Gran Canaria's hotels have to be licensed and offer a quality level of service as well as having insurance and complying with fire regulations. The same goes for the boats that take people out to watch dolphins, the companies offering jeep safaris, and even the holiday let apartments.
However, not everybody in Gran Canaria follows the rules. For example, there is a significant industry running illegal and uninsured transfers between Gran Canaria airport and the island's resorts. These cars, driven by locals and foreign-residents, are just private vehicles and the drivers are unregulated and uninsured. They don't pay tax and there is no way to hold them responsible if something goes wrong.
At Gran Canaria Info we believe that all people and all companies offering services to tourists should legal and above board.
So, how do you know that your airport transfer service is legal and registered with the Gran Canaria authorities?
It is quite easy to know if your airport transfer service is operating in a legal way because all registered transfers have the following...
A blue license plate: Taxis and other public service vehicles in Gran Canaria all have blue plates.
A VTC sticker in the window: This stands for Vehículo de Transporte con Conductor, the official designation for licensed transfer drivers ans chauffeurs.
An SP sticker on the car: This indicates that the car offer a Servicio Publico or public service and is therefore allowed to pick up and transfer members of the public.
Parked in the transport zone: Official airport transfer vehicles don't park in the public car park of the airport. Instead they have their own parking zone right by the arrivals gates at the airport (next to the taxis and package tour buses). Your transfer driver therefore should not have to pay a parking fee before leaving the aiport.
Unlicensed drivers get away with offerring their service because they claim that they are just members of the public picking up a friend. They are allowed to stand at arrivals with a sign (just like any member of the public can).
However, they also have to park their car in the public car park and will walk you there with your luggage, stopping to pay the parking fee at the meter. A licensed transfer driver does not need to do this because they have their own parking zone right by arrivals.
Some unlicensed drivers don't even wait at the arrival gate because the official drivers recognise them and get annoyed. Instead they have to stand further away (often by the Spar supermarket or the car rental desks).
When an unlicensed driver drops you at the airport they will not want to be paid in a public area because this proves that they are charging rather than "transporting a friend" for free.
An unlicensed car will not have a blue license plate, or a SP or VTC sticker, and will often look like a private car (because it is a private car).
Some people use unlicensed cars because they are the cheapest option and don't realise that they are unlicensed.
There are several problems with unlicensed services. The most obvious is that they are uninsured so if something goes wrong or there is an accident, you are not protected. The price that unlicensed drivers offer is only low because they cut corners (hopefully not literally). You have no way of even knowing if your unlicensed driver has a Spanish driving license, insurance and a good driving record. Licensed drivers are vetted regularly and must be fully insured and licensed to work.
Another problem is that unlicensed transfers undermine the legitimate transfer drivers and businesses in Gran Canaria. Local drivers make a living from transfers and offer a legal, regulated service with minimum standards. Every time an unlicensed service undercuts them, it is effectively stealing from local people and the island economy.
We believe that everybody in Gran Canaria deserves better!
To find out more about the Gran Canaria airport transfer, see our Gran Canaria airport transfer article which explains the three different models; man/woman from pub with car, online transfer websites, and local transfer services.
Or you can book a legitimate Gran Canaria airport transfer at a great price right here. Our service uses local drivers and supprts the island economy because all the money you spend stays in Gran Canaria.
Alex Says: Using our service also helps the Gran Canaria Info team to keep providing quality local information here and in our Facebook Group