*COVID-19 - The following measures to increase Social Distancing have been put in place by the OFT.

The OFT's public counters are closed, however the OFT remains fully operational.

During this time licence renewals shall be made electronically. If you have not received a renewal notice by e-mail within a month of the date of the licence's expiry, please check your spam folder. If no e-mails have been received please e-mail business.licensing@gibraltar.gov.gi stating your licence's 'BL' number and we shall send you payment details to renew.*

In accordance with the Fair Trading Act 2015 (FTA), the functions of the Trade Licensing Authority have been transferred and subsumed within the remit of the Office of Fair Trading and shall be undertaken by the Business Licensing Authority (BLA).

Licensing requirements

Under the FTA any business wishing to:

  1. trade in Gibraltar, be it wholesale or retail; or
  2. to provide a service in Gibraltar,

must hold a business licence issued by the BLA (unless the relevant business is already licensed by separate local legislation, please see below).

Business licensing classes

The FTA creates the following business licensing classes as set out in Schedule 3:

A. Trade to include, but not limited to, the buying or selling whether by wholesale or retail, of any goods by way of a business and also means the importing of any goods into Gibraltar in commercial quantities;

B. Services, to include, but not limited to;

i. construction services road transport contracting and crafts;

ii. business-related services to include office maintenance, management consultancy, event organisation, debt recovery, advertising and recruitment services;

iii. tourism services to include travel agents;

iv. leisure services to include sports and amusement centres;

v. installation and maintenance of equipment;

vi. online services provided from Gibraltar;

vii. information society services to include publishing – print and web, news agencies, computer programming;

viii. accommodation and food services to include hotels, restaurants and caterers;

ix. training and education services;

x. rentals and leasing services to include car rental;

xi. real estate services;

xii. beauty therapists and hairdressers;

xiii. car repair workshops;

xiv. builders/carpenters/plumbers/electricians and decorators; and

xv. self-employed persons who provide services.

Note that the list of licensing classes in B. is non-exhaustive and the BLA may issue a licence for any service not specifically referred to in i. to xv. thereof.

Licences to trade

List of goods

Any application for a licence to trade should specify the goods which are to be traded from the approved goods list:

Approved goods list

The application must also set out whether the selected goods will be sold:

  1. by retail (sold by the applicant directly to the end consumer);
  2. by wholesale (sold by the applicant to another business); and/or
  3. by export (sold in Gibraltar for exportation).
Customs and importation of goods

A Business Licence is necessary for a business to obtain a Customs code for the importation of goods in commercial quantities into Gibraltar. It is a legal requirement for any Business registered in Gibraltar to obtain a Customs registration number in order to be included within the Customs database. Without this registration number the Business will not be allowed to import any goods in its name. See the HM Customs section of the Single Point of Contact for more information.

Premises requirements for traders

Traders are required to have appropriate commercial premises from which to trade as set out in the Fair Trading Act. Traders' premises shall allow for the type and volume of trade envisaged to take place and have sufficient and appropriate space to hold stock and samples of the goods to be traded.

Appropriate premises are usually either a retail unit or a store. Traders cannot operate from their homes (see 'business from home' section below) and office space is not generally considered appropriate commercial premises for trading. These premises requirements apply even where the business is delivering the goods being sold to consumers.

Online retailers

Where a person is selling its goods online they will be regarded as a trader and will need to comply with the premises requirements set out above. This is the case even where the goods are delivered to the consumer. They will not be regarded as a person providing online services from Gibraltar for the purposes of business licensing category B(vi) (see above).

An online service is one where:

  1. the main benefit of the service provided by the business to consumers is carried out online; and/or
  2. where the service cannot be provided without the use of the internet.

A business trading in goods is not regarded as providing an online service simply because it:

  1. advertises its goods online;
  2. makes contact with consumers online;
  3. receives an order for the goods online; and/or
  4. makes a sale online.

These are ancillary activities related to the main purpose of the business which is to sell the goods. The business's use of the internet to promote and to advertise these goods and take orders from consumers does not make it an online service provider. The business could also, for example, sell its goods in person, advertise its goods elsewhere (e.g. in a newspaper) or take orders on a telephone.

