Spain Explained

Registering a UK car in Spain: Our quick guide

If you’re moving to Spain, there are many reasons why you might decide to bring your car from the UK. Although buying a car in Spain may seem like the most straightforward option – not least because Spanish cars are left-hand drive – there are likely to be circumstances where it will be more convenient or economical to bring your existing vehicle to Spain. In this article, we explain the process of registering a UK car in Spain. That way, you can make sure you’re fully compliant with Spanish motoring laws.

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Why do I need to re-register my car?

Many people assume that they won’t need to register their vehicle in Spain because of EU regulatory agreements. Although Brexit is certain to change the rules, in fact, you have never been able to import a vehicle to Spain without registering it with the authorities. Currently, you can only keep a foreign-registered vehicle in Spain for up to six months. After this point, you are obliged to register the vehicle and pay car taxes. However, if you intend to apply for residency, you need to register with the traffic department within 30 days of your arrival. 

Another important thing to note is that many British insurers only cover driving abroad for up to 90 days. Some will cover as long as six months, but it is important to check your policy. Remember – it is illegal to drive without insurance in Spain. Uninsured drivers face hefty fines, so it is essential to make sure you have proper cover. Furthermore, in order to buy insurance from a Spanish company, your vehicle needs to be registered in the country. Therefore, registering your car is an essential step of making sure you’re compliant. 

Notifying the DVLA that you’re taking your car abroad

Primarily, you will need to notify the DVLA in the United Kingdom that you are exporting your vehicle. To do this, you need to send them the permanent export form (V5C), which can be found in your vehicle log book. However, if you don’t have your log book, there’s no need to panic – you can apply for a new one via the DVLA. For more information about the permanent export of vehicles, visit the UK government’s website. Due to EU regulations, currently, you do not have to pay import tax on your vehicle. However, this is likely to change after Brexit.

Employing a Gestor to help you register your vehicle

The most straightforward way of registering a UK car in Spain is employing the services of a Gestor or other legal adviser. These professionals are there specifically to help you with navigating Spanish bureaucracy in your language. With their guidance, you can ensure the process is as smooth as possible. Depending on your region, the Gestor will be able to advise you as to what documentation you need to register your car. Generally, these include:

  • Passport.
  • Your NIE certificate, which is your Spanish tax identification number.
  • Your padron, which is proof of residence in your region.
  • The British vehicle log book and registration certificate (V5C).

The Gestor will take copies of this documentation and begin the process. First, the Gestor will arrange for an engineer to perform an initial inspection. Bear in mind that this is different from the ITV inspection, which we will discuss later. This check will ensure that your vehicle complies with basic motoring laws in Spain. If your car doesn’t comply, you may need to make modifications. These specifications include:

  • The vehicle dimensions must correspond to the manufacturer’s spec.
  • The chassis number and engine number must match.
  • You must be able to adjust beam direction on your headlights.
  • You will need to remove any separate fog lights and replace them with light clusters.
  • Your tow bar must have a manufacturer’s identification plate.
  • The tyres and wheels must be right the size and speed rating specified by the manufacturer.

What to expect in terms of vehicle taxes and fees when registering a UK car in Spain

Unfortunately, the total cost of registering a UK car in Spain depends on your specific circumstances. The make, model, age and state of repair of your vehicle can cause costs to fluctuate significantly. For instance, if your car doesn’t meet the specifications detailed above, you’ll have to invest in the appropriate adjustments.

However, providing the vehicle meets these initial requirements, the Gestor will advise you as to which vehicle taxes and fees you need to pay. These include:

  • Ficha técnica reducida, or the engineer’s certificate
  • Traffic tax           
  • Registration tax      
  • Road tax                             
  • Plates                                    
  • Administration expenses and charges

An important thing to note is that the emission levels of your car can substantially impact the amount of tax you’ll need to pay. Before bringing your car to Spain, it is sensible to check which tax band your vehicle will fall into. Some models can be taxed up to 14.75% of the value of the car, so you’ll want to make sure bringing your car to Spain is economical.

What’s an ITV and how to get one

Once you have received your ficha técnica reducida from your Gestor, you need to take your car for an Inspección Técnica de Vehículos, or ITV. This is essentially the Spanish equivalent of an MOT in the UK. These tests are compulsory and can only be performed by licensed garages. However, one thing to be aware of is that your first ITV will be a matriculation ITV, which is slightly more expensive and requires some additional paperwork.

The process varies according to region, but generally, the mechanic will do a comprehensive road-worthiness check. This includes an emissions test, oil levels, tyres, lights, wipers, seat belts, handbrake and suspension. At the appointment, you’ll need to bring along your log book so the mechanic can check the car’s service history. If your car passes the ITV, you’ll receive your ITV certificate and sticker for the car windscreen.

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The final steps of registering a UK car in Spain

To complete registering a UK car in Spain, you return to your Gestor with your ITV documentation. They will complete the process with the relevant authorities and you can return to their office to collect your documents and Spanish number plates. Once you have affixed the number plates, the process is complete: you have successfully registered your car in Spain. The final step is to insure your vehicle with a Spanish insurer. After this point you will be a fully compliant motorist – so all that’s left is to get on the road and start enjoying your new life in Spain.

Finally, we would like to remind you that navigating the taxation system of a foreign country can be an intimidating task – especially if you don’t speak the language. Furthermore, it’s important to seek expert advice on the specifics because of differences across regions.

At Ábaco Advisers, our team of experienced fiscal and taxation advisers can help you make sure you follow regulations. For more information, without obligation, you can fill out this form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

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4 comments

Gerald Boyd

22 July, 2020 11:39 am

Hi, I have a Volvo XC90 and have a house in Almayate Malaga, due to the coronavirus I was unable to collect the car and bring it back to Scotland for its m o t which has expired, I was thinking about changing it to Spanish registration, it’s a 2005 model I have purchased new headlights for the vehicle, I return to Spain on 23rd July and have hired a car meantime, do you think it’s worth changing over to Spanish plates, yours gratefully Gerry Boyd

Oscar Paoli

23 July, 2020 9:17 pm

Hi Gerald,
I am sure it can be beneficial for you in the future to have it registered in Spain.
Should you wish to get any assistance in the matter please contact our partners Orke Servicios. Please find their contact details below:
http://orkeservicios.net/
Let them now you have been recommended by us.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Bob Kamminga

13 August, 2020 11:22 pm

I intend to purchase a car in Germany in the name of a Spanish SL.
If I buy the car without IVA and it should be registered in the name of the Spanish SL with, I assume, al
usual costs without IVA as in accordance with EU laws no IVA is paid when purchasing when both
Seller and Buyer have a registered IVA number.
Could you please advise whether it can be done like this without problems?
(I understand some people had a problem because, in spite of EU rules, traffico wanted IVA on the
import to be paid)
Look forward to hearing from you.
Rgds
Bob Kamminga

Oscar Paoli

14 August, 2020 1:16 pm

Hi Bob,
Unfortunately we are not tax advisors in the process of purchasing vehicles and specially between countries. Should you wish to get any further assistance in the matter please contact our partners Orke Servicios who do specialize in this matter. Please find their contact details below:
http://orkeservicios.net/
Let them now you have been recommended by us.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers