Motorhome and Campervan Legislation
As much as motorhome use is growing in popularity, we are getting an increased number of questions relating to the laws regarding their use on Spanish roads.
This had already come to light some year ago during the initial stages of popularity growth, so much so that the Traffic Department saw the need to create a single document that details the various elements of law that affect motorhomes.
Therefore, to try to answer some of your questions, we have provided that document for you, translated into English, so you can get a better understanding of the issues that relate to motorhome use.
The steady growth experienced in recent years the movement of motorhomes in Spain and the lack of a specific regulation of some aspects of this activity led to the adoption in the plenary of the Senate of a motion urging the government to take steps to support the development of this practice and regulate the use of motorhomes.
For this reason, the Dirección General de Tráfico has considered it necessary to collect and interpret in a single document all those regulatory aspects related to motorhomes, collated from traffic and motor vehicle legislation.
Annex II of the Reglamento General de Vehículos approved by Royal Decree 2822/1998, of December 23, defines the motorhome as “special purpose built vehicle, including housing accommodation, and containing at least the following equipment: seats and table and bunk beds that can be converted into seats, kitchen cabinets or similar. This equipment shall be rigidly fixed to the housing compartment. Seats and table can be designed to be easily dismantled”.
This and other definitions of vehicles are the result of the transposition of the relevant directives.
In particular Directive 2001/116/CE of 20 December 2001, adapting technical Directive 70/156/CEE approximating the laws of the Member States concerning the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers. In point 5.1 of Section A of Annex II it refers to a motorhome as “any special vehicles of category M constructed to include living accommodation with the following minimum equipment: seats and table, beds that can be converted from the seats, kitchen cabinets. This equipment is fixed firmly in the habitable zone; although the table may be designed to remove it easily”.
They are vehicles of category M (“motor vehicles with at least four wheels designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers”) and although the Directive (116/2001/CEE) does not explicitly infer to having a capacity for a maximum of eight seats (excluding the driver), we refer to the M1 category of vehicles. However, point 1 of Section C of Annex II of the Directive 2001/116/CE, referring to body types of passenger cars (M1), mentions the following: AA Berlina (saloon), AB Berlina con portón trasero (estate), AC Familiar (“break”) (family), AD Coupé (coupe), AE Descapotable (convertible) and AF Multiuso (multi-use), not referring to the motorhome in that paragraph 1 but in point 5, under another category of vehicles called “special purpose vehicles”.
Thus, admitting that in the case of vehicles of category M1, your vehicle is not included in the rates provided for passenger cars but in so-called “special purpose vehicles”, which is not surprising since they are built on the chassis of commercial vehicles used commonly for the manufacture of vans and light trucks, of a length typically ranging from 5.50m to 8.00m, and with an average height of around 3.00m, with a maximum authorised mass frequently of 3,500 kg, and in some cases of superior constructive characteristics that have nothing to do with a means affecting passenger cars and manoeuvrability in the braking distance, turning behaviour, etc.
Therefore, notwithstanding the existence of vans whose interior has been fitted out and commonly known as a “camper”, it can be concluded that the motorhomes are usually “special vehicles of category M1”, whose existence is concerned, between others, with Article 2.2 of Directive 2001/116/CE of the committee, other than passenger cars and creditors therefore a specific regulation in some specific areas such as the determination of their maximum speeds on roads outside of towns.
By contrast, in other aspects such as driving, stopping and parking they are governed by the rules generally applicable to all vehicles.
- MAXIMUM SPEED
Article 48.1 a) of the Reglamento General de Circulación approved by Royal Decree 1428/2003, of 21 November, establishes that motor vehicles have a maximum speeds on roads outside populated according to the following:
- A) Motor vehicles:
- On motorways: cars and motorcycles 120 Km/h; buses, vehicles derived from cars and adaptable crossovers, 100 Km/h; trucks, articulated vehicles, tractor units, vans and cars with trailers of up to 750 Kg, 90 Km/h; other cars with trailers: 80 Km/h.
- On conventional roads for cars and other conventional roads provided that they have a paved shoulder of 1.50 metres or more in width, or more than one lane for one of the directions of traffic: Passenger cars and motorcycles 100 Km/h; buses, vehicles derived from cars and adaptable crossovers, 90 Km/h; trucks, articulated vehicles, tractor units, vans and cars with trailers 80 km/h.
- On the remaining roads out of town: cars and motorcycles 90 Km/h; buses, vehicles derived from cars and adaptable crossovers, 80 km/h; trucks, articulated vehicles, tractor units, vans and cars with trailers, 70 Km/h.
- On any road where driving is permitted: Tricycles and quads, 70 Km/h.
For motorhomes, considered as “special purpose vehicles of category M1” it is considered justified not to apply the same speed limits outside populated areas as standard vehicles, but those for other vehicles of category M (for the transport of persons) , which would lead to the following speed limits:
– On motorways, 100 Km/h.
– On conventional roads signposted as suitable for motor vehicles and highways with a paved shoulder of at least 1.50m width, or more than one lane for driving, 90 Km/h.
