For members


The key step-by-step guide for importing a car into Spain

If you are bringing a vehicle to Spain from overseas and are a permanent resident there are a few important bureaucratic hoops you have to jump through. And it's important not to waste any time. Here's what you you need to know.

The key step-by-step guide for importing a car into Spain
Photo: ifeelstock/Depositphotos

As with all things bureaucratic in Spain, the process of importing a car can be long and complicated.

But here’s how to do it.

When do I need to register my car in Spain?

If you are a permanent resident here, then you should register your car within 30 days of importing it to Spain.

If you bring it from outside the EU and it arrives by freight in a ship, then you will have to pay import taxes at the customs office before the vehicle can be released.

Most people will just drive it over into Spain or catch the ferry in which case you should register within 30 days and there are unconfirmed reports of foreign residents living in Spain being stopped by Guardia Civil and fined if they have not done so.

If you bring it from outside the EU, you will have to pay import taxes at the customs office before the vehicle can be released and will need to register it within 30 days.

When do you NOT need to register a vehicle in Spain?

If you are an EU national who doesn’t spend more than six months a year in Spain, you can use it in Spain without having to register it.

That means that students, pensioners, foreigners with second homes in Spain and cross-border commuters with company cars don’t have to go through the registration process, as long as they can prove they haven’t spent half of the year in Spanish territory.

However, you will need to ensure that your insurance is valid to drive in Spain and that your MOT or equivalent is valid the entire time you plan to keep it in Spain because you cannot do the Spanish equivalent (ITV) on a car that is registered in another country.


What about duties and taxes?

You will need to pay the following on any imported car:

  • 10 percent import duty (if bringing car from outside the EU)
  • 21 percent VAT (to be paid at customs) on new cars if this has not already been paid in another country, based on the purchase price of the car. This is applicable to vehicles coming from within and outside the EU.
  • If the vehicle has been owned for more than six months prior to the owner becoming resident in Spain then no VAT owed provided you can prove you paid VAT when originally purchased the car.
  • A registration tax based on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions — ranging from 0% to 14.75%

Spain’s national tax regulations also allow for overseas vehicle usage If you have submitted and paid for the corresponding IEDMT (registration tax).

Registering your vehicle:

Once you have brought your car to Spain, paid the import tax and passed the ITV, you will need to register your vehicle in the same way as you would if you just bought a Spanish car, which means a visit to your local Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico. Cita Previas must be made in advance.

To find out where your nearest DGT office is and make a ‘cita previa’ click HERE

What documents will I need to present?

Your local traffic department (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico) will require you to present or submit all original documents relating to the vehicle, including the current foreign registration and proof of licensing.

You will also have to show a Certificate of Conformity with EU regulations, issued by the Technical Vehicle Inspection service in Spain (Inspección Técnica de Vehículos, more commonly known as ITV).

If you bought the car from a private owner, you will be asked for the purchase agreement with a certified translation and proof of payment of the Property Transfer Tax (Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales, ITP).

If you bought the vehicle from a car dealer in another EU country, then you will need to present an invoice with the VAT number clearly stated and VAT proof of payment through the Spanish Tax Agency’s modelo 309 or 300 forms.

How much does it cost to register your car in Spain?

The IEDMT tax registration is a one-off fee that costs €95.80, although there are some deductions for vehicles already registered in another EU country.

A one-time registration tax must be paid to the municipality at the time of registering a vehicle.

This tax is based on CO2 emissions, with rates ranging from 4.75% (121-159g/km) to 14.75% (200g/km or more). Once this is paid, you will have to pay an annual road tax, which is based on the vehicle’s horsepower.

Though, keep in mind that hybrid and economically-friendly vehicles may be eligible for sizable discounts, for example: 0% for vehicles producing less than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

You will need to provide proof of payment in order to complete the registration process.

What if I’m buying a new car overseas and bringing into Spain?

If it’s from an EU country you can buy transit registration plates for €20.20 from your local traffic department in Spain. These will allow you to drive the vehicle back to your home in Spain without any problems from traffic authorities.

About the ITV

The ITV can be carried out at any registered ITV centre, normally located on industrial estates just outside the city – you will see big signs for them when you drive along a highway.

This is the equivalent to an MOT in Britain and is a vehicle inspection certificate to ensure your car is roadworthy and complies to Spanish standards of safety.

