Barcelona Low Emission Zone: Everything You Need To Know

The Barcelona Low Emission Zone (Catalan: Zona de Baixes Emisions) was introduced in 2020 to reduce the adverse effects of vehicle emissions on the health of Barcelona residents.

Access to the Barcelona Low Emission Zone is restricted from Monday to Friday between seven am and eight pm. During this time, vehicles entering the area must have an environmental label issued by the DGT. Owners of foreign-registered vehicles must register their vehicle with the ATM before arrival.

Older and more polluting vehicles can apply for a temporary permit valid for twenty-four hours. Drivers who enter the ZBE in a vehicle that doesn’t have an environmental label or hasn’t registered correctly may be fined up to €200. The only exceptions are the main Barcelona ring roads which are exempt.

Cars, vans and trucks on Barcelona's ring roads
Barcelona’s ring roads are exempt from the ZBE restrictions

How the ZBE Low Emissions Zone works

The idea of the ZBE is to improve the city’s air quality and improve the health and quality of life of residents. This is done by restricting the movement of older and more polluting vehicles using a system introduced by the DGT (the Spanish transport ministry), whereby vehicles are issued with an environmental label corresponding to the levels of exhaust emissions that they produce.

Vehicles manufactured after the year 2000, in the case of gasoline cars and motorbikes, and 2006, in the case of diesel cars and vans, are issued with one of four labels based on European emissions legislation. Lorries, trucks, buses and coaches, manufactured from 2006 onwards, also have similar labels.

Older vehicles that haven’t been issued with an environmental label can not enter the ZBE from Monday to Friday between seven am and eight pm, except for public holidays*.

Foreign registered vehicles must register with the ATM (Municipal Transport Authority) before arrival in Barcelona using this form. It currently costs €7 to register a car. The permit may take up to fifteen days to be processed, so you should apply at least three weeks before arrival.

Once registered, gasoline cars that comply with Euro III emissions regulations, Diesel cars, vans and lorries which comply with Euro IV emissions regulations and motorbikes which comply with Euro II emissions regulations are allowed to enter the ZBE at any time.

*Older and more polluting vehicles can apply for a one-day pass to enter the city, which costs €5 or €6 depending on the type of vehicle. A vehicle may only be issued with a maximum of ten one-day passes per year.

Left it until the last minute?

If you will be arriving in Barcelona within the next few days and have only just heard about the Low Emissions Zone, you should go ahead and register your vehicle using the link above.

Several readers have reported that you can get the registration approved immediately by calling the ZBE Helpline on +34 930 333 555; lines are open from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 2 pm.

The line is initially answered by a recorded message in Catalan which asks you to select Catalan, Spanish or English by dialling 1, 2 or 3, respectively.

Once you’ve dialled 3, you will be put through to an English-speaking operator who will manually check and approve your application so that you can drive in the Low Emissions Zone straight away.

Map of the ZBE, Barcelona Low Emission Zone

Map of the Barcelona Low Emission Zone
Map of the Barcelona Low Emission Zone, courtesy of l’Ajuntament de Barcelona

Barcelona Low Emission Zone FAQs

Which towns are included in the ZBE?

The Barcelona Low Emissions Zone or ZBE covers an area of approximately ninety-five square kilometres, which includes the entire city of Barcelona plus L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Sant Adrià de Besòs and parts of Espluges de Llobregat and Cornellà.

How much does it cost to enter the Barcelona ZBE?

Unlike the London Ultra Low Emissions Zone, there is no fee to enter the Barcelona Low Emissions Zone. Vehicles that don’t meet the relevant emissions regulations or haven’t applied for a special permit simply aren’t allowed to enter at certain times of the day.

Foreign vehicles must register with the local transport authority, which costs €7.

Does the ZBE Low Emission Zone apply to foreign vehicles?

Both Spanish and Foreign registered vehicles must comply with the Barcelona Low Emission Zone restrictions.

Spanish registered vehicles are issued with a so-called DGT Environmental Label which is displayed on the vehicle’s windscreen.

Foreign registered vehicles must register with the ATM before arriving in the city. The fine for non-compliance is currently €200.

