Zona de Baja Emisiones (ZBE) - Low Emission Zone
by Chris Chaplow and Fiona Flores Watson
What is a ZBE?
In December 2022, a new 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.
Málaga's ZBE (Low Emission Zone)
Malaga is one of the many towns across Andalucia that is introducing ZBEs. The Malaga Town Hall approved the draft munuicipal ordinance in December 2023, it is hope to put the ZBE in operation before Easter 2024.
Cars and motorbikes registered in Malaga city will be able to access the ZBE. Those vehicles registered in another town and without a sticker, or just a B sticker will not not be able to enter from the third year onwards.
Vehicles registered in Malaga,loading and unloading delivery vehicles, all vehicles accessing public car parks, and all those going to hotels, owners and tenants of private parking spaces, commercial premises or tourist accommodation, emergency vehicles, Blue Badge holders and municipal service vehicles will be exempt from the restrictions.
Malaga ZBE Zone had an area of 437 hectáreas and is formed by the following streets: Paseo Marítimo Antonio Machado, avenida Ingeniero José María Garnica, calle Explanada de la Estación, Plaza de la Solidaridad, avenida de las Américas, avenida de la Aurora, Jardines de Picasso, avenida de Andalucía, calle Compositor Lehmberg Ruiz, calle Hilera, calle Santa Elena, calle Honduras, calle Arango, calle Martínez Maldonado, avenida de Barcelona, Plaza del Hospital Civil, avenida Doctor Gálvez Ginachero, calle Mazarredo, avenida del Arroyo de los Ángeles, Paseo de Martiricos, calle Huerto de los Claveles, calle Marqués de Cádiz, calle Juan del Encina, calle Empecinado, Plaza Capuchinos, Alameda de Capuchinos, Plaza Olletas, calle Toquero, calle Obispo González García, calle Amargura, calle Ferrándiz, Paseo Salvador Rueda, calle Rafael Pérez Estrada y Paseo Marítimo Pablo Ruiz Picasso.
For cars and motorbikes, the City Council proposes that in the first year only vehicles (cars and motorbikes) accredited by the DGT with the environmental label CERO, ECO, C and B and without labels will be able to enter the ZBE. In other words all cars and motorkikes.
In the second year, those with the ZERO, ECO, C and B environmental label can enter and without labels which are registered in Malaga city, will be allowed to enter.
In the third year, vehicles with ZERO, ECO and C environmental labels can enter and those with B or without labels, but which are registered in Malaga, will be able to enter.
In the case of vans, for the first four years, those with ZERO, ECO, C and B labels and those without labels will be allowed to circulate. From the fifth year onwards, those with the ZERO, ECO and C labels and those with the B label or without labels, but who are domiciled in Malaga, will have access.
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.