Traffic and parking fines on the Costa del Sol

22nd April 2024
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It is expected to have nightmares when you receive a traffic fine for speeding or parking in the wrong place while abroad or when your car is towed away by Grua. In our article, we provide information on how to handle traffic fines in general, road parking fines, and what you should do if Grua tows your car away.

Scary monster of parking in the wrong place, the GRUA

Have you ever encountered a yellow sticker attached to the road rather than your car? If yes, then it was probably the Grua, which is the municipal towing service responsible for managing parking irregularities to enhance the efficiency of the road network. The Grua tow vehicles parked at maintenance sites or special events, cars parked illegally or obstructing traffic, and vehicles abandoned on the road due to an accident, alcohol consumption, or other reasons.

How to find your vehicle?

Suppose you find a City Towing Service sticker on the pavement. In that case, the information on the sticker will indicate the location of the car depot where you can collect your vehicle after paying a fine.

Here are the strangest reasons why you could get a fine for driving in Spain: read on to avoid a “multa” fine of up to €3000!

Driving on certain roads along the Costa del Sol can be an anxiety-inducing experience. After arriving home safely, the last thing anyone wants is to have their peace of mind disrupted by a letter from the DGT, which is the Spanish traffic police. While we are generally aware of common offenses such as speeding or not wearing a seatbelt, the Spanish Highway Code contains a lengthy list of other offenses that could lead to trouble with the authorities. Here are five things to avoid to prevent getting a fine.

An expensive kiss

Not only the driver but also the passengers need to be aware of traffic laws. Offenses such as kissing the driver or having a heated argument with him/her while driving can attract a fine of €80 if the police think they have caused enough distraction behind the wheel.

Driving in flip-flops, barefoot, shirtless

We recently witnessed a live demonstration of why you shouldn’t drive in slippers. A British tourist managed to jump his Porsche into an ice cream parlor at 8 a.m. when his flip-flops got stuck in the accelerator while he was leaning over his left-hand driver’s car trying to open an automatic barrier. So, as cool as it is to drive around on your holiday in slippers and swimming shorts, it’s strongly discouraged and can sometimes result in a hefty fine.

To eat or not to eat.

Even the most innocent, everyday things can get you a ticket from Spanish police, such as eating or drinking while driving. Snacking is not considered a factor in safe driving and can result in a heavy fine. If drivers are caught eating or drinking, they can be fined €80, rising to €200 if traffic police believe other passengers or road users are in danger. Don’t rest your elbow out of the window while driving, as that can also attract a fine.

Don’t pimp your car

If you decorate your car with unauthorized items, the DGT will laugh, not with you, but at you, as they can collect up to €500 of your hard-earned money in fines. It counts as illegal decoration when you put on anything that changes the dimensions of your car without having been previously certified by the DGT. Excessive decoration can also cause problems at the ITV. In addition, placing various dangling objects on the mirror can lead to a fine of up to €200, as they can partially obscure the view.

Empty tank

If running out of petrol hasn’t ruined your day enough, you could also be fined for ‘illegal parking’ in Spain as you walk with a jerry can of petrol towards your car parked on the side of the road. Also, bear in mind that the irregular transport of fuel can result in a fine of up to €3,000.


Penalties for the most common driving offenses – not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone – have recently risen. These offenses will now result in a four-point deduction from your license, on top of the fine, so make sure you drive carefully and safely on the roads.

Which bodies can impose fines in traffic cases?

In Spain, three police forces cooperate: the Policia Nacional, Policia Local, and the Guardia Civil. They can stop you and ask for your personal documents and vehicle papers. The Policia Nacional is a national police force that usually only asks who is in the car, whether the vehicle is carrying drugs or weapons, and whether the vehicle has been stolen. In many cases, they do not even ask for a driving license; that is not the focus of the check. The Guardia Civil is also a national police force and the Tráfico department deals specifically with traffic cases. The Guardia Civil has installed speed cameras and cars with trafipax. The Guardia Civil mainly checks for drug use, alcohol consumption, and the regular use of mobile phones and seat belts.

The checks often do not cover anything else, and no other documents are requested. The third police force, Policia Local, is the police force of the municipalities. It checks the opening hours of restaurants, beaches, public places, and vehicles parked illegally. Lastly, the parking inspectors check that parking fees have been paid.

How to check your traffic fines

DGT/Trafico is not obliged to send written notifications of traffic fines for speeding by post. It is, therefore, up to the owner to check whether there are any outstanding fines. Even if a notice is sent by post, it is sent to the car owner’s registered address (which may not be current).

How long does it take to receive the traffic fine?

Someone committing a traffic offense may be arrested and fined immediately. For foreign license holders, this will probably have to be paid on the spot, but for Spanish license holders, there is a payment period where you can get a discount if you pay within a short time. However, not all fines are issued locally, on the road, and in many cases, they are sent out later, so the question is: How long does it take to receive the posted fine?

The answer is the general answer from the Spanish administration’s maze: it depends.

For example, if a fine falls under the local municipality’s jurisdiction, it may take longer to be sent, up to a month. It all depends on the organization that handles it.

Nevertheless, one thing should be clear: although there is no specific deadline for receiving the penalty notice in the mailbox, there is a period after which traffic offenses become null and void.

Specifically, offenses classified as minor (fines of less than €100) expire after three months, and those classified as severe after six months.

If you do not receive notification of the fine within this period, you will no longer have to pay it, as the penalty expires as set out in the Highway Code. Alternatively, if you are not being sent the notice within the deadline or dispute its validity, you can appeal against the fine. However, it is good to know that appealing a fine will cancel the payment discount due on immediate payment.

