register a car in Spain

Register a car in Spain: The ultimate guide!

You want to re-register your car or motorbike in Spain,

or you live in Spain and are thinking of buying a new or used vehicle in another EU country and
then registering it in Spain.

With this ultimate guide you will be able to register a car in Spain successfully.

Step by step, you will learn everything you need to know about car registration in Spain.

You will also benefit from helpful recommendations and useful tips on what you should bear
in mind.

How long can I drive a foreign car in Spain?

The registration of vehicles in Spain is generally based on the residency principle.

Persons who are considered residents in Spain or who have a permanent establishment in Spain must register new or used vehicles intended for use in Spain. Ley 38/1992 Disposición adicional primera .

The date of use of vehicles intended to remain permanently in Spain begins with the:

  • date of importation of the vehicle into Spain. If this date is not believable , one of the following dates, which is later:
  • date of purchase of the vehicle, or
  • date from which you are considered a resident in Spain or the owner of a permanent establishment in Spain.

In principle, the date of registering your address at the municipality in Spain (“empadronamiento”) in which you habitually reside will be the date from which you are considered to be resident in Spain. Unless you can prove that your habitual residence is not in Spain.

After 6 months of staying in Spain at the latest, you are resident in Spain and must therefore re-register your vehicle with Spanish number licence plates.

Recommendations

  • To re-register your car as soon as possible after entering Spain (especially if you plan to spend your life in Spain) in order to
    • not to miss any deadlines (e.g. for exemption from registration tax – see later)
    • avoid problems during police checks. You risk a high fine and confiscation of the vehicle, as failure to register is considered a tax offence. Vehicles with foreign number plates are subject to strict controls by the local police, especially in coastal regions, with regard to compliance with national vehicle regulations (taxes and registration).
    • prevent any complications regarding the technical inspection of the vehicle and insurance cover, as the deadlines for validity have expired.
  • Always carry the vehicle registration certificates, proof of ownership and proof of your habitual domicile with you so that you can prove in which country you are resident in the event of a traffic check.

Note

As long as your car is not registered in Spain, you may only use it privately and you may not lend or hire it out to people resident there (unless you are in the car). However, you may borrow your car to friends or relatives who are visiting you – provided they do not have a residency in Spain.

How to register a car in Spain? What steps are required?

To re-register your vehicle in Spain, you must usually complete the following steps:

1.) Registering your car in Spain

  • Homologation of the vehicle
  • Technical inspection (roadworthiness test) of the vehicle
  • Payment of the road tax (“impuesto de circulación”) at the municipality
  • Payment of the registration tax (“impuesto de matriculación”) at the National tax office (AEAT)
  • Registration with the vehicle registration authority (“Dirección General de Tráfico” – DGT)

2.) Buying the registration (number) plates

3.) Taking out Spanish car insurance

4.) Deregistering the vehicle in the country of origin

What should I consider before importing?

Before you import your vehicle to Spain to re-register it there, you should make a few important considerations and checks. This can save you some formalities, time and money.

Is my vehicle authorised for use on Spanish roads?

Before importing, check whether your car can be registered in Spain with all its technical data. This is because it is quite possible that a motor vehicle is authorised for domestic but not for Spanish road traffic. As a rule, there are no problems in this regard (especially with current and new car models).
However, to be on the safe side, consult your authorised dealer or the general agency of your vehicle manufacturer.

Should I deregister my car in the country of origin?

The advantage of having your vehicle deregistered by a local registration authority before transferring it to Spain is that you no longer have to deregister your vehicle in Spain once it has been registered.

Do I have to pay the Spanish registration tax ?

If you are planning to move to Spain permanently, first check whether you fulfil the
requirements for exemption from registration tax due to relocation. You must
complete this formality within a certain period of time.

Tip: Start the vehicle registration process in good time. Do not miss the
application deadline.

Under what circumstances am I exempt from registration tax?

Art. 66.1.n) Ley 38/1992

If you move your habitual residence (domicile) to Spain, you are exempt from the
registration tax under the following conditions:

  1. Declaration of the vehicle as “removal goods” in the application form “Modelo 06”
  2. Registration (“matriculación”) of the vehicle within 2 months (60 days) from use of the vehicle in Spain in accordance with Art. 65.1.d) Ley 38/1992 . (Date of importation of the vehicle or date of registration of residence in Spain)
  3. Continuous habitual residence abroad for at least 1 year before moving to Spain.
    Important: Deregistration of your place of residence (your address) in the country of origin
  4. Use of the vehicle for at least 6 months at the old place of residence during the aforementioned period.
  5. The vehicle must have been purchased or imported into the country of origin under the normal conditions of taxation. It must not benefit from any exemption or repayment of taxes incurred.
  6. The tax-exempt vehicle may not be transferred to another person within 12 months after registration. Failure to fulfil this requirement will result in the tax being charged.