Drop shipping

Businesses that provide a fulfilment service (also known as drop shipping) are regarded as providing a service and are not considered to be traders. These are business which meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Does not handle goods or keep goods in stock;
  2. Only take orders for goods (usually online); and
  3. Arranges for a manufacturer or retailer of the goods to deliver the goods directly to the consumer.

A licence for drop shipping does not permit the licence holder to import goods sold into Gibraltar in its own name. For more information about importations please contact HM Customs.

Licences for services

Specifying the service to be provided

Applications for a licence to provide services under B. must identify which of the services, i to xv, they shall be providing. If the service the business is to provide is not within the list the applicant should specify what the alternative service is in the application form in the 'Other (please specify)' box provided.

It is important that the BLA understands what type of services will be provided by the business. It is therefore essential that each application provides a full description of the services to be provided in the application form. If the information is not sufficient for the BLA this it may delay the processing of the application while the BLA gets in contact with the applicant to find out more information about the type of services to be provided. If in doubt provide as much information as possible about the type of business to be carried out.

For guidance for online retailers and business that provide a fulfilment service (also known as drop shipping) please see the 'Licences to trade' section above.

Business premises

Pursuant to subsection 60(2) of the FTA, all businesses in Gibraltar are required to carry on their business from premises which are appropriate for the intended use of that business. Businesses are required to produce proof that they can occupy the premises at the time of their application to the BLA. These are normally tenancy agreements or leases and should be for a minimum term of 12 months.

Unless the requirements for a premises are waived (see below), business licences are issued in respect of the business premises and allow the applicant to conduct the business from those premises. Thus, prior to submitting an application for a Business Licence, applicants should ensure appropriate commercial premises have been acquired. Without appropriate commercial premises the licence cannot be issued. For businesses wanting to trade in goods, an office shall not generally be considered appropriate premises.   

Businesses from home

Subsection 60(8) of the FTA stipulates that "a licence shall not be granted to any premises which are residential Government premises, nor to any non-Governmental premises under which the terms of the title deeds to such premises restrict commercial activities to be carried on from such premises”. A business cannot therefore operate from a home unless the title deeds or head lease of the home do not restrict its use for commercial activity.

Premises requirements for traders

Traders are required to have appropriate commercial premises from which to trade as set out in the Fair Trading Act. Traders' premises shall allow for the type and volume of trade envisaged to take place and have sufficient and appropriate space to hold stock and samples of the goods to be traded.

Appropriate premises are usually either a retail unit or a store. Traders cannot operate from their homes (see 'business from home' section above) and office space is not generally considered appropriate commercial premises for trading. These premises requirements apply even where the business is delivering the goods being sold to consumers.

Premises waiver

Businesses that do not need premises from which to operate may apply for a waiver from the requirement of subsection 60(2) pursuant to subsection 60(9) of the FTA. An application for such a waiver should be clearly set out in Form 1a (see below). Waivers are not considered appropriate for business that want to trade in goods and for some services providers who, for instance, handle client monies.

The grant of a business licence under a premises waiver does not grant the licence-holder any right to operate their business from any premises that are residential Government premises, or from non-Governmental premises under which the terms of the title deeds restrict commercial activities. Furthermore, businesses operating without a premises are required to obtain separately all necessary approvals and consents from the headlessor or freehold owner of any premises from which the licence-holder is to operate all or any part of their business.

The granting of a waiver from the requirement to have premises is a matter for the BLA to determine based on the information received with the relevant application. If you wish to apply for a premises waiver you will therefore be required to provide information about how, in your view, your business can operate without a premises. This can be provided in a letter accompanying the application. We recommend you refer to our applicant checklists which provides an easy to follow list of all documents you must provide with your application (see elbow).

Please note that the granting of a waiver from the requirement for premises will ordinarily result in a condition being imposed on the licence restricting the number of workers that the business can have, usually to a maximum of two (including working directors and managers as well as employees). This reflects the BLA's concession to permit applicants to operate without meeting the premises requirement in the Act, but only on the basis that the business remains small. At present this is determined based on the number of workers that operate the business, with two being the maximum. If your business wishes to operate with more than two workers then your business would be expected to comply fully with the requirements of the Act and obtain appropriate premises from which to operate. For more information please e-mail business.licensing@gibraltar.gov.gi.

