SPANISH POLICE - It can be a little confusing to most newcomers to Spain, that there are three separate Police Forces that operate, with varying responsibilities, all of whom are armed.

The Guardia Civil 

They wear avocado green uniforms and olive-green caps and were generally feared during Franco's era due to their far reaching influence and control.

These days they are responsible for national security, customs and for crowd control at large events. Their traffic department vehicles patrol the main highways with green and white coloured cars and motorbikes and organise radar speeding checks. They are very pro-active in setting up roadside checkpoints to check various documentation, so don't be alarmed if you are stopped at any time of the day or night - But remember that this is all the more reason to have your paperwork in order and kept in your glove compartment.


The National Police 

Wear a black uniform and blue or white shirts, some officers may wear a blue military uniform and some are armed as their duties include guarding public building and personnel.


National Police are stationed in towns with a population of over 20,000 and deal with serious crime such as theft, rape and muggings, and are also used to control demonstrations and crowds. Other duties include guarding embassies, railway stations, post offices and army barracks in most towns and cities, when they’re armed with submachine guns. The national police are housed in a police station ( comisaría de policía), many of which have a foreigners ( extranjeros) department dealing with matters such as residence permits. There are also plain clothes policemen ( cuerpo superior de policía) in urban areas.

They are responsible for most day to day crime investigation and it is to them that you should go to make a denuncia for any crime that you may be a victim ie stolen credit cards, passport etc. They will provide you with the necessary documentation to supply to your bank/insurance company etc.  The SATE office can help you with this process.



The Local (Municipal) Police 

Wear blue and white uniforms  and are basically Town Hall Officials. Their main responsibilities include Parking violations, guarding the street crossings at School times and upholding the local Bye Laws (Like Building & Safety regulations) in the Municipal area. 

The Policia Municipal receive their orders from local governmental bodies and are the guys you go to for most smaller problems – petty theft, personal disputes, problems with specific storekeepers, or simply if you’re in a new town and hopelessly lost. The Policia Municipal are also the police you may come across if you hire a rental car and are stopped for violating one of Spain’s many traffic laws.

Although they too are armed, they are very approachable by residents and Tourists alike as they are essentially working in the Interests of the local community.


Spain also has an elite special operations group ( Grupo Especial de Operaciones/GEO) responsible for combating terrorism and dealing with other extreme situations, in addition to guarding Spanish ambassadors and embassies abroad. Other ’police’ forces include the port police ( policia de puerto) in sea ports, whose jurisdiction is limited to the property of the local junta del puerto, and armed guards (vigilantes jurados) employed by banks and security companies.

Telephone Numbers

The European Emergency telephone Number 112 

062 - Guardia Civil
091 - National Police - Reporting robberies etc.
061 - Health emergencies
080 - Fire Service
092 - Local Police, Benidorm local police station 966 80 77 66
090 - Report traffic incidents
011 - Road information (traffic jams and incidents)
016 - Reporting Domestic Violence

You must usually dial a local number for the municipal police, although dialling 092 will get you connected to the local police station or get your message relayed.

For a full list of ALL Emergency telephone numbers click HERE


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