Roadside checks are common by the Guardia Civil in Spain.
You are especially likely to have documents checked if the registration of your car is foreign.
However, you are legally allowed to drive your car in Spain, as long as you have the correct documentation.
Your resident status dictates how long you are allowed to drive your car in Spain.
If you are non-resident, you can being your car into Spain all year round - of course you need to prove you are not resident all year, and must have the correct MOT Certificate Tax, and Insurance.
When Do I need To Register My UK Car?
If you spend more than 183 days in Spain, then you are legally considered to be a resident. Hence, you are only permitted to drive a UK registered vehicle in Spain for up to 6 months of the year.
If you stay longer than 6 months:
- You must register (Matriculate) your UK vehicle in Spain
- Remove the car from Spain
If you intend to become a permanent resident in Spain, then you must register your car within 30 days (See this list of local offices) So if you own a property, have children in school, own a business, are employed here, or are registered on the padron etc. you will be considered to be resident here and NOT a tourist.
If you cannot prove that you are simply visiting Spain, then you are liable to be fined on the spot. This proof could take the form of travel documents & tickets.
The rule for driving your UK car in Spain (or anywhere else in Europe) is that the car must be legal in it´s country of registration. This means it must be insured; have a valid MOT; and be correctly TAXED.
A Spanish ITV (Or MOT) is not acceptable.
Your road tax must be fully up to date. If not, you are technically driving a car without insurance. You then run the risk of having your vehicle impounded and potentially be hit with a 2,000 Euro or more fine.
The MOT must be up to date, which means driving the car back to the UK and back - wouldn´t it be simpler to register the car? Or even better, sell the car and purchase a Spanish registered vehicle.
What Insurance Cover Do I Need?
Most UK Insurance companies, will issue you with a ´Green Card´, Which usually allows you to drive the car for 90 days in Europe. Many companies are reluctant to extend this period. However, there are companies in Spain, which will insure you for longer than this - but make sure you check exactly what these policies cover you for!!
Is It Possible To Register My UK Car In Spain?
Yes it is, but be prepared to go through several stages to get it legally registered. We recommend using a reputable company, or Gestor to help you with the process.
You will of course have to pay import taxes, which are 21% for a new vehicle. If the vehicle is secondhand, then CO2 emissions and the average market value of the vehicle will be taken into account.
These are the current Tax bands:
- 0 percent tax for vehicles with emissions of less than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre
- 4.75 percent tax for vehicles with emissions from 120 to 160 grams of CO2 per kilometre
- 9.75 percent tax for vehicles with emissions from 160 to 200 grams of CO2 per kilometre
- 14.75 percent tax for vehicles with emissions of more than 200 grams of CO2 per kilometre
- 14.75 percent tax for vehicles which are not rated for CO2 emissions
The vehicle would also need to pass a Spanish MOT - known as ITV (Inspección técnica de Vehiculos) - this could mean having to change your headlights, and rear fog lights to comply with European standards. Expensive!!!
Is it really worth going through all these bureaucratic hoops? In the end you will have a car with poor visibility, have to get out at ticket machines, and a car that would need to be re-registered in the UK to reach it´s full value - because few people in Spain will buy them!
Can I Import Commercial Vehicles?
Because of visibility issues, large vans cannot be imported into Spain.
What Documentation Do I Need Whilst Driving In Spain?
It is crucial that you carry all the necessary documentation - otherwise you could face huge fines or even have your vehicle impounded. So you will need your Registration Log Book; MOT Certificate; Insurance Documentation + Valid Road Tax.
You will also need the following items to be legal: Jack, Warning Triangles, Spare Tyre, Fluorescent Jacket and Spare Glasses if you use them to drive. This is a legal requirement in Spain.