  • The vehicle will be inspected for: Exhaust emissions, Lights (both interior and exterior), steering, brakes, suspension (shock absorbers, wheel alignment, etc.) tire tread, general condition of bodywork, mirrors, windows etc.

They also check that the car has certain safety aspects including working seatbelts.

To take the car for the ITV you don’t need an appointment but be warned that the centres can get busy and queues long at the weekends and towards the end of the month.

For the first one, you will need to bring:

  • Bill of sale (original and copy)
  • Receipt from payment of import tax & duty (original and copy)
  • Drivers License
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Passport for identification
  • Technical specifications for the vehicle (this can be obtained from vehicle manufacturer or by purchasing a Vehicle History Report)

Cost of ITV

The price varies from region to region and costs between €30 to €60. Check prices and locations, and book an appointment HERE


Don’t forget that you are legally required to purchase insurance for your car in order to drive. 

READ ALSO:  Driving in Spain: The 12 things that could land you in trouble with the law

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For members


EXPLAINED: What you need to know about road tax in Spain

Here's what you need to know about IVTM, Spain's road tax, as well as how much it is, how to pay it, and what happens if you don't.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about road tax in Spain

If you live in Spain and own a car, you’ll have to pay road tax.

Road tax in Spain is known as IVTM (Impuesto sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica) and is a tax you pay at the municipal level, that is, to your local town hall.

According to Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), “the Traffic Tax of a vehicle is a mandatory tax that is applied on all motor vehicles, allowing them to circulate on public roads throughout the country”.

Key things to know about IVTM

  • You pay the tax in the municipality where the vehicle is registered.
  • The municipality where the vehicle is registered and where the owner is resident must be the same.
  • The exact amount you pay depends on where you live.
  • The legal owner of the vehicle is the one who must pay the tax, nobody else.
  • In Spain, the road tax period begins on January 1st of each year, and payments are usually taken sometime between April and June. 

How much is it?

How much IVTM you pay depends on where you live in Spain and the type of car you have. Ultimately each local council decides how much you pay, so it’s always best to check with them first.

Generally speaking, the annual tax is between €112 and €300 for the year.

There can be quite significant rates in different parts of the country, but it’s based on the ‘taxable horsepower’ (THP) of your vehicle, which basically means how big and powerful the engine is. You are taxed according to its capacity. If you have a smaller, less powerful car you’ll pay less road tax, whereas gas-guzzling four-wheel drives pay more.

In Madrid, for example, the annual road tax for a car with a THP of greater than 20 (a relatively powerful car) is €124 for the year, but in Oviedo in Asturias, it is almost double at €224.

The Basque municipality of San Sebastián has the highest road tax rates in Spain, while Melilla and Ceuta generally have the lowest.

How do I pay or check my road tax status?

There are several ways to check the road tax status of your car.

You can do it on the DGT website, using your NIE, digital certificate or [email protected] password, and you just have to input your license plate to see the tax status.

You can also do it on the miDGT app, or in person at DGT traffic offices, but must make an appointment first via phone or online.

The local town hall (Ayuntamiento) also allows you to pay road tax there, as well as the possibility of paying directly to them online. Check your local town hall’s website to see if this is possible in your municipality. 

You could also check your bank statements to see if the DGT or Ayuntamiento has already charged you for the road tax this year.

If you move and need to reregister the tax address of your car, you can do it on the DGT website here.

What happens if I don’t pay road tax in Spain?

If you fail to pay your road ta in Spain you could be fined or worse.

According to the Spanish motoring website, however, as the IVTM is technically an administrative procedure, if you’re stopped by the police and can’t provide your road tax paperwork you shouldn’t be fined.

It’s worth keeping in mind though that the fines handed out by the DGT added up to a whopping €507 million in 2022, the highest figure ever recorded, so it could definitely be a possibility. 

If you don’t pay the tax within the payment period, the town hall will also add a surcharge for any late payments. It is a five percent surcharge if you pay it late, but before they formally notify you;
a 10 percent surcharge if you pay the tax after having received the notification and before the new deadline; and a 20 percent surcharge beyond that.

If you simply don’t pay the IVTM and your debt grows to more than €500, the local council can even seize your car.

Similarly, if you have an accident without valid road tax, many insurers will reject compensation claims, and you will not be able to legally sell your vehicle if you haven’t paid it.