Zona de Baja Emisiones (ZBE) - Low Emission Zone
by Chris Chaplow and Fiona Flores Watson
What is a ZBE?
In December 2022, a Spanish law came into force that requires towns and cities of a certain population to create low emission zones (Zonas de Bajas Emisiones, or ZBE) in their centres. This initiative is intended to help improve the air quality in towns and cities, and the health of their inhabitants.
Following the European Directive 2058/50/EC of the European Parliament on air quality, the Spanish central government passed the Royal Decree 1052/2022 Cambio Climático y Transición Energética (Climate Change and Energy Transition) in December 2022. All towns in Spain with a population of more than 50,000 were supposed to introduce low emission zones before 2023.
Certain vehicles, depending on their fuel type and year of first registration, have restricted access to town and city centres at certain times and on certain days (usually weekdays during the daytime); some older vehicles are, or will be in the near future, completely banned.
The key information you need to know is a) where the restricted access area is located, b) the restricted hours/days, and c) which emissions label your vehicle has. Then you will know which areas your vehicle can (and cannot) access, and when.
Granada's ZBE (Low Emission Zone)
Granada was one of the first cities to announce a ZBE; this was in July 2020 for implementation in January 2021. Four city centre zones were published in November 2022, Cameras were installed in April 2023 and tender documents for a website were published in October 2023. In January 2024 it was announced that the Granada Low emission zone comes into force on 1st April 2025. It will be operative in test mode from October 2024 with cameras and signage but fines will not be issued.
The wide ranging project is expected to cost 15m €, 10.5m € from EU Next generation funds.
Granada's Low Emission Zone covers a total of 450 hectares and is divided into four zones:
- Zone 1: will be bounded by Carrera del Darro, Plaza Nueva, Reyes Católicos, Gran Vía, Avenida de Madrid, Carretera de Murcia, Camino Viejo del Fargue and Sacromonte.
- Zone 2: bounded by Puente Blanco, Acera del Darro, Puerta Real, Reyes Católicos, Plaza Nueva, Carrera del Darro, Cuesta del Rey Chico, Paseo de la Silla del Moro, Paseo de la Sabica, Avenida Santa María de la Alhambra, Paseo de las Palmas, Cuesta Molinos, Puente Verde and Paseo de los Basilios.
- Zone 3: bounded by Recogidas, Puerta Real, Acera del Darro, Paseo del Violón, the helicopter roundabout and Camino de Ronda.
- Zone 4: bounded by Camino de Ronda, Plaza Einstein, Avenida Fuentenueva, Severo Ochoa, Avenida de la Constitución, Gran Vía, Reyes Católicos, Puerta Real and Recogidas.
The restrictions only applies to vehicles which do not have an eco-label (also called label A (see below). Exceptions are vehicles loading and unloading, school transport, bicycles, motorbikes and taxis. Vehicles registered in Granada are also exempt.
Additonally in Zone 1, only residents and vehicles with Eco and Zero Emission stickers are allowed to park on the street or in open air car parks. Vehicles with A, B and C stickers must park in underground car parks.
Zone 2 will accommodate rotation parking.
Zone 3 - details are still to be announced.
Zone 4 - details are still to be announced.
Vehicle Emission stickers
Although no law requires the sticker to be placed on the car windscreen, the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) recommends that it be placed on the lower right-hand side of the front windscreen. It will be required to be displayed by local town halls if you want to drive into their Low Emission Zones.
The different categories of labels, according to EU regulations, are:
- 0/Zero (blue) – electric cars, extended range electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids (PHEV) with a range of more than 40 km, and fuel cell vehicles (battery-powered BEV and REEV class vehicles).
- Eco (blue and green) – plug-in and non-plug-in (HEV) hybrid cars, 8-seater and goods delivery vans with maximum range of 40km, and natural gas vehicles (CNG, LNG and LPG class vehicles).
