Canaries law now in effect to charge for emergency services for those in difficulty through their own recklessness

Update 5 July: The press is reporting that the first case that could possibly be charged for emergency rescue is that of a 45-year-old windsurfer who needed assistance in El Médano on Tuesday afternoon. According to emergency services sources, the alert was activated by Protección Civil officers in the area after observing the windsurfer experiencing problems, and being unable to get back to land by his own means. Lifeboats and a GES helicopter were called out, and it was the helicopter which rescued him and transferred him to TFS safe and sound.

It transpires that windsurfing is classified as a “risk sport” in Ley 4/2012 de 25 de junio de medidas administrativas y fiscales, and as such this rescue could be the first to be charged under the new legislation. General estimates put the possible costs in the region of €2,500. It will be interesting to see whether any charge is indeed levied. It would strike many, given the multitude of windsurfers who legally practice their chosen sport in El Médano, as particularly unfair if they were to be penalized in this way.

Update 4 July: This law, Ley 4/2012, dated 25 June, came into effect at midnight on Saturday. From now, there are charges for emergency services required for those in difficulty through their own recklessness.  The law sets charges in terms of the numbers needing rescue, and so a rescue involving up to 4 victims will have a ceiling of €6,000. In very rare cases where larger groups are involved the ceiling will be set at 8,000 for 5-8 needing rescue, €10,000 for 9-16,  and €12,000 for 16+. The law also allows that  the charges will be levied against the estate of anyone who dies during their rescue, a measure which the regional Goverment insists complies with the provisions of  national fiscal legislation.

Original post 19 March:  The Canarian Government is to follow Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque Country and introduce a charge for emergency rescues for those undertaking “risky” sports like surfing, climbing, and paragliding. The so-called Ley de Tasas has already been outlined by the Dirección General de Emergencias y Seguridad and will be put before the regional Parliament in the near future. The fee will be up to a maximum of €6,000.

The law will not only set the charge when a search or rescue is made as a result of the practice of recreational or sporting activities that involve risk or danger, but also when it is through failure to observe warning signs, instructions or bans. It will also be imposed when a rescue is due to activities banned in natural spaces or which lack the required authorization, or when those requiring rescue have not provided themselves with suitable equipment, and for prank emergency calls.


  1. Hi Janet, do you know if getting into trouble windsurfing is considered “Reckless”? I wonder how they class equipment failure and broken masts. I am guessing that all will be charged. Ouch!


  2. Author

    Hmmm, the sport is officially considered “risky”, so I would be inclined to think that they might at least try to charge for any rescue, but having said that, those who could demonstrate clear preparation, adequate care, etc., would have a good defence to minimise any charge because the sport is perfectly legal, after all! Indeed, El Médano relies on it, even promotes it, and hosts the world championships in it!!

  3. So how will this law relate to diving

  4. Author

    We’ll have to see whether a charge is imposed for this rescue first. If it is, then diving is most definitely covered – it is the first specifically named sport in the list contained in the law. I have now put a link to the law in the links page for anyone who wants to see it.

  5. Could you point me in the right direction to find out, in relation to diving, what they would consider reckless

  6. Author

    Diving itself. Having to be rescued while diving.

    The law (to which I’ve put a link in the links page) says the following are “risky sports” – risky in their own right, just by virtue of doing them. Note that the law says this is not an exhaustive list. These are just the sports “amongst others” that are considered risky “in their various forms and styles”:

    Scuba diving, open sea swimming, windsurfing, flysurf, water-skiing, wakeboard, wakesurf, skurfer, jet skis, bodyboard, surf, rafting, hydrospeed, canoeing, barranco walking, bungee jumping, kite buggy, quads, climbing, caving, mountain biking, motorcross, mountain vehicle riding, horse trekking, skiing, snowboard, paraski, snowbike, skibike, ballooning, parachuting, base jumping, ultralight flying, gliding, paragliding, hanggliding and parasailing.

    Some of these sports are unknown to me. The list in Spanish, in case I’ve misidentified any, is:

    A los efectos de la aplicación de esta tasa se considerarán actividades recreativas y deportivas que entrañan riesgo o peligro para las personas, entre otras, las siguientes, así como sus distintas modalidades y estilos: submarinismo, travesía de natación, windsurfing, flysurf, esquí acuático, wakeboard, wakesurf, skurfer, motos de agua, bodyboard, surf, rafting, hydrospeed, piragüismo, remo, descenso de cañones y barrancos, puenting, goming, kite buggy, quads, escalada, espeleología deportiva o “espeleismo”, bicicleta en montaña, motocross, vehículos de motor en montaña, raid y trec hípico, marchas y turismo ecuestre, esquí, snowboard, paraski, snowbike, skibike, aerostación, paracaidismo, salto base, vuelo de ultraligeros, vuelo en aparatos con motor y sin motor, parapente, ala delta y parasailing.

  7. Great – more good news then for those trying to run businesses here!

  8. If one went out one night and over indulged, then fell over and had to call anbulance, would this be classed as recklessness and you get a very big bill.


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