Regardless of which country’s roads you drive on most of the time, it is always important to follow the traffic rules and to be aware of the consequences of traffic violations. The regulations governing traffic fines and sanctions for violating the traffic rules in Spain generally are very similar to the driving practices in other European countries, although some nuances do exist.
For what reasons is towing a car authorized in Spain?
There are, in fact, numerous reasons why a car can be towed in Spain. Even though almost all parking lots are paid in Barcelona, there is a real shortage of parking places. As a result, a strict gradation of transport vehicle types permitted in established sites has been introduced, along with severe sanctions for seemingly insignificant violations. Therefore, in order to prevent the potential situation in which you would need to rescue your car from being towed in Spain, keep in mind the significance of the different colored markings in parking places:
- White markings are seen only rarely on Spanish roads. But if you do happen to see white markings, you may park absolutely for free. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to find this type of marking, especially inside the city limits.
- Blue markings denote a universal signal for drivers of all vehicle types. It means that the driver must pay for a parking space; to park, the driver must collect a coupon (talon) from the parking terminal that usually is located nearby the blue-marked spaces. The approximate parking fee per hour is three euros. If you have located a spot, paid for the parking, and parked the car correctly, it is most likely that your car will not be towed in Spain.
- Green markings in a parking lot mean that the parking spots are used exclusively by the local residents (those permitted to park their cars close to their houses for long periods of time). Tourists who rent a car in Barcelona for the first time and drive it inside the city limits tend to commit this error and park in the green-colored lots. As a result, often the car gets towed.
- Yellow markings mean that the parking lot is reserved only for authorized vehicles and over-sized vehicles carrying out some type of work. If a private vehicle is parked in a yellow parking lot, it will be towed for sure.
Additionally, it may not be enough simply to follow these simple parking regulations. One should be informed of some other reasons a car can be towed in Spain. If a vehicle presents an obstacle to the flow of traffic, it is very likely to be towed away. As in many other countries, drivers will see signs on gates or entryways informing them that it is prohibited to block the entrance, or drivers will encounter signs saying, “authorized vehicle only.” If a driver ignores these warnings, it is very likely that the car will be towed. Keep in mind that if you own a car in Spain but do not use it all year round (for example, if you enter the country only for vacations or on holidays) and the car is parked outside rather than in a garage, you can incur serious violations. Alternatively, if a motor vehicle is parked for a long time at the same place, local police may consider it an abandoned vehicle and tow it as a result.
What to do if your car has been towed away in Spain
Visitors should be aware that every day, the police tow thousands of cars in Spain – police patrol the streets and search for parking violators. In spite of the fact that towing is not the most pleasant situation for any driver, it is quite easy to determine the location of your towed car and get it back. Let’s analyze, step by step, what you should do if you have noted that your car is missing.
The first thing to do is to make sure that the car has been towed and not stolen. In the first scenario, you will find a yellow plastic triangle with a municipal police department phone number in the place where your car used to be parked (Policía Municipal). You must call this phone number in order to clarify your next course of action and indicate the license plate number on your car. You will be informed exactly which car impound has your towed car. Keep in mind that the clarifications given on the phone likely will not be in English.
The fee for picking up the towed car in Spain varies greatly and depends on the province. For instance, the lowest fees are found in Leon, while in Barcelona and Valencia the rates are among the highest. On average, the fine will cost the parking offender 100-120 euros. In order to be able to retrieve your car from the car impound, it is of utmost importance to prove that the towed car is really yours. To do this, it is enough to present your passport and your driving license. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, you must have a power of attorney and all the required documents for a lessor.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that car towing in Spain is not as difficult and unpleasant as it might at first seem. The most important thing in this challenging situation is to remember to stay calm, take preventive measures, and follow the traffic rules.
“INEEDSpain” service center is ready to help you out even in the most complicated of situations. If your car has been towed in Spain, we will help you to figure out why it has happened, provide you with a consultation on where and how to pick up your car, and fill you in on all the key traffic rules on the Spanish roads.