How can I register my vehicle for the Barcelona ZBE?

You can register your vehicle on the Metropolitan Transport Authority website here.

During the registration process, you are asked to provide documental proof that your vehicle complies with the relevant emissions legislation, as well as proof of ownership and your home address.

If your vehicle doesn’t comply with the emissions limits, you can still apply for a one day pass. The passes cost €5 or €6 per day, depending on the type of vehicle.

If you prefer, you can apply by post using this form.

Which vehicles are affected by the Barcelona Low Emission Zone?

When the ZBE is in effect, all vehicles entering the city must either have an environmental label or be registered with the local authorities as described above.

Generally speaking, gasoline cars and motorbikes registered after the year 2000 and diesel cars, vans, RVs, lorries, coaches and buses registered after 2006 are allowed to circulate in the Barcelona Low Emissions zone at any time.

Older vehicles must apply for a special permit that will enable them to drive in the city for twenty-four hours.

Vehicle displaying the environmental label for entering in the Barcelona ZBE Low emission zone
DGT environmental label

How much is the fine for driving in the ZBE in a vehicle that isn’t registered?

The fine for driving in the Barcelona Low Emissions Zone in a vehicle that doesn’t have an environmental label or hasn’t been registered with the ATM is €200. This can typically be reduced to €100 if you pay within twenty days of receiving the fine.

Which vehicles are exempt from the ZBE Low emissions zone?

Vehicles that have been adapted for transporting people with reduced mobility, as well as emergency services vehicles and hearses, can apply for an exemption here.

Are rental cars exempt from the ZBE?

The ZBE regulations apply to rental vehicles. However, since rental cars are seldom more than one or two years old, you will not have to pay anything to drive in Barcelona when renting a vehicle in Spain.

Suppose you visit Barcelona with a vehicle you rented in another European country. In that case, you should contact the rental company to see whether they will register the vehicle as described above. Most rental companies charge extra if you want to drive their cars in another country.

Can lorries and coaches drive in the Barcelona Low Emission Zone?

Lorries, coaches and camper vans based on a C1 truck chassis that meet Euro IV emissions legislation are allowed to circulate in Barcelona when the ZBE is in effect, Monday to Friday between seven am and eight pm.

Foreign-registered vehicles must register online at the ATM website before arriving in Barcelona. Spanish registered vehicles are required to have an environmental label which is issued by the DGT.

Older vehicles may apply for a one day pass which costs €6.

Is Barcelona Ferry Terminal within the ZBE?

Barcelona’s ferry port is inside the ZBE Low Emissions Zone. If you are travelling in a foreign-registered vehicle, you should register it with the local authorities before arrival.


Have I missed anything? If you’ve any questions relating to the Barcelona Low Emission Zone, leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Categorised as Tips

52 comments

  1. Hi Richard,
    We will be coming in to Barcelona on the ferry from Mallorca with a British registered car (arrived by a different route), going immediately onward through France back to UK. As we are away from home we don’t have the log book with us. Will we need to/be able to register for a permit?

    1. Hi Janet,

      In theory, you have to upload a photo or scanned copy of the registration document in order to register the vehicle for the ZBE.

      If there’s no one at home who could take a photo of the log book for you, then I recommend you call the ZBE Helpline on the number in the article above and ask whether they can help you. There’s a chance that they may still be able to register your vehicle for you.

      Good luck, and I’d be interested to hear how you get on.

  2. This is a fantastic site, thank you so much for the info! I’m due to drive my foreign car into Barcelona today, only just aware of the low emission zone. I called the number suggested. They said no problem, fill in the online form (all you need is a credit card to pay the 7 euros, your passport number and a photo of your registration document) and call us back. I did and they approved it on the spot. Very helpful, I think they want to help you because you’re trying to do the right thing.

    1. Hi Pam,

      Thanks for your comment and for telling us about your experience; I’m sure that other people who didn’t find out about the low emissions zone until the last minute will be glad to hear that they can get things sorted quickly.

