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DRIVING

How to import a vehicle to Spain from outside of the EU

If you want to import your car to Spain from outside of the EU, the process is more complex than for those importing vehicles from countries within the bloc. Here's how to go about it.

How to import a vehicle to Spain from outside of the EU
Importing a vehicle from outside the EU to Spain has its challenges. Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP

Importing a vehicle from another European country into Spain isn’t completely straightforward.

But as is usually the case with official processes in Spain, if an application involves something or someone from outside of the EU, it also involves more paperwork, time and money. 

This article could of particular interest currently to Britons moving to Spain post-Brexit who want to bring their car over with them, as well as to Americans, Canadians and other third-country nationals who are willing to pay the transports costs of shipping their prized vehicle over to España.

There are several steps that need to be completed including filling out customs forms, paying fees, getting a Certificate of Conformity, and changing your number plates over before you can actually drive your car in Spain, so it can be a little overwhelming. 

Here’s a step-by-step process on what you need to do.  

Customs clearance 

When you leave your country with your vehicle, you must go through customs clearance. You will have to fill out a series of forms relating to your vehicle, before getting a certificate so that you are able to leave. You will have to go through customs again and do a similar process once you arrive in Spain.  

You must make sure you have the following documents with you in order to this:

  • Details of when and where you purchased the car, such as a sales contract and receipt, including the car dealer’s VAT number. 
  • If you bought the vehicle from a private person, instead of a dealer you will also need a photocopy of their passport. 
  • Paperwork giving all the details of the vehicle, including who it’s registered to.
  • A certificate showing that the vehicle has passed its roadworthiness test. 

READ ALSO: Buying a second-hand car in Spain: 9 key questions you have to ask in Spanish

Customs duty and taxes

There are several taxes and fees to pay when you import a non-EU vehicle into Spain. Fees increase by around 10 percent for those countries outside the EU. Firstly, you will have to fill out and pay the fees associated with the Single Administrative Document (SAD). On top of this, you may have to pay 21 percent VAT for new vehicles or Property Transfer Tax for second-hand vehicles.

There are however a few exceptions to these which allow you to avoid paying duty and VAT. The main one is if you’re changing your country of residence from a non-EU country to an EU country (in this case, Spain) and using the car for your own personal use, should not have to pay the VAT.

Your car needs to go through technical checks once in Spain. Photo: danvolks99 / Pixabay 

This means that if you’re moving to Spain for the first time and want to bring your own car with you, you should be able to avoid paying extra, but if you are already a resident in Spain and want to import a car you bought outside of the EU, you will have to pay both duty and VAT. 

Countries with bilateral agreements

There are also certain bilateral agreements between non-EU countries and the EU, these include Mexico, Morocco, and Switzerland, among others. This means that any vehicles imported from those countries will be exempt from paying tariffs. People importing vehicles from those countries must obtain a EUR1 certificate, in order to be exempt, however. 

READ ALSO – EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about getting an international driving permit in Spain

Recognition certificate

Cars from outside the EU, such as those from the UK, cannot be registered in EU without having been homologados (recognised). Most cars, particularly British ones, due to the steering wheel being on a different side, do not have valid European homologation.

Therefore, each part of the car must pass through a homologación process, which certifies its safety, emissions, and technical characteristics. The process will be individual for each vehicle.

Once the vehicle has been homologated, you will receive a Certificate of Conformity and the car can then go through its ITV test, which is the same as MOT check in the UK. 

Be aware, if you are moving to Spain for the first time and are changing your residence, your vehicle shouldn’t have to go through the homologation process because it’s your personal possession and was legal at the time it was registered in your country of origin. 

Passing the ITV test 

In order for your vehicle to pass Spain’s ITV test, you will need to bring several documents with you. These include: 

  • Proof of vehicle ownership
  • Proof of payment of fees and taxes
  • Driver’s license of the owner
  • Vehicle insurance policy
  • Vehicle data sheet

Registering your vehicle and changing the number plates 

Once your vehicle has been deemed road-worthy, it must be registered and the number plates changed to Spanish ones. In order to do this, you need to make an appointment at your local DGT office (Directorate-General for Traffic). 

Here you will need to: 

  • Fill out Modelo or For 567 and pay registration tax on foreign vehicles
  • Pay the Impuesto de Circulación de Vehículos or circulation tax, which is set by your local Ayuntamiento or Town Hall

The documents you need for the process are: 

  • A completed application form to change the plates
  • Your NIE number, TIE and proof of address
  • An original and a photocopy of the proof of payment of the registration tax and circulation tax. 
  • An invoice for the purchase of the vehicle.
  • Proof of payment of VAT in the country of origin of the vehicle. 
  • The Certificate of Conformity that you received. 

After all, this has been done and you have paid for car insurance, your car has been legally imported, registered in Spain, and is ready to drive. 

READ ALSO: Q&A: How to pass Spain’s driving test and get a Spanish licence

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DRIVING IN SPAIN

Can the UK’s Blue Badge for disabled parking be used in Spain?