Note

Even if you are exempt from registration tax, you must submit a declaration to the tax office using Modelo 06.

The following vehicles are also exempt from registration tax in Spain:

  • Vehicles registered to disabled persons and exclusively for their use, under certain conditions
  • Taxis, driving school cars, hire cars, diplomatic number plates

There are also favours for

  • large families (“familias numerosas”): 50% of the tax base (BI)
  • Motorhomes (“autocaravanas”): 30% of the tax base (BI)

What is needed to register a car in Spain?

The following is required to complete the steps for registering your vehicle. Check that you have everything you need and prepare the documents.

  • Patience, time and nerves
  • Spanish language skills

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  • EC Certificate of Conformity (COC) in the original within EU countries

If your vehicle was manufactured after 2002, you should be in possession of a COC.

If you do not have a COC, you can apply for one from the vehicle manufacturer.

  • Original registration certificates of the vehicle
  • Invoice of the purchase of the vehicle (original and copy) or a purchase agreement (translated into Spanish)- in the case of tax exemption and in the case of purchase of a used vehicle in the EU
  • Sworn interpreter authorised in Spain for possible translations

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If you are not exempt from paying the registration tax, you still need:

  • Spanish bank account for the payment of this tax.
  • “Certificado electrónico”, “DNI electrónico” or “Clave PIN” for electronic access to the Modelo 576, by means of which you must declare and pay the registration tax.
  • Registration in the tax register (“censo”)

If you are not registered as a taxable person in Spain, you must apply for entry in the list of taxable persons (“alta en el Censo de obligados tributarios”) using form Modelo 030.

You can complete this application online (with the “certificado electrónico”) or in person at the competent tax authority (“Administración o Delegación”) where you are resident for tax purposes. Appointment required

a) Homologation of the vehicle

If the vehicle was purchased outside of Spain, it must be homologated for registration in Spain. Proof of this test can be provided by one of the following certificates:

  • EC Certificate of Conformity (COC): A document that contains all of the vehicle’s technical data and is valid in all EU countries.
  • Spanish “ficha reducida” (reduced data sheet)
  • confirmation of homologation for conformity or
  • individual homologation in Spain

As a rule, as an EU citizen you will have the EC COC and can therefore proceed to the next step of the registration.

Vehicles built after 2002

If your vehicle was manufactured after 2002, then you should be in possession of a COC. If you do not have a COC, you can apply for one from the vehicle manufacturer.

Another option is to obtain the “ficha reducida” in Spain. This document is issued by an authorised Spanish expert (“perito”) and contains the same information as the COC, as it is based on the homologation code number.

You can present either the COC or “ficha reducida” for the roadworthiness test.

Vehicles built before 2002

The homologation code was introduced in Europe in 2002, so vehicles prior to 2002 do not have this.

In this case, the homologation for conformity or individual homologation must be carried out.

During homologation for conformity, the equivalence of the national code number of the country of origin with that of the country of destination (Spain) is checked by a Spanish engineering office appointed for this purpose (an expert).

If neither a European nor a national code number exists, you will need individual homologation in order to obtain the standardised code number. This is done in a test laboratory corresponding to the trade for a period of approximately 30 days and costs at least 1,500,- €.

In the absence of a COC or ficha reducida you will need one of these homologations for the inspection of the car.

Do you have any Questions?

b) Technical inspection of the vehicle (ITV)

The roadworthiness test (“Inspección Técnica de Vehículos”, known as ITV), is the technical inspection of
vehicles in Spain with regard to safety and pollutant emissions.

Where are roadworthiness tests carried out (responsible authorities)?

At special authorised ITV stations (“Estación ITV”), which are under the supervision of the respective autonomous community (“comunidad autónoma”).

Usually you will choose the closest roadworthiness test station in the region where you live.

What documents do I need for the ITV?

