First of all, one should be informed that a Spanish resident is not permitted to drive a car registered in another country. Only immigrants may use a car not registered in Spain, but such use is limited up to six months. Therefore, as soon as you obtain residency and, as a result, become a taxpayer (by staying in the country for over 183 days, purchasing Spanish property, etc.), driving an unregistered car becomes illegal. In this case, it is necessary to re-register the car: that is, to make the car a “Spanish resident” as well. However, as the latest data demonstrate, many British immigrants in Spain ignore this rule and, after importing a car to Spain from the United Kingdom, do not undergo the new registration process and instead use an unregistered car for many years. By Spanish law, this is considered an offense that can be penalized. The Spanish police have the right to confiscate cars registered abroad if the police have substantial grounds to believe that the car is used in Spain permanently without an updated registration or with an expired insurance policy.
Another important piece of information to bear in mind is that mopeds and other transport means with engine sizes smaller than 49 cubic centimeters can be imported freely as an immigrant’s personal property and do not require any driving license on Spanish territory.
In order to obtain the most important document for driving a car in Spain, a motor vehicle driving permit for Spanish territory (on which the vehicle numbers will be new as well), one should take the following steps:
- Check whether the imported car corresponds to the E.U. technical regulations. As a rule, this recommendation makes sense for cars imported from outside the E.U. The special document, COC (Certificado de Conformidad), on which inspectors describe the technical specifications of the car, verifies adherence to these criteria. СОС is a mandatory document for vehicle re-registration. In Spain, the testing process to comply with the E.U. standards is called “homologación.”
- After that, in order to import a car to Spain, one must proceed with a technical inspection of the car. (In English, this is the MOT Test; in Spanish, the test is called ITV, “Inspección Técnica de Vehículos.”) Usually, such an inspection is carried out by a vehicle mechanic. (It is best to contact a reliable specialist.) Once the inspection is complete, the technical car passport is issued.
- The next stage is the mandatory payment of tax fees. (For more details, read further.)
- Finally, the concluding car registration stage after the car import to Spain is the submission of documents to the local department of vehicle inspection for the issue of a driving permit.
For this purpose, it is necessary to visit Jefatura de Trafico in person with all of the following documents:
- A completed application form that contains your residence information in Spain (residence permit and registration, or “empadronamiento”);
- The proofs of property ownership or evidence of rent (a rental agreement must be valid for least one year);
- Spanish driving license;
- The car’s technical passport (obtained after the technical inspection);
- Confirmation of the registration tax payment (depends on the amount of the car’s carbon emissions);
- Receipt of payment receipt for the local tax on possession of a vehicle (impuesto municipal sobre vehículos de tracción mecánica/IVTM) – in case you have had the car for fewer than 6 months;
- Sales contract for the vehicle (original and photocopy);
- Conformation that VAT was paid in the country of purchase;
- Compliance certificate (Certificado de Conformidad).
If all the documents have been duly prepared and submitted on time to the bureau for Car Inspection in Spain, in 3-4 days you will be issued a motor vehicle driving permit that includes the information about your car imported to Spain with local license plate numbers.
Car import tax in Spain
Car import cost in Spain directly depends on the technical specifications of the vehicle and the duration of its operation period.
If you are importing a car to Spain that was purchased in another E.U. country (with VAT paid at the moment of purchase), double taxation is not applied – in other words, you are not required to pay VAT again in Spain. If you have owned the car for more than 6 months, you will be exempt from paying a municipal tax as well. However, if the car was tax-free in another European country, when importing the car to Spain, it will be necessary to pay VAT in the amount of 18% of its value. Cars purchased outside of the E.U. are taxed additionally, with import tax in the amount of 10%. For this reason, it is much cheaper to import a car to Spain from Germany than, for instance, from Russia to Spain.
One also should remember that the import tax for a new car (a car used for less than one year) constitutes 21% of its value.
The registration tax for importing a used car to Spain can be quite high if its operation causes high levels of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. In this case, the tax is calculated based on a percentage of the car’s emissions values. The fixed tax rates are as follows:
- 4.75% for emission levels in the range of 120-160 grams of СО2 per one km of the route
- 9.75% for emission levels in the range of 160-200 grams of СО2 per one km
- 14.75% for emission levels that exceed 200 grams of СО2 per one km
- Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that taxes are also calculated based on the car’s market value, which, in turn, varies depending on the car’s operation period thus far. Thus, before calculating the tentative sum you will have to pay to import a car to Spain (with taxes included), it is crucial to calculate its market value. The market value is calculated based on the car’s value at the time of purchase with a deduction in value depending on the number of years of the car has been in use.
- After the first year of a car’s use, its market value becomes cheaper by 20%;
- 30% off after the second year;
- 50% off after the fourth year;
- 80% off after the tenth year.
By making simple calculations, one easily can calculate the car market value that corresponds with the vehicle’s taxation base when importing a car to Spain.
Should you need a consultation on any issue related to importing a car to Spain in a legal and efficient way, feel free to contact the professionals of INEEDSpain service center. The specialists are always ready to help and provide necessary information and advice for your unique situation.