If you're planning to drive into Barcelona, you should be aware that the Spanish city is imposing restrictions on vehicles that generate more pollution. This relates to petrol-powered cars registered in Spain before 2000 and diesel-powered cars registered before 2006, and it is being executed from 2021 in an effort to reduce air pollution.

Long exposure of traffic passing the roundabout of Plaça d'Espanya in Barcelona during sunset
Barcelona is imposing a ban from 2021 on vehicles that generate more pollution © Eloi_Omella/Getty Images

These vehicles will be banned from most city streets on weekdays between 7am and 8pm, and around 50,000 vehicles per day will be affected. Older and more polluting vans, trucks and buses will also be included. It is expected that this measure will lead to a 15% cut in poisonous nitrogen dioxide emissions, which is needed because Barcelona has exceeded the level of airborne carbon dioxide set by the European Union since 2002. According to a 2017 report by the city's public health department, poor air quality has caused a yearly average of 424 premature deaths between 2010 and 2017 in Barcelona.

Picturesque view on the landmark by Montjuic in Barcelona
Barcelona has imposed a ban on the more polluting vehicles for 13 hours per day © Feel good studio/Shutterstock

The zone that these vehicles will be banned from covers 95 square kilometres and encompasses the city centre and four satellite towns. It will be monitored by 150 cameras, and those who transgress will face a fine of between €100 and €500 ($111 and $556). A moratorium will be in place for the first three months, during which time offenders will receive notification of their transgression but will not be fined.

Aerial cityscape of Barcelona with the famous La Rambla
The zone that vehicles will be banned from encompasses the city centre © Brzozowska/Getty Images

One consolation for drivers is that banned vehicles will be permitted to enter the city ten times per year. Travellers will be happy to learn that those with vehicles registered outside of Spain can request permission from city hall to drive in the city. There will also be a one-year moratorium in place for delivery vehicles and for the owners of banned vehicles who can prove that they earn less than €8000 ($8896) per year. 

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