Co-existence of two businesses in same premises

Subsection 60(6) of the FTA permits businesses to share business premises where the BLA, in its sole discretion, is of the opinion that any licences granted in respect of the premises can co-exist in a compatible manner.

If you wish to apply for co-existence would therefore suggest that you provide information about how, in your view, the businesses can both operate in the same premises. This can be provided in a letter accompanying the application.

Postal address

The OFT may only accept postal addresses in Gibraltar with applications.

Persons licensed under separate legislation

Business or professions regulated by any other enactment shall not require a separate licence under the FTA to carry on that business or profession. This includes, but is not limited to, a person carrying on investment business, a regulated activity or a controlled activity as defined in the Financial Services Act 2019, Financial Services (Investment and Fiduciary Services) Act, a Supervisory Act or the Financial Services (Moneylending) Act, a gaming operators licensed and regulated by the Gambling Act 2005, licence holders under the Leisure Areas (Licensing) Act and port operators with a Port Operator's Licence issued by the Gibraltar Port Authority.

Application process

Notices

Any person intending to apply for a new licence, an extension to an existing licence or a transfer of a licence to another premises must, in accordance with section 73 of the Fair Trade Act, first give notice to the public of their intention to make the relevant application. This gives the public an opportunity to object to the application being granted.

Notices of an intention to make an application are made by publishing two completed copies of the following relevant forms:

  1. Form 1a - Notice of Intention to apply for a new Business Licence
  2. Form 1b - Notice of intention to apply for an extension to scope of licence
  3. Form 1c - Notice of intention to apply for transfer of licence to other premises

The first publication must be made in the Gibraltar Gazette. This publication is arranged directly through the OFT at its offices in Suite 975, Europort. The fee for publishing a notice in the Gibraltar Gazette is £20. The cut-off time for publications in the weekly Gazettes published every Thursday is noon on the previous Friday.

The second publication must be made in any newspaper circulating in Gibraltar at the time. This is arranged by the applicant directly with the relevant newspaper. Prices may vary between local newspapers however these are normally in the region of £50 to £70.

Please note that publishing these notices does not constitute an application (see below).

Please also note that the notice should include up to date contact details and a mandatory postal address from Gibraltar. Postal addresses from other jurisdictions are not accepted.

Applications for the transfer of an existing licence to another person are not required to publish notices and these applications may be submitted directly to the OFT using Form 2d (see below).

Applications

Seven days after the date of the latest notice of an intention to make an application has been published (see above), the applicant may then submit a completed  copy of ones of the following application forms:

  1. Form 2a - Application for a new Business Licence
  2. Form 2b - Application for extension to scope of licence
  3. Form 2c - Application for transfer of licence to other premises

To apply for the transfer of an existing licence to another person the applicant may submit a completed copy of Form 2d - Application for transfer of licence where business is to remain on the same premises

Each application from must be accompanied by the relevant documentary evidence in support of the applications. A checklist of the relevant supporting information for each application is set out below:

  1. Form 2a - New business licence application supporting information checklist
  2. Form 2b - Extension to scope of licence supporting information checklist
  3. Form 2c - Transfer of licence to other premises supporting information checklist
  4. Form 2d - Transfer of licence to another person supporting information checklist

Should the premises from which a business shall be carried out require alterations, the relevant planning permission must be sought by making an application to the Department of Town Planning & Building Control (Suite 631, Europort) prior to applying for a business licence.

For relevant fees please see below.

Objecting to applications

Any person who wishes to object to the issue of a licence may, in accordance with section 74 of the Fair Trading Act, give notice of his objection within seven days from the date on which the relevant notice has been published in the Gazette or newspaper (whichever is latest).

The objector must give notice of their objection using the relevant from (see below) to:

  1. the BLA at the OFT's offices (Suite 975, Europort) or by e-mail to business.licensing@gibraltar.gov.gi; and
  2. to the person named as the applicant in the notice.

The OFT will not be able to accept the notice if the £90 objection filing fee is not paid to the OFT.

