Bringing your vehicle to Spain

In view of the crackdown on foreigners driving in Spain with foreign plates on their vehicles, many foreigners are becoming interested in exactly what the requirements are in these cases and the procedure which needs to be followed.

It has become a fairly common practice in Spain for foreigners to move to Spain with their vehicle without carrying out the necessary registration in Spain and continuing to circulate with foreign plates. This, however, is illegal under Spanish law after a certain period has lapsed, and can result in steep fines for the driver caught doing so.

How long can I drive with foreign plates before I am required to register the vehicle in Spain?

Non-residents may drive their foreign-registered vehicles (cars, motorbikes and caravans) in Spain for up 6 months before they are required to acquire Spanish plates. This means that, even if you are still resident abroad, but you spend more than 6 months in Spain with your vehicle, it will need to be registered in Spain.

In the case on Spanish residents, however, the moment you acquire residency you are required to register your vehicle in Spain, even if the vehicle has not remained in Spain the full 6 months.



There are certain to these rules in the case of the following:

  • Students carrying out studies in Spain
  • Cross-border commuters

However, certain requirements must be met to qualify as one of these exceptions.


Importing an EU Vehicle into Spain

The procedures relating to importing and registering a foreign vehicle are complex. It is possible to complete the process yourself or to use a company which specialises in providing this service.

In order to register a car in Spain, a vehicle must undergo a safety inspection similar to the UK’s MOT test.

In addition, registration tax as well as VAT may be payable on imported vehicles. However, if certain requirements are met you may be exempt from paying registration tax. I will explain this in more detail further along.


Could I be exempt from paying registration tax?

If certain conditions are met, you will be exempt from paying the registration tax on your vehicle. These conditions are:

  • The registration must be carried out within 60 days (from the date of residence or incorporation into the local census)
  • The vehicle must have been owned by the title holder for more than 6 months
  • The vehicle must have more than 6.000 km


The documentation that needs to be provided for this process and the dealings with the Spanish Traffic Authority can make it difficult for foreigners trying to carry out this transaction without any assistance. This is why we recommend you seek the professional services of specialists with experience in carrying out these transactions on a regular basis, to ensure the process is carried out swiftly and in a cost-effective manner.


Gabriella Mary Trussler
4408 Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Almería

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