Find out how to buy or import a car or bike in Spain, plus information on registering, insuring and making it road legal once the paperwork is completed...
Whether behind the wheel of a car or motorbike, drivers in Spain have to make sure that their vehicles are registered, insured and roadworthy. In this section there is detailed information on vehicle insurance and the compulsory roadworthiness test, as well as details about Green Card cover for when driving in Europe.
If you're planning to bring a vehicle with you from you home country, you'll find information on the import procedure and the paperwork that goes along with it. If you're looking for something new, there are details on the process of buying and selling a car or bike in Spain, with information on the obligations of the buyer and seller.
IMPORTING A VEHICLE IN SPAIN
Understand how to import a vehicle to Spain and the rules regarding registering it once you arrive...
It is illegal for residents of Spain to drive a car with foreign plates, so once a car is imported to Spain, it must be registered with the Spanish authorities. If entering Spain with foreign plates, residents are allowed to drive from the port of entry to their residence only. Spanish plates must be obtained within 30 days of entry. Temporary permission to drive an imported vehicle - and temporary licence plates - should be obtained from the provincial Traffic Department (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico) or full re-registration of the car must be undertaken.
Non-resident EU citizens
EU citizens who are not Spanish residents may drive their foreign-registered vehicles (cars, motorbikes and caravans) in Spain for up to 180 days (six months) in a calendar year as long as it is road-worthy in the country in which it is registered. In this case, only the owner of the vehicle may drive it. Students from another EU country studying in Spain are permitted to temporarily import a car for the duration of their studies, but proof of enrolment in an academic institution will be requested.
A foreign-registered vehicle may remain in Spain for more than 180 days in a calendar year as long as it is not driven. Even though EU citizens are no longer required to obtain a residence card, after 182 days the vehicle must be registered in Spain or garaged.
Note: the six month period need not be consecutive and is counted over the course of a calendar year only. This period is based on the owner's and not the car's presence in Spain.
The procedures relating to importing and registering a foreign vehicle are complex. It is possible to complete the process independently, but there are specialist companies that can provide assistance.
In order to register a car in Spain, a vehicle must undergo a safety inspection similar to the UK's MOT test. Import taxes as well as IVA may be payable on imported vehicles once registered.
Non-resident, non-EU citizens
A car owned by a non-EU citizen may be kept in Spain as long as it is only used for up to 180 days (six months) in a calendar year and remains road-legal in its country of registration. However, once it has been used for six months, it should be officially sealed (precintado) by Customs authorities (aduana) or the Guardia Civil.
Though not commonly done, it can be used as proof that the vehicle was not driven illegally. At the start of the next calendar year, the seals may be removed by the officials and the vehicle may be driven again for another 180 days. There is a fee for this service.
NON-EU IMPORT IN SPAIN
Understand the tax and registration requirements for importing a car or motorcycle from a non-EU country...
The procedures relating to importing and registering a foreign vehicle are complex. It is possible to complete the process independently, but companies which specialise in providing this service are available.
In order to register a car in Spain, a vehicle must undergo a safety inspection similar to the UK's MOT test. Import taxes as well as IVA may be payable on imported vehicles.
Taxes for vehicles from non-EU countries
Taxes for vehicles from non-EU countries include the following:
- 10 percent import duty (IPSI, Impuesto sobre la Producción, Servicios e Importación) based on the original market price with reductions based on age of the vehicle, payable at customs offices
- 21 percent VAT (IVA), payable at customs offices
- Registration tax (Impuesto sobre Determinados Medios de Transporte) of 4.75 to 14.75 percent based on the vehicle's CO2 emissions. To register, Application Form 576 from the Spanish Customs Office should be completed online.
Registering vehicles from outside the EU
It is generally considered easier to purchase a new vehicle, or a vehicle already registered in Spain. The process involved in importing and registering a foreign car can be time-consuming and expensive. Many people who choose to do so hire an agent (gestor) to handle the procedure.
Tourist Plates: "Z" plates
When buying a vehicle in Spain that is intended for export, apply for temporary tourist plates (matrícula turística) from the Customs Office. These are assigned to cars that are to be eventually exported from the country and registered elsewhere. The period of validity varies, depending on circumstances. If an extension of the tourist plates is needed (one extension is possible), apply with all original paperwork at the local Traffic Department Office in which the tourist plates were originally obtained.
The following documents must be provided to obtain tourist plates:
- An application form available from the local Traffic Department
- Proof of identification (residence card or passport) and proof of address such as a lease or deed (original and photocopy)
- Proof of approval from customs authorities (Autorización de la Administración Tributaria) that identifies the vehicle's make and chassis number
- Receipt of payment of local car tax (Impuesto Municipal sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica/IVTM) from the local town hall or Traffic Department; or proof of exemption from payment
Technical Test Certificate Card (Tarjeta de Inspección Técnica) as well as the blue and red copies; obtainable from an ITV station (original and photocopy)
BUYING & SELLING CARS IN SPAIN
Before to buy a car in Spain you will need a report about embargos and problems in the car, this is called
"informe de cargas"
Do not buy alone your car. Call us for your own security.
