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The key step-by-step guide for importing a car into Spain

If you are bringing a vehicle to Spain from overseas and are a permanent resident there are a few important bureaucratic hoops you have to jump through. And it's important not to waste any time. Here's what you you need to know.

The key step-by-step guide for importing a car into Spain
Photo: ifeelstock/Depositphotos

As with all things bureaucratic in Spain, the process of importing a car can be long and complicated.

But here’s how to do it.

When do I need to register my car in Spain?

If you are a permanent resident here, then you should register your car within 30 days of importing it to Spain.

If you bring it from outside the EU and it arrives by freight in a ship, then you will have to pay import taxes at the customs office before the vehicle can be released.

Most people will just drive it over into Spain or catch the ferry in which case you should register within 30 days and there are unconfirmed reports of foreign residents living in Spain being stopped by Guardia Civil and fined if they have not done so.

If you bring it from outside the EU, you will have to pay import taxes at the customs office before the vehicle can be released and will need to register it within 30 days.

When do you NOT need to register a vehicle in Spain?

If you are an EU national who doesn’t spend more than six months a year in Spain, you can use it in Spain without having to register it.

That means that students, pensioners, foreigners with second homes in Spain and cross-border commuters with company cars don’t have to go through the registration process, as long as they can prove they haven’t spent half of the year in Spanish territory.

However, you will need to ensure that your insurance is valid to drive in Spain and that your MOT or equivalent is valid the entire time you plan to keep it in Spain because you cannot do the Spanish equivalent (ITV) on a car that is registered in another country.


What about duties and taxes?

You will need to pay the following on any imported car:

  • 10 percent import duty (if bringing car from outside the EU)
  • 21 percent VAT (to be paid at customs) on new cars if this has not already been paid in another country, based on the purchase price of the car. This is applicable to vehicles coming from within and outside the EU.
  • If the vehicle has been owned for more than six months prior to the owner becoming resident in Spain then no VAT owed provided you can prove you paid VAT when originally purchased the car.
  • A registration tax based on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions — ranging from 0% to 14.75%

Spain’s national tax regulations also allow for overseas vehicle usage If you have submitted and paid for the corresponding IEDMT (registration tax).

Registering your vehicle:

Once you have brought your car to Spain, paid the import tax and passed the ITV, you will need to register your vehicle in the same way as you would if you just bought a Spanish car, which means a visit to your local Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico. Cita Previas must be made in advance.

To find out where your nearest DGT office is and make a ‘cita previa’ click HERE

What documents will I need to present?

Your local traffic department (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico) will require you to present or submit all original documents relating to the vehicle, including the current foreign registration and proof of licensing.

You will also have to show a Certificate of Conformity with EU regulations, issued by the Technical Vehicle Inspection service in Spain (Inspección Técnica de Vehículos, more commonly known as ITV).

If you bought the car from a private owner, you will be asked for the purchase agreement with a certified translation and proof of payment of the Property Transfer Tax (Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales, ITP).

If you bought the vehicle from a car dealer in another EU country, then you will need to present an invoice with the VAT number clearly stated and VAT proof of payment through the Spanish Tax Agency’s modelo 309 or 300 forms.

How much does it cost to register your car in Spain?

The IEDMT tax registration is a one-off fee that costs €95.80, although there are some deductions for vehicles already registered in another EU country.

A one-time registration tax must be paid to the municipality at the time of registering a vehicle.

This tax is based on CO2 emissions, with rates ranging from 4.75% (121-159g/km) to 14.75% (200g/km or more). Once this is paid, you will have to pay an annual road tax, which is based on the vehicle’s horsepower.

Though, keep in mind that hybrid and economically-friendly vehicles may be eligible for sizable discounts, for example: 0% for vehicles producing less than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

You will need to provide proof of payment in order to complete the registration process.

What if I’m buying a new car overseas and bringing into Spain?

If it’s from an EU country you can buy transit registration plates for €20.20 from your local traffic department in Spain. These will allow you to drive the vehicle back to your home in Spain without any problems from traffic authorities.

About the ITV

The ITV can be carried out at any registered ITV centre, normally located on industrial estates just outside the city – you will see big signs for them when you drive along a highway.

