Essential documents to carry in your car when driving in Spain

Spanish Vehicle documents

If you are driving a Spanish registered vehicle in Spain, there are four mandatory documents you must carry in the car. 

  • A valid driving licence 
  • the vehicle’s Permiso de Circulación 
  • the Tarjeta de Inspección Técnica del Vehículo
  • Up to date ITV pass certificate if applicable  

You need to carry the originals with you at all times, as copies are not permitted. 

It’s also worth remembering that in Spain you should always carry your passport with you and if you are resident, your residency card as well. 

If you are stopped by the police, they will normally ask you for your driving licence before checking the vehicle paperwork. If you are a non-resident and are driving on a UK licence, it’s advisable to carry proof that you are indeed just visiting e.g. travel documents, return ticket etc. If you are a resident, then it’s likely that the police will check your driving licence against the details of your residency card.

The PERMISO DE CIRCULACIÓN proves who the vehicle is registered to and it’s mandatory to keep this in the car. This document is issued by the DGT traffic authority when a car is first registered in Spain or bought second hand. 

The TARJETA DE INSPECCIÓN TÉCNICA DEL VEHÍCULO states the technical specification of the vehicle and again it’s mandatory to keep it in the vehicle. This document must be accompanied with the latest ITV test pass certificate if applicable (cars less than 4 years old don’t need this). The vehicle must also have a valid ITV sticker in the window. 

Spanish law requires that the owner of any vehicle has the minimum mandatory liability insurance to cover third parties. Since 2008 it has not been necessary to carry the insurance policy and the receipt of the last payment in the car because the police can check using their database. That said, if you haven’t got a great grip of the Spanish language and are stopped by the police, it’s a good idea to have the insurance documents with you in case they have any questions relating to the policy. In the unfortunate event of an accident, it’s also advisable to have them to hand. 

If you lose your vehicle documents, they can be replaced. But while you are organising the replacements, it is advisable to report their loss to the police. They will issue you with a document called a Denuncia, which you can carry with you to prove the absence of the documentation. 

If you are driving a vehicle registered in the UK, then you will need to keep the logbook V5c on you. The police in Spain have access to the DVLA database and can see if the vehicle has a valid MOT. Its always best to tell keep your insurance policy and green card on you as well. 

If you are a resident here, then there is a limited amount of time you can drive a UK registered vehicle in Spain, so if stopped by the police, you may be asked for proof of how long the vehicle has been in the country. 

If you are in the process of registering the vehicle in Spain, then it’s best to keep on you any documentation showing this, e.g. the Ficha Tecnica Reducida, an  appointment at the ITV station, or – in case the documents are with a company registering the vehicle on your behalf – a letter from them stating that the vehicle registration is in process. During the process of registration, the vehicle must still be legal to drive with the current registration plates, e.g. in the case of a vehicle from the UK it must have a valid MOT and tax in place, along with the mandatory insurance. You can request provisional green plates from the DGT which are a pre-registration in Spain, these allow you to insure the vehicle for 60 days while processing the registration. 

It’s worth noting that if the vehicle documentation isn’t in your name, then you will need to carry with you a letter in Spanish that you have permission to drive it. In the case of a UK registered vehicle, you will need to carry the insurance policy to prove that it covers you to drive the vehicle.

Article current on date published, last reviewed 1.8.2022

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