Catalonia tourist tax

Skip directly to the Catalonia Tourist Tax Fees table — The autonomous Spanish community of Catalonia, whose Costa Brava is one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations, started to levy a tourist tax on November 1, 2012.

The Catalonia Tourist Tax applies to any facility where tourists stay overnight — from campgrounds and youths hostel to hotels and cruise ships.

Tourist apartments and private houses rented to tourists are subject to the charges as well.

April 2016: This information is still current. We update it if and when necessary.
Blanes, Catalonia

The Catalan seaside resort town of Blanes is known as the Gateway to the Costa Brava

Hotel operators and others in the travel industry initially were upset, citing anything from the unfounded fear that tourists will decide to vacation elsewhere to the cost of updating hotel management software packages.

But the Generalitat de Catalunya points out that most countries in Europe and many throughout the world have long had similar measures in place, and that income derived from the tourist tax will result in more tourists visiting the region.

Under the terms of a bill approved in March 2012, the tax fees are used to finance the newly founded Tourism Development Fund, which produces promotion campaigns for tourism in Catalonia.

Income earmarked to promote tourism

The Government promotes Catalonia as a prime tourist destination throughout Spain, Europe, and the rest of the world.

In addition the tax is used for “tourism-related infrastructure” — which includes anything from the upkeep of seaside boulevards or the rebuilding of beaches after they have been damaged in storms, to payment of salaries for extra police man hours during such events as Blanes’ famous annual international fireworks festival.


It would not be fair to expect local residents and businesses to bear all the costs related to the tourist industry. The tax is a small price to pay in exchange for clean beaches, well-maintained roads, and good facilities.

When it was introduced, the Catalan Government expected the tax to raise €50 million per year. In 2014, €41 million was raised — bringing the total revenue raised since the introduction of the fees to €82.3 million.

The money is split between the Catalan Tourism Agency, local tourism boards and town halls.

Catalonia Tourist Tax: How Much?

Not much, really. In fact, the Government says that for 96% of tourist who visit Catalonia the new tax will add only 1% to their total spending bill.

You’ll pay between € 0,45 to € 2,25 per person, per night — and only for the first seven nights. [1]

The amount depends on the type of establishment you are staying at, as well as whether you are staying in Barcelona or the rest of the country.

Type of Establishment Barcelona Rest of Catalonia
Cruise ships, 5-star, Luxury Hotels € 2,25 € 2,25
4-star, 4-star Superior Hotels € 1,10 € 0,90
Campings, Apartments, Villas, Others € 0,65 € 0,45

Important additional information:

  • The tourist tax is charged per person, per night
  • The tax is charged only for the first seven nights of your stay
  • People aged 16 and younger are not charged tourist tax
  • Passengers of cruise ships that stay in Barcelona less than 12 hours are exempted
  • The tourist tax is subject to a 10% VAT (Value Added Tax; Spanish: IVA; Catalan: L’IVA) charge. (For example: 0.45 cents + 10% = rounded up to .50 cents)

In addition, if you are staying in Catalonia as a participant in a social program operated by the public administration of a European Union member state. (If you didn’t quite understand that, rest assured: it does not apply to you).

NOTE: Higher Rates?

From time to time we hear from people who run into higher charges than those listed above, with some accommodations listing an additional ‘hotel tax’ as well.

However, according to the Generalitat de Catalunya — the Government of Catalonia — there are no additional tax charges (other than the normal 10% VAT over the entire bill) that apply to tourists.

If your hotel charges higher rates under the guise of ‘tourist tax’ — or charges you an additional ‘hotel-‘ or ‘bed tax’ — you are being overcharged.

If you believe that is the case, stay calm and polite. Do, however, visit the Ajuntament (City Hall), a police station, or the local tourist office and ask for their help.

How the tax is billed

If you have booked through a third-party, such as a tour operator that provides a holiday package including air travel and hotel fare, you should check whether or not the new tourist tax has been included in the total amount paid.

Tossa de Mar, Catalonia

The Costa Brava resort of Tossa de Mar is a popular destination for a day trip.

But regardless of whether you book or pay the hotel (or other establishment) direct or via a third party, the hotel is obligated to provide an invoice that presents a clear and separate breakdown of the amount of tax charged. (This doesn’t mean you may be charged twice. It simply means there must be a paper trail documenting that the tourist tax has been paid).

If the tourist tax was not already included in the payment you made to a third party, you will have to settle the bill at the hotel.

Note that the invoice is subject to the normal 10% VAT for hotel accommodation.

Other regions may follow

Catalonia is the only of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions that charges a tourist tax.

Initially people thought that as the country’s economic crisis deepened other regions would follow Catalonia’s example. But that has not yet happened.

Meanwhile, hotel associations say they have had notably few complaints from tourists.

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This article was first published in November 8, 2012. We take care in keeping it up-to-date.

Information Tourist Tax Catalonia Spain

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Catalonia tourist tax — 19 Comments

  1. Yes, the tourist tax is charged on each visit you make — but only for the first seven nights of each stay.

  2. As a frequent British Tourist, having Spain as my main holiday location, I am appalled at this Tourist Tax charge! Spain, having no natural resources of its own – such as oil, gold, silver, copper, etc – depends completely on the Tourist, and heavily on the British Tourist, to boost its economy. Therefore, it is a complete INSULT to the Tourist/Holiday-maker to exploit us as we pay the lion’s share to maintain the Spanish economy. It is akin to biting the hand that feeds you, and as such I will never pay this tax, and go elsewhere for my holidays. I and my family and friends will NOT be held ransom by such a stealth tax. Disgusted British Holiday-maker.