– On all other roads outside populated areas, 80 Km/h.
These speed limits would apply to motorhome vehicles without a trailer, classed on the ITV card with the following codes:
– 3148 (mixed vehicle/accommodation)
– 3200 (unspecified motorhome with MMA less than or equal to 3,500 kg.)
– 3248 (motorhome with accommodation with MMA less than or equal to 3,500 kg.)
The motorhomes classified with codes:
– 3300 (unspecified motorhome with MMA over 3,500 Kg.)
– 3348 (motorhome with accommodation with MMA over 3,500 Kg.)
– 2448 (Van with accommodation)
Governed by the same limits applicable to truck speeds (due to their maximum authorised mass) and vans: 90 Km/h on motorways and 80 km/h on conventional roads.
In urban roads, whatever their classification code, motorhomes shall be governed by the general speed limit of 50 km/h, as per the terms set in Article 50 of the Reglamento General de Circulación.
- STOPING AND PARKING
Under the title “Parada y estacionamiento” the Reglamento General de Circulación regulates in Chapter VIII (Articles 90-94), the rules applicable to these manoeuvres, on places where they can be made, manner and form of execution, positioning of the vehicle, municipal ordinances and forbidden places, for which the rules must be observed by all vehicles.
3.1 Urban Roads
Regarding the places where stopping and parking in urban streets can be conducted, Article 90.2 of the Reglamento General de Circulación states in its second paragraph that vehicles should observe the provisions of the ordinances enacted by municipal authorities in relation to which the Article 93 reads as follows:
- Stopping and parking on urban roads shall be governed by municipal ordinance, and the necessary measures, including time constraints for parking duration, specific corrective measures be taken to prevent the obstruction of traffic and including removal or immobilization of the vehicle when time-limited parking is exceed the authorization granted until the driver identification is achieved.
- In no case may the bylaws oppose, alter, distort, or mislead the provisions of this regulation. One of the most common complaints made to the Directorate General of Traffic is that motorhome users are prohibited from parking in part or in whole on urban roads that some municipalities incorporated within their ordinances. These regulations are made under Article 7 of the articulated text of the Tráfico, Circulación de Vehículos a Motor y Seguridad Vial, approved by Royal Decree 339/1990 of 2 March, which gives municipalities competencies to act in certain circumstances, among them:
- b) The regulation by Ordenanza Municipal de Circulación, use of urban roads, making compatible the equitable distribution of parking to all users with the necessary flow of traffic, and the establishment of parking measures is limited In order to ensure the rotation of the parking.
Therefore, according to the Dirección General de Tráfico, it is indisputable that the exclusion of certain users must be substantiated and based on objective factors such as the outer dimensions of a vehicle or maximum authorized mass, but not for construction criteria or use or for subjective reasons such as potential anti-social behaviour of some users such as night noises, dumping garbage or sewage in the streets, monopolization of public space by placing structures and fixtures and other situations of abuse which local authorities have effective legal tools to be used in a non-discriminatory manner against all offenders, whether users of motorhomes or any other vehicle.
The motorhome can therefore perform stopping and parking manoeuvres in the same conditions and with the same limitations as any other vehicle.
Regarding the mode and manner of execution of stopping and parking, Article 91 of the Reglamento General de Circulación states that these manoeuvres “should be made so that the vehicle does not impede movement or pose a risk to other road users, special care on the placement of the vehicle and to prevent it from moving in the absence of the driver”.
As for the placement of the vehicle Article 92 of the Reglamento General de Circulación provides:
- Stopping and parking will be made by placing the vehicle parallel to the edge of the road. Exceptionally, another placement is allowed when the nature of the route or other circumstances warrant.
- Any driver who stops or parks a vehicle must do so to allow the best use of the remaining space.
- In the case of a motor vehicle or moped and the driver having to leave the vehicle, you must also observe the following rules:
- a) Stop the engine and disconnect the ignition system and, if the vehicle is moved away, take the necessary precautions to prevent unauthorised use.
1. b) Apply the parking brake.
- c) In a vehicle with gearbox, left in 1st gear when on an incline, or, where appropriate, the parking position.
- d) In the case of a vehicle over 3,500 kg maximum authorized mass, or a bus or a combination of vehicles and stopping or parking is made in a place with a slope, the driver must also apply security measures.
The Reglamento General de Circulación has other conditions to be fulfilled upon stopping or parking of a vehicle, so this Dirección General de Tráfico believes that while any vehicle is properly parked, without exceeding road markings demarcating the parking area or time limitation thereof, if any, is not relevant that the occupants are inside the same and the motorhome is no exception, considering it sufficient that the activity that can be developed within does not extend beyond the outside of the vehicle, through the deployment of elements that go beyond the perimeter of the vehicle itself, such as tents, awnings, levelling devices, stabilization support, etc.
3.2 interurban roads
Article 90.1 of the Reglamento General de Circulación defines the places in which stopping and parking on interurban roads noting that it must be off the road, on the right side of it, leaving the paved part of the shoulder.
Also in general on motorways and dual carriageways stopping manoeuvres and parking for all vehicles, except in areas specially authorized are prohibited.
