Spain’s strangest laws: discover the nation’s most peculiar regulations

Spain's strangest laws

Spain, a country celebrated for its deep-rooted culture, breathtaking vistas, and mouthwatering dishes, also boasts an array of rather eccentric laws. While every nation has its unique quirks —think unusual rules in the U.S.— Spain’s strangest laws remind us that oddities in law can be found around every corner of the globe. Let’s delve into some of Spain’s most intriguing and occasionally baffling laws.

Baby Naming Etiquette

Spain enforces strict guidelines when it comes to christening a newborn. Names that might open the child up to mockery or have negative associations, such as Hitler or Satan, are a strict no-no. It’s also against the rules to name a child after a famed celebrity like Donald Trump, unless the child’s surname corresponds with the celebrity’s. There are additional constraints on acronyms, matching names for siblings, and complex double names.

Madrid’s Musical Examination

If you’ve dreamt of serenading passersby in Madrid, prepare to be tested first. Musicians wishing to perform on the streets and squares of Madrid’s Centro district must apply to undergo an “adequacy test” to gain municipal authorization. Those passing the test will receive a free authorization to play in specific areas at designated times, with restrictions on certain instruments and amplifiers.

Spain's strangest laws

Claiming Prime Beachfront Turf

Squabbles over the best beach spots are common. Yet, in Spain, marking your beach territory prematurely can lead to hefty fines, with amounts varying significantly depending on the location. For instance, in Tenerife, making sandcastles can get you into trouble.

Reserving the best spots on the beach has become such a widespread practice in Spain that some cities have introduced regulations to curb it. This “umbrella war” sees early risers competing for prime beachfront spots. While each municipality has its own rules for its beaches, the national Coastal Law of 1988 sets certain common standards. In Cullera, Valencia, leaving an umbrella unattended to reserve a spot can result in a fine of up to 3,000 euros; this rule also applied in Oropesa and Calpe. Torrox in Málaga was one of the first towns to ban this practice in 2014, with potential fines of 300 euros. In Algarrobo, Vélez, and Málaga, fines of up to 300 euros have been approved for those leaving their items unattended. In Torrox, local police patrol the beaches, and if they find unattended items, they remove them. Owners can reclaim their items within 14 days, but some prefer to lose their umbrella rather than pay the fine. In San Javier, Murcia, regulations were updated in February to expressly prohibit reserving spaces with umbrellas or towels, but the exact fine is not specified.

Shirtless Strolls: A Faux Pas

In places like Barcelona and Valladolid, wandering without a shirt is off-limits, barring exceptional circumstances. Offenders can face fines that can be particularly hefty in some cities.

Keeping Utilities On for Squatters

It might seem counterintuitive, but if you’re a property owner facing the issue of squatting, Spanish law dictates you cannot simply cut off water and electricity supplies to the occupied residence. Doing so would be seen as an act of coercion, as stated in Article 172.1 of the Penal Code. Property owners who act against this rule could potentially find themselves facing charges, adding to the already stressful situation of having strangers occupy their homes.

This law emphasizes the principle of “inviolability of domicile,” a right protected by the Spanish Constitution. Therefore, unless you have judicial authorization, entering or making changes to a home – even if it is legally yours – can be restricted.

Public Behavior Regulations

Various Spanish cities have enacted peculiar public conduct rules. Seville, for instance, disallows playing dominos on bar terraces to curtail noise, a seeming contrast to other loud weekend traditions in the city. Another notable rule is the prohibition of begging with a dog in Madrid. However, begging without one is perfectly legal. Other unusual regulations include hefty fines for trash scavenging in Seville and laws against overnight car stays in Bilbao and Vélez. There are also restrictions on running, jumping, skating, and clacking heels on streets in Mojácar, Madrid, and Ciudad Real.

Driving Dress Code

Nationwide, driving shirtless is prohibited—for both drivers and passengers—to prevent seatbelt-related discomfort. This infringement can result in varying fine amounts. Similarly, certain cities like Granada and Vélez disallow intimacy in parked cars.

Hitchhiking Hitches

Hitching a ride is strictly forbidden on Spain’s highways and expressways, confining it only to national roads. Both the hitchhiker and the driver can be penalized for violations, with penalties reaching up to 80 euros.

Odd Local Laws

Individual Spanish towns have uniquely specific regulations, making for some of Spain’s strangest laws. For instance, in Villanueva de la Torre, airing out mops on balconies is frowned upon, while Zamora disallows street shouting and singing. Mojácar even has rules against making too much noise inside residential areas.

The Infamous Sun Tax

A now-repealed regulation, the “Sun Tax,” once mandated individuals with solar panels to pay for grid upkeep—even if they were disconnected from it. The intent was to address environmental and energy challenges. Probably one of Spain’s strangest laws bearing in mind the country’s strong green agenda, was repealed in 2018.

Beach Paddleball Restrictions

Playing paddleball in the sea is forbidden in certain Spanish coastal areas, leading to potential heavy fines. In San Javier (Murcia), playing with paddles or a ball is prohibited when it can cause annoyance or harm to others. It is also forbidden to have outdoor drinking gatherings on the beach or promenade, with fines ranging from 1,501 to 3,000 euros.


To conclude, Spain’s strangest laws are a fascinating mosaic of unconventional laws that offer a captivating snapshot into the intricate web of global regulations. While some might raise eyebrows, they all serve unique purposes, adding to Spain’s colorful legal tapestry. Travelers to Spain and resident expats, be aware and revel in the idiosyncrasies!