Driving Your UK Car In Spain
Roadside checks are common by the Guardia Civil in Spain. You are especially likely to have documents checked if the registration of your car is foreign.
However, you are legally allowed to drive your car in Spain, as long as you have the correct documentation.
Your resident status dictates how long you are allowed to drive your car in Spain.
If you are non-resident, you can being your car into Spain all year round - of course you need to prove you are not resident all year, and must have the correct MOT Certificate Tax, and Insurance.
If you spend more than 183 days in Spain, then you are legally considered to be a resident. Hence, you are only permitted to drive a UK registered vehicle in Spain for up to 6 months of the year.
If you stay longer than 6 months:
- You must register (Matriculate) your UK vehicle in Spain
- Remove the car from Spain
If you intend to become a permanent resident in Spain, then you must register your car within 30 days (See this list of local offices) So if you own a property, have children in school, own a business, are employed here, or are registered on the padron etc. you will be considered to be resident here and NOT a tourist.
If you cannot prove that you are simply visiting Spain, then you are liable to be fined on the spot. This proof could take the form of travel documents & tickets.
The rule for driving your UK car in Spain (or anywhere else in Europe) is that the car must be legal in it´s country of registration. This means it must be insured; have a valid MOT; and be correctly TAXED.
A Spanish ITV (Or MOT) is not acceptable.
Your road tax must be fully up to date. If not, you are technically driving a car without insurance. You then run the risk of having your vehicle impounded and potentially be hit with a 2,000 Euro or more fine.
The MOT must be up to date, which means driving the car back to the UK and back - wouldn´t it be simpler to register the car? Or even better, sell the car and purchase a Spanish registered vehicle.
Most UK Insurance companies, will issue you with a ´Green Card´, Which usually allows you to drive the car for 90 days in Europe.
Many companies are reluctant to extend this period. However, there are companies in Spain, which will insure you for longer than this - but make sure you check exactly what these policies cover you for!!
Yes it is, but be prepared to go through several stages to get it legally registered. We recommend using a reputable company, or Gestor to help you with the process.
You will of course have to pay import taxes, which are 21% for a new vehicle. If the vehicle is secondhand, then CO2 emissions and the average market value of the vehicle will be taken into account.
These are the current Tax bands:
- 0 percent tax for vehicles with emissions of less than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre
- 4.75 percent tax for vehicles with emissions from 120 to 160 grams of CO2 per kilometre
- 9.75 percent tax for vehicles with emissions from 160 to 200 grams of CO2 per kilometre
- 14.75 percent tax for vehicles with emissions of more than 200 grams of CO2 per kilometre
- 14.75 percent tax for vehicles which are not rated for CO2 emissions
The vehicle would also need to pass a Spanish MOT - known as ITV (Inspección técnica de Vehiculos) - this could mean having to change your headlights, and rear fog lights to comply with European standards. Expensive!!!
Is it really worth going through all these bureaucratic hoops? In the end you will have a car with poor visibility, have to get out at ticket machines, and a car that would need to be re-registered in the UK to reach it´s full value - because few people in Spain will buy them!
It is crucial that you carry all the necessary documentation - otherwise you could face huge fines or even have your vehicle impounded. So you will need your Registration Log Book; MOT Certificate; Insurance Documentation + Valid Road Tax.
You will also need the following items to be legal: Jack, Warning Triangles, Spare Tyre, Fluorescent Jacket and Spare Glasses if you use them to drive. This is a legal requirement in Spain.
9 Tips for Driving in Spain
When moving onto a motorway, never cross a solid white line, wait for the broken line, and when overtaking, always indicate pulling out and back in. The Spanish authorities are strictly enforcing this law, so break it at you own peril!
If your car does not show km/h, which unless you are in possession of a vintage automobile is very unlikely, the calculation is divide by 5, multiply by 8. So, 50 miles per hour is 80 km per hour. Be aware that radar traps are frequent and infringements are dealt with with on the spot fines.
A typical issue... I returned to a supermarket car park to find that someone had broadsided my Seat; at the end of my holiday I returned the car, which was only three months old, only to be told, "Don’t worry, you’re fully covered on the insurance."
This of course assumes that you opted for the full insurance package inc. CDW (Collision Damafe Waiver). Our advice don't skimp on the insurance as Spain does not treat it's cars like prized possesions.
On a cautionary note, always consider the 20€ or so for tyre cover as it can be expensive for roadside assistance, if collecting the car from an airport this can paid for on arrival and not at the time of booking.
• Glasses; wearers must carry a spare pair in the car at all times.
• Light bulbs; a replacement set (usually present in hire cars).
• Documentation; driving licence; (vehicle registration (V5) and certificate of motor insurance, if driving your own car).
• Warning triangle; One for non-registered vehicles, two for Spanish vehicles.
• Visibility vest; Now compulsory in Spain.
• First aid kit; Not compulsory, but recommended.
All of the compulsory items listed above should, and usually are in the boot of your hire car, but check before leaving the airport!
• Municipal Police; Blue uniform, responsible to the local mayor, their duties include traffic and parking violations.
• National Police (La Policia); Black uniform, duties include protecting important people and buildings, also responsible for investigating more serious crimes.
• Civil Guard (Guardia Civil); Green uniform, if you’re caught speeding on a motorway, these will be the boys who take your money from you, also responsible for national security.