The UK is no longer in the EU and the process and costs to register a UK car in Spain are a lot more than they were before Brexit.
This is because UK cars now are now treated as vehicles from third countries and must clear customs, have import duty and VAT paid, or get a waiver 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 €1,500 with taxes as applicable on top.
There are a few steps involved in the process to register a car from an 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.
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).
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.
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.
When you own or register a vehicle in Spain, you almost always have to pay some form of vehicle tax. The type and amount that applies depends on the vehicle.
Local Vehicle Tax
IVTM Impuesto sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica is the Spanish equivalent of what we refer to in the UK as road tax. Almost all vehicles driven on public roads in Spain, are subject to this tax, which is administered and collected locally by the Town Hall.
The tax is set by the municipal authorities, and varies from area to the next. IVTM is paid to the local authority and can be paid in person at the relevant Town Hall office (Ayuntamiento), at a bank or by direct debit.
Vehicle Tax When Registering a Vehicle in Spain
When you register a vehicle in Spain, either new or used, in all cases locally collected road tax‘ – IVTM (Impuesto Sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica), must be up to date.
There are 3 main circumstances and taxes that apply when registering a vehicle in Spain. These are:
- Purchase of a new vehicle
- Buying a second hand vehicle or changing ownership
- Importing or registering of a foreign vehicle
Tax – New Vehicle Purchase
New vehicle purchases in Spain are subject to IVA (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido), Spanish VAT – currently 21% of purchase value.
In addition, when a vehicle is first registered in Spain, it may be subject to an additional registration tax.
This vehicle tax is based on the new value of the vehicle and it’s CO2 emissions. Vehicles with CO2 emissions below 120g/km are exempt from the tax, and the rate increases with the level of emissions as follows:
- 121g/km – 159g/km = 4.75%
- 160g/km – 199g/km = 9.75%
- 200g/km or higher = 16.75%
Unlicensed drivers and most non-EU citizens are required to take a Spanish driving test, (written theory and practical), in order to obtain a Spanish licence. Helpfully, in larger cities and places where a large part of the population is not from Spain, the test can be conducted in your native language.
There are many driving schools advertised in foreign language newspapers and magazines offering preparation for the Spanish test. If it is not available in your native tongue, you will have to take it in Spanish, and this can be challenging even for native speakers. The testing process is difficult and not cheap, the theory quite involved. You have three attempts to pass (this includes both the written and actual driving test) and then you have to pay additional fees for another three opportunities. The theory test consists of 40 questions, of which you can fail only three. So make sure if you sign up, you are prepared to dedicate considerable time to study and practice.
This can be a frustrating experience for drivers who have already held a driving license in their own country and been driving for many years.