Gibraltar–Spain border

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Coordinates: 36°09′18″N 5°20′54″W / 36.154933°N 5.348363°W / 36.154933; -5.348363

Gibraltar–Spain border
Gibraltar map-en.svg
The border, as seen on the map
Entities  Gibraltar  Spain
Length 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi)
Established 1704 (de facto)

Capture of Gibraltar
Current shape 1909

Building of fence
Treaties Treaty of Utrecht, Gibraltar Airport Agreement
The border, seen from the Spanish side
The border, as seen from the British side
The closed Spanish gate at the border between Gibraltar and Spain, 1977

The Gibraltar–Spain border is the international boundary[1] between the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar and the Kingdom of Spain. It is also referred to as "The Fence of Gibraltar" (Spanish: La verja de Gibraltar) or simply "The Fence".[2]

The border runs east-west for a total of 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) separating Gibraltar from the neighbouring Spanish municipality of La Línea de la Concepción.[3] Since the United Kingdom is outside the European Union's Schengen Area, Gibraltar is too and therefore, identity checks are required to cross the border.[4]


The Lines of Contravallation of Gibraltar were built by Spain in 1730 to isolate Gibraltar, the lines were north of the isthmus linking Spain with Gibraltar. The neutral zone between Gibraltar and Spain has since been built on by Spain. These lines were the first form of a border between Gibraltar and Spain.

During the Peninsular War in the early 19th century, Spain had initially been allied to France while trying to invade Portugal, but France shortly after turned on its ally, Spain. Forcing the Spanish to ally itself with Great Britain and Portugal against Napoleonic France to regain control of Spain from the French, the Lines of Contravallation of Gibraltar were blown up by the Gibraltar Commanding Royal Engineer Charles Holloway who with permission from Spain began to blast an opening through them on 14 February 1810 to avoid them falling into the hands of the approaching French.[5] Gibraltar, supported by La Linea, became an important base for Spanish fighters against Napoleon's troops. Currently, all that remains of the Lines of Contravallation of Gibraltar are the Ruins of Fort St. Barbara, which is in a recovery phase, while the Fort San Felipe remnants have appeared recently. Fort San Carlos does not seem to have left preserved evidence.

In 1909 Britain was aware of the need to reduce the number of sentries and built a fence 7 ft (c. 2m) high,[6] however there was suspicion about the motives for the fence.[7]

Spanish dictator Francisco Franco ordered the closure of the border gate on June 8, 1969, in response to the Gibraltar Constitution Order 1969. The border was not fully reopened until February 1985.

In 2010, the People's Party mayor of La Línea, Alejandro Sanchez, attempted to impose a so-called "congestion charge" on people entering or leaving Gibraltar, despite having been told by the Spanish Government that such a charge would be a breach of national and international EU law. Then, in July 2013, the Gibraltar Government placed a number of concrete blocks in the sea off the coast of Gibraltar, intending to form an artificial reef. The Spanish Government protested stating that it had a negative impact on fishing in the area, restricting access for Spanish fishing vessels. At the end of July the Spanish Government introduced extra border checks for people going in and out of the territory into Spain. The British Government protested as the checks were causing major delays of up to seven hours while people waited to cross the border, and on 2 August the Spanish Ambassador was summoned to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to explain these developments.[8]

Customs and identity checks[edit]

Customs and identity checks on the Spanish side of the border are carried out by the Spanish Civil Guard and the Spanish National Police. Customs and identity checks on the Gibraltar side of the border are carried out by HM Customs Gibraltar and the Royal Gibraltar Police.

Maritime borders[edit]

The Gibraltar Port Authority controls the territorial waters of Gibraltar that border Spain's.

Important treaties[edit]


  1. ^ The Kingdom of Spain does not recognize the existence of an international boundary. isthmus_between_Gibraltar_and_Spain
  2. ^ Olivero, Leo (6 July 2012). "Fear of crossing the Frontier!". Panorama. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Length of Land Boundaries Border Countries by Country". Chartsbin. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Garcia, Joe. "Spain would not object to Gibraltar joining Schengen". Panorama. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  5. ^ R. H. Vetch, ‘Holloway, Sir Charles (1749–1827)’, rev. Alastair W. Massie, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 25 May 2013
  6. ^ Simon J. Lincoln (1994). "The Legal Status of Gibraltar: Whose Rock is it Anyway?". Fordham International Law Journal, Volume 18, Issue 1 page 308. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  7. ^ Jackson, Sir William G. F. (1990). The rock of the Gibraltarians : a history of Gibraltar (2nd ed.). Grendon: Gibraltar Books. p. 262. ISBN 0948466146. 
  8. ^ "Britain Summons Spanish Ambassador Over Gibraltar Border Checks". The Telegraph. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 

See also[edit]