Barcelona has been one of the most recent cities in joining the proposed traffic restrictions on high pollution in city centres, due to the state of emergency that our climate faces. Thanks to this measure intends to reduce pollution of the metropolitan area and improve the air quality of the city.
This means that from the 1st January 2020 the polluting vehicles in Barcelona cannot go around the established low emissions zone (ZBE).
What is a ZBE and how does it affect us?
In the same way that it is has been implemented in more than 200 European cities since 2008, Barcelona has defined a low emissions zone (ZBE) in a total of 95km2 in the city. Which also reaches the area of L´Hospitalet de Llobregat and part of the municipalities of Espulges de Llobregat, Cornellà de Llobregat and Sant Adrià de Besòs. Because of this, petrol cars enrolled in 2000, diesel cars from 2005 or earlier, motorcycles enrolled in 2003 and trucks/buses/coaches from 2006 or earlier will not be able to drive around this large area from Monday to Friday between 7am and 8pm. It is estimated that this new measure will affect some 50,000 vehicles (approximately 20% of trips around the city).
Likewise, from the 1st April 2020, the vehicles previously mentioned that are caught driving during the hours established exclusively for low emission cars will receive distinct types of sanctions. The least severe fines can vary between €100 and €499, the more serious are between €500 and €1000 and the most serious can cost up to €1800. In the case that they repeat the infraction and they continue to drive their polluting vehicles in Barcelona, the sanction can have an extra charge of 30% the price of the total fine. In the case that they detect a vehicle committing this infringement, they will give the driver 90 minutes to leave the ZBE before applying another fine.
The government of Barcelona justifies this measure due to the atmospheric pollution in the city being so high that estimates suggest that since 2010 3,749 premature deaths have been caused as a result. In this way, the state of the air causes 10% of lung cancers, 30% of ictus and a third of new cases of infant asthma that are diagnosed. It is not only the future of the city at stake, but also the health and livelihood of its inhabitants.
Yet still, there are certain exceptions for polluting vehicles in Barcelona that can continue driving around until 2021 or even, on a permanent basis, until they need to renew their car on their own account. The exceptions of vehicles that can drive without restriction are:
-Cars for people with reduced movement
-Emergency services personnel (police, fire trucks and ambulances)
-Essential services (medicine or funerals)
-Vehicles to transport people with diagnosed illnesses that can´t use public transport
Similarly, from the 1st January 2021, other polluting vehicles in Barcelona have a year to be able to drive around the city whilst being excluded from the low emissions zone, this is the case for:
-Professional vehicles (vans, buses, coaches, lorries)
-Vehicles for people with low income that are indispensable in their working life
How to apply for permission to drive around for foreigners in Barcelona
These new regulations for polluting vehicles in Barcelona are not only applied to the residents of the city, but also to foreign people and sporadic tourists that are also going to be affected. This is because, if you come to visit our city and wish to drive around the centre of Barcelona it is compulsory to register your registration plate in the database of platform ZBE, it is essential that your vehicle complies with the environmental requirements of the DGT and that of the ZBE zone! If, unfortunately, this is not the case, you will have to apply for daily authorisation to drive around the city for a maximum of 10 days a year; each daily pass has a cost of €2 per day. To apply for permission to drive around Barcelona, it is obligatory to be the owner of the vehicle and it costs €5.
The documentation needed to apply for registration on the ZBE platform, in order to be able to drive around low emission areas in Barcelona is: The vehicle documents where it specifies the model, the registration plate, the category of homologation, the type of fuel, the Euro level and the date of its first registration. In the case that you do not have the official document for where it specifies (Euro level) you will have to quote its compliance to the NOx emissions level and particles instead of an official document.
Once you have the necessary documentation, you will have to follow a series of steps to apply for permission to get around the ZBE zone for foreigners:
1. Online registration (from the 1st January 2020).
2. Validation of complying with the requirements (you will have up to 15 days)
3. Resolution reception. The acceptance of this implies the authorization of driving in the ZBE zones of Barcelona for two years (this acceptance being extendable). In the event that your vehicle does not comply with the regulations, you can request access to the city for 10 days a year (always when requesting in advance).
As you have been able to see, so long as your vehicle complies with the environmental requirements of the DGT and the ZBE zone and you register it on the database before arrival, you will have no problem whatsoever. So we say goodbye to the polluting vehicles in Barcelona and we give way to an eco-friendly, sustainable and prosperous future!