In Spain you are legally required to take your car or vehicle for a roadworthy test which is the equivalent to the MOT in the United Kingdom.
This is known as the ITV in Spain (Inspección Técnica de Vehículos).
You don’t need to have an ITV if your car is new or up to three years old. Then typically you will find you only need to go every two years.
Many expats originate from the United Kingdom where they are used to having to have what is known as an MOT for their car or other vehicle.
Many people who have moved to Spain have taken their UK registered cars with them when they made the move.
Naturally the idea of driving down to Spain with a car full of personal possessions was quite an attractive one at the time but now that you are in Spain, you will no doubt be wondering whether your UK car is legal on Spanish roads.
So we are often being asked many questions regarding MOTs in Spain, some of the most popular questions are:
- Do I need to get an MOT in Spain?
- Does my UK registered vehicle need an MOT in Spain?
- Is there an equivalent to the MOT in Spain?
- Is my UK registered car illegal in Spain without an MOT?
Firstly lets define what an MOT actually is. There used to be a government department which is now obsolete called the Ministry of Transport and it is from these initials that the Ministry of Transport test (abbreviated to MOT test) comes from.
The test itself is a yearly inspection to ensure that your car or other vehicle is roadworthy. There are various tests involved in passing the MOT but most of these involve safety and exhaust emissions.
You are allowed to drive a United Kingdom registered vehicle or car in Spain. The proviso is that it must not be in Spain from more than sixty days. If this happens then you must get your UK car re-registered onto Spanish license plates.
In other words you import your car into Spain and make it legal on Spanish roads. Then you take out the applicable road tax in Spain and get the equivalent to the UK MOT which is actually called an ITV which is very similar.
The alternative to all of this is to drive your car back to the United Kingdom on an annual basis in order to have the MOT test. Given that the costs of driving a car from Spain to the United Kingdom amount to approximately €600 round-trip this is obviously not advisable nor cost-effective.
There have been a number of MOT certificates scams uncovered in Spain. The most infamous involved retired UK expat couple Seamus and Paula Montgomery who have been arrested for providing false MOT certificates. The certificates were given to other expats who wished to avoid having to take their UK registered car back, as an MOT is only legal if carried out in the UK.
Most expats would no doubt be aware that this was illegal although no doubt a number of people who made payments were simply unaware of the Spanish road regulations. As a result there must now be hundreds of UK registered cars being driven around in Spain which are not legal.
Is My UK MOT Valid in Spain?
Note that UK registered cars and vehicles in Spain can only be issued with an MOT in the UK and your car should be transferred onto Spanish registration if it is in Spain for more than 60 days. In the case of a commercial vehicle that time is reduced to 30 days.
If you are wanting a quote for either car, home or life insurances, then we have special forms for those:
The amount of UK registered cars on the road in Spain never ceases to amaze us.
Given the frequency of Spanish road checks by the police it is incredible that people flout the law so brazenly.
If your car is illegal on the Spanish roads it is possible that your car can immediately be impounded and you will be severely fined.
Also what people don’t realise is if you have taken out Spanish car insurance you may find that it is invalid without an MOT or ITV certificate so this could cost you dearly in the end.
Increasingly the Spanish authorities not only see expatriates cars and vehicles as a way of raising local taxes for the town hall, but quite rightly they see these vehicles as potentially dangerous, because they have not passed the requisite Spanish roadworthy test, the ITV.
Also most of these vehicles do not have adequate Spanish car insurance or Spanish road tax.
By the letter of Spanish law once your car has been in Spain for more than 60 days you must reregister it which is also often called importing your car into Spain.
Your car is then given Spanish number plates, also known as Spanish license plates.
If you leave it any longer than this then you must pay import duty so the quicker you deal with this and get it done the better off you will be.
Of course many British people drive about with a UK registered car in Spain for months if not years.
Most motorists in Spain only consider what they must do when their insurance is due for renewal or their MOT is about to run out.
An MOT is the annual test which certifies that a vehicle is in roadworthy condition.
Failure to pass an MOT means you cannot drive on UK roads.
Getting an MOT in Spain
In order to get an MOT you must take your vehicle back to the United Kingdom where also technically you should be residing.
Driving your car back to the United Kingdom every single year would be very time-consuming taking approximately 4 days round-trip and costing at the very least €500 each time.
There have been a number of scams and frauds in Spain where people have been sold MOT certificates in order to avoid having to take their vehicle back to the UK.
In the most high-profile arrest the MOT certificates were found to be from a stolen batch. It meant that any people who’ve purchased the certificates were driving on Spanish roads on a vehicle that was illegal.
Not only that but these car owners were running the risk of having their car insurance invalidated because if they were involved in an accident in Spain it would be very likely that the insurance company would not pay out because they did not have a valid MOT.
Importing Your Car into Spain
Instead of worrying about MOT’s why not simply get your car registered into Spain?
Depending on your vehicle this will cost approximately €500 to about €1000.
You then simply need to take out car insurance in Spain for your car and pay the applicable Spanish road tax (IVTM).
About the Author
Main author and owner of SpainMadeSimple.com which was started in 2004 when I first moved to Spain.
Spain Made Simple features expert advice on all aspects of moving to and living in Spain as well as useful tourist information and travel tips.
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