Tip: Make a copy of all documents

  • Confirmation of homologation (generally the original COC) – see above
  • Registration certificates of the vehicle in the original

Some test centres also require:

  • Vehicle owner data: passport or identity card, NIE number
  • Confirmation of registration at the town hall (“Volante de Empadronamiento”)

Note

The inspection centre in Spain can recognise the roadworthiness certificate issued for a vehicle already registered in another EU member state, provided this test certificate is still valid. This means that no technical inspection of the vehicle is carried out. Only the validity of the test certificate is checked before it is recognised. You must appear at the ITV station for this verification. This regulation does not apply to motorbikes of categories L3e, L4e, L5e and L7e.

Do I need an appointment?

In general, an appointment (“cita previa”) must be made with the relevant inspection centre either online or by telephone.

The necessary information (addresses and telephone numbers) can be found on the website of itv.com.es.

To make an appointment online, normally you need a Spanish “matrícula” (vehicle registration number).
You can therefore only get an appointment by phone or you can try it in person directly at the roadworthiness test station.

When making an appointment, you should mention that you are registering a foreign vehicle (“servicios no periodico – Revisión previa a la matriculación en España de vehículos anteriormente matriculados en el extranjero”).

How much does it cost to pass the roadworthiness test (ITV)?

The answer to this question is not so easy, because each community sets its own prices.

And the costs depend on other factors such as the type of vehicle (car or motorbike), type of fuel (petrol, diesel, electric) and the weight (under or over 3,5 tonnes) as well.

The costs are between approx. 120,- € and 140,- €.

What is issued after the test?

Once your vehicle has passed the roadworthiness test, you will be issued with the Spanish “ficha técnica” (ITV technical data sheet), also known as the “Tarjeta de ITV”. This will be needed later for registration with the traffic authorities. A sticker is also issued as a proof of test.

c) Paying of the road tax

Name of the tax: “Impuesto sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica” (IVTM) or more commun “impuesto de circulación”

This payment must be made to the town hall (“ayuntamiento) where the vehicle is registered.

Each municipality has its own prices and payment methods for road tax. But generally you pay it at a bank or directly at the city hall.

After paying the tax you will receive a payment confirmation, which you will later need as proof (“Justificante del pago”) at the provincial traffic office.

d) Paying of the registration tax

The registration tax is the highest cost factor when registering a vehicle in Spain (unless you are exempt).

I have explained the procedure of declaration and paying in detail in the specialist article, How to pay registration tax in Spain? Modelo 576.

e) Registration (“Matriculación Ordinaria”) at the vehicle registration authority

If you have made it so far, the next step is to register your vehicle in person or with an person authorized on your behalf at the Provincial Traffic Department (“Jefatura provincial de tráfico”) where you live.

For this you need an appointment (“cita previa”) via internet or by telephone (060).

What does the registration at the traffic office cost?

Fee: € 99.77, except small motorbikes € 27.85. (as of 2024)

Payment of this fee must be made before processing. You can do this directly in the
traffic office at the time of presenting the documents, using any credit or debit card (cash
payment is not accepted).

What documents do I need to register?

To register a car in Spain at the traffic department you need the following documents:

  • Proof of identity and address (original) of the owner of the vehicle:
    • Passport/identity card plus NIE number, DNI, Spanish driving licence, residence card
    • Registration at the town hall (“volante de empadronamiento”) or rental contract or proof of ownership of accommodation
  • Documentation of the vehicle:
    • ITV card (“Ficha Técnica”) issued by an ITV station
    • the original registration certificates
  • Proof (“Justificantes”) of payment or exemption of taxes:
    • Municipal vehicle tax (IVTM) in the original or copy
    • Registration tax (IEDMT) with the tax authorities (Modelo 576 or 06)

In addition to the previous documents you need:

a) Used vehicles acquired within the EU:

  • Original documents of the vehicle (the registration certificates)
  • “Ficha técnica” of the ITV and
  • If the sale is between private persons:
    • Purchase agreement together with translation into Spanish and
    • proof of payment of the tax on capital transfer (“Impuesto de Trasmisiones Patrimoniales”)
  • In case of purchase in a non-Spanish car dealer:
    • the invoice detailing the VAT figure
  • In case of purchase in a Spanish car dealer:
    • the invoice and the document issued by the Treasury declaring that the company is registered to
      perform that activity during the financial year in question.

b) New vehicles acquired within the EU:

  • Proof of payment of VAT (“pago del IVA”) using model 309 or 300 from the Agency of the Tax Authorities (“Agencia Estatal Tributaria”) or a document declaring that he/she is included in the VAT registered traders
  • “Ficha técnica” of the ITV

c) Vehicles acquired in third countries:

  • Original documents of the vehicle and a Single Administrative Document (“Documento Único administrativo” – DUA) issued by the customs office (unless the import certificate appears in the Roadworthiness certificate)

If the new vehicle owner is not the same as the one named in the vehicle documents, the Spanish authorities will require full proof of the change of owner(s) on the basis of purchase contracts. The purchase contracts and the vehicle registration document must be presented in a sworn translation.

