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Driving in Spain: What changes in 2023?

The Local Spain
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Driving in Spain: What changes in 2023?
What changes about driving in Spain in 2023? Photo: TravelPriceWatch / Unsplash

New low-emission zones, the redesign of road signs and the situation for those with UK driving licences – 2023 will see many changes on the roads in Spain.


New low-emission zones

As part of the Spanish government’s climate change and energy transition legislation, a series of low-emission zones (Zonas de Bajas Emisiones, ZBE) will be introduced across the country on January 1st 2023. The aim is to reduce air pollution in Spain’s urban areas and by 2050 have a fleet of cars and light commercial vehicles without direct carbon dioxide emissions, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.


These low-emission zones will restrict access, circulation and parking for more polluting vehicles, although town and city halls will have a certain degree of autonomy as to how they apply the new rules.

The new rules will apply to municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, of which there are 149 across the country.

READ ALSO: How Spain’s new low-emission zones will affect drivers

New road signs

Spain's Ministry of Transport and the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) have revealed a new raft of road signs and redesigns that will be rolled out in 2023.

The new signs and redesigns of old ones are expected to be seen on our streets and highways in mid-2023, but it's important to familiarise yourself with them before they do. 

Fortunately, many of the señales de tráfico (road signs) are quite similar to the old ones but have been modernised, while others have been designed to keep up with the times, such as more electric scooters on the roads and low-emission zones, where cars with certain environmental badges are not allowed. Click here to see what they are and what each one means.


Fuel discounts to end

As of January 1st 2023, almost all of Spain’s 27 million drivers no longer have access to the 20-cents-on-the-litre subsidy on petrol, diesel and other types of fuel.

This comes after the Spanish Cabinet decided to finalise its offer to the country’s population, as part of changes to its new ‘anti-crisis’ package which includes rent caps, VAT cuts on food and an extension to free public transport.

The cost-cutting measure was first introduced last April when the war in Ukraine pushed the price of all types of commodities in Spain to record highs, including fuel. Back then, a litre of petrol cost €1.818 and a litre of diesel €1.837, prices which have fluctuated throughout 2022 but are beginning to stabilise and come down.

The only drivers that can continue claiming the fuel discount in Spain in 2023 are transport workers such as truck drivers, as well as those in the agricultural, fishing and livestock sectors.

READ ALSO: Spain ends fuel discount for almost all drivers


Deal on UK driving licences

On December 21st 2022, the UK Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott took to the embassy’s social media channels to announce some promising news that will give hope at the very least to the thousands of UK licence holders who haven’t been able to drive in Spain since May 1st.

He confirmed that the deal on UK driving licences has been made and that they are now waiting on a few changes to be made to the technical wording of the agreement before it’s passed on to the Spanish cabinet for approval.

He said: “We have been assured that this process will be a smooth one… and as soon as we have any news, we will let you know”.

This means that while there is no fixed date yet, it is looking likely that Brits who weren't able to exchange their licences will be back on the road in early 2023. 

READ ALSO: Deal on UK licences in Spain agreed but still no exchange date


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