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.

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.

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

10 comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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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