Gibraltar - checking in and out
Checking in and out of Gibraltar is probably one of the easiest procedures we’ve come across so far.
There’s the super-correct way doing the pre-arrival notifications and there’s the normal by just showing up at the marina and having all forms filled in there.
In both situations is advisable to get a reservation with the marina in advance, Gibraltar can be very busy at times and finding a spot, especially for boats bigger than 40+ feet may be difficult.
We’ve only found out about the pre-arrival notification system after our first visit and ever since we’ve used it always because not only makes the entire procedure much easier but because it also gives us with more proof of arrival to this territory.
Gibraltar is one of the preferred locations on the West Mediterranean to clear VAT for a non-VAT paid boat like us and to give a “rest” on our non-EU passport (Johns). Because John is Australian and Australia is part of the Commonwealth his passport doesn’t get stamped on arrival or departure and for us that can potentially become a nightmare with the 90/180 days Schengen rules. With the pre-arrival notification system, we have in hands a very official proof of The Dream and John arrival in Gibraltar.
The process is all done online on the HM Customs website. It requires an account for the vessel to be created, not for the owner.
The key element is the vessel not its crew, and then is just a matter of adding the crew and passengers list details, the cargo/goods carried and pets. All details are kept in line for a future visit requiring just the update of any crew/passengers changes and again the part of cargo/goods carried onboard.
In the end, the file is automatically sent to Customs and then on arrival, the marina only confirms the passport's information and gets copies, shortly after if all is ok we receive an email (the same used to the login on the vessels account) confirming the check-in procedure.
It is advisable to contact the Gibraltar VTS through channel 16 when entering the bay to request permission to enter the territory, I believe this is of a requirement more for the big cargo ships than sailing yachts but it can be very helpful especially if the bay is full of cargo ships going in and out of the harbour.