Gibraltar is a member of the European Union, however it is not part of the Schengen Area or EU Customs Union. This means that there are immigration and customs controls when travelling between Spain and Gibraltar. Citizens of the European Union are required to have a national identity card or passport, while all others are required to have a passport to enter. The entry requirements for Gibraltar are not the same as the United Kingdom. Unless exempt from visa requirements, to enter Gibraltar you must have either a Gibraltar visa to be applied for separately from a normal British visa at a British embassy/consulate, a UK visa valid for at least 6 months, or a UK permit of residence valid for at least 5 years. If arriving by air, Gibraltar airport staff will refuse entry to anyone who does not comply with these requirements.
Although entry into Gibraltar will technically invalidate a single-entry Schengen visa, in practice passports are checked but not stamped on entry by land, and those with single-entry visas usually get re-admitted to Spain without any problems.
After crossing customs, you may be asked to cross the airfield, being absolutely exposed to planes. DO NOT behave differently in this area. Sometimes, if you are on a tour you can stay on the vehicle and citizens using cars can cross by car.
The border between Gibraltar and Spain now has an automated ID check system, similar to the 'self check-in' systems they have at some airports. You will require an EU ID card with a chip, or a chipped passport. You can still enter/leave Gibraltar with the older type IDs, but you will likely find yourself in a lengthy queue.
Buses from Spain stop just short of Gibraltar in La Línea, but its bus station is only a three minute walk to the border. From Algeciras San Bernado bus station route 120 can be taken to La Linea. This costs €2.45 May 2015 for an adult single you buy the ticket from the driver; the bus runs about every 45 minutes until 23:00. The bus station in Algeciras is opposite the railway station. To go to the bus station from the harbour, turn left, walk along the main street for about 100m and then turn right. Continue about 200m along this street to the small building with railway tracks.
At the end of May 2011, bus routes and fares were revised for a trial period of 3 months. Most bus routes became free to travel on for all. However, at the end of the 3-month trial, and following public consultation, the Gibraltar Government decided that free travel should be available to Gibraltar residents only. As a result, tourists and Spanish commuters now have to pay a fare once more. Route 5, which is the only bus service between the Frontier/Airport and the bus station in town, was not affected by the trial or the subsequent changes, and visitors and residents alike are charged a fare on this service. Full details of bus routes.
At La Línea there are regular buses to and from Seville, Malaga, Cadiz, Granada and regularly to Algeciras the latter one direct or with stops on the way.
Current info for Malaga bus station: Estación de Autobuses de Málaga
Tour buses and coaches can be available at all Andalucian major cities, holiday resorts and some mainland hotels.
Gibraltar Airport IATA: GIB has daily scheduled flights to and from London-Heathrow LHR, British Airways, Gatwick LGW EasyJet, London-Luton LTN Monarch Airlines, Birmingham BHX Monarch Airlines and Manchester Monarch Airlines in the UK. Royal Air Maroc have services to Marrakech RAK as an alternative to daily ferries.
easyJet has daily scheduled services between The Rock and London Gatwick. A daily British Airways service is available, operating to and from Heathrow. Flight schedules varies depending on the time of year. With the introduction of easyJet's operation from Gibraltar, together with the government's planned airport expansion and reduction of airport charges, it opens the door for possible new routes from Gibraltar to other European cities.
The most popular alternative airport for Gibraltar is Malaga Airport in Spain, some 120 km to the East, which offers a wide range of destinations. Malaga can be reached by bus, but there are only a few services available per day and the trip is approximately 3 hours. Jerez Airport is normally the second choice, despite being closer to Gibraltar.
When the frontier was closed, there was a ferry service from Gibraltar to Morocco. There's a passenger service geared up to the Moroccan workers in Gibraltar, who have problems crossing the frontier, but only about once per week on the weekend.
There used to be a daily service between Gibraltar and Algeciras in Spain, however this service ceased in January 2012 due to low passenger numbers.
Cruise ships often include Gibraltar as part of their itinerary.
Gibraltar receives a large number of visits from cruise ships, and the strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Passenger and cargo ships anchor in the port of Gibraltar.
Catalan Bay also offers access to enter Gibraltar.
Queues at the border may make it less time-consuming to park cars in La Línea and walk across. While parking in La Linea immediately next to the border charges, there is free parking throughout town and next to the stadium if you are willing to walk an extra kilometre. This also has the advantage of avoiding Gibraltar's complex one way system with very narrow and badly signposted streets, and limited parking. The land border is open 24 hours a day, though expect delays when planes are landing - the only road into Gibraltar runs right across the airport runway!
However, once the airport expansion is complete, traffic except buses will be diverted around to the east side of the runway to ease overall traffic congestion.
Motorists, and on occasion pedestrians, crossing the border have been subjected to long delays and searches by the Spanish authorities. Spain has closed the border during disputes or incidents involving the Gibraltar authorities, such as the Aurora cruise ship incident and when fishermen from the Spanish fishing vessel Piraña were arrested for illegal fishing in Gibraltar waters. In 2013, a row over a concrete reef caused the Spanish government to increase searches causing lengthy queues.
Despite being an overseas territory of the UK, traffic in Gibraltar moves on the right-hand side of the road and the speed limits are in kilometres per hour. Gibraltar-registered vehicles country code GBZ are left-hand-drive, the same as mainland Europe.