How to import, buy or lease cars in Spain

By | January 25, 2011

Geoffrey Donoghue of Always Marbella property sales & rentals, reports on the latest news & events. For more information please visit Always Marbella’s website at www.alwaysmarbella.com

Can’t decide where to get your next car from? Here’s a guide listing the steps on importing, renting and buying a vehicle.

Importing Vehicles
If you drive into Spain with an EU registered vehicle, you will need your driving licence, valid insurance and registration documents.

Spanish regulations mean you have to carry some basic repair kit in your car, including two red warning triangles (as approved by the Ministerio del Interior; www.mir.es), a spare tyre, light bulbs, and the tools to change them.

If you keep the car in Spain for more than six months, you will need to get Spanish plates fitted and register with the DGT to pay car tax (impuesto municipal sobre circulación de vehículos).

You’ll need a standardisation certificate if yours is a right-hand drive car. You can get this from any Spanish ITV (Inspección Técnica de Vehículos) centre.

Even if you bring in a left-hand drive car, you’ll need to do an ITV test to make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. ITV garages are dotted about the city. Just put “ITV” in the actividad field on www.paginasamarillas.es. Otherwise, try www.rvsa-itv.com for sites outside Barcelona.

Vehicle Leasing
Different firms have slightly different procedures, but in general, before you lease a car, your driving record and credit history will be checked. If you’ve come from within the EU, your credit history in your home country may do.

If you’ve arrived from further afield, you may have to establish a local credit history first.

Leases are by the month or annually, with the cost affected accordingly, but these should cover everything from maintenance, insurance, and the actual use of the car.

Car leasing can be done through any of the companies such as:

Avis: www.avis.es
Ballestero Alquiler: www.ballesteroalquiler.com
Central Rent A Car: www.alquiler-de-coches-barcelona.com
Easycar.com: www.easycar.com
Europcar: www.europcar.es
Hertz Car Rental: www.hertz.es
Natinoal Atesa: www.atesa.es
Pepe Car: www.pepecar.com
Sol-Mar: www.solmar.es

If a second-hand or independent dealer offers you a leasing option, do a little research on them before entering in to any sort of contract. You are likely to get the best deal (and save time) knowing what sort of size, power and type of vehicle you want, before entering a showroom.

Buying a Vehicle
A foreigner may buy a locally registered vehicle in Spain if they have one of the following: a residence visa, title deeds to a Spanish home, proof that they are resident in one particular town (a Certificado de Empadronamiento, available from the local town hall) or a property rental contract for a minimum of one year.

If you buy from a dealership, the sales staff should handle the registration and ownership transfers. The dealer may also offer insurance, but foreign firms tend to offer greater coverage and, unless your Spanish is good enough to understand a contract, are probably a safer bet.

Cars, motorbikes and scooters are generally more affordable in Spain than in many other European countries, especially high end, luxury brands. Most big brands are represented and easily available in Barcelona. There are some excellent used cars advertised in magazines such as Auto Seminal, Coche Actual, Mi Coche, or Motor en Mano and on websites such as Ebay.

It is always worth taking the vehicle you’re considering to a trusted mechanic, who can check the car over and verify mileage, before you purchase.

If you are arranging the transfer yourself, the current owner must give you proof of road worthiness (an ITV certificate), proof the chassis number matches the registration document (Permiso de Circulación), a transfer of ownership form (Transferencia), and a receipt to show proof of paid-up car tax.

If you buy from a dealer you should get a warranty and service history. You must then apply for the renewal of the vehicle’s registration document at the local traffic department (Jefatura de Tráfico) within 30 days.

The seller retains a copy of the Transferencia while you must send your copy to the traffic office that issued it (the address will be on the form).

Vehicle Finance
New and used car dealers usually offer financing, but interest rates depend on your driving record, your credit history and your employment status.

Banks tend to offer a slightly lower rate on financing, but have stricter criteria for eligibility. Again, this depends on personal history. Interest rates can run from anywhere between 10 percent and 20 percent APR, depending on the driver and the amount borrowed.

The main Barcelona banks such as Caja Madrid, Caja Santander and Barclays are the best people to speak to. Shop around before committing to anything.

Vehicle Insurance
You cannot get local insurance on a vehicle if it is not registered in Spain. You will have to get insured through a firm in your home country, which may mean they bump up your premiums. See the following section for details of registering a car.

Insurance is compulsory in Spain and, at a minimum, drivers must purchase third party, fire and theft insurance, known as seguro de terceros o de responsabilidad civil obligatoria. If a vehicle is leased, drivers are often required by the leasing agency to get full coverage.

Registering a Vehicle
Registration of new cars should be handled by your dealer. When registering a second-hand vehicle, you will need to organise a change of registration. This is called cambio de titularidad, and must be done within 10 days of the purchase. You will need to go to your local traffic department (www.dgt.es). Look for the counter marked vehículos, and be prepared to wait with a stack of papers under your arm.

You will need your NIE. If you don’t have one, a copy of the lease on your home will do, but an NIE really is worth getting anyway. Take the registration document (permiso de circulation) with you. This should have been signed by the seller when you bought your car.

You will also need proof of an ITV (Inspección Técnica de Vehículos). This certifies that your vehicle is roadworthy, and should come with the car. If you need to arrange one yourself, ITV garages are dotted about the city. Just put “ITV” in the actividad field on www.paginasamarillas.es. Otherwise, try www.rvsa-itv.com for sites outside Barcelona.

You will also need a road tax receipt (impuesto sobre circulación de vehículos). Again, this should come with the car. If it has expired, arrange payment at your local town hall. You will also need to show a receipt for payment of transfer tax (this should be paid by the seller, and it’s in their interest to provide it, otherwise you can rack up fines in their name).

Finally, complete an application form (you can get this on the day), known as a notification de transferencia de vehiculos and handover a stamped, self-addressed envelope which can be used to return your new registration documents.

Vehicle Insurance
You cannot get local insurance on a vehicle if it is not registered in Spain. You will have to get insured through a firm in your home country, which may mean they bump up your premiums. See the following section for details of registering a car.

Insurance is compulsory in Spain and, at a minimum, drivers must purchase third party, fire and theft insurance, known as seguro de terceros o de responsabilidad civil obligatoria. If a vehicle is leased, drivers are often required by the leasing agency to get full coverage.

Registering a Vehicle
Registration of new cars should be handled by your dealer. When registering a second-hand vehicle, you will need to organise a change of registration. This is called cambio de titularidad, and must be done within 10 days of the purchase. You will need to go to your local traffic department (www.dgt.es). Look for the counter marked vehículos, and be prepared to wait with a stack of papers under your arm.

You will need your NIE. If you don’t have one, a copy of the lease on your home will do, but an NIE really is worth getting anyway. Take the registration document (permiso de circulation) with you. This should have been signed by the seller when you bought your car.

You will also need proof of an ITV (Inspección Técnica de Vehículos). This certifies that your vehicle is roadworthy, and should come with the car. If you need to arrange one yourself, ITV garages are dotted about the city. Just put “ITV” in the actividad field on www.paginasamarillas.es. Otherwise, try www.rvsa-itv.com for sites outside Barcelona.

You will also need a road tax receipt (impuesto sobre circulación de vehículos). Again, this should come with the car. If it has expired, arrange payment at your local town hall. You will also need to show a receipt for payment of transfer tax (this should be paid by the seller, and it’s in their interest to provide it, otherwise you can rack up fines in their name).

Finally, complete an application form (you can get this on the day), known as a notification de transferencia de vehiculos and handover a stamped, self-addressed envelope which can be used to return your new registration documents.

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