Maritime Skills Academy
Viking Recruitment
Ship Outlet Store
Far Sounder
Breaking News
Home > Legal & Financial > Purchasing and driving a car in Spain on foreign registration plates

Purchasing and driving a car in Spain on foreign registration plates

You are driving or you are going to buy a second hand car from a private person with foreign plates. What do, I have to do and what taxes do I have to pay?

As it happens with vessels, Spanish residents for tax purposes are not permitted to operate a car on foreign registration plates. Vehicles registered outside the EU cannot generally be used in Spain or any other EU country by EU residents, although there are a few exceptions. In principle, only immigrants importing a car may register it in Spain.

In case that the buyer or the person that is intending drive the car with foreign plates in Spaìn is   Non-residents for tax purposes the regulations might vary depending on EU non-residents or not EU tax person :

  • EU tax non-residents can bring a vehicle registered in another EU country to Spain and can use it (for up to 182 days per year) without paying Spanish taxes. The vehicle must be legal in its country of registration, meaning that it must be inspected (for roadworthiness) as appropriate and taxed there.
  • Non-EU tax residents may temporarily import a vehicle registered outside the EU for a total period of six months (which needn’t be continuous) within a calendar year. In certain circumstances, the six-month period can be extended. This applies, for example, to those regularly crossing into EU territory to work, full-time students from outside the EU, and people from outside the EU on a special mission for a specified period. The vehicle can be used only by the owner, his spouse, parents and children (who must also be non-residents). Note, however, that it is necessary for non-EU citizens to have a foreign-registered vehicle sealed (precintado) by customs during periods of absence from Spain,

If you have purchased the car for with the intention of having it in Spain permanently you have to complete the “importation “procedure (which is not in strict terms importation if the car comes from any EU member state as there are no borders whim the EU), bearing in mind that you must not drive your car until your local provincial traffic department has issued temporary (green) registration plates. These are valid for a limited period and allow you to drive to the nearest testing station for an inspección técnica de vehículos ( ITV) test, which must be passed before you receive a permanent registration number and get registered in the correspondent at the Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico (traffic department):

The following taxes and duties must be paid when bringing a vehicle with foreign plates into Spain:

  1. Import Duty VAT at 21% on cars imported from outside the EU or on a tax-free car (on which VAT hasn’t previously been paid) imported from an EU country;
  2. Matriculation Tax at 12% , which depends on the model, year built and CO2 emissions,
  3. Transfer Tax (“Impuesto de Transmisión Patrimonial “) at 4% in case of purchase

However, before you start driving the car in Spain with foreign plates or before bringing the car recently purchased it is highly recommendable to study and check your personal tax status and circumstances.