Re-Register & Import Your Car

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.

car-importedThat 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.

Wasted Time

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.

Police Purges

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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  1. Unfortunately I have fallen foul of the Spanish law and my UK reg car has been impounded. It was without MOT and road tax.
    The local police suggested that I put it onto Spanish plates which I should have done much earlier, I simply never got round to it.
    My question now is, can I put the car onto Spanish plates if it was not legal in the UK?
    If this is possible can someone tell me how as I don’t want to have to scrap the car? It is in excellent condition and completely road worthy and would pass an ITV after changing the lights.

  2. I’m not resident but we have a holiday villa and I’d like to leave one of our cars there. Do you think I should / can register it in Spain – I’m not sure but I want to do whatever’s correct. And if so a contact for your man would be great. Question, did the €1,000 include any tax?

  3. Hi,

    I am taking my Jeep Wrangler to Ibiza in April and would really like any info you can spare me on the correct Gestiones or other specific person to contact so we can register the car over there

  4. Falco van der Gragt says


    I am looking into everything that is involved with our forthcoming move from the UK to Spain on a full time basis.

    I am a Dutch national and my partner is a UK national. We both have Spanish NIE’s.

    I want to have a LHD car at my disposal in Spain and in going to and from the UK.

    Our current car will get sold as it is RHD.

    As I can see it there are a few options:

    – I can buy a LHD one in the UK on UK plates and re-register it with different headlamps etc

    – I can buy a LHD one in the UK on Spanish plates but have no idea what to do to register it in my name.

    – I can buy a LHD one in the Netherlands and import it into Spain.

    – I can buy one in Spain but are not familiar with the proceedure and from my reseurch they sem far and wide apart.

    Can you let me know what you think the best way forward is and how you can help?

    Many thanks!

  5. Sally jones says

    We are moving to valencia in a month. We also could do with a Gestor. Does anyone know of one in Valencia? Many thanks!!

  6. japan imports says

    Well, in my opinion, it is better to import a car from UK to Spain instead of buying used cars over there as prices are very high in Spain.

  7. Pippa More says

    Hi, Thanks for all your useful info. I have recently arrived in Spain with my car on exportation plates and ins. They run out at the end of this month. I have been trying to find someone who can help me through the process and tell me where I have to go to get the importation done. I believe I have all the right papers but dont know where I have to go. I live in Marbella area. Can you help on this? Do you know someone who can do it for me?
    Many thanks for your help.

  8. Hi, could you provide me with the contact details of the Gestiones you mentioned in your article. I am looking to import a car to Menorca.

  9. hi can anyone recommend any Gestiones in valencia to change uk car plates to spanish ones?

  10. Hi there, we are looking to move to the Granada area of Spain next year and wondered if anyone can recommend a Gestiones to help us with registering our UK vehicle in Spain

  11. Hi,
    I have got a UK car with Spanish number plates and all the paperwork that goes with it. It’s fully legal to drive in Spain. It’s a ford Focus Ghia 2001, 85000 miles petrol, 2L. I’m now back in the UK and want to re-sell it if possible to a Brit wanted to use it in Spain.
    I personally lived in Spain for 2.5 years and drove RHD car without any issue. Can’t quite see the difference honestly.
    If anyone is interested, do not hesitate to contact me. I am happy to answer any further questions you might have. The car is insured with Mafre until early next year and can be driven in the UK. I can even help with insuring the car with a Spanish insurer if needed. The cost per year to insure the car including road recovery and a comprehensive European cover is around 450 euros.

  12. jayne hammond says

    Thanks for this – can anyone recommend a Gestiones in the Huelva area of Spain?

  13. I moved to Spain last October and bought a Spanish registered car, I also have a Harley Davidson which I want to put Spanish plates on, it’s passed it’s ITV now needs registering. Where do I go for this?

  14. moving to spain in june with my uk car,

    could you give me an email so that i can find out more?

    thanks shane

    • Hi could anyone pass the details on to us regarding that really good Gestiones Mark was telling us about.
      He sounds like the man for us.
      We are thinking of exporting our old Mercedes as its such a good car.
      So if we can take it to Spain legally and not too much stress that’s what we would love to do.
      Many Thanks

  15. Hi could you get the Gestiones to contact me by e-mail please as i would like to put my uk bike on spanish plates in Javea aswell thanks

  16. Hello Mark.
    First off, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very interesting.
    A NO-FUSS Gestor here on the Costa Blanca?
    I need to import a car so would love for him to deal with it.
    Please pass my details on to him.
    Many thanks again.

  17. Hi
    We recently moved back from the Canaries, with our Spanish plated car, we have had a friend enquire about buying the car off of us, as she has a property in Spain and is intending retiring out there. How do I go about the sale, and transfer into her name, ideally I dont really want to make a trip over to Spain to do the transfer, can anyone offer some light on the mater please.
    Many thanks

  18. Fred Koetje says

    Dear Mark, thank you for the useful info. Could you get the Gestiones to contact me by e-mail please? I want to import my car beginning of May this year. We will be driving it down from The Netherlands and want to make sure I bring all the required documents along.

  19. Hi Can anyone recomend a ‘Gestion’ in Valencia area to help with importing a car to Spain?.

  20. Matthew Robertson says

    How would the (Spanish) Law work if I were to buy a Luton Van here in the UK, drive all my personal belongings to Spain & then want to Part Exchange it towards a Spanish Vehicle?????. As I would be Living in Spain Full time.
    Any known information would be much appreciated.

    Thankyou….Matt Robertson.

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