Skip to main content
EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article20 July 20211 min read

Barcelona used as a model for Spanish LEZ guide

The Spanish law on climate change and energy transition requires every city of more than 50,000 people to establish an urban low emission zone (LEZ) by 2023. Accordingly, 148 towns and cities need to work on their LEZs. To ease their work, the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, together with the national Directorate-General for Traffic and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB), have created the first technical guide for the implementation of LEZs in Spain. The guide draws on the experience of the Barcelona Ring Road LEZ. It is based on 5 principles:

  • A global approach that is applicable to all cities and towns.
  • The use of the vehicle labelling system of the Directorate-General for Traffic.
  • Automatic control using number plate recognition technology.
  • A common signage system for all LEZs based on that used in Barcelona.
  • The importance of communicating with stakeholders and the public to gain wide acceptance for the LEZs.

The guide is available digitally here. AMB is actively distributing the guide to municipalities with less than 50,000 inhabitants to help them with their own plans to introduce an LEZ.

LEZs are part of Spain’s Recovery Transformation and Resilience Plan and thus form part of an €140 billion investment over the next 6 years.

The Barcelona Ring Road LEZ was established at the start of 2020. It covers an area of 95km² and bans all vehicles that do not have a 'zero', 'eco', 'B' or 'C' environmental label every week day between 7.00 and 20.00. Since the LEZ applies to all vehicles, regardless of their origin, a register contains all of the necessary information and so enables drivers to register cars that do not yet have the respective label. The register has already seen more than 1.5 million visits. The LEZ in Barcelona has already produced significant results. On the one hand, there has been a 50% reduction of non-compliant vehicles in the zone and on the other hand, the LEZ has led to the replacement of about 80,000 more polluting vehicles in 2020.

Original article published at on 10 June 2021.



Publication date
20 July 2021
  • Urban Vehicle Access Regulations
  • Spain