The Low Emission Zone maze

Low Emission Zones intended to cut noise and physical pollution Credit: Zeralein99 Shutterstock

Even though a new law creating Low Emissions Zones (ZBE) was supposed to be put in place in any Spanish municipality with more than 50,000 residents, there is still confusion.

The concept is that certain areas should only be accessed by vehicles which display one of a number of different labels and effectively the older the vehicle the less likely it is to have access because it is assumed to be more polluting than newer vehicles.

The actual labels are as follow;

0/Zero (blue) – electric cars, extended range electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids (PHEV) with a range of more than 40 km, and fuel cell vehicles (battery-powered BEV and REEV class vehicles).

Eco (blue and green) – plug-in and non-plug-in (HEV) hybrid cars, 8-seater and goods delivery vans with maximum range of 40km, and natural gas vehicles (CNG, LNG and LPG class vehicles).

C (green) – petrol cars registered since 2006, diesel cars and light vans registered since 2014, and petrol or diesel 8-seaters and goods delivery vans registered since September 2015.

B (yellow) – petrol cars which meet Euro 3 standards and diesel cars which meet Euro 4 and 5 standards. Petrol cars and light vans registered from January 2001 up to and including 2005; diesel cars and light vans registered from 2006 to August 2015; and petrol and diesel 8-seaters and goods delivery vans registered since 2005.

No Label / Label A:  Vehicles that are not able to obtain any label (also known as Label A) are petrol passenger cars and vans registered before 2000, and diesel passenger cars and vans registered before 2006.

It is easy to obtain the label either from your local post office or by visiting the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) website and you need to provided an image of your driving licence or ID card plus the vehicle log book.

The different labels for your vehicle

Once a vehicle has driven 200,000 kilometres, then regardless of its age it will not be allowed to enter the ZBE areas and this will be recorded when your car undertakes its annual ITV check.

Each municipality could have different rules

That all sounds simple but it seems that each municipality has different rules over which vehicles could be exempt from the regulations and in some areas if your car is registered in that municipality then you can come and go as you please.

Some labels preclude entry into the ZBE during daylight hours depending on what the local town hall decides and in some areas you can drive into the ZBE despite the fact that you aren’t supposed to, if you have disabled badge or are going to park in a public car park or to stay in a hotel.

Logic suggests that everyone obtains their label and ideally places it on the lower right-hand side of the front windscreen (although that isn’t mandatory) and then discover what rules have been decided for wherever you are going.

If you own a foreign registered car that doesn’t have a low emission label from the country of origin that you can’t obtain one in Spain.

Find out about your municipality

Follow this link to see a map of low emission zones across Spain.

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page


    • David Daniels

      30 April 2024 • 17:39

      Just too complicated.

    Comments are closed.