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Motoring in Spain

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Visitors to Spain can drive a non-Spanish registered car for a period of up to six months in the year. However, as soon as you move to Spain with the intention of living there permanently, this is no longer legal; EU legislation requires all EU citizens to have their vehicles registered in their country of residence. The choice therefore is between importing your UK car and registering it in Spain, or buying a car in Spain.

Re-Registering a UK Car

Importing a UK car to Spain, if you do it yourself, can be a lengthy process requiring patience and persistence. Documents required include: NIE certificate, application to import a vehicle, copy of personal ID such as passport, proof of address, receipt for local car tax, receipt for registration tax, UK registration document, proof that VAT has been paid, vehicle certificate of conformity, and ITV (MoT) test certificate. Many people employ a gestor - a person whose role is to assist individuals with administrative matters - to deal with it on their behalf.

Buying a Spanish Car

When you buy a new car, garages will deal with all the paperwork.

If you buy used, the documents needed to register it in your name are the registration certificate (permiso de circulación), the ITV certificate with the test report, the receipt for the road tax and receipt for the transfer tax. It is a relatively simple process but, again, a gestor will be happy to deal with it.

Rules For Road Users

Road tax must be paid annually. Each region sets its own road tax fee and the date when it is due. Individual reminders are not normally issued, but public announcements are made in the newspaper, on municipal noticeboards and sometimes on local radio. Failing to pay, or paying late, incurs a fine.

Drivers must always have with them their driving licence, ID, vehicle registration certificate, ITV certificate and receipt for road tax. They must also have a reflective vest and two warning triangles in the car.

Drivers can be prosecuted for holding a phone or for using any kind of headset, whether to make a phone call or to listen to music. Only a totally hands-free kit can be used.

The penalty points system for traffic offences works on a deduction basis; you start with twelve points and lose points according to the severity of the offence. However, a nice twist is that drivers with an impeccable driving record can accumulate up to 3 bonus points.

It is highly advisable to become familiar with the contents of the Spanish highway code (código de la circulación) as traffic offences are penalised harshly, with instant driving bans and imprisonment being more frequent than in the UK.