With the UK staring down the barrel of a No Deal Brexit, Gibraltarians will be wondering what they would need to do to continue going across the border hassle free.
Well, while nothing is certain so far with the Theresa May’s still to come before the House of Commons in the second week of January, we did some digging and came up with what could change on March 29, 2019.
1.Travellers would have to use their passport
ID cards will no longer be valid for EU travel. Passports would have to be used instead, although it is looking likely that EU passports held by British nationals will still be valid for use until they expire. However, as a third country national under the Schengen Border Code each passport will need to have at least six months left on it for crossing borders.
2. There would be no need to have a visa
Despite scare stories circulating around the media, British citizens in Gibraltar will not need a visa to travel to the EU. The European Commission proposed last November that as long as the UK provides the same system for EU citizens, visas would not be necessary. It seems likely that UK citizens would still even be able to use the EU counters at airports and frontier lanes, although UK passport holders will probably not have the same rights as EU air travellers in terms refunds for flight delays or cancellations for example.
3. Driving into Spain would still be permitted
Drivers would now need an International Driving Permit (IDP) which would have to be issued by the Government. There are two types of IDP documents, with Spain using the 1949 Convention IDP and most other countries use the 1968 Convention IDP. Not having the relevant IDP could lead to fines or being turned away at the border but these are not going to be too expensive. Green cards used for insurance purposes could prove more expensive but with Gibraltar not being part of the Customs Union are unlikely to change that much.
4. Travel insurance might not even be necessary
The European Health Insurance Card has saved travellers in Europe over a billion pounds but could be at risk in the European divorce. There are still hopes of a UK settlement however, with a possibility that the scheme will survive “subject to an agreement with the EU”. UK Health Minister James O’Shaughnessy said he hopes to “implement new healthcare arrangements with other countries – in the EU and elsewhere – so that UK citizens can travel with confidence. Whether those agreement will apply to Gibraltar remains to be seen.
5. Roaming charges could come into force
It is likely that those who use a Gibraltar-based phone network will now have to pay high roaming charges in Spain and the rest of Europe, although most UK operators could put two-way agreements in place to keep up this helpful service. So, while from the official level this will change, it’s success could push Gibtelecom and other local providers to continue providing free roaming on the continent.
While the Brexit No Deal is not a complete certainty by any means, this guide proves that even in the worst case scenario there will not be such major changes to Gibraltar residents. What we will never know is how severe frontier checks will be to prove these documents are in place and if these new rules would make passage to and fro between these two nations a much longer process than ever before.