Information on how, as a foreigner in Spain, you can buy a new or used car. Includes information on what forms to fill out and how to find your local traffic department (Jefatura de Trafico)...
A foreigner may buy a Spanish-registered car in Spain provided they have one of the following:
- an official residency card (Tarjeta de Residencia) or
- proof that they are a Spanish home owner (by showing title deeds) or
- documentation that proves the holder is a registered member of the local community, the certificado de empadronamiento (available from the Town Hall / Ayuntamiento) issued within the three months prior to the purchase) or
- a rental contract for a duration of minimum one year or
- an NIE/NIF number (Foreigner's Identification Number) in Spain
Buying a New or Used Car in Spain
A new or used vehicle bought (or leased) from a dealership will almost certainly have the registration and ownership transfer handled by the dealer. The dealer may also offer insurance contracts. Many dealerships will take the old vehicle as part exchange.
Used cars (coches de segunda mano / coches de occasion) are available for purchase through dealerships or private sale. They may be advertised in automobile magazines and journals such as Coche Actual, Mi Coche, Motor en Mano, and Anuncio Motor, through classified advertisements in newspapers, or on websites such as
We can help to find out the proper car for you
The sale and Exchange
When buying a second-hand used car it is important to see originals of all the paperwork. This is particularly important when buying privately, to ensure that the person selling the car has the right to sell it. Be sure to match the name on the paperwork to those on the sellers' personal identification document.
Once the sale is agreed, the seller provides the following:
- Vehicle registration document (Permiso de Circulación)
- Proof of roadworthiness (a valid ITV test certificate)
- Receipt for municipal vehicle tax (Impuesto Municipal sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica)
- Personal identification such as an NIE/NIF card (plus photocopy for the buyer)
The buyer and seller should draw up a sale agreement (Contrato de Compraventa) or the seller may provide an invoice. Either should note the details of the vehicle, names of buyer and seller, the sale price agreed and date and time that the transfer takes place (this final point is so that if there are traffic fines associated with the vehicle they can be assigned to the correct person).
The buyer provides a transfer of ownership form (Solicitud de Transmisión de Vehículos) which is signed by the buyer and the seller. It is a duplicate form with the buyer and seller each keeping a copy.
Note: Further documentation may be requested by some province or autonomous region authorities.
- The transfer of ownership form (Solicitud de Transmisión de Vehículos) can be downloaded from the DGT (Dirección General de Tráfico) website: Click here
A bank cheque (Cheque Bancario) is generally regarded as the normal way to make large payments in a private transaction in Spain. Personal cheques are not guaranteed. Also a BANK TRANSFER.
The existing insurance may be transferred by the seller to the new owner. The seller may instead choose to cancel the policy or transfer it to another vehicle and the new owner may arrange their own insurance. The insurance must be arranged before the new owner drives the vehicle.
Registration of the Change of Owner (Transferencia de Vehículos)
Transfer of ownership is finalised at the Jefatura de Tráfico. The buyer and seller may go together to submit paperwork, or do it individually. It is possible to visit the traffic office in person or to employ a gestor to do so.
What the seller does
The seller should notify the local Traffic Office (Jefatura de Tráfico) of sale or transfer. Take a copy of the registration document and completed transfer of ownership form to the traffic department.
Within 15 days of the sale, the buyer should be able to provide the seller with proof that the paperwork has been completed. If this is not possible the seller should contact the local Traffic Office to inform them that the car has been sold (notificación de venta).
Use the Notificación Transmisión de Vehículos form.
- Notification of sale form (Notificación Transmisión de Vehículos):
It is important to make sure that the transfer is properly completed, otherwise the seller may be held responsible for the unpaid tax or fines incurred by the new owner. The seller may apply to the local Traffic Office for deregistration papers (baja de vehículo) to avoid later consequences.
- Application form (Solicitud de baja de vehículo) can be downloaded from the DGT website: Click here
What the buyer does
The buyer must register the vehicle in their name at the vehicle registry (Registro de Vehículos) at the local traffic department (Jefatura de Tráfico).
This transfer of the vehicle's registration document must be made within 30 days of purchase. The cost of the transfer is currently 4 percent of the value of the vehicle, however if a buyer chooses to use the help of a gestor, the buyer will pay an additional fee for this service.
The documents to supply are:
- The copy of the transfer of ownership form (Solicitud de transmisión de vehículos)
- The copy of the sale agreement and a copy of the ID of the seller
- The relevant paperwork provided by the seller:
- Vehicle registration document (Permiso de Circulación)
- ITV certificate as proof of roadworthiness
- Receipt for municipal vehicle tax
In addition, a foreign buyer will need to provide the following documents to complete the transfer:
- Proof of habitation in Spain as outlined above (proof by means of residencia, NIE certificate, local town registry document, Certificado de Empadronamiento, property title deeds or rental contract)