Ship car from U.S. to Spain

Hello. We are planning to retire to Spain and were wondering if shipping a car is an option.  Is there any website available that explains the rules?  We can get quotes from many sources,  but no information about what is legal for the vehicle lights, emission,  etc. Hoping someone can point us to a good source.
Rick and Pilar

Not worth the hassle.

The shipping cost is between $1500 to $3800.
There is a 16% tax.
You will need to own property, be a permanent resident or have a written rental agreement in excess of 12 months and a Spanish drivers licence.
There is also a tax on emissions so the car has to be tested at an approved laboratory.

I would suggest you sell the car and look to buying one locally.

A note on the Spanish Driver's license. There is no agreement with the USA and a US license isnt valid for permenent residents, only for tourists with an international permit. The Spanish driving tests are not trivial as in most states in the US. You get three tries to pass the written and the driving (practical) tests, if not you start over. The written test requires a 90% score to pass. I spent about 2 months taking online tests to prepare and passed first time with one error (there are 30 questions). Laws and signals are totally different in Spain and Europe from the US. To pass the driving test you need a car with two sets of pedals and an instructor, so you will need to sign up for driving lessons at a school. The good things is that you will learn to drive safely, as driving in a dense metropolitan area in Spain is not easy. The practical test is more difficult to pass than the written. I was fortunate to pass it on my first try, but at the school I attended, which was very good, about 50% failed. I have about 50 years of driving experience, mostly in the western United States, so that helped, but only one "fatal" error fails you on the practical.  If you are experienced count on a few months and about 600 Euros for all expenses to get the license, inexperienced closer to 1000 euros. I took the test in Spanish, but I believe in areas where there is a significant tourist presence you can tske it in English.

Claxnes, passing your Spanish driving test first time is a magnificent achievement at your age. Rick and Pilar’s question was about importing a vehicle.

Thanks, just wanted them to be aware of the differences in obtaining a driver's licence and the cost associated, as that might affect their decision as well. I do know someone who brought over a classic 1960's car. In that case, or in the case of a Harley, the fuss might be worth it.


Having friend who imported a car,  maybe you could assist the OP with his question

Actually a family member of a Spanish friend who I haven't seen in a while. Also, on the verge of taking a trip, but if I remember when I get back, I will ask. I vaguely remember that the process was different for an older vehicle, so the person posting the original question should perhaps provide some info on the car.

Don't do it. It's not worth it. In addition to the hassle of the importation itself (customs, shipping, etc) you also have to get the car approved for use on the roads here- which means it needs to meet all the local/EU standards for lights, bumpers, blah blah blah.

By the time you're done, it's going to be such a hassle and cost so much that you will wish you hadn't done it. Unless it's a true classic of some sort, almost everyone that brings one here for permanent residence says "man, it would have been better to just sell it and buy another one in Spain".

Moderated by Priscilla last week
Reason : please post in english only on this english speaking forum

Had trouble posting so I posted the message above which is from the person that brought a car to Spain from the US, many years ago. He says the process is complicated and suggests using a car importation company with a contract where they get paid when the car is fully licensed in Spain.
I haven't seen any posts from the original poster  do maybe he had made a decision.

The message has been moderated, anyone interested in the original Spanish version send me a note and I will send it along. If someone has a driving need to know exactly what was said let me know and I will translate.

Thanks to all for the responses.
We have decided to sell here and buy there.
The reason we wanted to ship the car was to fill it with goods and have a car.  But judging from all the replies,  it could lead to more problems.

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