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.
Transition Period Countdown
Every year hundreds of vehicles from the UK are registered in Spain. Holiday home owners and people moving to Spain, bring their car over, decide to keep it here, and register it on to Spanish number plates.
Now the UK has left EU, when the transition period ends, many things currently taken for granted by Brits in Spain, will no longer be a given. Things like the right to reside, freedom of unhindered movement within the EU, and the preferential treatment of vehicles from the UK compared to non-EU vehicles when you bring them to Spain.
The transition period gives anyone planning to move to Spain from the UK until the end of the year to get things done like residency, exchanging driving licences and registering their UK cars onto Spanish number plates. With only a few weeks remaining until the end of the year, if you have brought a car the clock is ticking if you want to get it registered in Spain.
The DGT has a page of frequently asked questions relating to driving and the Coronavirus state of alarm here in Spain.
You can read the FAQ’s here: http://www.dgt.es/es/covid-19/ under the tab, ‘Preguntas Frecuentes’, and we have translated some of the key ones below:
Questions about driving licenses
Can I drive with an expired licence?
A licence which expires during the state of alarm will be automatically extended for the duration of the alarm and until sixty days thereafter.
I am a foreign driver, how does this situation affect me?
You can continue driving in the same way as before the alarm situation was declared. In addition, the duration of the alarm situation does not count towards the six-month period in which you can drive in Spain with your foreign licence. The calculation of the six-month period is frozen, resuming as soon as the state of alarm ends.
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.
How much does it cost to register a UK or other EU vehicle on to Spanish number plates? We get asked this question everyday, it’s constantly being asked on Facebook and forums, and whilst it’s not a straightforward one to answer, because there are many variables, here we provide an accurate as possible guide to the costs, along with simple explanations and some tips.
The cost to register a UK or other EU vehicle Spanish number plates
We break down the costs into what we call the T’s, and some may or may not apply depending on the car or your situation.
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.
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.
Much conflicting information circulates about how long you can keep and drive a UK registered car in Spain. Even the authorities themselves seem to be confused and give differing responses.
Referencing information from official publications, we aim to present a practical explanation to answer the question.
Contrary to popular belief that a UK registered car can only kept and legally be driven in Spain for 6 months, the actual length of time will ultimately be dictated by the following:
We get asked lots of questions about bringing UK registered cars to Spain, and whenever we write, share articles or info, the comments and replies that we get, reveal a lot of confusion. Mis-information abounds regarding driving UK registered cars in Spain, keeping them here, and switching them to Spanish number plates.
So we’ve compiled a list of the most prevalent myths and FAQ’s, and answered them with facts and other useful info.
Driving UK registered cars in Spain
Myth-Fact-Right-Wrong? Click on the tabs to find out.
Police in Spain are becoming much more proactive in taking action and removing UK registered cars that don’t have MOT or tax paid, from public roads. By law they are perfectly justified in doing this, though it seems there are examples where their assertiveness has been spilling over into over zealousness and they have been removing completely road legal cars from the road as well.
Based on the cases we’ve seen, it appears that where the online vehicle check, for example on an MOT returns ‘no details held’, the Police are assuming “guilty until proven innocent”. The DVLA register of course doesn’t hold MOT details for most cars under 3 years as an MOT isn’t required, so unfortunate drivers of relatively new UK registered cars are being grossly inconvenienced.
What to do if you UK registered car is taken by Police in Spain?