The stickers are different colours. / sur

What are the Low Emission Zones in Spain and how will they affect drivers from 1 January 2023?

The anti-pollution scheme is already in force in some cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, but within a few days it will come into effect in a lot of other cities and big towns


Spain’s Climate Change Law demands that from 2023 every town and city with more than 50,000 inhabitants must introduce Low Emission Zones (ZBWE) which will prevent many cars from driving in their town or city centres. This scheme is already in force in some cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, but within a few days it will begin in numerous others and many people are still unaware of that.

A study carried out by the Alphabet company shows that eight out of ten people in Spain are in favour of low emission zones, although in three out of ten cases they are only in favour if they are not affected by the measure, 29% believe this is being introduced for political purposes and nearly four out of ten drivers have no idea what type of environmental sticker their vehicle should have.

Four million cars are likely to be affected

From 2023 the measure will come into force in more than 150 towns and cities. According to Sumauto there are about 11.5 million cars in those locations and the measure will affect nearly four million of them: those which do not have a Directorate-General for Traffic sticker. The stickers classify vehicles according to the amount of contamination they produce, and will determine which can enter town centres and which cannot.

Anyone who is not sure what type of engine their vehicle has can check in the user’s manual, where it will appear as EU4, for example, or on the ITV vehicle inspection card.

The stickers are different colours and will be labelled CERO, ECO, C or B. Any vehicle which is considered to emit too high emissions will not be permitted to enter the Zero Emission Zones, and in a country where the average age of a car is over 13 years it means many drivers are likely to have an unpleasant surprise if they try to do so.