  3. Hello and thank you very much for the information.
    I will have to enter Barcelona with a foreign rental car on the 18th Sep.
    Unfortunately, I still do not know what car it will be. If the application is not processed on time, is there any way I can call the AMB and speak to them (preferably in English)?
    Thank you very much for your time.

    1. Hi Kat,

      You can call the ZBE Helpline on +34 930 333 555, lines are open from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 2 pm. The line is initially answered by a recorded message in Catalan which asks you to select Catalan, Spanish or English by dialling 1, 2 or 3, respectively. Once you’ve dialled 3, you’ll be answered by an English-speaking operator who will be able to help you.

      Incidentally, I’ve not found any reliable information about registering a foreign rental car to drive in the ZBE. If you have the time, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a comment letting us know how whether it’s possible and what information you have to provide.

      1. Hello Richard
        I’m afraid I have had the most horrendous experience with this site. I have called the customer service centre a dozen times because the site won’t let me pay on line. I don’t think the call centre is helpful at all. I have been told I should use Chrome, which I had. The English speakers do not under what the error messages mean. All in all it has taken me hours of frustration to try to pay my 5€. The bank can’t help you unless the registration form is printed so that the atm can read the bar code. Is it really necessary for me to carry a printer in my motorhome?!?! I went to a printing shop and they refused to print my document off from my phone.The post office in Alcossebre says that they don’t take payments either. For me it’s a very poorly supported system. Very disappointed.

  4. I drive a Spanish registered Historico motorhome (diesel) from 1986. Are Historico vehicles exempt from this or do I still need to get the one-day permit to get to the ferry port?

  5. Richard,
    Thanks for your information in this article. My application was stuck on pending but a call, using the number you supplied, to a very helpful lady soon sorted it out.
    Bob

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks for the feedback, from similar comments I’ve had from other readers, it seems that this happens quite often. I’m glad to hear you were able to get it sorted.

  6. Hello Richard,
    We are planning to visit Barcelona tomorrow 27.08.22 (Saturday), just for one day. Just found out about the low emissions zone. We are with a UK registered petrol car 2008. Do we need a one day permit as I have read that the low emissions zone restrictions are Monday to Friday?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Dimitrina,

      If you are only driving in Barcelona on Saturday, you don’t need to register your car or apply for a permit since, as you say, the ZBE only operates from Monday to Friday.

  7. Hi Richard
    Coming To Barcelona cruise terminal in Oct arrive Sat but leave 10am Thursday in a 21 plate Mercedes diesel, Will i need the stcker or will cameras pick up that car is exempt

    1. Hi Mark,

      Is your car on Spanish or UK plates?

      All foreign (non-Spanish) registered cars, regardless of age, need to be registered using the link in the article above.

  8. Hi Richard,
    Looking at coming in to Barcelona tomorrow 24th August and stay in a hotel over night to watch the football then leave the next day. Just found out about the emission zone and need a way of getting the car on a daily ticket or registered to avoid a fine. It’s a 2013 Spanish vehicle. Can you help please.
    Andy

    1. Hi Andy,

      I’ve some good news for you, if it’s a nine-year-old Spanish-registered vehicle, you probably don’t need to do anything at all.

      Since the vehicle is registered in Spain, you can check on the DGT website (click here) to see whether it is entitled to en environmental label.

      If the vehicle is entitled to a label, then you don’t really need to do anything else for now. As I said in some of the comments below, the ZBE is policed by cameras that photograph and check number plates. So it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve got the label stuck on the windscreen because the cameras aren’t looking for a sticker, they’re checking the registration number against a database.

      Going forward, I think it’s worth getting the sticker (here) as other Spanish cities are bound to start implementing similar schemes, although at the moment only Barcelona and Madrid have done so so far.

      1. Hi Richard,
        We have a similar issue – Spanish car registered 2012. My husband drove from Alicante to Barcelona for the match last night – unaware of the low emissions system.
        Any advice to avoid the fine?

        1. Hi Jo,

          As per my reply to Andy, I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about. A ten-year-old, Spanish-registered car should be entitled to an environmental label and is therefore allowed to enter the low emissions zone without having to pay anything or register.