However, unfortunately, not receiving the postal notice is not a reason for annulation, as the notice is deemed to have been served even if the addressee still needs to receive it.

How to find out about a traffic fine

You can pay on the spot if the penalty is imposed on the place where you committed the offense. For example, if a check reveals that you have exceeded the alcohol limit.

You can also receive a ticket by post (registered post). If the communication does not arrive at any address or is refused receipt, the notice will be posted on the Board of Edict of Sanctions (TESTRA) and the BOE’s Uniform Edict Board (TEU).

Other methods of notifying the offender are through the Electronic Roads Administration (DEV), through this DGT platform, which takes approximately ten days, or after a few weeks, it can be downloaded through the MiDGT app.

What should you do if you receive a traffic violation notice?

The person to whom the ticket is sent must identify the driver: the owner, permanent lessee, or usual driver of the vehicle must provide the driver’s identity to the Directorate when the offense is committed.

Failure to comply with the obligation to identify the driver responsible for the offense in question will result in a fine of twice the fine for the original offense in the case of a minor offense and three times the fine in the case of a grave offense. The offender must, therefore, always be identified.

To identify the driver, fill out the Special Traffic Penalty Form (you must choose the Driver identification option or, where applicable, the Self-identification option). The documentation to be presented is included in the form.

What do we do if we receive a fine?

a. Immediate payment (a 50% discount is granted, except in cases where this option is not specified) using these payment methods within a maximum of 20 calendar days from the day after the fine is imposed.

b. Filing an appeal expressing disagreement with the traffic complaint. Suppose you believe that an error has been made. In that case, you may submit your disagreement in writing within 20 calendar days of notification of the fine. You may propose any investigations you consider appropriate or send in your evidence. If you do so, you will lose the option for a 50% discount on the fine you could have claimed if you had paid it immediately. To submit an appeal, you must fill in the Special Traffic Fines form and tick the Submit an Appeal option, which indicates that you disagree with the traffic fine. The appeal document must include the registration number of the fine, the vehicle registration number, the body that issued the fine, and the notification number.

c. Pretend it never happened, ignore the fine, and hope that you will not be fined years later, with interest. We do not recommend this option.

Parking and parking fines on the Costa del Sol

Parking on the Costa del Sol is often challenging, and it is not uncommon to find parking tickets on cars’ windscreens. The situation is even worse in the summer, during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and other holiday periods when many cars are around and near some popular tourist areas and beaches. We have, therefore, put together some general information to help you avoid getting a ticket.

Where is parking allowed and where not?

In Spain, you are, in principle, allowed to park on the pavement if there is no yellow line. A solid yellow line means you cannot park or stop like a “no stopping” sign. A yellow line always means parking is forbidden (but you can stop quickly to let a passenger out of the car).

Parking is prohibited in roundabouts or front of garage exits, regardless of markings, and double parking is not permitted. Despite the rule, roundabouts are often used as parking spaces, for which towing or fines are imposed. Lines in a different color, such as orange or green, mean that only permit holders can park in the area; sometimes, buildings only allow parking for residents.

Blue or green zones are prohibited at times of day.

Another critical line on the road is blue or green. If there are blue markings on the road, it means that it is a pay parking zone, called a zona azul (blue zone), and if there are green markings, it is the same but with different charges. You can park there, but then you have to pay at the blue meter, which will be present in all blue zones, or through Telpark or Easy Park, which we will see below.

Also of note are the messages under some of the “no parking” signs. They usually indicate days and hours when parking is prohibited, but parking is fine outside those hours. The example below says: laborales de nine a 14 y de 16 a 20h except for carga y descarga – which means (no parking) on workdays between 9 am and 2 pm and 4 pm and 8 pm except for loading and unloading.

Residents can park in the blue zones as long as they like, while non-residents can stay up to 3 hours. However, there is often nowhere to park. So what should we do? Well, go shopping!

The supermarket trick

A good solution is to find the nearest supermarket and park in their car park. They only allow shoppers to park there, but you’re free to go as long as you spend a certain amount (which varies from store to store but is usually around €20).

First, do what you would have done anyway and shop on your way back. After you have paid your bill at the cashier and had your receipt stamped, you have 20 minutes to leave the car park, but there is no time limit for “shopping.” Also, do not leave your car overnight in the store parking lot, or it may be towed.

Telpark or Easy Park

Even if you find a parking space on the street, it will likely be in a blue zone, and the meter will not work. We recommend Telpark or the Easy Park app, both available on the Costa del Sol.

Parking tickets and payment of traffic fines on the Costa del Sol

Oops, you’ve been caught! A parking fine is a small, unremarkable piece of paper left on your car’s windscreen – it looks like a shop receipt; it says how much you have to pay but doesn’t say where or how. You might not notice it until later when you get home.

You have a few options:

You can try to pay at the nearest parking meter, which is located on the blue zone sidewalks. This is possible if the bottom of the parking ticket is marked “available,” meaning you can pay the parking fee without a fine. If the machine is not broken, this could be a good solution. Of course, you can also ask a nearby Spaniard for help; they are beneficial.

– In the province of Malaga, the Patronato de Recaudación (or Recovery Department) is responsible for collecting traffic fines. You should scan the ticket and send it by email to [email protected]. Then, ask them to send you a payment slip (Carta de pago). They will usually reply by email within a few days and send you a letter with a bank account number, barcode, and reference number, which you can use to pay the fine at a specialized machine or by bank transfer.

– you can go to a bank and pay the fine by carta de pago.

Good advice: keep the payment slip so they don’t claim the same amount later by mistake.

Good to know: if you pay within the first 20 days of the fine being issued, you get a 50% discount!

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