How to bring your car to Spain

Hello everybody,

If you exported your car to Spain, were there any formalities that needed to be completed beforehand? What were they?

What is the best way to export your car? Is there a limit on the number of vehicles, or perhaps the age of the vehicle? Are there limits on emissions or emission controls in Spain?

What are the expected costs of exporting a car? In your opinion, is it worth it?

Once you arrived in Spain, what were the applicable taxes? What was the customs process like?

How do you go about registering an imported car in Spain?

Is it best to buy a car once you have arrived or to bring your car with you, in your opinion?

We look forward to hearing from you!


Thats one of my questions too, hope people reply :)

The requirements for importing motors into Spain change from time to time. Unless your Spanish is pretty good the best bet is probably to get an asesor or local driving school to do it for you. If you are in one of the regions where there are lots of we Britons - Alicante, Malaga, the islands and Murcia - there will be Britons who advertise their services in English langauge newspapers and the like.

I imported an MGB into Spain back in 2005 and I wrote an article for someone or other. This is it. It's out of date but the things about homolgation and whatnot are still up to date. Take it as an outline and not a guide.

Re-registering an MGB GT in Spain

One Thursday morning my partner suddenly decided that, after years of talking about going to Spain it was time to do it. Time to sell the house and go she said and I agreed with just two conditions; we take the cat and the car.

My MGB GT is nothing very special. In fact it's probably quite a rough example with a fair bit of body rot and far too many miles on the clock; but it's my MG and we've been all over together. I wasn't going to abandon it in the UK.

Before setting out I changed my insurance in the UK to a firm that offered a longer green card, changed the headlamps for ones that dipped the right way for Continental driving and bought a few essential spares from the Club. Then I loaded up the car and the cat and set off, through France to near Alicante where my partner had already rented a flat. The cat and the car behaved impeccably and about 36 hours after setting off we were in our new home.

Legally, Britons who are resident in Spain for more than six months have to re-register their cars with Spanish plates. Lots of people don't bother and there are all sorts of truths and half-truths about running cars on UK plates amongst the expat population. There is a half way house for Britons who go back and forth and want to leave their cars in Spain, the system of tourist plates, but I have never met anyone who has used them.

As well as the legal niceties of re-registering there was the much more pressing need to get the car off UK insurance and on to Spanish insurance as the green card would run out and I could end up without any sort of cover. Arguments about registration niceties are one thing but running without insurance is quite another.

Any car that runs on the Spanish roads has to be homologated with the Spanish authorities. I'd not realised before but car manufacturers prove that their products comply with the relevant legislation in any country by having them homologated. The way to do this in Spain is to get a Ficha Tecnica (a technical certificate) for any imported car. For most modern cars this is a pretty painless process. The car owner finds a qualified engineer who checks the car against the technical specification held on the official database in Madrid. The engineer provides a report to say the car conforms to specification. That report is then taken to the equivalent of an MOT test station where it is swapped for the Ficha Tecnica proper.

My problem was that the MGB was never imported into Spain in any quantities because the Francoist regime slapped huge import duties onto foreign cars to protect the homegrown product. Franco died in 1975 but by then I suspect that BL may not have been too bothered about trying to sell MGBs in the Spanish market.

This meant that the MGB GT did not exist on the database of homologated cars. Fortunately for me the engineer I found just happened to have gone to university with the chap who ran one of the local MOT stations (actually called an ITV in Spain). They agreed that the engineer would do the best he could; he measured the car and filled in as much detail as possible from the handbooks and from information I gave him. When I went along to the test station I had to make a point of introducing myself to the university pal who cobbled together a Ficha Tecnica from the report and from a couple of Roadsters that he had tested locally. I have no idea how they originally got their Spanish plates.

So I was now at the point where I could get the car tested. It sailed through without the least problem and, as a bystander, the process seemed to be easily as strict, and probably more thorough, than the UK test. They even do the brake tests using a rolling road.

