Rules for campers, motorhomes and caravans in Spain

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rules for campervans and motorhomes

Travelling through Spain with a camper or caravan is very popular. The vast landscapes and endless, often empty roads inland are ideal for this. And if the sun doesn’t shine somewhere, you just look for it. But make sure you know the local rules for campers, motorhomes and caravans in Spain.

Therefore, prepare your trip well. Campers, motorhomes and caravans must comply with regulations just like other vehicles. You don’t want to find an unpleasant fine in your mailbox when you get home. You should also note that if you cross multiple countries, the regulations may be different just across the border. For example, Portugal is known for its slightly more flexible regulations. Unlike in Spain, camping in the wild is allowed only under certain conditions. You can park your camper there for 48 hours within the same municipality. Unless it is a nature or coastal area or there is a prohibition sign. Tolls in Portugal are also regulated differently. Spain has more facilities specifically for campers than Portugal. On the other hand, staying overnight in Portugal is generally slightly cheaper.

Technical rules for motorhomes and caravans

Regardless of their size, all caravans and motorhomes must meet certain technical requirements and also be homologated. Of course, the requirements of the country where the vehicle is registered apply. Just like passenger cars, campers with Spanish license plates must pass the ITV (technical inspection). That means every 2 years until they are 10 years old, then every year after that. They are only exempt from inspection for the first 4 years.

For caravans (closed, non-self-propelled trailers containing basic furniture), the periodicity depends on the MMA (maximum authorised mass). If a caravan has an MMA of less than 750kg, it is exempt from technical inspection. If the caravan is heavier than 750kg, the first inspection is required 6 years after registration. After that, a periodicity of every 2 years applies.

Also read: What do you need to know before travelling through Spain with a camper?

As for camping vehicles or motorhomes, the frequency of inspection depends on the category of the vehicle. For example, if a van has been converted into a camper, the periodicity of being a van applies. If it is a converted truck, does the periodicity of a truck apply, etc.

Installed elements and equipment

In general, it is also checked whether all installed elements and equipment are correctly shown in the technical sheet. Think of furniture, heating, windows, skylights, solar panels… Then the inspection is carried out as with any other vehicle: check of external elements, engine and emissions test (if applicable), tyres, brake test, lights, underbody inspection… Inspectors in Spain will pay particular attention to the installation of gas, water tanks and electrical installation. For safety it is important that the wiring, batteries and fuse are in perfect condition. Finally, the vehicle must be equipped with the correct safety equipment and markings according to European standards.

Park and stay overnight

The freedom of travelling with a camper or motorhome is great. However, there are specific restrictions and regulations that you must adhere to. With a camper, motorhome or caravan you can park anywhere where this is also permitted for other vehicles. but unpacking and placing chairs or tables outside remains prohibited. So camping outside designated RV parks or campsites is often prohibited. You can’t stop everywhere and spend the night. Parking is different from camping.

The areas set up for campers often also offer facilities such as water and electricity. The rules may differ per region or even per municipality. It is therefore advisable to check local regulations in advance. There are also sometimes strict bans on overnight stays to prevent nuisance or environmental damage in specific areas. For more specific information about where you can and cannot spend the night with your camper in Spain, you can check out websites specialised in travelling with campers such as España Discovery​​. These sites often provide detailed guides and maps of RV parks throughout Spain.

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Most broken rules for campers in Spain

Authorities hand out the most fines for illegal camping, parking in places where it is not allowed, speeding or when a driver does not have the right type of license to drive his vehicle.

Camping on the coast

According to the Coastal Act, it is prohibited to drive, camp and park on beaches or similar areas. Failure to comply with this rule can lead to fines starting from €40 per occupied square metre for overnight stays, and between €50 and €150 for unauthorised driving or parking.

Camping in protected areas

In line with the above rule, and in order to preserve natural areas, parking in protected zones is also prohibited. Violations can lead to very high fines, so it is advisable to inquire in advance about permitted places for campers. If you want to park somewhere, ask the local authorities about the rules and pay close attention to posted traffic signs.

Unauthorised parking

The General Traffic Regulations stipulate that stopping and parking on urban roads will be regulated by municipal regulations. Municipal authorities can take measures to prevent traffic obstructions. Campers and motorhomes and cars with caravans can stop and park in the same places as any other vehicle, unless a municipal ordinance stipulates otherwise. If a camper or similar vehicle is parked in a place that obstructs the flow of other vehicles, a fine ranging between €100 and €200 may be imposed, depending on the severity of the violation.

Speeding

Homologated camping vehicles can also receive fines for speeding. In most cases, these vehicles are not allowed to drive faster than 120 km/h on motorways or expressways and 90 km/h on normal roads, as long as the vehicle does not weigh more than 3500 kg. If they are heavier, the maximum speed limit is 80 km/h on motorways. On other roads outside built-up areas, with a single carriageway, the maximum speed is limited to 80 km/h. In case of violation, fines start from €100.

Stay overnight or camp

When the regulations talk about overnight accommodation, it refers to someone sleeping in a parked camper or motorhome off the street. Generally this is allowed in any area unless it is specifically stated that it is prohibited. However, camping refers to sleeping in tents or occupying outdoor spaces. In Spain, camping is banned almost everywhere in the country, but there are specific areas designated by each municipality for this purpose. So if you are in doubt and want to spend the night, make sure that you do not open windows or awnings or place items outside your camper.

Driving license C1-97

A C1-97 driving license is required in Spain to drive a camper or motorhome weighing more than 3,500 kg. This is a variant for non-professional use of the C1 driving license. This extension has some special features. The applicant must be at least 18 years old and already in possession of a driving license B. In addition, drivers must also undergo specific theoretical training on caravans, carry out practical lessons in maneuvering and finally participate in practical driving lessons.

Five tips for your tour through Spain by camper

  1. Check local regulations: Before parking or staying overnight in an area, always check local regulations via municipal websites or apps that specialise in RV information.
  2. Use specialised apps: Use apps such as Park4Night or Campercontact to find legal pitches and facilities specifically for campers.
  3. Plan your route in advance: Plan your route and stops in advance to avoid unexpectedly having to spend the night in places where it is not allowed.
  4. Respect nature: Make sure you leave no traces at your overnight stays, especially in protected natural areas, to preserve nature for future visitors.
  5. Be prepared for fines: Keep a reserve budget for any fines resulting from parking or speeding violations, and inform yourself well about the sanctions that may follow for non-compliance with the rules.

Useful apps and websites for campers in Spain

Numerous useful apps and websites show campers the way with descriptions of camper pitches and camping locations and useful search functions. For camper users in Spain, there are several apps that can make your trip easier. Here are four well-known and well-regarded examples:

  • Park4Night: This app is ideal for finding camping locations and parking lots, both established campsites and more remote spots. The app offers an extensive database of locations throughout Europe.
  • Campercontact: With almost 40,000 verified campsites and camper stops, this app offers an extensive filter function that makes it easy to find the perfect place to stay. The app can be used both online and offline.
  • CoPilot GPS: Specifically designed for navigating larger vehicles such as motorhomes and caravans. CoPilot allows users to enter the dimensions of their vehicle to plan routes suitable for their specific size, avoiding roads they may not fit through.
  • iOverlander: A very useful app for RV users that provides an extensive database of services, amenities and destinations. From fuel stations to sights and campsites.

Also read: Motorhome drivers in Mallorca: “They treat us like criminals”

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