must be registered with the Gibraltar Supreme Court.
If the property is your primary place of residence and your loan is less than £350,000, you are entitled to tax relief on your mortgage interest payments of up to a maximum of £1,500 per year. There are additional deductions for first time buyers.
It is advisable to have arranged your home and contents insurance by the time you exchange contracts. If you are buying an apartment with a shared buildings insurance policy, you should review this with your lawyer to determine whether the cover will be sufficient for you.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Gibraltar health insurance
Medical care in the region is run by the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA), in conjunction with the Social Welfare System. Both are based closely on the model of the UK’s NHS. Health insurance is organized by a contributory system called the Group Practice Medical Scheme (GPMS).
If you are a resident of Gibraltar, you are entitled to medical care that is free at the point of delivery, and if you are a British citizen, you are also eligible for it on production of a valid UK passport: you do not need to pay into the national insurance scheme to qualify for free treatment. If you are uncertain about your eligibility, check with the GHA.
If you are an expat from a country other than the UK, check your eligibility with your employer or the GHA. Americans, for example, are advised to take out travel or private insurance if they are only going to be in Gibraltar for a short period.
Anyone who pays into the national insurance scheme, or who is a British citizen, will be covered. If you are an EU citizen and you have an EHIC card, you will also qualify for free emergency medical treatment, but this is only for emergencies and should not be used as a substitute for comprehensive health coverage.
If you are a ‘cross-border’ worker living in Spain but work in Gibraltar, you will be entitled to coverage on both sides of the border once you have registered with the system. To do this, you will need:
• a certificate of your social insurance contributions or your latest PAYE slip
• your ETB work contract
• your passport
• a passport-sized photograph
You may also wish to obtain an EHIC card even if you are a UK citizen. This is because, though medical personnel and facilities in Gibraltar are excellent, it is a very small country and specialist care can be limited. Medical specialists sometimes have to be flown over from the UK, and if something serious befalls you, you might have to be transferred to a hospital over the border in Spain, which is not covered by Gibraltan state health insurance. The EHIC will not cover you for repatriation in the event of a serious illness.
If you are a resident or a British citizen, this will be automatically in place and you do not need to do anything. For other expats, check that your employer is paying into the health insurance system on your behalf. If you are self-employed, contact the GHA and sign up. You will need the following documentation in order to obtain your Medical (Group Practice) Scheme card:
• a fully completed application form
• ETB contract (if applicable)
• PAYE Allowance & Social Insurance Contributions Class Certificate
• one passport photo on a white background
• civilian registration card (current ID card / passport)
• proof of address
• changes of name or address – documentary evidence will be requested
If you are working and paying your social insurance contributions in Gibraltar but reside in another EU member state, you will need to apply for an S1 form at the Social Insurance Contribution Office.
Open A Bank Account
Gibraltar has the same regulations as the United Kingdom for those who want to open a new bank account. An account should be opened in person if it is a current account and in cases where a certain number of documents are required. Everyone needs to confirm their identity with a driver’s license or passport, along with proof of home address. This can also be settled if a tenancy agreement or a utility bill is shown. Account holders can also be subject to credit checks when applying for the account that has credit facilities. The process of finalizing can take a few days after the application is completed, although most banks can do it much more quickly. A number of savings accounts can be opened online, but the account holder must send a proof of identification and address.
Overdraft facilities and loans are available at most banks, but with no previous credit history with a bank, the application is unlikely to be approved. Applicants may need to wait several months before finally being able to apply, depending on personal circumstances and credit history. For those who choose to stay with a same bank they were in their home country, this whole process is easier as the financial history of the applicant is known. Mortgages for properties in Gibraltar can be obtained easily if applicants can prove that they have the income to make repayments. It is impossible to obtain these with some banks in other countries, so applying for a mortgage can be done before moving to Gibraltar.
As is the case in most European countries, current accounts are ideal for day to day transactions, such as daily spending, paying bills and money transferring. Deposits can be made by cheque, cash or money transfer, while withdrawals can be made at an ATM or at any branch of the account holders bank. ATMs in Gibraltar are placed at all banks and shopping areas, while fee charges depend on the type of card one possesses. Users are also charged when withdrawing money at ATMs abroad. Those who wish to travel should notify the bank so that any charges can be minimized. Many residents of Gibraltar cross the Spanish border on a daily basis for work or leisure, so it is important to be careful with cash withdrawals while in Spain.