Rules relating to stopping and parking on interurban roads, and the manner and form of execution, are contained in Article 91 of the Reglamento General de Circulación collected in the previous section, as well as the considerations in relation to parking on city streets with the presence of people inside the parked vehicle properly, without prejudice to the possibility of parking in areas of stations or on private land whose owners can apply other conditions.
Other items in any way associated with motorhomes such as camping and overnight stays are covered in the regulations for motor vehicle traffic and road safety, so the agency cannot comment on its definition and its implications.
- USE OF SEAT BELTS AND RESTRAINT DEVICES
Safety belt or other restraint systems duly approved, properly fastened, by the driver and passengers of motorhomes in both urban and interurban roads will be used.
Failure to comply with this obligation by certain people based on their size and age shall comply with the following requirements:
- Front seats: It is prohibited for persons under 12 years of age to travel in the front seats, unless in an appropriate and approved restraining seat, except when their height is equal to or greater than 135 centimetres, when the child may use the seat belt installed for adult use.
- Other seats: People whose height reaches 135 centimetres and no greater than 150 centimetres may either use an approved restraint device adapted to their size and weight or the fitted adult seatbelt installed in the seat.
- In motorhomes that are not equipped with approved safety devices specially adapted to size and weight of your users, you will not be able to carry children under three years of age and older than three years who have not reached 135 centimetres, and they cannot occupy a front seat.
The rules completely exclude the possibility of occupancy of beds in a motorhome when driving, as well as the obvious risk to the occupants in the event of sudden braking, roll or collision, however if you can occupy the seats fitted with approved restraint, using such systems, provided that the number of people travelling in the vehicle, both in the cabin and the cockpit housing does not exceed the legally authorized places stated in the documentation for that vehicle.
Motorhomes have to carry equipment in accordance with Annex XII of the Reglamento General de Vehículo, as follows: A set of light bulbs and indispensable tools for changing the bulbs, two portable warning triangles, a spare wheel or temporary wheel and the tools to change wheels or alternative system for changing them, providing sufficient guarantees for vehicle mobility.
Likewise, when the vehicle occupants leave the vehicle and occupies the roadway or the shoulder on interurban roads, they should use a certified reflective high visibility vest, according to Royal Decree 1407/1992, of 20 November.
- TECHNICAL INSPECTION
According to Royal Decree 711/2006 of 9 June, amending certain Royal Decrees relating to vehicle inspection and approval of vehicles, their parts and components and amending, also, the Reglamento General de Vehículos approved by Royal Decree 2822/1998, of 23 December, the following inspection frequency is applied to the campers and motor homes.
– Up to four years: Exempt.
– For more than four years: Biennial.
– For more than ten years: Annual.
There are specifically designed facilities for servicing or hosting motorhomes providing a range of services needed for these vehicles, mainly: parking, water supply and a place for emptying containers.
Unlike tourist campsites, service areas provide the minimum required to park your vehicle and may be publicly or privately owned physical space.
There are 60 such facilities in Spain, for which, through the Motion by the full Senate on 9 May, 2006, the Government urges the creation of a sign depicting such sites.
The Dirección General de Tráfico believes that, without prejudice to the future design and inclusion in the official catalogue of signals of a specific sign indicating the location of a service area, now the S-122 “otros servicios” sign in the official catalogue of traffic signs, included in Annex I of the Reglamento General de Circulació, by including a simple pictogram, satisfy this need.
- TRANSPORT OF AUXILIARY VEHICLES
Very often, motorhomes carry auxiliary vehicles, usually bicycles, a moped or small motorcycle. This practice is authorized provided an approved bicycle rack or a platform for this purpose and, when projecting out from the usual characteristics of the motorhome, the following requirements as provided in Article 15 of the Reglamento General de Circulación are met.
Protruding from motorhome at the back, up to 10% of its length and if one vehicle (indivisible load), 15%. That all appropriate precautions are taken to prevent damage or danger to other users of public roads and should have extremities protected lessen the effects of a possible friction or shock.
The protrusion must be signalled by the V-20 sign as per Article 173 and whose characteristics are set out in Annex XI of the Reglamento General de Vehículos. This sign is placed at the rear end of the load so that it is constantly perpendicular to the vehicle axis.
Following frequent questions regarding the possibility of a motorhome towing a car, this possibility is prohibited in Article 9.3 of the Reglamento General de Vehículos whic prohibits the movement of a motor vehicle towing another, unless there is an immediate risk of damage or injury and it cannot be dragged by another specifically for that purpose, in which case it is allowed only to the nearest place where it will not hinder traffic movement and provided that it is not on a motorway.
Notwithstanding the points already mentioned, a combination of vehicles consisting of a motor and a trailer or semitrailer on which another vehicle can be transported is permitted if the set qualifies for driving on public roads and is approved to Directives 70/156/CEE and 94/20/CEE and they do not exceed the maximum length allowed for these sets which is 18.75 meters and 16.50 meters in the case of a semi-trailer.
Madrid, 28 January, 2008