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Many newcomers to Spain from the EU choose to bring a car from their home country rather than buy one when they arrive. There is no problem with this, but there is one factor you must be aware of and that is, after a specified period of time you must change your plates to Spanish ones.

The laws about this changed back in 2014 and you choose to ignore them at your peril. The Guardia Civil have a keen eye for foreign plates and won’t hesitate to issue a fine if you’ve broken the rules.

People who are full-time residents, or who spend more than 181 days in Spain annually must change to Spanish plates. If you’ve just driven down to Spain for a few weeks, it obviously doesn’t apply to you. Unless you plan to leave the car in Spain and use it when you come for holidays.

If you are an EU national and you don’t spend more than six months of the year in Spain, you don’t have to change to Spanish plates. But, if you change your official country of residence to Spain, you must re-register your car within six months. To re-register your car, you will need to go to your nearest Jefatura Provincial de Trafico. You will also have to register to pay tax, which is based on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions.

An importation (matriculation) tax may also apply when you bring in a car from another EU country. This tax can be avoided if you are coming to Spain to live and bring your car as an asset and you meet ALL the following conditions:
• You must have lived in the country of origin for more than 12 consecutive months.
• The vehicle must have been bought in that country of origin without any tax exemptions or tax rebates.
• You must have owned the vehicle for at least 6 months in the country of origin.
• The re-matriculation must be applied for within the established timeline.
• You must remain as the owner of the car for at least another 12 months.
Source: Ibex Insurance

You will also need to make an appointment with the DGT (Traffic department) and take along the following documents:
• Log book
• ITV paperwork
• Your NIE and passport
• A utility bill
• A rental contract or the deeds to you property.

Once the car has been registered, you can ask for Spanish plates at an authorised garage.

As with registering a car in your name, you may want to use the services of a gestor to complete this procedure.

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