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What are the steps for buying a second-hand car in Spain?

The Local Spain
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What are the steps for buying a second-hand car in Spain?
Cars displayed at a dealership in Vigo. Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP.

Whether it be taking it for a test drive or making sure the car has no outstanding fees or taxes, there are several steps you'll need to go through before buying a second-hand car in Spain.


If you're looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, there're several steps you should know about before parting with your money.

Spain's DGT has a handy website giving the lowdown on buying a second hand car in Spain, and the things you should look out for.

READ ALSO: The best websites and other ways to find a second-hand car in Spain

The Local has put together a guide below:

Check the state of the vehicle

It almost goes without saying, but make sure you see the car in person so you can be sure what sort of state it's in. Often the pictures in adverts can be a little different, let's say, to what the vehicle is like in real life.

Ideally you'd get the car checked by a professional but, if that's not possible, there are several key things to keep an eye on when viewing it:

  • Check the exterior of the car (in daylight) for damage to the paintwork, dents, or signs of an accident.
  • Open the bonnet to check the oil and the timing belt.
  • Check that the tyres are as shown on the technical inspection card and that the tread is at least 1.6 mm deep.
  • Check that the seat belts, seat adjustment and door locks are all working properly.
  • Put the key in the ignition, check it starts up, and press all various switches and buttons to check that they are working correctly and that the lights are illuminated.
  • Start the car and make sure the pedals are not working properly. The DGT recommends pressing the brake pedal fully for 20 seconds -- if it does not return to its initial position, something is wrong. The wheels should respond to the steering wheel.
  • Of course, before buying the vehicle, you'll want to carry out a road test of the car. First have the dealer or seller drive the car and try to detect any sounds that might indicate a fault or problem. Then drive it yourself and check that the car has no other problems.


Make sure the vehicle is legally transferable and free of outstanding charges or debts

To make this task easier, you can request a vehicle status report from the DGT website. This free report allows you to confirm the vehicle has been correctly identified, ie. you're actually buying what you think you are, but also to check if the vehicle is registered, as well as information on whether there are any charges, taxes, or anything else hat could affect the vehicle and/or its sale.

If the report shows that the car has had an accident or has outstanding fees, you can request a more detailed status report or visit the DGT offices.

You can request a vehicle report here.

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

Sign the contract

If that's all in order, you'll want to draw up and sign the contract. You can download a DGT template contract here.

However, generic sales contracts must always contain at least the following information:

  • Details of the buyer: Name and surname(s) or company name(s) and their DNI/NIE/CIF.
  • Details of the seller: Name and surname(s) or company name(s) and their DNI/NIE/CIF.
  • Vehicle details: Make, model and registration number.
  • Agreed purchase price.
  • Date and time at which the contract was signed.


Settle any transfer taxes

You must pay, or justify the exemption or non-payment of the Property Transfer Tax (IPT) as appropriate, in the region of Spain when you are tax domiciled.

Officially change the vehicle ownership

Once that's done and the car is yours, there's just one thing left to do: formally change the ownership of the car, which can also be done through the DGT.

You have a period of 30 days from signing the contract to transferring ownership of the vehicle, and the process costs €55.70.

You can request it through the DGT here.


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