The UK’s Blue Badge scheme allows disabled drivers to park in special parking spaces closer to their destination, but can it be used if you're on holiday in Spain or living in Spain? The Local has spoken with the British Embassy in Madrid to find out.

Can the UK's Blue Badge for disabled parking be used in Spain?

The Blue Badge for disabled drivers issued by UK authorities features a symbol of a person in a wheelchair and should be displayed in the front of your car if you’re parked in a special disabled spot.

But can you use the same badge in your car in Spain?

When the UK was still part of the EU, these disabled badges for parking could be used throughout the bloc, but since January 1st 2021 when Brexit officially came into force, there have been some doubt regarding this. 

In other words, some disabled drivers visiting Spain who wish to rent a car or British residents living in Spain with UK disability cards are now uncertain as to whether their badges will be recognised here or not. 

In Spain, on roads and in car parks, parking places reserved for disabled people are marked with a wheelchair symbol.

The EU has its own parking card for people with disabilities and the recognition of the UK’s badge has always been an informal agreement between governments.

The advice from the UK government has always been for UK Blue Badge holders to check locally within the country they are travelling to, before using it abroad. 

The British Embassy in Madrid told The Local: “This advice did not change following the UK’s exit from the EU and to date no EU/EEA nation has specifically stated that it will not recognise a UK-issued disabled parking card”. 

However, the rules and advice are slightly different depending on if you are visiting Spain or living here. 

The UK government website states “You can use your UK Blue Badge when travelling in some European Union (EU) countries, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland”.

However, under the list of EU countries where you can use the UK Blue Badge, the UK government says Spain is “undecided” and asks drivers to check with the Spanish Embassy for more information.

This is causing a lot of uncertainty among UK Blue Badge holders and has sparked many debates on social media groups used by Brits in Spain. 

The British Embassy in Madrid has confirmed to The Local that: “Where the table states ‘undecided’, that doesn’t indicate that a particular nation has stated they will not recognise a UK issued parking card, merely that the UK doesn’t have a specific notification of reciprocity of the UK’s goodwill gesture”. 

This means that while Spain has not officially said that it will not recognise a disabled blue parking badge issued in the UK, there is no reciprocal agreement in place. 

While many British people visiting Spain say that they are continuing to use them without problem, others are reporting that Spanish authorities in some areas will not accept them anymore.

One member of the N332 Facebook group, (a group created by Spanish traffic police officers and volunteers) wrote: “To be honest I use my blue badge in Spain and it has not caused me any issues since Brexit. I think as long as a badge is displayed in the parking spaces no one will say or do anything”.

However, another commentator said that their friend was fined for using a UK blue badge in Spain.

According to the Spanish authorities, fines of up to €200 can be handed out for those who park in a disabled spot without the proper permit, although that’s not to say that a UK Blue Badge is not a proper permit.

So if you’re visiting Spain and have a disabled parking card, you should contact the local authorities first to find out if you can use your UK-issued parking card, otherwise you technically could be using it at your own risk and could be fined.  

In some places in Spain, you may find that authorities turn a blind eye, while in others may tell you that your badge is not valid.

Can you use your UK Blue Badge if you’re living in Spain?

The UK government website states: “If you have a UK Blue Badge and live in Spain, you must return it to the original UK issuing authority. You can apply for a new Spanish disabled parking card. The process is different in each region of Spain. Contact your local town hall or social services department for further information”.

So those who live in Spain should apply for the equivalent of the UK’s blue badge here. This is called the Tarjeta acreditativa de discapacidad or Tarjeta de grado de discapacidad, depending on where you live.

Examples of different disabled parking cards issued by Spain’s regions. Image: Fundación Once

The not-for-profit project Support in Spain warns that it can be a lengthy process to apply for the Spanish equivalent and that many have been waiting months or even years for their cards to be issued. This has left many foreign disabled residents in Spain in a difficult situation.

Another member of the N332 Facebook group wrote: “Why does it take so long to get a blue badge in Spain? My husband has advanced Parkinson’s and dementia. We have been waiting almost a year and our town hall tells me this is normal”. 

How to apply for Spain’s disabled parking card?

Firstly, in order to apply, you will need to make an appointment with your doctor in Spain to certify that you have a degree of disability that warrants a disabled parking card. Typically, applicants must prove that they have a disability of at least 33 percent in order to be eligible for the Spanish disabled parking card.

Your doctor may also need to refer you to a specialist. Getting this disability certificate, or reconocimiento de discapacidad as it’s called in Spanish, is the reason the process takes so long. This certificate is the same document you’ll need in order to apply for disability benefits in Spain too.

As mentioned above, the process of applying is slightly different, depending on what region of Spain you live in. Typically, you will have to go to your local Equality and Social Policies Department (Departamento de Igualdad y Políticas Sociales) or at your local town hall (ayuntamiento) and fill out the necessary paperwork.

This will then need to be submitted along with your disability certificate and any notes from your doctors, before your application can be processed. 

Those who are worried about how long the process will take should contact their local town hall to find out the average time frame in their area. 

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