Stickers must be displayed in the bottom right of the windscreen. / P.F.

Explained: how to get the low-emission-zone stickers

From this year, towns over 50,000 will start to restrict the most polluting vehicles and eco-stickers for permitted cars can be bought at post offices

J. ROIG VALOR / N. HESKETH MADRID / MALAGA.

Spain's Climate Change Act sets the deadline of 2023 for municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants to implement their Low Emission Zones (ZBEs). This, in practice, means that 149 towns and cities will need to define an area of their urban centres where over-polluting vehicles cannot enter. Places whose town centres are to be affected in Malaga province include Benálmadena, Estepona, Mijas, Fuengirola, Malaga city, Marbella, Torremolinos and Vélez-Málaga.

In preparation for the new rules, the DGT, Spain's traffic authority, developed four eco-stickers - B, C, Eco and 0 (zero) - which classify cars, vans and motorbikes according to their efficiency.

B (yellow) applies to petrol vehicles registered between 2001 and 2006 and diesel vehicles from 2006 to 2015. C (green) is the best internal combustion ones can aspire to. It applies to diesel vehicles registered after 2015 and petrol ones after 2006.

For those with an element of electric power, there are two stickers, Eco (two-tone green and blue), which covers conventional hybrid cars (HEV), plug-in cars with less than 40 km of zero-emission range and those powered by gas, either natural gas (CNG) or petroleum gas (LPG). Lastly, the 0 (blue) sticker is intended for 100% electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids with more than 40 km and extended-range electric vehicles, which use a normal engine as a generator.

The rest of Spanish vehicles, the most polluting, which amount to about half, cannot have an eco-sticker and therefore will not be able to enter the zones.

Almost all affected municipalities in Spain have yet to implement their plans or publicly state what the controlled zone in their densest areas will be, so it is likely to be a slow roll-out throughout 2023.

A sticker is not compulsory but towns using them as identifiers for their zones can limit access to vehicles that do not have them.

There are several ways to get an eco-sticker which costs five euros. The main routes are from Correos offices or repair garages affiliated to the Cetraa network and other authorised repairers. Paperwork from the car and personal ID need to be shown.

Vehicle owners can check which sticker applies to them on the DGT traffic authority website. Foreign cars cannot apply for a Spanish sticker and towns may ask these to preregister individually to enter, as has happened in Barcelona.