Easy access savings accounts can give account holders access to their money when needed, but they might have a lower interest rate. Fixed term savings generally limit the amount of access in return for a higher interest rate. Banks in Gibraltar also provide other products such as pensions, and can offer help to those who wish to invest their money. Gibraltar is an English speaking state so there are not many language barriers when dealing with the banks.
Transferring from abroad is a straightforward procedure as many of the banks based in Gibraltar are international and it doesnt take much time to make the transfer. Cheques in other currencies can be paid into Gibraltar bank accounts, but the process can take several weeks to clear, depending upon their origin and the amount. On the other hand, direct transfers may only take a few days. It is also possible to open bank accounts in other currencies. The Euro and the US dollar are two of the most popular currencies in Gibraltar. This can be useful to those who regularly receive payments in other currencies and will help to minimize charges.
There are many European banks which have a presence in Gibraltar and these include Santander, ABN Amro, Barclays and Natwest. Opening an account before arriving in Gibraltar should be fairly simple if expats already have an account with one of these banks, as they would already have some credit history.
Banking advantages in Gibraltar
Banking is one of the main pillars of Gibraltars economy, with assets totaling over EUR 7.8 billion, and many major International banks have offices in this country. Statistics are available on the Gibraltar FSC http://www.fsc.gi/fsc/home.htm website. The legal system in Gibraltar is similar to the one in the United Kingdom. Its legislation is based on English common law. The banking sector is regulated by the Financial Services Commissioner, appointed by the Governor of Gibraltar on behalf of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Banking in Gibraltar offers many advantages to customers.
Clients of Gibraltar banks enjoy the EU deposit protection scheme of EUR 100,000 for accounts held in Gibraltar. Some banks may also hold some client deposits in other jurisdictions to enjoy additional protection and diversification. Favorable tax status means that no tax is payable on interestgenerated on account holders’ savings, but Gibraltar still cannot be considered as an offshore jurisdiction in its classical meaning. In compliance with European Union Tax Savings directive, all interest paid to individuals who are residents of the European Union is the subject to Exchange of Information arrangements. All banks in Gibraltar are compliant with USD and UK FATCA as well.
Most of the banks having offices in Gibraltar enjoy the ability to “Passport” their products to major countries in the European Union. Gibraltar promotes itself as a very compliant jurisdiction, and all these banks are licensed and fully regulated by the Financial Services Commission.
Banks in Gibraltar
The institutions listed below are all authorized under the Financial Services (Banking) Act for deposit taking business. Most of these banks are also authorized to conduct investment business and other types of regulated business.
Bank J. Safra Sarasin (Gibraltar) Ltd
Barclays Bank PLC
Credit Suisse (Gibraltar) Limited
IDT Financial Services Limited
Jyske Bank (Gibraltar) Limited
Leeds Building Society
Lloyds Bank (Gibraltar) Limited (Lloyds Bank International)
Lombard Odier & Cie (Gibraltar) Limited
NatWest Offshore Limited (The Royal Bank of Scotland International Limited)
Newcastle Building Society
Norwich & Peterborough Building Society
SG Hambros Bank (Gibraltar) Ltd
Turicum Private Banks
Union Bancaire Privee (Europe) SA
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
The British overseas territory of Gibraltar’s relationship with the UK, its lifestyle and the fact that it is English-speaking means that it is an attractive proposition for expats, particularly if they are British. If you are a native English speaker, you will have few issues with communication here.
You will not need to be bilingual in Spanish if you want to work here, although speaking Spanish may be helpful if you are living over the border in Spain (where property is somewhat cheaper), and if you plan to live in Gibraltar and work in Spain, speaking the language might well be essential. Therefore, we will look below at some of your options with regard to learning Spanish, but also in relation to learning English if you are not a native English speaker in Gibraltar.
English is the official language in the territory, but other languages are spoken here besides Spanish: the Rock is a nexus point between Europe and North Africa, and you will find Mahgrebi Arabic spoken here as well, since Gibraltar has a small Moroccan population. Genoese, Maltese and Hebrew are spoken, too, plus other languages such as Hindi.
Local Gibraltarans speak Llanito, which is a vernacular language based on Andalusian Spanish and British English, with many loan words from other Mediterranean languages such as Portuguese, Maltese and Genoese Italian. Spanish was spoken in the country up until the 1700s, when the British took over.
If you are moving to Gibraltar, particularly if you are a cross-border worker, you will find provision for language training in Spanish, and if you are not a native speaker, you will also find plenty of opportunities to learn English.
There are a number of language schools which teach Spanish, at all levels. You may wish to take the DELE: Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language). This is the official diploma issued by the Spanish Instituto Cervantes, on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, to students who have passed a standardised test in European Spanish. This is the benchmark of Spanish learning and if you are intending to work for a Spanish speaking company, you may like to consider this exam as a possibility.
