15 February 2023



Spain Spain
Geographical scope
  • Type


  • Type

    Regulation of passenger transport



The Catalan Government has passed a law in July 2022 which comes into force on 1 October 2022, limiting private hire platforms (VTCs) in Catalonia to limousines and passenger vans. The Decree Law is the first of its kind in Spain, delineating taxis and VTCs. This ruling is perceived as highly controversial with VTC operators stating this will cost the region thousands of jobs.

Details of the Law

The Law details the new regulations which VTCs must adhere to. VTCs are restricted to vehicles with a minimum length of 4.9 metres – this is longer than the standard VTC car used for providing services to platform operators such as Uber. The services from a driver will have to be booked 15 minutes in advance. A driver will now have to have had their licence from a minimum of two years. To align the new Law with carbon emissions targets, VTCs must now display a ‘zero’ or ‘eco’ label to signify the vehicle is electric or hybrid. Fines for not adhering with the new regulations will range from €200 to €6000.

Impact of the Law & Social Partner Perspectives

The Law is seen as the most stringent applied among Spain’s ‘autonomous communities’. It has a big impact on Taxi services and the operating model of platform operators in the region as well as their complimentary third-party service providers. For Taxi companies the Law is a positive step. Uber has been able to keep costs lower than what is achievable for Taxi companies in the regulatory environment. This is due to Uber outsourcing the actual driving services to third-party VTCs who are subject to less stringent operating regulation. To better reflect the new operating models of platform operators in the region, the Law creates a more even environment for competition in the industry. Taxi union ‘Elité Taxi Barcelona’ (Taxista), founded in 2014 to resist the arrival of Uber, was active in campaigning for the Law.

For VTCs this reshapes their business model, potentially making their services too expensive for Uber. It is estimated two-thirds of VTCs will undergo closures, while approximately 1500 are eligible to continue operations under the new Law. The Estonian VTC platform, Bolt, has tried to skirt around the Law, modifying its fleet just to reach the length requirement of 4.9 meters. Taxi union ‘Elité Taxi Barcelona’ has openly campaigned that such modifications do not meet quality control standards and endangers ‘the rest of mobility actors in the city’. Private hire employers’ association, Unauto-VTC, states that the Law ‘puts a noose around the neck of the sector in Catalonia’. Laia Bonet, the President of the Metropolitan Taxi Institute and a Barcelona councillor for mobility in the PSC, said that it ‘ends the permanent confusion between taxi and VTC.’. For Bonet, the taxi service is a public service and VTCs should either offer the same service under the same conditions as Taxi drivers, or be a separate service, and as such, be regulated for that difference.

Additional metadata

sector aspects, competition, lobbying, regulatory changes
Platform, Government
Transportation and storage



Eurofound (2023), Catalan Decree Law on Taxi and Private Hire Platforms (VTC) (Initiative), Record number 4258, Platform Economy Database, Dublin,