- C (green) – petrol cars registered since 2006, diesel cars and light vans registered since 2014, and petrol or diesel 8-seaters and goods delivery vans registered since September 2015.
- B (yellow) – petrol cars which meet Euro 3 standards and diesel cars which meet Euro 4 and 5 standards. Petrol cars and light vans registered from January 2001 up to and including 2005; diesel cars and light vans registered from 2006 to August 2015; and petrol and diesel 8-seaters and goods delivery vans registered since 2005.
No Label / Label A: Vehicles that are not able to obtain any label (also known as Label A) are petrol passenger cars and vans registered before 2000, and diesel passenger cars and vans registered before 2006.
Approximately 30% of Spanish cars (10 million vehicles) are without an environmental sticker.
For more information see the DGT website. Clasificación de la DGT de Vehículos por Emisiones | ITV
If you do not have a sticker for your vehicle, you can request one from the DGT. Visit https://www.pegatinas-dgt.com/ and enter any car’s registration to see its emission class. To obtain a sticker for the nominal postage cost, upload a scan of your ID or driving licence and the vehicle’s green permiso de circulación document.
Other towns and cities in Andalucia
In total 149 towns and cities in Spain, including 29 in Andalucia, are required to create a Low Emission Zone. This is an update on the ZBE status of the towns in Andalucia with population over 50.000 that are required to introduce ZBE zones by 1 Jan 2024.
Torremolinos - Introduced 1st January 2024. No fines for 6 months.
Marbella - Signage and Cameras active in Dec 2023 for testing period.
Estepona - Published details in Oct 2023 but signage and cameras have not been introduced.
Málaga city - Town Hall approved ordinance in December 2023. Operation before Easter 2024.
Vélez-Malaga - Plans underway, likely to be two areas: historic centre of Velez-Malaga and centre of Torre del Mar,
Fuengirola - No published plans, three zones mentioned in 2021, consultation process awaited.
Benalmadena - No published plans.
Mijas - No published plans, ZBE included in May 2023 election manifesto of all parties.
Sevilla city - active ZBE introduced in Isla Cartuja 1st January 2023. Plans for city centre ZBE under discussion.
Alcalá de Guadaira
Algeciras - Initial proposals opened for public comment on 20th April 2023.
Cádiz city - Town Hall confirmed on 23rd May 2023 the consession company who will manage the project.
Chiclana de la Frontera - Town Hall confirmed on 4th Nov 2022 the consession company to manage the ZBE project. 23 Apr 2023 Next Gen EU grant confirmed.
El Puerto de Santa María - Ecologistas en Acción, the enviromental group publically complained on on 30th Jan 2023 that El Puerto de Santa Maria had not made any ZBE plans public, nor answered their written requests.
Jerez de la Frontera - No ZBE plans published, 45 cameras being installed as a phase one.
La Línea de la Concepción - ZBE II Parque Princesa Sofía is operative; no motor vehicles permitted. ZBE I is avenida de España y las calles, Salvador Dalí, López de Ayala, Granada, Clavel y plaza de la Constitución. To be introduced in 2025 restricting A sticker vehicles, in 2026 restricting B sticker vehicles and 2027 restricting C sticker vehicles.
San Fernando - Proposed area between Observatorio de Marina and Hornos Púnicos roundabout.
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Granada city Plans published, ZBE active from 1st April 2025. Testing from Oct 2024.
Almería city - ZBE area has been defined, however since tested air quality is good, there are no current plans to impose restrictionunless.
El Ejido - Plans published not yet introduced.
Roquetas del Mar
Córdoba city - active ZBE introduced 23rd Feb 2023.
Huelva - Huelva Town Hall reviewing plans made by previous administration before May 2023.
Jaén city - ZBE public comment document published November 2023.
Linares - Project advanceed, cameras and sinage underwway in historic centre. Ordinances to be published.
The access and restrictions of each ZBE depend on each municipality, but as a general rule C and B label cars can access these zones as long as they park in a public or private car park. There are no restrictions for ECO and 0 cars.