Different types of police in Spain: Who should I turn to?

Different types of police in Spain: Who should I turn to?

2023-11-16 11:41:26

In Spain, there are several types of police. They can all be called policemen, but their duties are very different. Some of them are extremely important for the daily lives of expats (not because you have committed something illegal…). In this article, we will talk about the types of police in Spain.


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1. How many types of police exist in Spain?

2. What are their responsibilities?



1. How many types of police exist in Spain?


Police preventing a protest from getting out of hand


The Spanish police structure is based on three different geographic levels: local level, autonomous region level, and national level.


  • National level: Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and National Police (Policía Nacional)
  • Autonomous region level: Police that belong to the autonomous region level. Not all autonomous regions have police at this level. The following autonomous regions do have regional police:
    • Basque Country: Ertzaintza
    • Catalonia: Mozos de Escuadra (Mossos d'Esquadra in Catalan)
    • Navarra: Policía Foral de Navarra
    • Canarias: Cuerpo General de la Policía Canaria
  • Local level: Local Police (Policía Local)


2. What are their responsibilities?


  • National Level: Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and National Police (Policía Nacional)
    • Civil Guard (Guardia Civil): A huge group of armed military guards that aims to protect the exercise of free rights within the country and guarantee citizen security.
      • They protect the whole population from land, air, and water and respond to the Ministry of interior affairs and Ministry of Defense.
    • National Police (Policía Nacional): Its main functions include criminal, terrorist, and juridical investigations. They are also responsible for immigration and public order matters.
      • If you need to apply for an NIE/TIE card after arriving, you possibly need to ask for a prior appointment with one of the National Police Office in the city you reside in. To get the NIE/TIE card, you need to have insurance coverage that guarantees your whole stay in Spain. Consult our expat insurance, the best-rated health insurance, and qualified visa/NIE/TIE insurance in Spain.
  • Autonomous region level: Autonomous regions can also create police units, protecting the security of the very autonomous region. This type of police often realizes the same functions, such as Civil Guard and National Police.
  • Local level: Local Police (Policía Local): Depending on the different geographic regions, the local police be called Policía Local, Policía Municipal, or Guardia Urbana. Their main duties include:
    • Protect the authorities of the local corporations
    • Order, signal, and direct traffic in the urban area
    • Report traffic accidents within the urban area
    • Function as administrative policemen, in relation to ordinances, parties, and other municipal provisions within the scope of its competence
    • Participate in judicial police functions
    • Aid, in cases of accident, catastrophe, or public calamity, participating in the execution of civil protection plans.
    • Carry out prevention procedures and actions to avoid the commission of criminal acts within the framework of collaboration established in the security boards.
    • Cooperate in the resolution of private conflicts when required.


After knowing about the 4 different types of police in Spain, you shouldn´t be as confused as before and now you know where to go to apply for the NIE card or if any other issue appears.


If you would like to know more about this topic, check out one of these other blogs:



Our content will be updated according to the most recent legislation. Last update: 02/08/2023

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