Gibraltar In the ancient times, right through the age of empires and in the global conflicts of our own century, Gibraltar has stood guard over the western Mediterranean, its unique position making it the focus of a continuous struggle for power. This spectacular rock monolith, covering a land area of about six square kilometres, is situated at the southern tip of Spain overlooking the strait to Africa. It is known as the Meeting Place of Continents.

Here, the sub-tropical climate is warm and welcoming throughout the year. The local people smile their welcome with

friendly charm born from a blend of many cultures united in a unique community.

Gibraltar's history and environment are captivating. From its formation millions of years before and the myths surrounding its dominant presence, to the territory's status today as a prominent tourism and business destination.

Gibraltar is a Self-Governing British Crown Colony, located on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

Residence/Non Residence Criteria: Nationals of EU member states have the right to enter, live and work in Gibraltar. Initially a six-month visa is given, and then a 5-year renewable residence permits, provided that they have found suitable employment or have started a business. Work permits cannot be denied to EU citizens.

Other nationals have to apply for residency under the Immigration Control Ordinance and permission is issued by the Governor. Government guidelines indicate that an applicant for residency must be ready and able to purchase a property of sufficient size to accommodate him/her and his/her family, must be in good health, and must have adequate financial resources. The Government will look more favourably on those applicants who purchase luxury property in Gibraltar.

Property bought by a non-resident may be owned by an individual applicant or joint applicants, or alternatively, in the name of a company of which the applicant is the 100 per cent beneficial owner and over which he/she has full and effective control. In fact there are tax advantages if the property is purchased through a Gibraltar company. It is not essential that the property be purchased prior to approval of an application. However, the property to be purchased must be nominated and a refundable deposit paid to reserve the property for the applicant until the application is considered by the Government. Once the application is approved the applicant, on completion of the purchase of the property, will obtain a permit of residence. A permit is renewable after a specified term providing the requirements are met and the property is owned by the applicant.

The holder of a residence permit need not live in Gibraltar and is not automatically entitled to social security or citizenship. However, the resident's children may attend local schools and are entitled to the same benefits as other local residents.

If a non-EU national wishes to stay in Gibraltar other than through the property 'doorway', he must usually try to find employment, for which he will receive a work permit only if there are no Gibraltarians able and willing to perform it. Such individuals will be given residence permits for shorter or longer periods depending on the nature of the work for which they have a permit. The government can deny a non-EU national the possibility of buying residential property.

Non-Gibraltarians need work permits, issued under the Control of Employment Ordinance. A work permit cannot be refused to an EU national.

Purchasing procedure: The first step to buying a property in Gibraltar will involve negotiating a price and drawing up a pre-contract. This contract merely reserves the property and does not legally bind the seller to follow through on the sale, nor does it bind the buyer to go through with the purchase. A reservation fee of around 2 percent of the property price is usually put in escrow as part of this contract.

 

Legal: A local lawyer will ensure that your interests are protected at every stage of your property purchase. As Gibraltar claims to have more lawyers per capita than anywhere else in the world, finding a lawyer to represent you with your property purchase should not be a problem. However choosing the right solicitor for your Gibraltar property is not necessarily an easy matter. Although cost is an important factor, above all else you will want someone who will do a good job for you. Speed is vital because a delay at any stage could result in you losing the Gibraltar property you want.

While the buyer is organising the finance the seller's lawyer is responsible for drawing up the first draft of the contract, to be revised as necessary until both parties agree.

When the purchaser signs the contract, approximately 8 percent of the property price will be added to the 2 percent already in escrow in order to make a 10 percent down payment. At this point, both buyer and seller are legally bound to the sale.

When you buy a property, the legal principle of "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware) applies. To protect yourself, you need professional advice from an independent surveyor.

Fees/Charges: The following fees should be kept in mind:

  • Stamp Duty - This is levied at 1.26 percent on the property itself and an additional .13 percent on any mortgage involved.
  • Deed Registration - These fees, which involve registering the deed with Gibraltar's Supreme Court and again with the Land Titles Registry usually don't amount to more than 100 pounds sterling, if that.
  • Legal Fees - These depend on the lawyer.

 

Mortgages/Loans: There are numerous banks and building societies from which you can borrow money from to finance the purchase. Generally speaking, the maximum amount any lender will lend is 95% of the purchase price for owner-occupiers and 70% on buy-to-lets.

The amount you can borrow to buy properties for sale in Gibraltar will depend on such factors as your age, earnings, and the amount you wish to borrow, taking into consideration the value of the property you intend to purchase.

As Gibraltar currency is the pound sterling there will be no exchange rate considerations to take into account for UK buyers.

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Disclaimer: This guide is for information only and should not be relied upon as definitive. Details have been obtained from various sources and although we have done everything possible to ensure that it is correct, we cannot accept responsibility for it or guarantee its accuracy. This is because processes and laws change frequently, and may vary dependant upon personal circumstances. You are welcome to use the information provided, but should always obtain confirmation of specific details and get independent specialist and legal advice in the country that the information refers to.

08-11-2009