The improvement in the water quality resulting from the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive is expected to generate substantial non-market benefits. A wide spread estimation of these benefits across Europe will require the application of benefit transfer. We use a spatially explicit valuation design to account for the spatial heterogeneity of preferences to help generate lower transfer errors. A map-based choice experiment is applied in the Guadalquivir River Basin (Spain), accounting simultaneously for the spatial distribution of water quality improvements and beneficiaries. Our results show that accounting for the spatial heterogeneity of preferences generally produces lower transfer errors. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.