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Importing a Vehicle

Spain - Importing a Vehicle

A foreign car must be registered with the Spanish authorities when it arrives in the country. A car with foreign license plates cannot be driven in Spain. When the car enters the country it is only permitted to drive from the port to the place of residence. It is essential to register the car within 30 days of arrival. An expat can obtain temporary plates and permission to drive the imported vehicle from the local traffic department (jefatura provincial de trafico).

Those who are from the EU but are not official residents of Spain are permitted to drive a vehicle with foreign plates for up to 180 days as long as it is considered to be road worthy in the country from which it has come, but only the owner of the vehicle is permitted to drive it. Those who are not from the EU but are not official residents of Spain have a similar time period but will find that the car is ‘sealed’ after the 180 days by the authorities until the re-registration is carried out.

In order to register a vehicle there are certain documents which are needed for the car to undergo an inspection known as the ‘ITV’ (inspeccion tecnica de vehiculos). These tests can only be carried out at an official ITV testing station and an appointment is required. If the car is new then a copy of the technical specifications is needed, along with a Spanish translation, a copy of the receipt to show that import duty has been paid and a copy of and the original receipt for the purchase of the vehicle. It is also a requirement to have a ‘Unic’ certificate (certificado unico) issued by the local traffic department, although this is only for cars from countries outside the EU.

If the vehicle is used then a copy of the technical specification is also required, proof of payment of import duty, proof of purchase and a copy of the original registration papers for the vehicle. If the car is considered to be a classic car (historicos) there is a special test required as well as a certificate of authenticity to be issued by the regional authorities (comunidad autonoma). When the test has been taken and the car has passed then a certificate card (tarjeta de inspeccion) can be issued.

There are currently some issues with registering a right-hand drive car in Spain as the authorities are increasingly viewing them as unsafe due to visibility issues. This could result in the refusal of an ITV certificate, so it is worth considering left-hand drive cars only.

When importing a car from the EU, VAT (IVA) is paid at a rate of 16% on the value of the vehicle. This can be paid at any bank that accepts payments for the tax department. An application form should be completed and there is a fee for the processing. If the car is used and has been owned by the present owner for more than 6 months prior to importation then there is no import duty to be paid, providing VAT was paid in the home country at the time of purchase. There is a registration tax (impuesto sobre determinados medios de transporte) which is payable on all vehicles. This is calculated on the engine capacity of the car. Cars which have an engine below 2000cc are taxed at 7%. All other vehicles incur a tax of 12%. Other requirements include completing the application form for registration, showing a form of ID such as a passport, providing proof of address and proof of payment of local car tax. Payment of registration tax must be done before the vehicle can be registered and original registration documents must be presented. The car must undergo the ITV inspection test first. It is also necessary to present the certificate of conformity issued by the manufacturer of the vehicle.

Vehicles from outside the EU incur taxes of 10% import duty which is based on the original market price with deductions for the age of the vehicle, payment of 16% IVA and registration tax. When it comes to registering a vehicle from outside the EU it is considered to be far easier to simply buy a car in Spain as the process is longwinded and the aid of a local legal advisor (gestor) may be required.

Useful Resources

Direccion General de Trafico
Spanish Traffic Department
Tel: + 34 902 508 686

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