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DRIVING

Electric scooters in Spain: What are the rules and latest changes?

E-scooters and other personal mobility vehicles are becoming increasingly common in Spain, particularly in large cities, but they have also been causing lots of problems. Find out what the latest rules and changes regarding VMPs are.

e-scooters in Spain
E-scooter rules in Spain. Photo: Mircea - See my collections / Pixabay

An electric scooter or Personal Mobility Vehicle (VMP) is defined by Spain’s General Vehicle Regulations as a vehicle with one or more wheels, equipped with a single seat and propelled solely and exclusively by electric motors, which can give it a speed of up to 25km/h. 

This means that VMPs also include things such as hoverboards, electric unicycles and segways. 

According to the latest study by Spain’s Ministry of Development, around 6.7 percent of homes in Spain have a VMP. This means that there are more than half a million VMPs in the country. 

Problems and complaints

Electronic scooters and other personal mobility vehicles VMPs have become somewhat of a problem recently with people taking over pavements, riding really fast through pedestrianised areas, people wearing headphones so they’re not able to hear the traffic and not wearing helmets.

According to the latest data, in 2020 eight users of VMPs died, 97 were hospitalised and 1,097 suffered various injuries.

These numbers suggest that there is a growing problem and lead the Director General de Tráfico (DGT) recently to announce new changes. 

Latest changes

The biggest change is that while you still don’t need a driving licence to ride an VMP, you will need to make sure that the vehicle has a circulation certificate. 

This document is the responsibility of the manufacturers and brands, so you don’t have to worry about how to get one, but you will have to check that any VMP you decide to buy does have one. 

As of January 2024, all the VMPs that are sold will have to have this certificate and comply with all the requirements. If you have a VMP without a certificate, you will only be able to use it until January 2027. 

The DGT has also outlined the minimum technical standards, which each vehicle must comply with. This includes maximum weight, length and height requirements as well as a braking system.

They must also have white reflectors on the front, white or yellow reflectors on the side and red ones to the rear. Wheels must have a rough surface and the VMP must have a safe folding system.

Rules

The current MVP rules as outlined by the DGT are:

  • You must drive carefully, avoiding endangering other road users
  • You must not drive on the pavements: it is prohibited
  • You must respect the signs and pedestrian crossings
  • You must not ride with headphones in: in addition to being very dangerous, it is prohibited.
  • Only one person is permitted ride on a scooter at a time
  • You must wear a helmet
  • You are only allowed to park in the authorised places, as directed by your municipality
  • The person responsible for any incident is the driver, or their parents, if they are a minor
  • The minimum age requirement to ride a VMP is 16
  • VMPs are not allowed on interurban roads, highways, highway crossings and urban tunnels

Fines and consequences

If you are found to be breaking any of the rules above, you could be fined. 

Driving a VMP with headphones will incur a fine of €200, as will using a mobile phone while driving. If two people are riding the same scooter at the same time they will be fined €100 euros.

The DGT has also introduced a 0.0 alcohol rate for driving VMPs, meaning that you can’t drink at all before or while riding them. Failure to abide by this will also incur a hefty fine. 

Is it mandatory to get insurance for my VMP?

While the DGT has made it clear that it wants to make insurance obligatory for VMPs, it is not mandatory yet as a general rule for the whole of Spain. 

However, some regions and cities have their own rules regarding insurance. For example, in Benidorm, Alicante and Barcelona, ​​it is mandatory to take out electric scooter insurance, while in Murcia it’s currently not. 

If you’re unsure about the rules for your region, check with your local DGT office.

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DRIVING IN SPAIN

Can the UK’s Blue Badge for disabled parking be used in Spain?

The UK’s Blue Badge scheme allows disabled drivers to park in special parking spaces closer to their destination, but can it be used if you're on holiday in Spain or living in Spain? The Local has spoken with the British Embassy in Madrid to find out.

Can the UK's Blue Badge for disabled parking be used in Spain?

The Blue Badge for disabled drivers issued by UK authorities features a symbol of a person in a wheelchair and should be displayed in the front of your car if you’re parked in a special disabled spot.

But can you use the same badge in your car in Spain?

When the UK was still part of the EU, these disabled badges for parking could be used throughout the bloc, but since January 1st 2021 when Brexit officially came into force, there have been some doubt regarding this. 