          If you purchased the car second-hand within the last couple of years, the label may have been included with the documents. If I were you, I’d take a look in the glove box in case a previous owner has tucked it away somewhere.

          As mentioned, the ZBE is enforced by cameras that photograph vehicles’ numberplates and compare them with the DGT’s database. As long as your vehicle is entitled to an environmental label, you won’t get a fine, even if you haven’t stuck the label to the windscreen. You can check which label your vehicle is entitled to here.

          In short, I don’t think you are going to be fined because I think that your car is allowed to drive in the ZBE, even though you haven’t displayed the environmental label.

  9. Hi
    Do I need to pay for or register my vehicle for Ulez Barcelona
    In case the vehicle is a van euro 6 and it’s first registration in UK 2022

    1. Hi Aleksandar,

      Yes, if you will be driving in the Barcelona low emission zone on a weekday between seven am and eight pm, you will need to register your vehicle using the link in the article.

  10. Hi Terry,
    Unfortunately I have already arrived (touring Europe) and already driven through the city centre a few times daily for past 4 days.

    I HAVE just applied online and they sent me a barcode certificate to print – but online still says PENDING.

    the fine of €200/100 – is that for EACH day – or just a one off fine?
    as I am here for 10 days.

    thanks

    1. Hi Shaun,

      I recommend you call the ZBE call centre on +34 930 333 555. They will be able to approve your application and tell you what fines, if any, you will have to pay.

  11. Hi , thanks for the tips, as one user has asked, we are comming from France and wondering where is best to park and get the train from outside the LEZ

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Since you’re coming from France, I imagine you’ll be arriving on the E-15/AP-7 motorway, right?

      I think the best option, rather than following the signs on the motorway to Barcelona, would be to turn off at junction 12B and follow the signs to Mataró on the C-60. If I remember right, the turnoff is signposted to Granollers, Argentona and Mataró.

      As you approach Mataró, there are three options signposted something like Mataró North, Mataró Center and Barcelona. At this point, you want to take the B-40 (signposted Mataró Center) and follow it to the end, where it terminates in a roundabout in a kind of industrial estate by the beach.

      Here you take the N-II south towards Barcelona. The N-II runs along the coast, alongside the R1 train line and most, if not all, of the train stations on this line have free car parks. The last three train stations before Barcelona are all within travel zone one, so I recommend you leave your car at one of these.

      The easiest to find will be Montgat Nord train station, which is one of two stations in the town of Montgat. If that car park is full, you can continue to Montgat, where the car park is shortly after the train station and finally Badalona train station although Badalona is a larger town and the station isn’t so easy to find.

      This might sound complicated, but if you look at Google Maps and check out the locations of the car parks in Street View, you should be able to see what I’m talking about.

      If you are staying in Barcelona overnight, I recommend you return to your car in the evening and move it to the car park at your hotel after the Low Emission Zone stops being in effect at eight pm.

      If something isn’t clear, feel free to ask, and if you have time, I’d appreciate it if you could leave another comment to let us know where you decided to park and how it worked out.

  12. Hello,
    Is there a site where I can find parking lots outside the LEZ near public transport by which we can easily travel to the city center?

    1. Hi Dirk,

      Unfortunately, I’ve had a quick search online and haven’t found any websites with a really good list.

      When I have some time, maybe this weekend, I’ll look into this further and add a section to the post because I think it would be a really helpful addition.

      In the meantime, in case you’re arriving in the next couple of days, I know there are car parks at Badalona and Montgat train stations, just north of Barcelona, and Castelldefels train station to the South. You could also use the long stay car parks at the airport, which is also outside the ZBE.

      Check back in a week or so and hopefully I’ll have added some more. Thanks for the idea!

  13. Hi, do I need to register uk vehicle if I purchase a sticker from post office? (Arrive Sunday, depart Wed, remain parked throughout visit.) As I understand i would only need one daily sticker; do I need to bring anything to Post office please?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Caroline,

      You won’t be able to purchase a sticker for a UK-registered vehicle, the environmental labels are only issued for Spanish-registered vehicles.

