New Risks of Driving in Catalunya

Guardia Civil Trafico coming to a town near you to rob your money. Foreign drivers beware.


For some people the benefits of having a car outweigh the cost of running a vehicle, especially now that Spain is facing a major financial crisis. At a time when Mossos (the new Catalan police force) is taking hold of the region, the old Guardia Civil are finding themselves with less and less to do so to bring in some extra money they are targeting drivers with foreign number plates.

If you’re on holiday then you have nothing to fear because there is nothing the Guardia Civil can legally do to you, but if, as some people have done, you own and drive a foreign car but live in Spain you may be liable to pay backdated road taxes.

I know of one person who has fallen victim of this latest money making scheme which is part of a Spanish government initiative to increase revenue. He was pulled up by Guardia Civil at a now frequent road block and asked for his papers. Unfortunately the police spotted his Spanish residency papers and he was forced to pay the 500 euro fine and must now convert his vehicle to Spanish registration which is also a costly process.

It serves as a warning to anyone who is using the road rules, tax and registration system of their native country to avoid paying taxes in Spain and also highlights how desperate the Spanish government are to make as much money as possible, and furthermore, what easy targets drivers make when it comes to profiteering.


Guardia Civil Trafico in action

Guardia Civil Trafico in action, catching out ex-pat drivers with foreign cars and fining them heavily.


Due to Spain’s financial climate and almost redundancy of the Guardia Civil there will likely be more measures aimed at drivers to come. Indeed I have seen parking spaces that last year were 15-20 minute maximum stay now become no parking at all, the little yellow triangular stickers left behind after a vehicle has been towed a clear indication that the rules are being enforced (click here to read about parking fines in Spain).

According to locals the conditions in Spain are set to get worse before they improve again and many predict a similar situation to the one Greece currently finds itself in within the next two to three years.

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