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What are the rules for setting up a food truck in Spain?

Food trucks have become more and more popular in recent years and have even become trendy, much-sought-after additions to festivals and events, particularly in Spain. If you're interested in setting up your own food truck in Spain, here's everything you need to know.

What are the rules for setting up a food truck in Spain?
How to set up a food truck in Spain. (Joenomias) Menno de Jong / Pixabay

In Spain, you may occasionally see several churros vans on the streets, but the majority of food trucks come out during festivals or markets.

In cities like Barcelona for example, food trucks are all the rage at events and the city even has a food truck collective called Van Van, which appears at all the city celebrations and markets. 

According to LACOMMA, a Spanish food truck manufacturer, demand for food trucks has tripled since the pandemic. The explanation for this growth lies in the low investment required to start the business and in how the hospitality sector, one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, has reinvented itself since. 

There are even food trucks in Spain run by chefs with Michelin stars such as Carlos Maldonado from Talaverano, who continues to drive his food truck to events, and Dabiz Muñoz, who has a food truck in the centre of Madrid.

If you want to start a food business in Spain, but don’t have the capital or the know-how to open a restaurant, then you may want to consider a food truck instead. The initial investment to create such a business is much less than that needed for a restaurant.

It’s possible to start your food truck business with around €15,000. The truck itself is going to be your biggest expense. You could go for a cheaper vintage model that may bring more character to your brand or a more expensive modern air-conditioned one, that will help you during the long hot Spanish summers. 

READ ALSO: Nine bright business ideas that haven’t been exploited in Spain yet

But, it’s not just all about the money, as with many different processes in Spain the legal and administrative sides can be tricky to navigate. This is because, as well as having to adhere to European regulations on food hygiene, each region also has its own slightly different rules. Since there is no regulation on a national level, each region will have different requisites too. 

The first step when trying to legalise your food truck is to go to your ayuntamiento or town hall and find out the steps in your local area, as they are the ones who will be in charge of granting your final permit. 


One of the first documents you’ll need is your Food Handler Certificate to certify that you can handle and prepare food in a safe way and that you’re not going to give your customers food poisoning. 

You must also take into account the type of truck you want to use. If your truck weighs more than 3,500 kilos, it is mandatory to obtain a truck driver’s licence too. The lighter ones can be driven with a normal licence.

In order to set yourself up legally as a self-employed person you will also have to register as autónomo and register yourself in the corresponding IAE epigraph for your industry. Most gestores or accountants in Spain can easily help you with this process. Once you have done this you will also need to sign up for the Social Security system, meaning you will contribute monthly fees. 

READ ALSO – Self-employed in Spain: What you should know about being ‘autónomo’

Regional differences

It’s important to decide where to park your truck or if it will move to various locations, this will all depend on the rules made by your City Council, as established by Royal Decree 199/2010. Sometimes you may not be able to have a permanent space on the street and may have to just stick with going to festivals and events instead. 

Depending on your area, there may also be more documents you will need than the ones above. Your ayuntamiento or town hall should be able to tell you which ones you will need. 

Business tips 

Deciding what type of food to sell from your truck may be one of the hardest decisions. It could be easy to go with much-loved classics like burgers, pizzas or hot dogs, but there’s already a lot of competition for food trucks of that type. Find a niche to stand out from the crowd by offering vegan food for example, Thai curries or Chinese bao buns, or whatever you are personally good at making. 

To get some inspiration, take a look at Lonely Planet’s Around the World in 80 Food Trucks book, which features several of the most successful food trucks in various regions across Spain, as well as recipes from some of their most popular dishes. 

Remember, it’s not enough to just have your truck, these days you need a good brand and an online presence. It’s important to create a website and create social media handles to promote your truck and its offerings.

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Mediterranean diet: Why the Spanish are eating far less fish

Fish and seafood are one of the most important parts of the Mediterranean diet and Spain is known for its excellent offerings, but now consumption of these products has fallen by 20 percent.

Mediterranean diet: Why the Spanish are eating far less fish

Most Spanish regions have at least one traditional fish dish or seafood dish, even the ones that are not located along the coast. In fact, to follow a Mediterranean diet, it’s recommended to eat fish at least two or three times a week, however, the latest data shows that during the first two months of 2023, fish consumption fell by 20 percent.

Many believe that this is due to inflation and the historic rise in food prices in Spain, which has affected the entire weekly shop but has had one of the greatest impacts on the cost of fish.

Fish prices have risen 14 percent within the last year, meaning that families can no longer afford the types of meals they once ate, causing consumption of one of Spain’s much-loved products to decrease by a whopping 20 percent.

READ ALSO: Food prices in Spain rise 16 percent despite VAT cut

According to data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) published on March 14th, inflation has had the most pressure on the price of the weekly shop and food become more expensive by 16.6 percent in the last year. The Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) has estimated that this translates into an extra annual cost of €924.

Many families are now saying that cans of tuna are the only type of fish that they can afford and that it is now considered a luxury product for special occasions only.

READ ALSO – Cost of living: What are Spain’s best price comparison websites?

When the reduction in VAT on food was announced in December 2022, fish was excluded from the list. The 4 percent VAT for staple foods, such as bread, milk, flour, cheese, eggs, fruit, vegetables, legumes, potatoes and cereals, was abolished and the government also cut VAT on oil and pasta 10 to 5 percent for six months.

But now, merchants are asking that the government reduce the VAT on fish to 4 percent as well.

Meat consumption is another important part of the Spanish diet, which favourite dishes and tapas such as jamón, paella Valenciana and cocido.  

The consumption of fresh meat fell by 2.5 percent in the first month of the year, according to data presented by NielsenIQ at the 23rd Aecoc Congress of Meat Products.  

Many Spaniards are choosing to switch to frozen meat instead, saying that they can save around €3 to €4 by not buying it fresh.  

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and the Environment of Spain, Luis Planas, however, does not believe that the drop in the consumption of meat and fish is due to high prices.

According to him, it is due to a trend of consuming a more vegetarian diet instead. Planas claimed it was not necessary to lower VAT on meat and fish. The drop in meat and fish consumption is due to a “consumption trend” rather than the price factor he explained, referring to the annual report on food trends carried out by the ministry.