OWNERSHIP OF A CAR IN SPAIN, how does that work?



If you import your car to Spain, you need to register it there.

If you do it in the first 4 weeks the car is classed as one of the possessions of your move and the re-registration costs are lower.

You have to re-register your car within 6 months in the Jefetura Provincial de Tráfico.

To do that you need the following documents:

You need to register in the Town Hall to get an Empadronamiento, which shows where and since when you have lived in Spain.

You need to get a ficha reducida, which you can obtain through a certified engineer (perito)  who will inspect your car and translate the registration documents. He makes sure that the registration papers are showing the right car and the right owner.

After that you will need an ITV (MOT in Spain), where you get the ficha tecnica,  these are your new Spanish registration papers.

With these papers you have to pay your road taxes in the next tax office. You need your NIE, your Empadronamiento, your ITV paper work and the car registration document for it. The amount of the Taxes varies, depending on the region you live in, the engine size and the Carbon Dioxide emissions. There are minimum and maximum amounts a region is allowed to tax you car, but within this margin every town chooses their own rate. You have to pay your taxes, before you can finish the registration. You also have to pay a special registration Tax in the main Tax office (impuesto de matriculación).

With all that paperwork you have then to go to the traffic department (Trafico). There you fill in a form (solicitud de Matriculación) and you have to pay an administration fee. You have to bring all papers with you (make some copies for you, they keep some papers) to get the new logbook (permiso de circulación).

When you have received everything you have registered your car in Spain and you can start on the insurance.




Every vehicle driven in Spain must be insured. If you drive without insurance it is an offence that can be fined up to 3000€ or imprisoned.

There is now a central database where all insured vehicles have to be registered by the insurance company, so you don’t have to carry your documents any more. While sometimes it is easier to do so, but if you don’t the police can’t fine you anymore.

If you found the most competitive quote, you will get an international GREEN CARD (certificado internacional de seguro de autómovil) by the insurance, which shows your cover to other European countries (you have  90 days in another country before you either go back to Spain or change your insurance).

If you have an English registered car in Spain, not all insurances in Spain will insure it. You cannot insure it with a Spanish insurance, but with an English one, that has a branch in Spain.

There are different types of insurances:

THIRD-PARTY ONLY: (responsabilidad civil obligatoria / seguro obligatoria) this is the minimum insurance you have to have in Spain. Some don’t have glass and windscreen breakage covered on this insurance, but some offer an alternative to it.

THIRD-PARTY, FIRE AND THEFT: (responsabilidad civil obligatoria incendio y robo) this insurance covers against fire, natural hazards, theft, broken glass, legal expenses and possibly damage or theft of the contents in your car, it is also known as a “part comprehensive” insurance.

COMPREHENSIVE: (todo riesgo) this insurance covers all the risks listed under the other 2 insurances plus all types of damages, it doesn’t matter what caused them. The Comprehensive insurance normally goes along with an excess amount, which is the part you have to cover yourself. Make sure, that the insurance will include a courtesy car, in case your car is in the garage to be repaired.

DRIVER AND PASSENGER INSURANCE: (seguro de ocupantes) you can add this to your insurance, if it is not already included. In case of an accident, the driver can claim compensation for the caused injuries and for his incapacity to work.

SPECIAL INSURANCE: this can be added to your insurance, to cover contents and accessories like a very expensive stereo system.


So always make sure you get all questions answered when you request an insurance quotation and that you get what you really need.


The Premiums of the insurances vary, it depends on the type of insurance, the type of the car and its use, the age of the driver (and 2nd. driver if requested), the accident record, the area where the car is stationed and whether the car is garaged or not.

Of course, people with convictions for drink driving cannot get insured by most insurance companies. And your insurance will refuse to pay if the cause of an accident is drunk driving.



There are two values of a car in Spain, the new price of the car and the so called list price (valor venal). This is the amount an insurance will insure your car for. Some insurances do insure your car for the new price only in the first year, some for 24 months. So you should look into it if you want your car insured for a good price.

After that the list price of the car is the highest amount you can insure your car for. This price depends on the age, the use and the abrasion of the car. It  doesn’t matter how much you paid for your car, they will not insure it higher then the value the venal list shows them.  If you buy a used car you should have a look into that list so that you don’t pay too much for your car.


NO CLAIMS BONUS: (bonificación/sistema bonus-malus) if you can provide a no claims bonus, you can drop your insurance price as well. Only problem is, that lots of companies in Spain may want an official Spanish translation, if the letter is in English. Lots of companies can see your claim percentage, if you provide them with your old policy number and insurance company.

Most companies offer 5% discount for each year, but only to a maximum of 60%, while some only offer a maximum of 50%.

In case of an accident, you could be required to pay a penalty to protect your no claim bonus, one accident might make you lose 2 years of the bonus.

CLAIMS: (siniestros): If you have an accident, you have to fill in your accident report form (declaración de siniestro automóvil) and the other party of the accident has to do it as well. This form, the police report and the assessor of the insurance will decide the claim. You have to report the accident to the insurance company within a limited period (should be stated in your policy) because before you can repair the car, the assessor normally have to authorise the repair and he has to report it to your insurance company to get the claim paid.

If your car is stolen, you have to go to the police and hand a copy of the police report in to your insurance to open the claim. The insurance company opens the claim after 30 days, if the car was not found in that time.

Most insurance companies have a 24-hour helpline, and it is always good to phone them, because they have to send somebody to look into the claim which opens it  normally at once.




Buying a second hand car from a private seller:

First of all, as in any other countries, you should make sure that the seller is asking for a good price. You can have a look in the venal list. Second you have to have a close look that the car is in good condition, if you cannot do it yourself, then take somebody with you who can. It should be also accepted by the seller, that you take the car to your own mechanic to look at it.

The following papers should be provided for this transaction:

A purchase agreement (Contrato de Compraventa). If this is only in Spanish and you don’t speak the language, then take somebody with you who can translate it.

You both should make the transfer of the car at the Traffic Department, where you fill in a transfer document (Solicitud de Transmisión de Vehículos and keep a copy of it. The date and the time of the transfer should be stated in the contract, so in case the seller had any traffic fines these won’t get transferred to you.


Buying from a dealer:

Of course you can also buy a second hand car from a dealer. In this case you should really have a look into the venal list, to make sure he doesn’t overprice the car. They normally handle the paperwork with the Traffic Department and should give you a guarantee for the car.

If you buy a new car from a dealer, you need to provide some paperwork again.

You either need the permiso de residencia, the residence permit (NIE) or your passport.

You also need a house deed or a rental contract.

It is always good to have your Empadronamiento, even if you don’t have to bring it, to prove you are a resident.

If you finance the car through the dealer you need a so called tres nóminas, this is your last three payslips or you proof of income.


Once the money and the car have changed hands you have to start the registration process.