Laws and customs in Catalunya and Spain
Barcelona's system of law and order currently relies on more than one type of police force. There are the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Cuerpo Nacional de Policia, the Guardia Civil, and Guardia Urbana. There is also the Policia Portuaria, whose influence is limited to the boundaries of the port, so you are less likely to come across them.
Local laws in Barcelona include the following:
- It is forbidden to drink alcohol on the street; we know there are men selling beer in the streets everywhere but if the police pick you up drinking in public you can be fined on the spot.
- Possession of drugs for personal use in Barcelona does not constitute a criminal offence under Spanish law. However, public consumption is penalised with administrative fines.
- Public possession of less than two ounces of cannabis is not a criminal offence, although heavy administrative fines can be levied. Possession of more than two ounces or growing for sale is considered a criminal offence, but prison terms are not as severe as in the UK or USA.
- Without permission from the government graffiti or any kind of artwork or defacement on public property or that can be seen by the public in general is illegal. Fines of between €120 and €750 can be imposed depending on the location and severity of the vandalism.
- Since 2006 a new law has been introduced allowing the local police to prosecute skateboarders. Due to a previous legal void in this field, the Generalitat approved a civic law enforceable by the application of fines for misuses and abuses of public space; namely urinating or defecating in public, begging, juggling, selling goods without permission, vandalism and now skateboarding. Fines can reach an astonishing €3000 (ironically for begging) and serve as a means of deterring the general public.
- Spain’s drinking age, is 18. Accordingly, admittance to bars and clubs that serve alcohol is restricted to persons aged 18 and over. However, in some regions the drinking age is lowered to 16.
- Spain’s minimum age to buy cigarettes is 18.
- Spain’s minimum age to obtain a driver’s license depends on the type of vehicle in question. A license to drive a moped can be obtained at 14. In this case it is called a licencia de conducir. A license to drive certain types of motorcycles can be obtained at 16, and a license to drive cars and all types of motorcycles can be obtained at 18. In these cases it is called a permiso de conducir. (A license to drive certain types of commercial vehicles and trucks can be obtained at 21.).