When I moved to Spain four years ago it was very easy to drive to Spain in my UK car.
It meant I didn’t have to think about hiring a car in Spain and wasting money on that while I looked around for cars – as if I had time for that anyway – there was a to-do-list with about a million other jobs to do – one less was great news.
Of course I now wish I had concentrated on that one job and forgot most of the others!
It is an easy trap to fall into though. One thing that played on my mind was whether I would like living in Spain and want to settle down in Spain.
That maybe was a negative attitude. I should really have been committing myself here, rather than fretting over the issues all the time.
At the very least I would always have given it a couple of years surely – it wasn’t like I was just going to arrive in Spain and turn back!
Another issue/excuse is the high second-hand price of Spanish cars. Why are used car prices in Spain so high – I still haven’t figured out why! People say it is because there are no company car fleets in Spain – maybe.
I Recommend Strongly
My advice now – in hindsight – is not even to drive over to Spain but to sell your car in the UK and buy a Spanish car once you are here in Spain.
If however you do drive over, I would certainly advise importing your car and getting it re-registered onto Spanish license plates as soon as possible. Officially you have 60 days to do this. A bonus is the fact that you don’t have to pay import duty on the car as you have to after that period expires.
Why You Should Re-Register Your UK Car in Spain.
The principle reason is stress – how many times have I been concerned when I have spotted the police ahead in their yellow jackets randomly stopping cars. I felt like Christopher Walken in The Deerhunter, playing Russian roulette.
Another reason is time. I have spent considerable time surfing the Internet, reading on expat forums the reasons to register your car in Spain and the reasons why it is a complete waste of time.
Many people have tried to persuade me that the police haven’t the time or inclination to stop UK registered cars. They have tried to persuade me that English cars have been driving here in Spain for years without any road tax and probably without insurance. They have tried to persuade me that you can get a Spanish ITV, insure the UK registered car here and it is legal.
Another key reason to re-register your UK car onto Spanish license plates is the fact that the police now seem everywhere and frequently operate roadblocks where they pull over every car and ask for documentation.
I have heard stories of purges on UK cars. At our local Sunday market scores of UK cars were impounded. A friend was stopped on the autoroute and his UK registered car impounded, various transgressions were found (no yellow jacket etc) and he was hit with a bill of €3500 if he wanted his car released. I think he left it there as the car was worth less than the fine!
A friend who has worked in the UK car industry for over 20 years says simply – a UK car may come here for a holiday and your insurance usually allows a certain amount of days in Europe but ultimately if you are resident in Spain a UK car is only legal on UK roads and your insurance states this.
Another factor is that your UK registered car must go back to the United Kingdom each year for its annual MOT to be legal under the terms of your insurance policy. In Spain there is a roadworthy test similar to the MOT which is known as the ITV. You simply cannot get an MOT in Spain because it has to be carried out in the United Kingdom only.
Getting a Spanish ITV or car insurance Spain on your UK registered car doesn’t necessarily mean it is legal on Spanish roads. Ok if you have an accident here, the insurance company may pay up – but as we know with insurance companies they can be quick to find reasons not to pay up when it comes to the (perhaps literally) crunch. Is it worth the risk?
My Personal Experience
So finally for peace of mind if nothing else I have bitten the bullet and of course my fears over facing this issue have been greatly exaggerated. I’ve gone to a Gestiones who was recommended to me time and time again. People even told me they had UK registered cars that nobody could get imported (because they had something unusual about them) and that he could get any vehicle through!
He does nothing but re-register cars all day long. The cost varies depending on the type of vehicle and how complicated the process will be). I needed to give him my NIE number which every foreigner must get when they come to Spain, he needed my passport and he needed my documentation to say I had registered on the padron at the local town hall.
The only thing I had to do myself was get my headlights changed over.
A few days later after I first went to see the Gestiones I had to drop the car in for a few hours while he took it over to Denia to get the ITV. Then a wait of a few days for everything to get sorted – I have no idea what and honestly don’t care!
Then we get the license plate number, then I cancel my current insurance policy and reinsure it with the new Spanish details, pay the applicable Spanish road tax and away I go. Should have done it sooner! Cost was high though – about €1000.
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