The next stage was to have the car listed as being imported to Spain so I trotted off to the local tax office (Hacienda) to do just that. Somebody had told me that by going to the British Consulate it was possible to get a document that showed I intended to take up residence in Spain. This document was supposed to stop me having to pay import duty on the car. It turned out though that the document only worked if the date of entry to Spain shown on the Consular form and the date on the application to import the car were within a month of each other and as I had now been in Spain three months mine didn't. The alternative strategy is simply to pay the import duty. The tax is paid as a percentage of the value of the car, with some variation dependant on engine size, and there are official tables for the values of particular makes, models and ages of cars. The snag here was that there was no listing for the MGB GT because there were no homologation papers. I raised my hands in horror, looked worried and grovelled – what can I do Mr Official, I'm trying to pay taxes, I want to be legal; please, please help me. The man decided that I could pay tax on the only old MG he had on his lists. He never did say what model it was but I didn't really care because he gave me a form that I took to a bank so I could pay the duty. Another hurdle cleared.

The next step was to pay the road tax. In Spain the road tax is a local tax levied by the local Town Hall. The tax year runs from 1 January with reductions at quarterly intervals. My insurance didn't run out till April so it made sense to save a bit of money by not paying the tax till after 1 April. I went to the Town Hall and, apart from making me come back the next Thursday (that's when we collect road tax) the process was pretty straightforward. I was beginning to run out of time now as that only left me five days until the UK insurance expired.

On the Thursday I got out of the Town Hall, with the road tax paid, at 12.30pm and the Traffic Office, where I would finally be able to get a logbook and my new registration mark, was nearly 40 miles away in Alicante. I suspected it would close at 2.00pm. The car and I belted down the A31 and headed for the centre of Alicante, I was surprised how light the traffic was in town and even more surprised to find a parking space near the Traffic Office. I was at the door by 1.30pm. As usual there was a problem; it was a local Fiesta and the office was closed!

I was back the next day. The office was heaving with people. They all looked as confused as me even though the majority of them had the advantage of speaking Spanish fluently. I can manage coherent Spanish phrases only with a following wind. I joined the queue where I burbled and mumbled as I pushed a wad of forms towards them. They gave me another form to fill in. I did my best with the form and joined another queue where they took the fee and gave me a numbered ticket. I stood around and watched the display boards that would tell me where to go. The man at the counter looked very fierce and lots of people were being turned away because their paperwork was not complete, I did not feel confident. Two hours later it was my turn, I handed over the sheaves of paper (I have learned in Spain to take every conceivable document to any official office) and the man gave me most of it back keeping the few documents he needed. “That's fine “ he said, “Come back on Monday, after 1.00pm”. So I went back at 11.00am guessing that I would have to queue again. I did. I got my ticket and I got to the front of the queue just after 1.00pm. The fierce man was smoking a cigarette as he handed me the logbook. I nearly whooped for joy. TFL 559S was just about to become 9962 DJG and I still had a day's worth of insurance to run! All I had to do was to pop across the road to the local equivalent of Halfords where they made up the number plates.

I'd made all sorts of enquiries about insurance in Spain whilst I'd been getting the car re-registered. There is a local firm that do Classic Car insurance with a 5,000kms per year limit but as the car was our main vehicle at this point and doing 1000kms per week that wasn't much use. Because I hadn't registered the car as a Historic Vehicle (a very complicated process) and because it is more than 10 years old none of the local insurers will cover it for other than third party so that's what I did that afternoon. And suddenly the whole thing was done with nearly seven hours to spare.

I was legal and insured and all I had left to do was to return a bit of the V5C to Swansea to show that I'd exported the car to avoid any SORN problems and also to reclaim the balance on my road tax.

The engineers report cost 159€, I paid 31€ for the Consular form, 133€ for the import duty, 74€ for the ITV, 62€ for the road tax, 67€ for the logbook, 30€ for the plates and 343€ for the insurance. It was all quite a palaver really but I've never forgotten what we agreed that Thursday morning. I didn't abandon the cat and I didn't abandon the car and we're all having a good time in sunny Spain.

Now if you'd like to hear about the joys and frustrations of running an MG in Spain….

Goodness me what a situation you had to endure...would it be easier to sell the car in the UK and buy one in Spain?

Can I ask you either south or North or San Joan could anyone name a place or two which is on the tram line which is a nice place to live for a family with children who need to attend a school and ideally somewhere with shops we could live next to within Walking distance of our home and ideally with lots of expats Brits or non Brits. Ideally within about 30-45 max of getting to San Joan via tram.
We may or may not have a car so need to make sure we are somewhere thats good for not having a car.
We looked at Venta Lanuza but looks like its around 1 hour on the tram which is too long really

Well written by Culebronchris!   :)

I would like to hear about the joys and issues of having an MG in Spain.  I'm interested in getting an older toy car to play with; I think the best option here is a Seat 600, but I sure would like an MG.


