Home News What is an ‘A’ label ZBE sticker?

What is an ‘A’ label ZBE sticker?

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Environmental Labels, Vehicle Classification, Zero Emission Vehicles, Air Quality Regulations, Urban Circulation Restrictions

The significant majority of drivers in Spain, particularly those residing in large cities with Low Emission Zones (ZBE) or air pollution-based restrictions, are aware that their vehicles are identified by the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) through an environmental classification. This classification is visually represented by a circular sticker that needs to be affixed to the vehicle’s windshield. However, there is a lesser-known distinctive feature among these labels, namely the DGT’s “A” label.

The A classification, alongside the other categories (B, C, ECO, and ZERO), has been officially regulated since 2018 in the General Vehicle Regulations. However, vehicles falling under this classification do not receive a specific identification sticker to be placed on their front windows. This category includes all cars with gasoline engines registered until December 31, 1999, or those with diesel engines registered until December 31, 2005.

Going beyond the initial sale or practical explanation, the legal significance of the A label applies to all passenger cars and light gasoline vans that lack approval for at least Euro III emissions regulations, or diesel vehicles not approved for at least Euro IV. It’s worth noting that there are instances where a vehicle may qualify for the B label but fails to receive it due to an oversight by the DGT.

Arranged according to the challenges they encounter, particularly in accessing the ZBE, the ZERO label, assigned to all-electric cars or plug-in hybrids with over 40 km of approved electric range, stands out as the most advantageous. Following this, the ECO label (typically for hybrids or microhybrids) takes its place, followed by the C label (modern thermal vehicles without hybridization), and lastly, the B label (older combustion engines).

Concluding the classifications is a theoretical fifth label, representing the least favourable environmental categorization within urban settings. In essence, this badge lacks a tangible indicator like the others but holds the distinction of being the most unfavourable. It endures the most significant circulation restrictions, with potential repercussions for vehicle use extending to outright bans due to the absence of a physical tag.

For example, since January 1, 2024, the passage of any “label A” vehicle is prohibited throughout the municipality of Madrid and not only in the ZBE, the interior of the M-30 and the Plaza Elíptica, so that a driver will be exposed to a fine if attempting to move freely through the Spanish capital, unless he or she complies with any of the exceptions provided. The most common way to avoid a fine is for the owner to register as a resident, but this will not be valid in 2025 either (only if he registers as a resident).

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