In other words, some disabled drivers visiting Spain who wish to rent a car or British residents living in Spain with UK disability cards are now uncertain as to whether their badges will be recognised here or not. 

In Spain, on roads and in car parks, parking places reserved for disabled people are marked with a wheelchair symbol.

The EU has its own parking card for people with disabilities and the recognition of the UK’s badge has always been an informal agreement between governments.

The advice from the UK government has always been for UK Blue Badge holders to check locally within the country they are travelling to, before using it abroad. 

The British Embassy in Madrid told The Local: “This advice did not change following the UK’s exit from the EU and to date no EU/EEA nation has specifically stated that it will not recognise a UK-issued disabled parking card”. 

However, the rules and advice are slightly different depending on if you are visiting Spain or living here. 

The UK government website states “You can use your UK Blue Badge when travelling in some European Union (EU) countries, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland”.

However, under the list of EU countries where you can use the UK Blue Badge, the UK government says Spain is “undecided” and asks drivers to check with the Spanish Embassy for more information.

This is causing a lot of uncertainty among UK Blue Badge holders and has sparked many debates on social media groups used by Brits in Spain. 

The British Embassy in Madrid has confirmed to The Local that: “Where the table states ‘undecided’, that doesn’t indicate that a particular nation has stated they will not recognise a UK issued parking card, merely that the UK doesn’t have a specific notification of reciprocity of the UK’s goodwill gesture”. 

This means that while Spain has not officially said that it will not recognise a disabled blue parking badge issued in the UK, there is no reciprocal agreement in place. 

While many British people visiting Spain say that they are continuing to use them without problem, others are reporting that Spanish authorities in some areas will not accept them anymore.

One member of the N332 Facebook group, (a group created by Spanish traffic police officers and volunteers) wrote: “To be honest I use my blue badge in Spain and it has not caused me any issues since Brexit. I think as long as a badge is displayed in the parking spaces no one will say or do anything”.

However, another commentator said that their friend was fined for using a UK blue badge in Spain.

According to the Spanish authorities, fines of up to €200 can be handed out for those who park in a disabled spot without the proper permit, although that’s not to say that a UK Blue Badge is not a proper permit.

So if you’re visiting Spain and have a disabled parking card, you should contact the local authorities first to find out if you can use your UK-issued parking card, otherwise you technically could be using it at your own risk and could be fined.  

In some places in Spain, you may find that authorities turn a blind eye, while in others may tell you that your badge is not valid.

Can you use your UK Blue Badge if you’re living in Spain?

The UK government website states: “If you have a UK Blue Badge and live in Spain, you must return it to the original UK issuing authority. You can apply for a new Spanish disabled parking card. The process is different in each region of Spain. Contact your local town hall or social services department for further information”.

So those who live in Spain should apply for the equivalent of the UK’s blue badge here. This is called the Tarjeta acreditativa de discapacidad or Tarjeta de grado de discapacidad, depending on where you live.

Examples of different disabled parking cards issued by Spain’s regions. Image: Fundación Once

The not-for-profit project Support in Spain warns that it can be a lengthy process to apply for the Spanish equivalent and that many have been waiting months or even years for their cards to be issued. This has left many foreign disabled residents in Spain in a difficult situation.

Another member of the N332 Facebook group wrote: “Why does it take so long to get a blue badge in Spain? My husband has advanced Parkinson’s and dementia. We have been waiting almost a year and our town hall tells me this is normal”. 

How to apply for Spain’s disabled parking card?

Firstly, in order to apply, you will need to make an appointment with your doctor in Spain to certify that you have a degree of disability that warrants a disabled parking card. Typically, applicants must prove that they have a disability of at least 33 percent in order to be eligible for the Spanish disabled parking card.

Your doctor may also need to refer you to a specialist. Getting this disability certificate, or reconocimiento de discapacidad as it’s called in Spanish, is the reason the process takes so long. This certificate is the same document you’ll need in order to apply for disability benefits in Spain too.

As mentioned above, the process of applying is slightly different, depending on what region of Spain you live in. Typically, you will have to go to your local Equality and Social Policies Department (Departamento de Igualdad y Políticas Sociales) or at your local town hall (ayuntamiento) and fill out the necessary paperwork.

This will then need to be submitted along with your disability certificate and any notes from your doctors, before your application can be processed. 

Those who are worried about how long the process will take should contact their local town hall to find out the average time frame in their area. 

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