  3. Oh boy, where do I start, Mr. C. McClinton?

    First, Spain has many natural resources. Google is your friend, so look it up.

    Many countries, regions, and cities throughout the world charge tourist tax. Doing so benefits tourists (read the article you are commenting on), and also helps create more jobs, which in turn helps the local population.

    As a Christian (I checked your name and email address and read your testimony) you should not begrudge it when people who find themselves in an economical tight spot find a legal way to help both themselves and others. Besides, taxation is a fact of life, and you know what Jesus said on the subject.

    You are free to go elsewhere, of course, but the list of countries and places that charge a tourism or hotel tax is growing, so your options are dwindling. Boycotting Spain is as silly as not buying goods at stores in Ulster because they charge a sales tax.

    That said, tourism is Spain — and in Catalonia in particular. Catalonia has seen a 2.3% increase in visitors compared to last year.

  4. Are these prices set in stone with regards to the tax? The apartments I am staying at in Salou on Saturday apparently charge 3 euro per adult per night?

  5. @Lee: I believe that Salou, like some other towns and municipalities throughout Catalonia (and the rest of Spain) does charge a local hotel tax in addition to the Catalonia-wide tax.

    You may want to check with the tourist office or with the adjuntament (city hall) to see whether you are being over-charged.

  6. I am now told that this tax is applicable to those over 12 years old (recently stayed at AC Suites by Marriott) and was charged for 3 people (inc 13 yr old). Was I overcharged or is this a chance to update your website?

  7. I was not told about this tax before I booked my holiday, had I known I would have gone somewhere else. Fleecing tourists who already work hard and save hard for their annual holiday is not a good way to be doing business. I already pay enough tax on my earnings. I have only been to one country which charges a tourist tax and I won’t be going there again. However, I’m glad the tax was not hidden by the hotels in their charges.

  8. @Cheesed off holidaymaker. Your email address indicates you live in the UK. And your comments show that you haven’t traveled much.

    As for ‘fleecing tourists,’ take a look at this May, 2015 article published by The Telegraph (UK): It is titled, “Only one country has higher tourism taxes than the UK” and the sub-header says, “The World Economic Forum’s travel report ranks the UK 140th out of 141 countries for cost competitiveness in the tourism industry.”

    See also, Why is UK hotel VAT so high? Note the chart.

    Spain’s hotel/tourist tax is very reasonable. Our article above indicates what the income from the tax is used for, showing that tourists such as yourself benefit from improved facilities, clean beaches, good roads and transportation, safety measures, and a whole lot more — all without you and your vacationing family becoming a burden to the native population.

  9. @Richard Golding: I think you were overcharged. The official information published by the Government of Catalonia says that children aged 16 and under are exempt.

  10. Hi there. Great article and very helpful, however could I ask you. If I am a resident of catalonia, do I have to pay the tourist tax?
    Many thanks.

  11. Hi there. Great article and very helpful, however could I ask you. If I am a resident of catalonia, do I have to pay the tourist tax?
    Many thanks in advance

  12. Yes Chris, as is the case in the vast majority of countries that levy tourist tax, residents are subject to those fees as well. That is because local visitors have pretty much the same impact as visitors from abroad.

    If 1000 people spend a weekend in Barcelona, it makes little to no difference whether they came from Girona or London. In either case, Barcelona spends money for the upkeep of roads, safety measures, public transport, law enforcement, et cetera.

  13. TOURIST TAX THANKS BUT NO THANKS Spain should be encouraging people to visit Hotels not taxing them,.If they do not want our money that i s ok by me,. i can spend mine where I want.So, good by Spain I will go next door to Portugal

  14. Portugal is a nice country indeed. But like countless other countries, it has a tourist tax. Just not as high a tax as the UK — your own country — levies.

    Note: Only one country has higher tourism taxes than the UK. The article says, “The World Economic Forum’s travel report ranks the UK 140th out of 141 countries for cost competitiveness in the tourism industry.”

    The reasons behind tourist taxes are well-explained in the article. Both tourists and the locals benefit from them.

    Since more and more countries levy a tax on tourism, you may have to simply vacation in your own backyard.

  15. Hi. If we are staying in a house booked privately, 2 adults, 2 children this summer for a fortnight, near Rhonda Valley who do I need to pay the tax to and how do I go about it please?

    Interesting article, thank you for sharing xx

  16. That’s a very strange comment, Frank. You did not read the article correctly. First, your IP number identifies you as being in the UK. See this comment, in which I provide a link to an article that shows “only one country has higher tourism tax rates than the UK.” Have you noticed any decrease in tourism at home?

    Second, what does tourism in Spain have to do with tourism in Catalonia? Catalonia is one of 17 autonomous communities in Spain. It is, for now, the only Spanish community that charges a tourist tax. Other may well follow soon though, given the success of the tax — and the purpose of the tax (read the article).

    Third, you are wrong. Tourism in Catalonia is way up with record-breaking numbers, as is tourism in all of Spain.

  17. Hi Sarah, you would pay the tax rate listed under ‘others’. The person or company your rent the house from should add the charge to your bill, listed as a separate item. If the charge was not part of the original booking, you may be charged upon arrival. Applying the tourist tax charge is the responsibility of the person or company you rent from. Have a nice vacation!

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