What happens when you buy a car with an embargo?

When buying a new car or van, besides choosing a vehicle that you like, suits your needs, meets your budget and is properly maintained, there’s a lot more to consider. From an administrative point of view, you need to check that the vehicle doesn’t have any charges or fines against it. 

With that in mind, It’s always a good idea to get a ‘nota informativa‘ first from the DGT. This document will show if there are any debts against the vehicle known as Embargos. 

An embargo is an annotation of debt on an asset (a vehicle in this case) usually declared by a court or agency, such as a City Council, General Treasury of the Social Security, Tax Agency, Traffic authorities etc. which could result in an asset being seized as collateral to pay any associated debts.

For example, if the previous owner had a Social Security debt, and there were insufficient funds for the Treasury Office to obain the outstanding amount from a bank account (for example), they may proceed directly to apply an embargo to the vehicle.

By requesting the ‘nota informativa’ before buying the vehicle, you can avoid any nasty surprises. If you decide to buy the vehicle, even with the embargo, there are ways to try to resolve the issue.  Usually, you can drive a vehicle with an embargo UNLESS the vehicle has been blocked from circulating by the police using a ‘precinto’ notice. 

Can you also insure the car and pass an ITV?

Can I sell or transfer an embargoed vehicle? 
Yes. However, the DGT will normally reject a transfer until the new owner signs a written document saying they are aware of the embargo.

What happens if I get stopped by the police driving with an embargoed vehicle?
Although the Police may be aware of the embargo’s existence, nothing will happen, since it’s not a crime to drive the vehicle, unless there is an order to seize the vehicle to settle the debt.

So, I have got a ‘nota informativa’ and the vehicle I want to buy has an embargo, what do I do?
You need to find the source of the embargo and make sure it is cleared or paid. You could even ‘take on’ the embargo, but you would be risking the seizure of the asset in the future to settle the debt. Although the debt isn’t yours, it is associated with the asset. There are a few options on how to approach an embargo.

Option 1 – (free) ask the seller, do they know what the debt is?

Option 2 – Consult the DGT Traffic Authority. This can only be done by the owner of the vehicle, not by the potential purchaser. They will tell you the source of the embargo ( this doesn’t figure on a normal ‘nota informativa‘)

Option 3 – Get a ‘Informe Oficial de Bienes Muebles’ for the car from the ‘registro de bien y muebles’ Sometimes (not always), the embargo is registered with the ‘ Registro de Bienes Muebles ‘ and you can find out information from them.

Option 4 – Don’t buy the car and find a vehicle that doesn’t have an embargo!

It’s always advisable to employ a professional like a Gestor when buying a vehicle to deal with the documentation for you.

The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 12.08.2022

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