There are a few steps involved in the process for registering a car from and EU country in Spain. Fortunately because of European standardisation, or homologation as it’s known, in most cases, provided you know the steps, it’s relatively straight forward.
The following is a basic run through of the steps and process.
Certificate of Conformity
One of the first things you need is a Certificate of Conformity or CoC. A lot of vehicle manufacturers in the EU provide these with their new vehicles, so if you bought your car new you may have one. If not, you can request one from the manufacturer, or alternatively, employ a Spanish vehicle technical engineer to document the specification of the vehicle and provide a technical report known as a ‘ficha tecnica reducida‘.
The are quite a few steps and costs involved to import and register and car from a non-EU country in Spain.
First and foremost EU conformity, import and registration costs must be taken into account as these can make the import and registration in Spain impossible or too expensive to be worth while.
This said, under EU rules if you are moving from a non-EU country to live in an EU country, such as Spain, you can bring your possessions including cars, and avoid paying the costly duties and taxes and having to pay for expensive EU conformity certification.
These transfer of residence rules give you up to12 months form the date you get your residency to import your car and avoid paying customs and VAT. However you only have 60 days from the date you take up residency, to register your car and avoid registration tax (if it applies).
The UK is no longer in the EU and the process and costs to register a UK car in Spain after Brexit have changed considerably.
This is because UK cars now are now treated as vehicles from third countries and must either clear customs, or get a customs certificate if your car qualifies for customs exemption.
The process you follow will depend on your situation as will the cost. You’ll need to budget for costs of around €1,000 with taxes as applicable on top.
Importing a high value car from the UK in Spain post Brexit, now comes with added costs. As the UK is no longer in the EU and the standard process to import and register a UK car in Spain now involves customs.
This means on top of the registration tax which in most cases will be 17% of the vehicle value, 10% customs duty and 21% VAT will apply, unless you can find away around it.
Paying nearly £50k to register a £100k motor is simply not a consideration. There are however various ways these huge costs can be avoided, bringing the cost of importing and registering high value cars in Spain down to a few thousand Euros, rather than tens of thousands.
In Spain, the periodic road worthiness inspection, is the ITV. (Inspeccion Tecnica de Vehiculos – Vehicle Technical Inspection). Like the UK MoT test, it’s mandatory for all road going vehicles, and driving without a valid ITV can result in fines.
When Does The ITV have to be done?
The frequency of the ITV test depends on the age and type of vehicle. New cars are first tested after 4 years and must be inspected every 2 years thereafter, until they reach 10 years of age. Any car over 10 years of age has to be tested annually.
Motorcycles, mopeds and quad bikes are first tested after 5 years, after which the test is due every 2 years. Caravans are first tested at 6 years, after which the test is due every 2 years.
If a vehicle has been involved in a serious accident, it also has to undergo an ITV assessment after being repaired, to confirm its road worthiness.
Coronavirus State of Alarm ITV Expiry Date Extensions
During the first Covid 19 state of alarm, expiry dates of ITV’s falling due during the period were extended. The tab below lists all the extensions:
Registering Classic Cars in Spain
The process of assigning a registration number to a Classic Car in Spain is more or less the same as that for a normal car. However the car will have to go through more vigorous checks before it can be passed. There is no differentiation in regard to age of vehicle and the registration number issued. So a 50 year old classic Ferrari brought to Spain from another country, and a brand new Nissan Micra, could end up with consecutively numbered plates.
This is quite different to the UK for example, where vehicle registration numbers have a year marker, so you can know the cars are from the number plate. Spanish vehicle registration numbers have no age identifier.
From a Classic Car perspective, this means that, if you’re bringing your pride and joy 1964 Mercedes SL to Spain, when you register it, you will end up with a registration number that doesn’t fit with the age of the car. The registration will be just like any other regular new cars registered at the same time. Not great for prestige.
Spain does not have a system to issue personalised licence plates. It does however have a system to identify and recognise Classic Cars. Cars that qualify can achieve the status of being certified as a ‘historical vehicle’. Classic Cars with this status can be registered with historical licence plates, so the owner can enjoy the kudos of having their beloved motor officially recognised and marked as a Classic Car.
Getting ‘historical vehicle’ status for a Classic Car, also brings with the added perks of cheaper insurance, longer gaps between ITV´s and road tax exemption.
The starting qualifying criteria is the age of the car, the qualifying age being 30 years. The age for a Classic Car in Spain used to be 25 years, however was changed to 30 years in May 2018. This change was not retrospective. Classic Cars that already had historical number plates kept them, so there are cars with these plates that are less then 30 years old.
IVTM Impuesto sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica is Spanish vehicle tax, the equivalent of what we refer to in the UK as road tax.
Almost all cars registered in Spain are subject to this vehicle tax, and it’s administered and collect locally by the Town Hall. If you aren’t familiar with the vehicle tax system in Spain, you’ll find the following useful, to understand it, if not to flag issues, get them resolved and avoid problems in the future.
If you own a Spanish registered vehicle, and by mid May haven’t received a bill for vehicle tax, or notification of payment, this could be an indication of a problem relating to details held by the DGT (Direccion General de Trafico) about the registered owner of the vehicle.
The following are some of the things we hear and questions we get asked about Spanish vehicle tax.
When taking up residence in Spain, there has always been a requirement to either exchange your UK driving licence for a Spanish driving licence, or at least register it with the Spanish traffic authority, the DGT (Direccion General de Trafico).
Now, due to Brexit, all UK licence holders living in Spain, must exchange their UK licence for a Spanish licence, if they wish to continue using it to drive in Spain after Brexit.
The following link takes you to a guide on how to do this provided by the DGT.
Canje de Permisos – Ingles
It is written in English, however, its not entirely clear, so we’ve summarised below the key points regarding the documents you’ll need and the process, based on our experience doing these.
Fill in your vehicle details below to check tax and MOT status online.
Note – In addition to the tax and MOT information above, the authorities in Spain can access the details of the registered keeper of the vehicle.