Healthplan Spain


How Do I Know If A Traffic Fine In Spain Is Fake? Expat Tips

From time to time, we hear of many online scams, however, those looking to exploit others do not solely rely on the internet.

Recently, there have been cases of cars in the Carabanchel area of Madrid having fake penalty notices placed on their windscreens.

Many will panic and just look to pay the fine as quickly as possible to receive a discount on the amount due which is usually 50%.

The City Council warned drivers not to pay the fine or scan the QR code placed on the tickets.

They also reminded drivers that any penalty notices imposed by agents are usually sent by registered mail or via the Electronic Road Address system.

The case above highlights the need to be aware of such attempts. Knowing whether a traffic fine is legitimate or just a ploy to get you to part with your money will mean that you are well-armed and not prone to be easily scammed.

Knowing the mandatory sections of any fine will help you to determine its veracity.

Tips to recognise a fake penalty notice

Below we cover the things a legitimate traffic fine should contain and of which are included in article 87 of the traffic law.

  • Traffic fines are never placed on your windscreen. You will always be notified via registered letter or via the official Electronic Road Address system.
  • QR codes are never used by the authorities.
  • Penalty notices will always include the identity of the vehicle that caused the infringement.
  • The identity of the driver will be used if known.
  • There will be a brief description of the infringement including the place, date, and time it occurred.
  • The name, address, and details of those issuing the penalty including the identification number of the officer.

Note that fines can come in different formats and will depend on the infraction and the department that issues it. For example, an administrative or parking infraction is not the same as a sanction issued by the DGT.

However, despite these differences, the following is data you would expect to see contained in such fines.

  • The penalty fine reference number that identifies the infraction.
  • Driver data including licence plate and make and model of vehicle.
  • Place, date, and time of the violation.
  • Amount to pay
  • Details of which article of the General Traffic Regulations has been violated.
  • Loss of points if applicable.
  • Photo of the vehicle if taken by a speeding camera.

Where to check for any outstanding penalty notices

So now you know that fines, whether from the local authorities or the DGT traffic department, are never issued by leaving them on your windscreen.

So what’s the best way to check for any outstanding fines?

The most reliable method is to check either the TESTRA (DGT) or the TEU (Other fines issued by local authorities). You can also register with DEV so that you are notified if a fine is issued. This is particularly important if you move home often and forget to update your new contact details with the DGT.

To find out how to update your details with the DGT and other government agencies visit our page - How to easily change your address with the Spanish authorities.

  • TESTRA (El Tablón de Edicttales de Fines de Tráfico) - The electronic notice board of the DGT.
  • TEU (Tablón Edictal Único del BOE) - Edictal board of the BOE used by public administrations to notify citizens or companies of any administrative decisions that may affect them such as traffic related fines.
  • DEV (Electronic Road Address System) - DEV is an electronic mailbox where you can be notified of any fines. Notifications can be via email and/or text message. Note from November 1, 2022, companies/legal entities will need to use the DEV system as paper fines will not be sent via post.

Further details on all of these services can be found at the official DGT page here.