Introduction (goal, intention, purpose)
In the course of the implementation of European directives, the Spanish government has, since the end of 2013, created the framework conditions that allow cities and municipalities or regions of the country to set up environmental zones so that the pollution limits for citizens prescribed by the EU are not exceeded.
The LEZs are defined by the respective cities and municipalities or regions within their borders and allow driving only with prior registration of the vehicle.
It should be noted that vehicles registered in Spain do not have to register because they are already registered in the national databaseand require a Distintivo-Ambiental sticker.
Initially, only the Spanish environmental sticker was intended for the control of environmental zones. However, as these can only be obtained by vehicles registered in Spain, Barcelona has taken a special path and has also introduced registration since 2020 for vehicles registered abroad.
The environmental stickers printed by the National Printing House (Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre) and issued by DGT are officially called Distintivo-Ambiental and are issued in 4 different categories: 0, ECO, C and B. Category A, for which there is no sticker, includes all vehicles and EURO classes that have not been classified in any of the other 4 categories. According to DGT, which manages all vehicles registered in Spain and their emission classes, category A includes about 19,9 million vehicles, which therefore do not receive a sticker. This represents 58.3% of the total vehicle fleet in October 2016.
Of the 14,23 million vehicles that receive an environmental sticker, around 21.350 vehicles are in category 0, 110.750 in category ECO, 9.987.000 in category B and 4.110.000 in category C.
The basis for the introduction of environmental zones in the country has been laid since 2013 with the National Air Quality an Air Protection Plan.
These are based on a resolution of 13.04.2016, which classifies and describes the stickers. Prior to this, DGT had already prepared the corresponding specifications on 07.04.2015 with instruction15/V-110 .
The complete allocation of vehicle types such as light bicycles, cars, trucks and buses to the categories of the Spanish environmental stickers was then regulated in the regulation PCI/810/2018 of 27 July 2018.
Features (appearance, description)
The following vehicles are affected by the Spanish low emission zones and require a sticker when entering, depending on the level of pollution and the city or region:
Motorbike (L), Car, motorhome (M1), minibus (M2), coach (M3), van (N1), truck (N2), heavy truck (N3)
Not affected are agricultural and forestry machinery.
Which stickers / registration do I get? (classification)
In Barcelona, the check of an authorised entry in an environmental zone is not only carried out by the police but, above all, by intelligent cameras (Automatic Number Plate Recognition = ANPR).
These fixed and mobile cameras capture each vehicle registration number and match it with a central database. If the vehicle owner has not registered its car for the the Barcelona environmental zone before entering, he will receive a fine notice between 200 euros and 1800 euros from the respective authorities. In the case of more offences, the fine increases by a further 30%. In the other Spanish cities with low emission zones, police checks are carried out and the fine is around €90.
Important to know for foreigners:
From a fine of 70 euros or more, according to EU Directive 2011/82 of 25.10.2011 "to facilitate the cross-border exchange of information on traffic offences which jeopardise road safety", if the fine is not paid, enforcement proceedings will take place in the home country and will continue until the prison sentence is passed.
How long is my sticker valid?
Unless the engine or exhaust emission standard of the vehicle or the registration number changes, the sticker is valid for the entire lifetime of the vehicle. This means you do not have to buy a new one every year.
Where must my sticker be affixed?
The Distintivo-Ambiental must be stuck to the bottom of the inside right-hand side of the windscreen.
Does my sticker have to be affixed?
Yes, the sticker is only valid if it is stuck to the windscreen.
May several Distintivo-Ambiental be attached to the windscreen?
No! Only the environmental sticker with the currently valid license plate may be attached. It must be clearly and immediately recognizable from the outside. If several stickers with different license plates are stuck to the windscreen, an inspection can result in a fine.
What is the best way to remove the old stickers?
The old stickers can be removed best with a sticker scraper (similar to a glass scraper) or you can carefully heat the sticker with a heat gun so that the glue comes off. Caution! The difference in temperature, especially on cold days, could damage the windscreen.
What happens if the license plate fades?
Our stickers have a 2-year UV protection guarantee - and that without any ifs and buts! Just send us a picture of the faded sticker and we will send you a new one immediately and free of charge.
My windshield is broken and needs to be replaced. What happens to the sticker?
The environmental sticker is such that it will be destroyed when you remove it, so you will have to buy a new one. In many cases, insurance companies will cover not only the cost of the new windscreen but also the cost of the new sticker. A new sticker must therefore be purchased.
What happens if my license plate changes?
As soon as the license plate changes, e.g. if you move house, a new sticker must be ordered.
Is the Distintivo Ambiental also valid for other environmental zones?
The sticker is valid for all Spanish environmental zones.