If the vehicle owner does not submit the application in person, this must be done by a person authorised by him in writing (power of attorney together with original proof of identity).

If any of the data required above cannot be clearly proven, additional documentation could be requested.

What is issued by the traffic authority (DGT)?

After a positive check of the documents submitted, the DGT registers the vehicle and you will finally be provided with the Spanish registration certificate (“Permiso de Circulación”) together with the registration number for your vehicle.

Permiso de circulación

When the vehicle is registered, the original vehicle documents will be retained by the Spanish traffic authorities.

Note

To deregister the vehicle with the registration authority in the country of origin you usually need a confirmation of registration in Spain. Check whether you have received such a confirmation or ask for the stamping of a copy of the registration certificates.

Where do I get the Spanisch vehicle registration plates?

Once the procedure has been completed, you must go to a specialised shop to buy the licence (number) plates and install them on the vehicle.

Such a shop is usually located near the traffic office. The costs are approximately 25,- € (car) or 10,- € (motorbike).

Taking out motor vehicle insurance

To be licensed to drive on Spanish roads, you need Spanish car insurance for your vehicle.

Here you can find a suitable car insurance policy for your vehicle:

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How do I deregister the vehicle?

Deregistration of the vehicle in the country of origin

Within the EU a separate deregistration by the vehicle owner is basically no longer necessary, as the notification of the registration of a vehicle in another EU country is usually carried out automatically between the national traffic authorities.

However, experience has shown that this is not always done promptly or even at all.

It is therefore recommended that you also deregister your vehicle in the country of origin after registering it in Spain.

To do this, you generally have to send both vehicle number plates together with certified copies of the old registration certificates and the new Spanish registration certificate (“permiso de circulación”) to the registration authority in your country of origin and request deregistration there.

Find out from the relevant registration office or your car insurance company exactly what you need to deregister your vehicle.

In exceptional cases, you can also deregister via the diplomatic representation if you pay a fee.

Vehicles that were registered with a temporary registration plate for transfer purposes no longer need to be deregistered.

How long does it take to register?

Depends on how quickly you get an appointment for the ITV and at Provincial Traffic Department (can
take up to 14 days). And whether you need an appointment with the tax office. The duration will also be delayed by the procurement of the necessary documents and their translation into Spanish (if necessary).

It is therefore difficult to give an exact time frame. After a successful ITV, to register a vehicle in Spain ideally takes up to 30 days.

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

The cost of registering a car in Spain depends on many factors. It is therefore impossible to make an exact statement in this regard.

This list of costs is intended to give you an orientation.

Cost factor Costs in €
Homologation of the vehicle:
– with COC
– with Ficha reducida without COC
– for homologation

0,-
~120,-
~300,- bis 1.500,-
ITV in Andalucía~140,-
Road tax:
– car 85 KW/115 PS
– motorbike 650 cc

~130,-
~60,-
Registration tax:
– tax exemption
– car market value of 10.000,- €
– motorbike market value of 2.500,- €

0,-
~380,-
~ 95,-
Fee at the traffic office:99,77
Registration plates:
– car
– motorbike
~25,-
~10,-
Embassy fees:
– certificate of residence for exemption
– Vehicle deregistration

~25,-
~50,-
Translation costs:
Purchase contract,…
~50 bis 100,-
per translation
Cost table vehicle registration in Spain

Conclusion

Registering a car in Spain involves a lot of bureaucracy and time expenditure. You should therefore consider the possibility of buying a used or new car in Spain before importing your car to Spain or re-registering your car in Spain. You should also make these considerations if you want to buy a car abroad and then register it in Spain.

The vehicles may be cheaper outside of Spain, but when you take into account the transfer and registration costs, the final price may be higher in total.

When purchasing a used vehicle in Spain, the costs of changing the vehicle owner are relatively low.

If you buy a car from a Spanish car dealer, they usually take care of the registration and other paperwork.

If you want to keep your car for whatever reason and the effort involved in re-registering it is too high, you can also authorise a person to register your vehicle in Spain or use a fee-based service office (“Gestoría”).

However I have written this specialist article to encourage you and give you the opportunity to register your car in Spain yourself correctly.

Just give it a try.

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