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 vehicles with the AMB 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.
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.
Once registered online, 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
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 AMB 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.
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 a.m. and eight p.m.
Foreign-registered vehicles must register online at the AMB 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 outside the Low Emissions Zone. However, depending on which ferry line you are travelling with and your point of origin, you may end up driving through the low-emissions zone in order to get there. I recommend you plan your route carefully and check it against the ZBE map before making a decision.
My vehicle has an environmental sticker issued by my home country. Do I still need to register?
Yes, all foreign registered vehicles need to be registered with the AMB before arrival in Barcelona, as described above. This includes vehicles which have a sticker that allows them to drive in LEZs in the country where they are registered.
In 2023 the Spanish traffic authority, the DGT, announced that they recognize equivalent environmental stickers issued by other EU member states. They even went as far as to publish these tables, which correlate the Spanish labels with stickers issued by other countries. However, when I called the ZBE Helpline, they told me that even if a foreign-registered vehicle has a sticker which is recognised by the DGT, it still needs to be registered before driving in the ZBE.
I’ve registered my foreign vehicle to drive in Barcelona, am I entitled to drive in the LEZ in other Spanish cities?
The official ATM website states the following:
To facilitate the unification and access of foreign vehicles in other low-emission areas of Spain, it has been agreed with the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) to share the database of foreign vehicles that authorize it. In this way, users will be able to access the ZBE that is established in coordination with the DGT if they have authorized the AMB to communicate their data.
So it seems that as long as you authorise the AMB to share your data, once your vehicle has been registered in Barcelona, you are OK to drive in other Spanish cities which have a Low Emission Zone. Having said that, if I were you, I’d contact the other cities’ transport authorities to make sure.
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.