If you intend as a non-native speaker to come to Gibraltar to learn English, you will also find plenty of provision: the Rock has a number of language schools and because Gibraltar is English-speaking, you will find a suitably immersive environment. The University of Gibraltar offers intensive English courses of between 20 -24 hours of tuition a week, for 2 or 4 weeks, and can enrol you for the Cambridge exam, if you intend on taking your English training to a higher level. Courses are run all year round.
There are also private schools catering to different levels, from students who want to learn some of the basics but also take the opportunity to see some of the sights of the territory, to more serious learners who want to improve their business English.
Whether you are planning to learn English or Spanish, it is advisable in either language to master some basic phrases:
• meet and greet
• days of the week/months of the year
• shopping and food-related vocabulary, including eating out
• some basic medical vocabulary (e.g. asking for a doctor’s appointment)
• some basic banking vocabulary (e.g. opening a bank account)
If you are planning to come to Gibraltar to teach English (TEFL) then you need to be aware that despite the language training mentioned above, there is not a high degree of local demand, since most Gibraltarans are bilingual. The territory is small, so although there is plenty of language training for students, there are not a large number of jobs available, unless you intend to teach privately on a self employed basis (this is probably most viable for a spouse with a TEFL certificate who is accompanying a full time employer partner and who wants a few hours of work on the side).
Expat teachers report that there are jobs available along the coast, for example in Marbella, but bear in mind that the commute can be lengthy (due to queues) and it may be more realistic to seek work in Spain itself, and live there.
Choose A School
English is the language of teaching here, with Spanish introduced at an early age. Gibraltarian literacy rates and education expenditure are not published separately from those of the UK.
State education in Gibraltar is well developed and well regulated. It is controlled by the Department of Education, and follows the British three-tier model and the UK curriculum, with minor additions including Spanish and religious studies. There are just over a dozen state schools, one British Ministry of Defence School, and two private Catholic schools.
School attendance is compulsory from ages 4 to 15. Tuition is provided free, up to and including undergraduate level. Gibraltarian students wishing to continue to university do so in the UK, their fees being covered by the government of Gibraltar.
There are three main levels of education in Gibraltar. Children can be enrolled from age three in nurseries or in kindergartens, public or private. The final pre-school year (age four) is now mandatory and state supported. Primary school runs from age 5 – 11. Secondary school runs from age 12 – 15, culminating in GCSEs. Upper secondary school continues for two years to A Level for those children who wish to continue.
Further education is also provided at Gibraltar College, which has a vocational/technical/business studies remit, where the duration of tuition will vary depending on the profession or occupation chosen.
Those continuing in secondary school who go on to achieve successful A Level grades will have the opportunity to apply for university study in the UK automatically.
Homeschooling is legal, but given the size of the population, there is hardly any data available on the practice in Gibraltar itself. You are advised to do your own research and try to contact expats who may have some experience of the process if you have chosen this route to educate your children.
There are two private schools in Gibraltar. Both are Catholic, but children of all religions are accepted. Tuition is available at all levels, from nursery to secondary school. Their curricula are closely aligned to the state system, with additional classes and activities as befit the religious nature of the schools.
Loreto Convent School covers nursery to the end of primary schooling at age 12. Prior Park School is a recently built secondary school, now offering a range of A Levels. Class sizes are small.
International Schools (fee-paying) tend to be favoured by expats for the education of their children because of the flexibility and the provision of tuition in English and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). However, given the size of the population, it is not really surprising that there are no international schools in Gibraltar itself.
The nearest international schools in Spain are situated in Cadiz, which is about two hours to the north of Gibraltar. Sotogrande International School, Cadiz offers the IBDP, boarding facilities. British curriculum, with additional international, US and Spanish programmes. English International College, Cadiz teaches the English national curriculum to IGCSE, GCSE & A Levels. English is the language of instruction, with additional Spanish lessons.
Extra-curricular activities will vary considerably, and need to be ascertained from the individual school. Demand for places at international schools is always high, and it is important to contact the school of your choice as early as possible. Fees will also be quite substantial, and it is always important to read the small print – additional expenses can mount up. For example many schools have additional contributary capital funds for improvements/repairs.
High school or international school graduates will have the choice to continue their studies overseas. Successful graduation from Gibraltarian schools will give your child an internationally recognised high standard qualification, which is accepted at all universities in the UK, and many worldwide, without the need for additional assessment tests.