I looked at importing a car from England.
But from all the information, decided it was not worth it

Only if it were a MGA or a Sunbeam Tiger ...

Cars in Spain are not as cheap as the UK, Canada and the states are cheaper still to buy
And are left hand drive , shipping costs from the east cost are quiet cheap
English cars if youchange over head lights add About 500 euro to the cost, them
Then Spanish paper work, 250. Inspection approx 50 euro
Then GST tax on the value the Spanish value the car, no U.K. Price
Which can add 1000 1500 easy euro
Me I'm bring one over from both  canada ,states, and uk, I will not get Spanish plates for all
Hope this helps
Jon B

really interesting post..  I have beautiful convertible car. and do not want to leave it behind in Uk.. but as single lady feel that the time consuming and stressful procedure or transferring a vehicle into Spain may not be worth it...  plus easier to use a left hand drive vehicle. on Spanish roads..  in my view...

Unless the car is a classic or of sentimental value, I would not recommend importing a car from the UK to Spain. It is simply just not worth the expense and hassle.

I know many who have tried it/managed it, but most will agree that it was simply not worth the bother. In addition, driving on the right hand side of the road in a left hand drive vehicle can also be a safety issue. This may be ok for vacations, but in the long term it is best to sell the vehicle in the UK and purchase one in Spain.

This is the worry. Is it worth it?
My car has sentimental value and it's cute It took me a couple of years to find the right model and colour with chrome bumpers etc .500C fiat, it's in top notch condition and I would not get anywhere near my money back if I sold it.
The soft top is perfect to get the wind blowing through although I wonder if I would choose to have the aircon on instead.I have costed the transport over which is reasonable but the other costs may just make it prohibitive and so complicated.I wonder if the headlights could be adjusted over in the UK?
I had a go at driving a left-hand drive and I could not do it ,I would prefer to have a right-hand drive and be extra careful

Hello. I too am wondering how to bring a car to Spain.

I am moving to Gran Canaria within the next few months and am bringing over my Jeep, I don't want to part with it so am biting the bullet and gathering as much information as possible ,so far I understand that the best thing to do is get the ball rolling ASAP after arriving , we are taking a ferry from Southampton to Santander then a relative short 545km drive to Cadiz then a three day two night ferry to Las Palmas all in approx £1,000, We already have a property in GC and a NIE number , I've contacted two companies via this website regarding Insurance and so far am pleasantly surprised how much less it will be to insure than here in the UK, will keep fingers crossed on this one ,
I am also having LHD headlights fitted before leaving the UK, and fully serviced and Mot'd also,
I have had clarified the question of having a spare wheel on board , as most modern cars don't have them fitted anymore all you need is the kit to repair a puncture but if it's beyond a repair this is where the roadside assistance kicks in, make sure you have this, my UK Insurance will cover this for up to 120 days which I believe is commonplace , I will source the Spanish Insurance ASAP after I've arrived there ,!
We are a little nervous about all the paperwork side of this car move but I'm sure if we can survive the NIE application I think we'll take this in our stride , certainly with the help of this forum !
I will try and keep updates on this forum as it unfolds and any support  for myself and my partner will be much appreciated,and if anyone reading this is in the Playe del Ingles or San Fernando area who has undergone the same as we are attempting please get in touch  via this forum ,many thanks
Martin .

I look forward to your updates. What an adventure! 
I have an NIE number which was simple and cheap to get but you may need a translator with you in case the police don't  speak English.
I intend to ship my car on a lorry with some bits of furniture so I won't have the first part of your adventure. I am dreading the paperwork afterwards and the costs.
Was the headlight work expensive?

Hi , no headlights yet , still trying to source them ,any suggestions would be appreciated .

Hi. Just priced up realigning the headlights here in the UK. £50 plus 30-minute labour and VAT .Work is EU compliant

Hi Bethany, what car have you got .?
But I will defo ask my garage if it's possible on our Jeep,thanks for that, I'll put my results on here .

I have a tiny fiat 500c .