The objection must be made using the relevant Form 3:

  1. Form 3A - Notice of objection to application for new licence: Download PDF
  2. Form 3B - Notice of objection to extension to scope of licence: Download PDF
  3. Form 3C - Notice of objection to transfer of licence to other premises: Download PDF

Licence renewals

Business licences are renewable every year on the anniversary of the date on which the licence was issued. The OFT will send out a renewal notice approximately a month before the renewal date using the contact details on the OFT's records. It is the responsibility of licence-holders to inform the OFT if there has been a changed to their contact details. The OFT cannot be held responsible for the failure by a licence-holder to receive a renewal notice.

While the OFT's public counters are closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, renewals will be carried out electronically using e-mails. Please ensure you have provided the OFT with your up to date e-mail address so that you can receive your renewal notice. This shall allow the OFT to also provide you with card payment details so that you can renew your licence easily online. If you have not received a renewal notice by e-mail please first check your spam folder. If no e-mails have been received within a month from the date of the licence's expiry, please e-mail business.licensing@gibraltar.gov.gi stating your licence's 'BL' number and we shall send you payment details. If you do not have an e-mail address please call 200 71700.

If your licence expires your business will not be licensed from that date until the licence is renewed. During that time you will be trading unlawfully and the OFT may take enforcement action against you in this regard. If you licence remains expired for a period of more than six months the OFT shall commence the process of revoking your licence permanently. Once a licence is revoked you will need to re-apply for a new licence.

Unlicensed businesses

A person who trades without a valid Business Licence, or who contravenes the Fair Trading Act may be guilty of an offence and may be liable on summary conviction to a fine and/or a continuing fine.

The OFT has systems in place to identify those businesses who may be operating without a business licence. If you identify a business which you believe is operating without a licence please provide the relevant details to the Business Licensing Team and they will investigate it on an anonymous basis.

Fees

The following fees are applicable in respect of matters under the Act, namely issuing of, or renewal of business licences:

(a) Fee for an application for a new licence for a single business class £150
(b) Fee for the renewal of an existing licence with a single business class £100
(c) Fee for an application for a provisional licence – start ups £95
(d) Fee for each additional business class included on an application for a new licence £90
(e) Fee for an application to extend the scope of an existing licence by each additional business class £90
(f) Fee for application to transfer licence to other premises £90
(g) Fee for application to transfer licence remaining on the same premises £90
(h) Objection filing fee £90
(i) Fee for each additional business class included on a renewal for an existing licence £60
(j) Fee for application for a duplicate licence £35
(k) Inspection of register £5

Forms

Guidance Notes Download PDF  

 Approved Goods List

Download PDF  
 Notices    
1A Notice of intention to apply for a new licence Download PDF  
 Recommended - New Licence applicant checklist Download PDF  
1B Notice of intention to apply for an extension to scope of licence Download PDF  
 Recommended - Extension applicant checklist Download PDF  
1C Notice of intention to apply for transfer of licence to other premises Download PDF  
 Recommended - Transfer of Premises applicant checklist Download PDF  
     
 Applications    
2A Application for a new licence Download PDF  
 Recommended - New Licence applicant checklist Download PDF  
2B Application for extension to scope of licence Download PDF  
 Recommended - Extension applicant checklist Download PDF  
2C Application for transfer of licence to other premises Download PDF  
 Recommended - Transfer of Premises applicant checklist Download PDF  
2D Application for transfer of licence where business is to remain on the same premises Download PDF  
 Recommended - Transfer of licence applicant checklist Download PDF  
2E Application for a duplicate licence Download PDF  
     
 Objections    
3A Notice of objection to application for new licence Download PDF  
3B Notice of objection to extension to scope of licence Download PDF  
3C Notice of objection to transfer of licence to other premises Download PDF  

Cancelling your business licence

If you wish to cancel you business licence you may do so by submitting a cancellation form at the OFT's public counter. 

Further guidance

For further guidance about the various forms and how to complete and submit these please refer to the OFT's guidance notes.

We trust you have found the information provided above useful. If you have any questions however please do not hesitate to contact the Business Licensing team.