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Stupid Spanish Laws & Bye-Laws

Spain is known worldwide for it's excessive bureaucracy and here are just a few examples of laws that have been passed, about to be passed as reported (rightly or wrongly) in the media. In a few cases some of these laws are thought to have been repealed when it was realised how stupid they were, and often not enforceable. The Media has a habit of exaggerating or getting things wrong, so it might be worth finding out what strange things you can and can't do in the area in which you live, or where you are hoping to live.

Fining Beggars in Valldolid. The Spanish city of Valladolid approved a bye-law whereby beggars can be fined for begging on the streets. Presumably they are going to have to beg even harder to pay the fines, and how the fines are to be collected is another matter. A ludicrous law, passed without any forethought!

Benalmádena Town Hall was thinking of banning bathing on their beaches before 11am in the morning so that the beaches can be cleaned. Presumably they prefer beach cleaners on their beaches rather than tourists which they rely on.

Drinking Alcohol to be Limited to 18+. The Spanish government intends to standardise the legal age for drinking alcohol to 18+. Currently, different regions have various limits, some as low as 16. The problem is, what's to stop children drinking alcohol with a meal at home. Of course, it will be one more law to ignore completely!

A One Street Village banned horses from being ridden or lead along it's single street. One questions how farmers are supposed to get from the countryside on one side of the village to countryside on the other, when there are no alternative routes. There obviously wasn't any horse owners on the council.


A small village near Guadalajara has passed a bye-law which bans spitting and breaking wind in public. What proof will be needed to make a charge? Presumably sprouts and baked beans will be coming off the menus!

The 'Junta de Andalucia' has passed a law whereby all properties built within 100 metres of any river may be demolished (unless they are at least a certain number of years old). This also includes houses in the countryside classed as illegal because the local councils or owners couldn't be bothered to record them. As over 40,000 homes are involved, the Junta is having second thoughts. Where would the current inhabitants live?

The town of Rasquera, Cataluña tried to pass a bye-law to allow the growing of marijuana on an industrial scale to pay off the towns debts. "Oh no you don't", said the local police!

The National Government at one point wanted to class all unrecorded houses as illegal until they found out it would involve between 300,000 and 400.000 properties and the estimated 1,6000,000 people who live in them. The plan was to demolish these properties, but perhaps a lot more thought on the matter should be considered! Wouldn't it be easier to make them legal and then be able to charge rates on them. Money that is badly needed in these difficult financial times.

While this isn't a bye-law, it could be a heated subject. A small town near Barcelona, has placed 462 solar panels on mausoleums and monuments in it's cemetery. One wonders what the occupants would have thought had they known.

One area is putting extra tax on solar panels because the national power companies were losing out on business.


Now for a more serious note -

While the national Spanish government creates major and international laws, the individual Provinces dotted around the country have the powers to produce some of their own laws. The problems arise when you move from place to place and don't know the local laws and this can cause real problems. Each Province is also divided in multiple regions within that Province, which can also create their own laws to suit that area. And then there are the Town Councils which may have rules of their own. This creates four layers of government, all of which you may have to deal with.

This situation can work to your advantage sometimes. As an example, a couple sold their house and should have paid tax on the sale if they bought another house. So they moved down the road, which was in another region, where they didn't have to pay any tax because they were buying in a different region than where they sold their house.

Always check with your solicitor because any of these four layers of government can, and do, create contradictory laws, which can cost you a lot to sort out, depending on what the problem is.