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Travelling Spain with Two Dogs & a Parrot

With a good internet connection, I can work remotely from anywhere, so my husband Rob & I took advantage of this & are travelling Spain with our pets & everything we own packed into an estate car with roof-box.

Our Car Options & Implications
17 May 2019 @ 16:20

Since landing in Santander in September 2017, we'd been travelling in our own aging spacious blue Honda Accord estate. A car which we loved & which was spacious enough for all our possessions & pets.

However, by May 2018, we'd had problems with the battery & other repairs were becoming necessary, but we thought that importing old 'Blue' wouldn't really be cost effective.

We'd also discounted taking Blue all the way back to the UK for an MOT due to time & expense, whilst Rob was concerned about long-term driving in a right-hand-drive car on the right.  So we'd tentatively planned to buy another used vehicle by September 2018 latest.

Whilst in Portugal, we'd spent a considerable amout of time looking at cars for sale online & options for buying there as we already had a Pt Fiscal tax number & bank account.

Then we looked in Spain & as a bigger country, there was more choice, together with the advantage that Spanish cars don't require an ITV for the first four years, then until the vehicle is ten years old, an ITV is only necessary every two years.

This, we thought, would allow the opportunity to travel eastwards for a couple of years before returning to just over the border in Spain when necessary.

We researched but frustratingly, there still doesn't appear to be an MOT equivalent valid throughout Eurozone.  Surely road safety regulations are more-or-less standard across Europe?

Further research then revealed that to either import a vehicle, or buy a car in Spain, we'd need an NIE number (necessary, as it turned out, for any large purchases or contracts in Spain) & proof of address (from long-term rental agreement). If we bought in Portugal, we'd also have needed a permanent address there. So much for travelling & only staying a month or two in any one place.

The world is just not set-up for a nomadic lifestyle.

So we revised our options:

  • MOT Blue in the UK for another year in September 2018 - a long drive & expense from Southern Europe
  • Import Blue into Spain - need an NIE, proof of permanent address & lots of paperwork
  • Buy a used car in Spain - need an NIE, permanent address & bank account
  • Buy a left-hand-drive car in England - a long drive back to Spain, or both ways if Rob returned to the UK in Blue
  • Hire a car in each country we travelled to - we'd need a large one, worry about the dogs (hair, mud, sand etc), we often rented homes off-road (exluded from hire car insurance) & have to negotiate swapping at each border
  • Pay someone with residence in Spain to buy the car - we'd transfer the funds & 'our' car would be in their name until we could arrange a transfer, subect to having an NIE, address & bank account etc, etc...

There seemed to be no option but to stay in Spain for six months which could have tax implications on my income, but we'd deal with that issue later...

Our travels at that point in May 2018 had brought us to Alhaurin de la Torre, near Malaga, so whilst staying in the temporary Air B&B accommodation, we popped into a few estate agents to find a long-term rental.

With pets, our needs were quite specific - a simple studio apartment just wouldn't suffice.

"You've picked the wrong time to look for a house."

we were told.

"It's the start of summer, you'll be lucky."


"We had lots of rentals last month, but not now." we were informed.

Why had we loitered in the Algarve for three months when we could have been in Spain much earlier!

Isn't hindsight a wonderful thing?

We continued looking for a home & even considered a cheap apartment rental that we wouldn't actually live in, but use just for the address.  That could have still been cheaper than the returing to England options.

Meanwhile, not being too confident to negotiate Spanish admin & authorities, we contracted a Gestor to help us apply for our NIEs as fortunately we didn't need an address for that process!

The Spanish tax system, admin & red-tape for doing anything is notoriously well-known so I expected & was prepared for this. However, we obtained our NIE numbers without a problem:

  • Friday - email a Gestor I'd found in Torremolinos via Google
  • Monday - initial free consultation with the Gestor who then completed application forms
  • Wednesday - meet the Gestor at Torremolinos Police Station & after an hour's wait, produce passports & hand in paperwork
  • Friday - meet Gestor to collect NIE documents & pay his bill.

No hay problema!

It would likely have been more of a hassle in Malaga due to the sheer numbers of applicants & the appointment system that the authorities have to run as a result.  But I'd researched this, hence heading to Torremolinos wink

Like 1


David said:
18 May 2019 @ 09:01

"Pay someone with residence in Spain to buy the car - we'd transfer the funds & 'our' car would be in their name until we could arrange a transfer, subect to having an NIE, address & bank account etc, etc..."

Don't forget that a sale/transfer of a vehicle is a taxablke event!!!

nancybenn said:
18 May 2019 @ 09:16

Thanks David & good point. That was a 'strange' option offered by an ex-pat friend, but not one which we seriously considered or accepted ;-) There will be more to add to our story in future posts

rob_j1 said:
18 May 2019 @ 12:20

I got my NIE in Marbella, and it was pretty similar. All organised through my accountant, who I've now known for almost 15 years and counting.

I find a lot of the preconceptions are dispelled through experience.

nancybenn said:
18 May 2019 @ 19:23

I find a lot of the preconceptions are dispelled through exper"ience." Very true Rob!

gerrynag said:
19 May 2019 @ 14:25

Your option of driving your UK reg. car for another year would not be legal if you spend more than 6 months in Spain or Portugal. Driving UK plated car, you would be likely to be pulled over by the police who would want to know how long you had been in the country.

gerrynag said:
19 May 2019 @ 14:35

Also in Spain in order to buy a 2nd hand car as well as NIE and proof of address, you will need Spanish bank account and to be on the local padron, (having a certificado empadronamiento, less than 3 months old).

nancybenn said:
19 May 2019 @ 15:21

Thanks gerrynag - being pulled over in our UK plated car was something else we thought may happen more frequently than if we were in a Spanish reg vehicle.

I know rules vary in different areas of Spain &, as it turned out, to buy a car in Malaga,we didn't need a Padron

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