If you’re a UK passport holder planning a relocation to Spain, one of the main decisions you’ll need to make is whether (or not!) to import your vehicle into Spain as part of your “change of residence”. Here are 5 important things to consider before you decide to register your UK vehicle in Spain.
1) Will it pass a Spanish ITV test?
All vehicles must pass a vehicle safety and verification check called an ITV (Inspección Técnica de Vehículos). Although there are different rules regarding the technical requirements for EU and non-EU vehicles, one thing all vehicles have in common is they must be fit to drive on the right hand side of the road. This means headlights must have the correct beam spread and rear fog lights must be positioned correctly for overtaking on the left hand side.
2) Does your vehicle have a private UK registration plate?
Private number plates don’t exist in Spain, and the DGT will issue you with an automatically generated registration number; you can’t pick the one you’d like. If your UK vehicle has private plates, you will need to remove these prior to permanently exporting your vehicle. Here’s the link to the UK Government website on how to do this.
3) Tax, Tax & More Tax
There can be up to five different taxes applied when registering a vehicle. To start with, most UK registered vehicles are subject to import tax (VAT) and Duty, as they are considered non-EU vehicles.
Then they may also be subject to ‘special registration tax’, and even ‘change of ownership tax’ depending on when you bought the vehicle and your personal circumstances in Spain. Finally, there’s road tax which is chargeable on all vehicles before the registration is finalised.
4) Right hand drive vehicle in Spain
Can you handle driving a vehicle with the steering wheel on the ¨wrong side¨? Some drivers absolutely love it because you’re closer to the curb than in a LHD vehicle. On the other hand, navigating motorway toll booths, underground car parks, even drive-thru fast food outlets can be a bit of a challenge if you have to jump out of the car to pay!
5) Is it worth it?
There is only one way to find out! To see what a second hand car would cost you to buy in Spain, one of the best price comparison websites is Autoscout – search for your desired vehicle make, model, year etc and then compare it to the price for a similar vehicle on Autotrader
Once you have your price, add the import cost to the vehicle value and this should give you a good idea if it’s worth importing your vehicle.
One thing you have to take into account is that while second hand prices (and mileage!!) in Spain may seem high, vehicles don’t suffer from the corrosion issues so common in the rainy UK for example. So while the bodywork might have it’s fair share of lumps and bumps (fondly known as “Spanish kisses”), underneath they tend to be pretty solid.
Some people prefer to stay with the devil they know rather than explore the perils of the Spanish second hand car market – even though it might be expensive to register their vehicle.
Whatever you decide to do, registering a vehicle in Spain is not for the faint hearted and mistakes can be costly. The DGT (Dirección General de Tráfico) have detailed notes on how to complete the process on their website here
If you prefer, you can pay for professional help with the various stages of the process, or retain a full-service provider, like UpSticks, to look after the whole process from start to finish.
The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 10.08.2022