Buying a car in spain, the laws on buying a car in spain, driving in spain, live in spain, visit spain
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homes in Spain

   

Buying a car in Spain

 

New cars are generally more expensive in Spain than in most other EU countries. They do however tend to hold their re-sale value better. In order to buy a Spanish-registered car you need a residencia, (residence card) or an NIE number, an escritua (deed) or rental contract for a Spanish property, or an certificado de empadronamiento (certificate of residence) in a Spanish community.

Buying a second hand car
Second-hand cars in Spain are often more expensive than in many other EU countries, as cars hold their value better. It often pays to buy a used car that's about two years old, as depreciation in the first one or two years is considerable. Ex- rental cars, are good value. Note, however, that older cars in Spain (outside of their warranty period) aren't always well maintained. You are much better to buy from a reputable dealer, even if you pay a bit more, and obtain a warranty, rather than pick an 'unknown' from the local paper. If you intend to buy a used car in Spain, whether privately or from a dealer, make sure that of the following:
 
The car has a current ITV test certificate, if applicable;
That the chassis number tallies with the registration document, which should be in the name of the seller when a car is purchased privately.


That you receive a `transfer of ownership' (transferencia) form from the seller. The form is available from the provincial traffic department.


Car dealers usually give warranties on used cars of from three to 12 months, depending on the age of the car and the particular model.

 

When you buy a second-hand car in Spain you must obtain the following documents from the seller;

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1. Registration document (permiso de circulación). The Permiso de Circulacion is the Spanish equivalent of the English Registration document and owner's details have to be changed when vehicles change hands. However, this is a far more complicated process than in the U.K. (see what it looks like here)

2. The ITV test certificate plus the technical sheet 'Ficha Tecnica' and a photocopy.

3. The road tax receipt and a photocopy.

4. A receipt for the payment of transfer tax (8%). This transfer tax is often paid by the BUYER so add this to the expected purchase price. The tax is calculated by the trafico dept and NOT negotiable. It is calculated on the value of the vehicle.

 

You have 15 days to register the vehicle in your name.

 

VERY IMPORTANT ADVICE ON PURCHASING SECOND HAND CARS
It is vital that a history check is made on the vehicle before you purchase it. This is the Spanish equivalent to an HPI check in England.
This check is important in Spain because just like property, previous owners debts can be put on the car. This can include unpaid social security, loans and taxes. The debts stay with the car, so it is now the responsibility of the new owner to clear the debts.
If you have any concerns regarding a Spanish registered vehicle you may have purchased privately, there are qualified companies that would be happy to check out the history for you, and offer HPI checks on English registered vehicles.

 

Buying a new car
Spain is generally a buyers' market for new cars and you should be able to find a bargain although some cars are more expensive in Spain than in some other EU countries. The taxes on new cars are higher in Spain than in most other EU country due to the registration tax of 12 per cent, which is charged in addition to VAT (IVA) at 16 percent. Denmark in particular is more expensive than Spain.

 

Buying a new car for cash
When you buy a new car from a garage, you will need to supply them with a copy of your national insurance number form which was given to you by the police station. You will also need to produce evidence of your address such as a rental contract or house deeds etc. The garage will undertake all the registration process with the Trafico department. This process usually takes two working days. A new car does not need an ITV (MOT) for four years. Your new car should come with one year's road tax paid to the local council. Check this. On collection of your new car you will be given the registration document. Keep this safe; a replacement will be expensive and very time consuming. DO NOT KEEP THE ORIGINAL IN THE CAR. Take the original and a photocopy to the Town Hall and ask them to stamp the photocopy as a true copy of the original. Keep the copy in the car and save the original at home. You should also carry your insurance certificate with this, as well as a receipt for your premium paid.

 

Financing your purchase
Currently there are very few companies that will give finance to a non-resident, although this may change with the abolition of the residence permit. Most new car dealers offer finance on purchases.

 

It is possible to buy a new tax-free car in another EU country, such as from the factory of a European manufacturer or from an exporter and personally import it into Spain. Before importing a car from another country, you should ensure that its manufactured to Spanish specifications, or you may encounter problems getting it through the homologation inspection.

 

When you drive in Spain you must ensure that certain documents are carried with you.
See our section on driving in Spain
here.

 

Registration numbers in Spain
There have been three main formats of Spanish vehicle registration plates. Until the early 1970's plates just included the province and a sequential number. This system was discarded in October 1971 when Barcelona and Madrid both nearly reached 999999.

 

The next system was in the form of XX NNNN YY where XX was the province code and NNNN was a sequential number, followed by two letters. Some letters were not used. This system became flawed when the Spanish langauages were changed as some provinces changed their names/spelling. Madrid was also reaching ZZ so numbers were running out.

 

Old Spanish plates
Pre 2000 Spanish plate (Malaga area)

The latest and current system started in September 2000. It consists of four numbers followed by three letters, such as 1234 ABC.

The letter code is sequential but certain letters are missed, such as A,E,I,O,Q and N with a tilde over it. The numbers go from 000 to 999. With this system there is no way of knowing where the car was registered but the code gives a rough idea when the car was registered. However it is flawed when foreign and imported vehicles are re-registered in Spain as they are given a new number in the sequential system (making them look brand new).

 

The number plates themselves are black letters on white plates. The left hand blue bar with the letter E for Espana and the 12 stars is now compulsory. Plates are rectangle although some are odd shapes such as lorries, motorcycles and the Seat 600 which has a narrow plate space.

See a list of province codes for Spanish registration plates here

2009 registration plate Spain
A 2009 Registration plate in Spain
First hand experience of buying a car in Spain
Idealspain have bought several new cars but recently purchased a secondhand car. The experience was somewhat traumatic and expensive. The Gestor handled the process for us but required a pile of papers and fees. The transfer tax was calculated at 8% and payable straight away. A receipt for the road tax has to be presented. You also need to present a copy of your padron which comes from the town hall. You also need to present your original residencia document.

 

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