You see them kicking sand over their flip-flops as they shuffle along the beach, headphones that make them look like a nightclub DJ. Toolbag flipped over the shoulder, head down and focused.
They are hardly inconspicuous their hauls anything from coins, keys to sunglasses one fella found a lost engagement ring for a friend, whilst others found ancient hordes of coins and an ornate crusader sword and that’s where you could get into serious bother…
So is it legal or not? I hear you cry – yes and no.
There is no specific law governing the use of metal detectors specifically on beaches apart from Andalucía where you need to apply for a permit.
The only time the law becomes comprehensive is when you start getting into the areas of archaeology. If that is what you have in mind then you can find out more information here: http://www.mundodetector.com/content/12-legislacion-espanola-sobre-detectores-de-metales
Sorry to be ambiguous, but like a lot of laws and rules in Spain it’s down to the municipality and the policeman on the day so stick out your chest and smile.
Here on the Costa Blanca I’ve seen lots of metal detectors on the beaches of Benidorm.
Metal detecting in Spain can be done, but with caution. Good practice to avoid anyone using the beach for leisure and businesses like beach bars preferably out of hours any holes dug up fill them in. These things are ignored, tolerated until someone does something to get denounced and then you will find out just how many rules and regulations there are and find they have been there for years.
One objection, they say that the signal interferes with their naval equipment which seems so over the top, but like one of those statements your friend would use when asked can you help me move this weekend – sorry bad back. Do you question it?
The use of metal detectors inherently involves the finding of national heritage, Archaeological or treasure trove items. Anything found by this method of recovery could be covered by the relevant law (Historical Heritage) of 25/06/1985 & Royal Decree of 10/01/1986. Compliance with these laws and complex procedures making it highly unlikely that any item discovered could be removed from Spain. The upshot is anything you find in Spain belongs to Spain including contemporary coinage.
Freestyling: in Metal detector jargon it means door knocking to get permission.
If you don’t want to get in trouble then it’s best to find out who owns the beach or area you want to metal detect, more than likely they will either have a licence or guidelines, which you will have to pay for and renew regularly or they will flatly refuse you permission – for example…
Calle de Finestrat a large cove in walking distance from the Poniente beach Benidorm, denies access to metal detectors on their beaches. Your equipment will be confiscation and you will receive a heavy fine if caught by officials.
There are people who have organised and started a club on the south of Costa Blanca creating a professional approach with club membership their own photo ID with NIE details and each member has public liability insurance and adhere to strict guidelines.
For those who like to go rogue – solo and chance it.
I know a chap who regularly goes on long walks in the campo (countryside) armed with his metal detector and a strong magnet on a length of string. He is looking for gold, treasure the big hall but if he is challenged he produces a couple of small meteorites and says that is what he is hunting for to add to his collection – just a hobby officer.
They now have extremely powerful deep seeking detectors that look like fancy walking sticks and you can hook them up to your smartphone and they will tell you what it is you have come across as they are multifunctional and able to locate buried items like gold, silver, chests and boxes as well as hidden rooms, graves and tunnels.
Of course, a person with a metal detector at night or the early hours is a source of income to those ruthless poverty-stricken unemployed or a target for amusement to gangs of curious self-medicated drunks.