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FACT CHECK: Can you really get fined for peeing in the sea in Spain?

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
FACT CHECK: Can you really get fined for peeing in the sea in Spain?
So, can you really not get away with having a cheeky wee in the sea in Spain? Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

There have been several stories circulating recently about fines for urinating in the sea in Spain, especially among UK media outlets, so what's the truth? Can this really be enforced or are town halls just 'taking the piss'?

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News relating to fines in Spain for peeing in the sea may have caused unease among incontinent holidaymakers this summer, who will have also wondered if this rule can really be enforced and where they may be fined (in case they really can't hold it in and get to a toilet in time).

Believe it or not, a few Spanish towns and cities in Spain do actually have this rule, and the news has resurfaced again due to reports in early July that Marbella authorities will start to hand out fines for urinating in the sand and the sea, with many outlets reporting penalties of €750, a figure that could be doubled to €1,500 for repeat offenders.

The exact rule can be found in Marbella's Ordinance of Beach Regulations Article 67, which covers minor offences. It states that "physiological evacuation at sea and on the beach" will be prohibited and that this type of infraction “will be fined up to €750”.

Does this refer to having a number 1 or 2 in the Mediterranean Sea?

READ ALSO: Drinking and urinating in public: The things you can now be fined more for in Barcelona

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Marbella Town Hall has since clarified this in an e-mail to the UK newspaper The Guardian. "The ordinance does not impose any penalty for urinating in the sea," and emphasised "It will not be applicable. The rule regulates possible antisocial infractions on the beach, just as any act of this type is regulated in any public space, such as city streets.”

What this means in non-legalese is that no fines will be imposed for simply peeing while swimming in sea, but that they can be handed out for people standing on the shore and urinating in the sea (does anybody really do this?), as well as for other antisocial behaviours on the beach.

This could include inappropriate use of showers, leaving trash on the beach and throwing cigarette butts into the sand or using loudspeakers.

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Other media outlets have reported fines of €300 for these rule breakers in Marbella instead of the larger €750, but the truth is it will depend on the seriousness of the offence.

Marbella is not the only place you have to worry about these potential fines. Back in June 2022, the Galician city of Vigo in northwestern Spain also announced it would impose a fine of €750 for peeing in the sea. They said it was "a violation of hygienic-sanitary standards".

The local rule considers that peeing on the beach is a minor offence and, as an alternative, offers public toilets distributed on the sandy beaches that have a blue flag.

Again, it was unclear at the time how they would actually know or enforce the rule.

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In Málaga, the city’s rulebook also states that "physiological evacuations in the sea are prohibited” since 2004. Its Ordinance for the Use and Enjoyment of the Beaches of the Municipal District of Málaga, says that offenders are subject to fines of €300.

In the town of San Pedro del Pinatar, in Murcia, peeing in the sea has been prohibited since 2017 and is punishable with fines of €750.

Like Marbella, however, it’s likely that fines will only be handed out in these other areas if you are caught peeing from the shore into the water.

So all in all, whether there is specific aquatic urination legislation that's made international headlines or not, getting caught urinating in a public space that isn't a toilet will most likely result in a fine in Spain. 

That includes in the street, a park, a square, a beach or a museum, and the penalties tend to range from €300 to €750 regardless of where it is in Spain.

Why exactly there's been this sudden crackdown on people urinating at sea, we don't know. 

READ ALSO: Can you go shirtless or wear a bikini in the street in Spain?

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