Living in a motorhome: Spain’s legal view

Spanish law and motorhome dwelling

Image of a motorhome. Credit: Voyagerix/

With soaring house prices and loan interest rates reaching new highs, living in a motorhome on private land is becoming an increasingly popular consideration.

Under Spanish law, particularly as outlined in the General Vehicle Regulations (Royal Decree 2822/1998), motorhomes and similar vehicles are primarily intended for leisure rather than as permanent dwellings.

This classification places them alongside other forms of non-standard housing such as shanties and caves.

Parking versus camping

The distinction between parking and camping is crucial in this context. Parking simply means to leave the vehicle stationary without extending its footprint, whereas camping involves engaging in daily living activities outside the vehicle, like setting up awnings or outdoor furniture.

While motorhomes can be parked in areas that comply with local regulations, camping is only permitted in specially designated zones.

The regulations around this vary significantly across Spain’s autonomous communities, Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, Castilla y Leon, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid and the Basque Country raise a total ban on free camping.

On the other side of the scale are the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla La Mancha, Catalunya, Extremadura, Murcia, Navarra and Valencia, which have specific rules and exceptions.

Registration hurdles and habitation standards

Spanish legislation mandates that individuals register at a fixed address (as per article 15.1 of Law 7/1985), complicating the process for those wishing to permanently live in a motorhome.

Although not explicitly prohibited, achieving registration requires meeting specific habitability criteria, including hygiene, safety, and comfort standards, as well as access to basic utilities.

For landowners intending to live in a motorhome on their own property, proving these habitability standards to local authorities can present a significant challenge.

An alternative workaround involves registering at a relative’s or friend’s address while actually residing on your own land in the motorhome.

Embracing nomadic freedom

Opting for a nomadic lifestyle in a motorhome delivers unparalleled flexibility and freedom. However, it also entails navigating a maze of legal and practical considerations.

Prospective motorhome dwellers are advised to seek legal counsel and familiarise themselves with the regulations specific to their intended locale to ensure full compliance.

Embracing alternative living arrangements such as motorhome residency requires a thorough understanding of the legal landscape in Spain. While the freedom it offers is appealing, it’s essential to tread carefully through the regulatory framework to make this lifestyle viable.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Byron Walker

      28 February 2024 • 08:41

      In Spain it is mainly greed that make the laws regarding these van, the hotelers don´t want people living cheaply and not paying rip-off costs of their hotels. The again there are very few places for the vans to park legally. Here on the Costas we see many of them in local car parks during the winter when the car parks are mostly empty so they are not a major problem and the large majority of van owners keep the are clean. So there is no real issue and it should not be an issue for people paying rent to park on private land either but its all about power and money and controll. If the state cannot or will not provide social housing they should keep away from camper vans if they are being used as ´´permanent´´ residents for people who cannot afford high rents. But again being Spain and still inflicted with a Facist mentality the government like to make up petty rules. Leave parking on private land up to the van owner and the land owner, it is none of your business.

    • Marty

      28 February 2024 • 21:36

      It’s all about profit & greed, people are of no concern to profiteering parasites, the world is full of these type of cretins unfortunately …!!!

    • Deryck Stevenson

      29 February 2024 • 10:25

      It is also about hygiene most motor home owners are very clean, some tip their chemical loos on the land near where they parked, which is both unhygienic and unhealthy.

    • Tom

      29 February 2024 • 17:42

      What about all the ones parked in la zenia shopping centre car park.

    Comments are closed.