      You need to register the vehicle online using the link in the article, and once the documentation you upload has been approved, will receive an email confirming that it has been registered.

      The daily permits are only for older vehicles, if your vehicle is less than about fifteen years old, you won’t need to apply for this.

  14. Hi, do I understand correctly, that during Saturday’s and Sundays I can enter the zone without registering? (Foreign car)

    1. Hi Filip,

      Yes, you understand correctly. The ZBE only applies on weekdays.

      From Friday evening at 8 pm until Monday morning at 7 am, you can drive a foreign car in Barcelona without registering it.

  15. Hi Richard, I am travelling to Barcelona in ZBE zone with my french car. I have already registered it and status is showing accepted. But I am not able to get any document or mail saying it is acceptable. Is it normal or I should be getting some confirmation?
    Thanks for your reply.

    1. Hi Amit,

      You will eventually receive an email with confirmation but it sometimes takes a day or two.

      It doesn’t matter though, you don’t really need the email, as soon as the vehicle is registered and it’s been accepted you are allowed to drive in the ZBE.

      As I said in a previous comment, the Barcelona low emission zone is policed electronically by cameras which photograph numberplates and compare them with a database of registered vehicles.

  16. Hi. Yes
    We didn’t know there was an emission zone until yesterday and arrive in Barcelona to go to Ferry terminal next Thursday 30th June. We have filled in and sent form but did not pay the 7€ as we passed over by mistake and it won’t let us back in. Also it’s saying 15 days needed to process and we don’t have that. Is there anything we can do? Your advice is appreciated.

    1. Hi Val,

      If I was you I’d call the ZBE call centre, they will be able to advise.

      The number is +34 930 333 555

      Working hours: Monday to Friday from 9 am to 2 pm.

      Tomorrow (Friday 24th of June) is a bank holiday here in Barcelona, so you’ll have to wait until Monday to call.

      The phone is answered by an automated switchboard (initially in Catalan) which gives you the choice of being attended to in Catalan, Spanish and English.

      Hopefully, they’ll be able to sort things out for you.

      If you decide to call them, I’d appreciate it if you could let me know how you get on because this sort of information will be useful for other readers who find themselves in a similar situation.

      1. Thank you for posting this! I had the same issue and called them this morning (option 3 for English) and they approved my application on the phone straight away :)

        1. Hi Kate,

          Thanks for the feedback, it’s good that they were able to sort it out for you so quickly.

          I’m sure that other people who are in the same situation will be relieved when they read your comment!

  17. Hi

    I am driving a French hire car to Barcelona low emissions zone tomorrow and will arrive in the afternoon. I have attempted to register it on the ZBE website but it asks for proof of ownership and fuel emissions documentation. I uploaded the rental contract and a pdf of the vehicle’s technical specifications, then paid the €7 registration fee, but the registration application still says “pending”. I don’t know what else to do but need to drive to the hotel in the centre of Barcelona. One page says it can take up to 15 business days to approve the application. But the application process did not allow for anyone other than the owner of the vehicle, ie no flexibility for rental cars. What to do? I appreciate this is short notice but any advice would be appreciated because I know there is a €100 fine which Europcar will no doubt turn into a €400 fine! Cheers. Stu

    1. Hi Stu,

      Unfortunately at this point, I can’t give you much more than speculation. As you say, during the application process you are asked to give proof of ownership of the vehicle and I really don’t know whether a rental agreement will be sufficient.

      What I can say is the following:

      The ZBE is mostly “policed” by cameras set up at the entrance to the city, mostly on the slip roads as you come off the ring roads. The cameras photograph numberplates and then, presumably, compare them with a database before issuing fines where applicable. So you won’t have the opportunity to explain your situation to a policeman or something like that, the fine will simply be issued automatically and then, as you say, the rental company will add their handling fee on top.

      All I can suggest at this late stage is that, since the ZBE only applies until 8 pm, you could simply time your arrival for after this time. Once your car is parked it doesn’t need to be registered, as long as you don’t circulate between 7 am and 8 pm there’s no problem. If for whatever reason you need to arrive at your hotel before 8 pm, then you could park your car outside the ZBE and catch a train and/or metro into the city, then go and get your car later in the day. Not ideal but it could save you a couple of hundred Euros in fines.

