FOR MEMBERS

Spain’s weirdest laws that foreigners should know about

Playing dominoes outdoors in the Andalusian city of Seville can land you a fine, just one of numerous bizarre laws in Spain. Photo: Gaston De Cardenas / AFP
Playing dominoes outdoors in the Andalusian city of Seville can land you a fine, just one of numerous bizarre laws in Spain. Photo: Gaston De Cardenas / AFP
Towns and cities in Spain have passed some rather bizarre bylaws which prohibit activities that don’t seem that punishable. From a ban on shaking out a rug onto the street to fines for those who play dominoes outdoors, here are some of the strangest laws in Spain you've probably never heard of.

No rug shaking 

In Seville, it’s illegal to shake out clothes or carpets onto the street. Local bylaws also prohibit hanging “indecent” items from your washing lines, with fines reaching up to €3,000 for serious offences. The Spanish enclave of Ceuta in northern Africa also fines those who shake their clothes or rugs from balconies or in the street between €100 and €750. 

No rice throwing at weddings 

In 2007, the city of Cádiz in southern Spain banned the traditional Spanish custom of throwing rice at weddings, partly to stop guests getting injured after slipping on stray grains, but also to stop local pigeons and sparrows from copping a free feed and then ‘adorning’ churches and squares in their faeces. 

Brides and grooms in Cádiz may be happy to know rice throwing is banned at weddings in the southern city. Photo: Emilio García/Flickr

No domino playing outdoors

Authorities in Seville are obviously quite picky about the rules they set as in 2014 they introduced a bylaw which banned dominoes and dice games in outdoor café areas.

Other banned actions included in this anti-noise legislation are unnecessary car engine revving, loud TVs in restaurant terraces, rolling beer barrels in the street, banging butane gas cylinders together and playing darts. Fines reportedly range from €300 to €300,000.

No prostitution without road safety

Spain’s Prime Minister may have pledged to abolish prostitution but for some years now sex workers on the highway near Els Alamus near Lleida in Catalonia have to wear safety vests while on the job.

If they don’t, they are in breach of a 2004 law which states pedestrians on major highways and hard shoulders must wear the high visibility garments, or risk a fine of €40.

No sand castles 

Authorities in the Tenerife municipalities of Arona and Arico decided to include in their 2009 beach conservation bylaws a ban on building large sand castles on their beaches. 

How seriously this is policed we don’t know, but it was part of a push to keep their coastlines as pollution-free and natural as possible. Sand craftsmen who do want to show off their giant sand castles on these beaches will first have to request a municipal permit. 

sand castle spain
Forget about building big sand castles without a permit at these two Tenerife municipalities. Photo: Miguel/Flickr
 

No mop on the balcony

Drying a mop outdoors may be the easiest way to stop it from stinking, but try doing this in the village of Villanueva de la Torre in Guadalajara (central Spain) and you may get a fine or at best a warning. 

According to their local newspaper Nueva Alcarria, PSOE authorities in this municipality of 6,500 people introduced a prohibition on anyone having a mop on the terrace or balcony of their home, part of a decent cohabitation order that also banned dog barking at night and children playing in the street.

No begging if you have a dog 

As bizarre as it may sound, begging is allowed in Madrid but not if you have a dog in your company, or worse still, if you use dogs to do the begging for you. 

This 2018 animal protection bylaw aimed to crack down on organised crime groups which position dogs around the city, lie them down on a blanket next to a begging bowl and then leave them. Madrid authorities estimated these mafias could make anywhere between €400 a day from handouts from passers-by, so the fines can be stiff: up to €5,000. 

Not all beggars in Spain’s capital use their dogs to get more money, but a bylaw still technically prevents them from begging in the company of their pets. Photo: Fernando Valenzuela/Flickr

No strange baby names

Like many countries, Spain has rules governing what people can name their children. Stalin and Mao are both fine, but Judas and Cain are not, and neither is Mandarina – which is the name of the fruit and therefore clearly not suitable for a human being. Try telling that to Gwyneth Paltrow.

No sleeping or sex inside a car 

According to Spain’s Directorate General of Traffic, sleeping or carrying out any other activity which isn’t illegal inside a vehicle isn’t a finable offence as long as the car is properly parked and the act isn’t bothersome. 

In the Basque city of Bilbao however, sleeping inside a car is a punishable offence and in Granada local authorities actually went to the trouble of passing a bylaw which banned sex inside a car.


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.