Understand the tax and registration requirements for importing a car or motorcycle from a non-EU country…

The procedures relating to importing and registering a foreign vehicle are complex. It is possible to complete the process independently, but companies which specialise in providing this service are available.

In order to register a car in Spain, a vehicle must undergo a safety inspection similar to the UK’s MOT test. Import taxes as well as IVA may be payable on imported vehicles.

Taxes for vehicles from non-EU countries

Taxes for vehicles from non-EU countries include the following:

  • 10 percent import duty (IPSI, Impuesto sobre la Producción, Servicios e Importación) based on the original market price with reductions based on age of the vehicle, payable at customs offices
  • 21 percent VAT (IVA), payable at customs offices
  • Registration tax (Impuesto sobre Determinados Medios de Transporte) of 4.75 to 14.75 percent based on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions. To register, Application Form 576 from the Spanish Customs Office should be completed online.

Registering vehicles from outside the EU

It is generally considered easier to purchase a new vehicle, or a vehicle already registered in Spain. The process involved in importing and registering a foreign car can be time-consuming and expensive. Many people who choose to do so hire an agent (gestor) to handle the procedure.

Tourist Plates: “Z” plates

When buying a vehicle in Spain that is intended for export, apply for temporary tourist plates (matrícula turística) from the Customs Office. These are assigned to cars that are to be eventually exported from the country and registered elsewhere. The period of validity varies, depending on circumstances. If an extension of the tourist plates is needed (one extension is possible), apply with all original paperwork at the local Traffic Department Office in which the tourist plates were originally obtained.

The following documents must be provided to obtain tourist plates:

  • An application form available from the local Traffic Department
  • Proof of identification (residence card or passport) and proof of address such as a lease or deed (original and photocopy)
  • Proof of approval from customs authorities (Autorización de la Administración Tributaria) that identifies the vehicle’s make and chassis number
  • Receipt of payment of local car tax (Impuesto Municipal sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica/IVTM) from the local town hall or Traffic Department; or proof of exemption from payment
  • Technical Test Certificate Card (Tarjeta de Inspección Técnica) as well as the blue and red copies; obtainable from an ITV station (original and photocopy)

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