      If you decide to go for the latter option, let me know which road you will be arriving on and I’ll try and suggest a place to park your car.

  18. Hi Terry,
    I am driving into the centre of Barcelona on a Monday, leaving my car parked in a carpark for 7 nights, and then driving out of Barcelona the following Monday. Do I need 2 passes, for the 2 days on which I am driving, or 7 days for the 7 days my car is technically within the zone (even though it’s nt being driven). Thank you nadvance for your help!

    Ciara

    1. Hi Ciara,

      To be able to give you a really comprehensive answer I’d need you to tell me whether your car is on foreign (non-Spanish) plates, whether you own the vehicle, how old it is and whether it’s petrol or diesel.

      In the meantime, I’m going to assume that it’s a foreign-plated car which is less than 15 years old and you’re the owner. In this case, you just need to register your vehicle once for the entire visit.

  19. Hi, do I need to register my foreign license plate car on my way to the Barcelona ferry port on the night, entering the city after 8pm?

    1. Hi Jakub,

      If you’ll only be driving in Barcelona after eight pm or before seven am then you don’t need to register your vehicle.

  20. Hi do I need a permit to drive my uk motorhome on the c32 motorway passing by Barcelona North to South then return.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Chris,

      As long as you stick to the ring roads and don’t enter the city you won’t need a permit.

      Just north of Barcelona, the C-32 merges into the Ronda de Dalt ring road (B-20) which is excluded from the Low Emissions Zone.

      The other alternative is to take the C-31 followed by the B-10 Ronda Litoral (B-10) ring road.

  21. Hi Richard, Have today used your helpful Correos link and paid the €5 fee plus €2.99 for delivery to our house, sometime soon huh. As you say its better to have the sticker.
    Thank you so much for your assistance.
    Best wishes
    Terry

  22. Hi Richard, many thanks for your quick reply.
    A yellow B sticker came up. Am I right to presume that is all I need but will it expire before I return two weeks later or is just that one will be okay? So €5 approximately as you say from a post office. How soon can I get the sticker before my trip, which means entering the port on the 11th May 2022 at least two hours before our 0030 departure on the 12 May 2022?
    Ps. Do the post office need anything from me apart from their fee?

    1. Hi Terry,

      According to the Correos website, you can apply for the sticker online and it should arrive within 48 or 72 hours.

      When you apply online, using this link, you are asked to upload a copy of the Permiso de circulación (your motorhome should have 2 documents, one of which is the permiso de circulación) and of your TIE.

      As far as I’m aware, the sticker is valid for the vehicle’s lifetime and never expires.

      Plus, the sticker isn’t specific to Barcelona, it’s issued by the DGT (the Spanish transport authority) and is valid in all Spanish cities which have a Low Emissions Zone. At the moment, only Barcelona and Madrid have Low Emissions Zones but in the future, you can expect other large cities will start to implement a similar scheme.

      There is some debate as to whether you actually have to stick the environmental label on the windscreen, and you do see vehicles in Barcelona without the sticker visible.

      The Barcelona city council website says the following:

      Vehicles with a 0, ECO, C or B environmental label can travel within the ZBE Rondes de Barcelona without any restrictions.

      Personally speaking, to be on the safe side, I think it’s worth purchasing and displaying the sticker.

      By the way, as stated in the article above, the ZBE only comes into effect from seven am to eight pm on weekdays, so if you’re arriving late at night to catch the ferry you don’t need to worry about it anyway.

  23. Am I allowed to take my 2012 motorhome on Spanish plates freely to the ferry port on May12th 2022 to Sardinia and return on the 25th May 2022? I am a resident with a T.I.E card and have a British passport?

    1. Hi Terry,

      If your motorhome was manufactured in 2012 you should have no problem entering the ZBE.

      You can check whether your vehicle is entitled to an environmental sticker on this website by entering the registration number.

      Assuming you’re vehicle is entitled to a sticker, you can purchase one at your local post office (in Spain) or online.

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