Since January 1, 2023, new environmental rules apply with mandatory low emission zones in 148 cities in Spain with more than 50,000 inhabitants. These environmental stickers are mandatory for all vehicles, both those with Spanish and foreign license plates. But which cities does this apply to and how do you get an environmental sticker whether or not you have a Spanish license plate?
Although it has been mandatory for almost 150 Spanish cities since 2023 to have low emission zones, in practice this means that few cities have actually introduced “zonas de bajas emisiones” or ZBE zones. Madrid and Barcelona, the two largest cities in Spain, are the pioneers and have had so-called ZBE zones for several years. Besides these two cities also have Valencia, Seville, Cordoba, Pontevedra, Badalona, Rivas-Vaciamadrid, San Cugat del Vallés, Sant Joan Despí and Valladolid permanent or temporary ZBE areas when air quality is poor.
This means that the vast majority of the 148 Spanish cities do not yet have low emission zones have introduced, so that Dutch and Belgian holidaymakers who come to Spain with their own means of transport do not have to worry. Of course, that’s another story for the cities we talked about earlier (PLEASE NOTE: this is a temporary list that can always change). So if you are traveling to Barcelona or Madrid with your own transport, you will need to meet the requirements. If you do not meet the conditions in the aforementioned cities, you risk a fine of 200 euros (or 100 euros if you pay quickly).
Low Emission Zones
The introduction of low emission zones has been mandatory since 1 January 2023. Environmental zones or low emission zones (zonas de bajas emisiones) are only accessible to vehicles with a valid environmental sticker (etiquetas medioambientales or distintivo ambiental ). The new road signs indicate which vehicles can enter these environmental zones or low emission zones.
IMPORTANT: The Spanish environmental sticker cannot be purchased for vehicles registered abroad. Thus, if you are going on holiday to Spain or driving in this country with a vehicle registered abroad, you can use the Danish, German, Austrian or French environmental sticker valid in Spain. If you cross France to go to Spain, the French vignette is Crit Air the best option because it is valid in France and Spain (except in Barcelona). Environmental stickers apply to most cities and not to the whole country (where it is not necessary). On the Dutch website ANWB also contains more information.
Different rules apply in Barcelona. Barcelona has already introduced low emission zones. In Barcelona, the previously mentioned foreign (eg French) environmental stickers do not apply. For Barcelona you must apply for a long-term or daily permit. For the environmental zones of Madrid, you can drive with a French vignette.
For Barcelona, it is easy for most foreign visitors who stay only one day in the Catalan city to buy a “daily permit” (Autorización diaria). You can do it through THIS WEBSITE where you need to provide the license plate number and complete an online form. The problem with this online is that you have to sign digitally and this applies to Spanish residents. You can also send a form by post and apply for the daily permit, but you have to do it in time. The whole procedure is standing HERE described in English and is rather heavy and difficult.
Spanish environmental stickers
For vehicles registered in Spain, there are four Spanish environmental stickers:
- Blue – 0: zero emissions like 100% electric cars and plug-in hybrid cars (40 km or more).
- Green-blue – eco: rechargeable hybrid vehicles (less than 40 km) and gasoline vehicles meeting the criteria for the green sticker (C).
- Green – C: petrol cars registered in 2006 or later; diesel cars registered in 2014 or later; vehicles with more than 8 seats and heavy goods vehicles, petrol and diesel, registered in 2014 or later. Petrol vehicles must comply with the Euro 4, 5 or 6 standard and diesel vehicles with the Euro 6 standard.
- Yellow – B: petrol cars registered in 2000-2005; diesel cars registered in 2006-2013; vehicles with more than 8 seats and heavy goods vehicles, gasoline and diesel, registered in 2005-2013. Petrol vehicles must comply with the Euro 3 standard and diesel vehicles with the Euro 4 or 5 standard.
- There is no sticker for other vehicles.
Where can I buy the Spanish environmental sticker?
The Spanish environmental sticker is therefore only on sale for vehicles with a Spanish license plate. These can be purchased for 5 euros at post offices (CLICK HERE for the website); the workshop network of the Spanish Confederation of Workshops (CETRAA) and other authorized workshop networks; Stocked; the Institute for Automotive Studies (IDEAUTO). On THIS website, you can enter the Spanish license plate to see which environmental sticker you need.
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