This is the equivalent to an MOT in Britain and is a vehicle inspection certificate to ensure your car is roadworthy and complies to Spanish standards of safety.

  • The vehicle will be inspected for: Exhaust emissions, Lights (both interior and exterior), steering, brakes, suspension (shock absorbers, wheel alignment, etc.) tire tread, general condition of bodywork, mirrors, windows etc.

They also check that the car has certain safety aspects including working seatbelts.

To take the car for the ITV you don’t need an appointment but be warned that the centres can get busy and queues long at the weekends and towards the end of the month.

For the first one, you will need to bring:

  • Bill of sale (original and copy)
  • Receipt from payment of import tax & duty (original and copy)
  • Drivers License
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Passport for identification
  • Technical specifications for the vehicle (this can be obtained from vehicle manufacturer or by purchasing a Vehicle History Report)

Cost of ITV

The price varies from region to region and costs between €30 to €60. Check prices and locations, and book an appointment HERE


Don’t forget that you are legally required to purchase insurance for your car in order to drive. 

READ ALSO:  Driving in Spain: The 12 things that could land you in trouble with the law

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How drivers in Spain can get 20 euro cents off every litre of fuel

Starting on Friday April 1st 2022, the Spanish government has cut the price of petrol and diesel by 20 euro cents for every litre of fuel. How can drivers in Spain take advantage of this subsidy and how much can they expect to save?

How drivers in Spain can get 20 euro cents off every litre of fuel

As part of Pedro Sánchez’s plan to lessen the impact of the Ukraine war on the Spanish economy, the government has included “a minimum reduction of 20 cents per litre of fuel” as one of its main measures to reduce spiralling costs for “families and businesses”.

This is available to all people in Spain, not just lorry drivers and other workers in the transport sector who went on strike en masse for two weeks in March over crippling fuel costs

The price drop will apply to all types of gasoline, diesel and gas, as well as bioethanol, biodiesel and the special additive AdBlue.

The State will finance 15 cents whilst the oil companies will cover 5 cents, although Sánchez has praised the fact that some multinationals have committed to subsidising an even higher cost. 

All in all, it will cost the Spanish government €1.4 billion to offer these subsidies to the Spanish public, and €473 million for the petrol companies.

Until when will the discount apply?

It starts on Friday April 1st 2022 and will last three months until June 30th.

The Spanish government has indicated that the package of measures rolled out in response to the Ukraine war could be extended beyond that date if necessary.

How much can I expect to save on fuel?

Taking into account the latest data by the Oil Bulletin of the European Union, by applying the 20-cent deduction, diesel in Spain would cost €1.63 per litre on average and unleaded 95 petrol would cost €1.61 per litre. 

According to Spanish consumer watchdog OCU, it will mean that the average Spanish household saves around €65 over the three-month period, or €75 for petrol.

It also obviously depends on the price of each fuel and the initial price set by the individual filling station.

So overall it won’t necessarily mean huge savings for drivers but it certainly helps to move away from the €2/litre rate of recent weeks.

Does the discount apply at all petrol stations in Spain?

According to the Spanish state bulletin (BOE),  the requirement of providing a 5 cent reduction only applies to companies “with refining capacity in Spain and an annual turnover of more than €750 million”.

This is the case for only three of petrol multinationals operating in Spain – Repsol, Cepsa and BP – which together represent 48 percent of the filling stations in the country. 

These companies also have offers for customers on their loyalty programmes and those managing their fuel payment via their mobile apps.

It’s worth remembering however that the Spanish government will cover at least 15 euro cents per litre at other petrol stations as well. 

READ ALSO: Where to get the cheapest fuel in Spain

How do I get the fuel discount?

There isn’t a registration process or modus operandi that has to be followed in order to enjoy the discount. 

The offer is open to everyone and is as straightforward as filling up your tank has always been. 

The only difference to keep in mind is that the price that will appear on the fuel counter as you fill up does not include the price reduction. This will be applied by staff members at the till when it comes to paying.

Spanish petrol stations have two weeks to implement a system which shows the original price and the reduced rate on the receipt handed to drivers when they pay.