New laws and taxes on bringing uk car on uk plates.

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31 Mar 2012 00:00 by swarty Star rating in Gosport England. 3 posts Send private message

Hi all,

I would like to hear from anyone out there on the new laws, and what we have to do to comply with them. We are coming back to Spain this year to live, and have heard that there is a tax on Uk Reg cars that needs to be paid.

Anyone know how this works.

Best Stuart

Stuart Crawford

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14 Jun 2012 13:02 by jamesensor Star rating. 15 posts Send private message

All European Union countries require you to register your car on local registration plates within six months of taking up permanenet residence, provided that this is your principal private residence.   You will have to pay the registration tax and the annual licence fee for a Spanish registered car and you should also notify your insurers of your new address.  You may be asked to pay Spanish VAT on the assumed value of the car.  If you return to Britain within six months and especially if you are keeping a home in Britain, you are not required to do this.  

But in this case it would be wise to keep a file of proof of your visits to other EU countries eg ferry tickets or even parking payment vouchers. In Portugal the GNR - equivalent to the Guardia Civil - stopped us twice within three days for driving a car with British plates.  They were very suspicious of the fact that we could speak Portuguese and carried tools in our car.  They wanted to know our address in Portugal, which we do not have as we had travelled there by car and boat.  But of course many Portuguese do drive cars on foreign plates as the VAT is so much higher than for example in France or Spain.

You may eventually decide that it is easier to pay up and register your car in Spain, particularly if it is old and of low value.  But otherwise I would certainly carry proof of transit out of Spain in your car at all times, along with all the other car papers. Without this you will risk an immediate fine. 




This message was last edited by jamesensor on 14/06/2012.

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14 Jun 2012 16:46 by floella Star rating in SE Spain. 742 posts Send private message

 Unless the rules have changed do not register with your local townhall before starting the  process of matriculating your car. Otherwise you maybe required to pay import tax on the value.

Personally would use a gestor to sort it .  Costs vary but with changing the headlights it shouldn´t be more than 1000e.

Also check with your  UK insurance company as to how long you will be covered fully comp once here because most only allow 30 days before transfering you to 3rd party cover.

Agree with previous poster keep proof of when you entered mainland Europe and all relevant car documents with you at all times.


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15 Jun 2012 01:49 by chrisdann1 Star rating. 3 posts Send private message

The registration laws in Spain are exactly the same as in the UK or indeed any EU member state country.  i.e.  If you intend to keep a UK registered car in Spain then it must be re-registered with Spanish plates within six months.  Conversely, if you intend to keep a Spanish registered car in the UK then it must be re-registered with UK plates within six months.  

EU law states that all vehicles in the EU must be fully road legal in the country of registration.  In the case of a UK registered car then it must have a valid MOT from the UK and valid road tax from the UK.    

You can only keep your UK registered car in any EU member state country for up to 183 days in any 365   i.e. 6 months in any one year.  After that time the vehicle must be taken off the road or be returned to the country of registration for a further continuous six months.

If, after six months, your car is still being used on a daily basis on Spanish public roads then you are using the car illegally.  It is completely irrelavent whether it is still legal in the UK.   After 6 months of continuous use on public roads in any EU member state country other than the country of registration, then it is being used illegally.  Period.

At this point your insurance cover could be withdrawn by the underwriter  (n.b. not by the insurance company or by the agent who sold you the policy but by the underwriter  i.e. Lloyds of London)   This is because the underwriter will issue a policy on the assumption that you are supplying them with a road legal vehicle.   If you have not re-registered your car within six months with the national plates of the country you intend to keep the car in then your car (under EU law) is no longer 'road legal' and  your insurance cover could be withdrawn.   

Remember,  a certificate of road worthiness (MOT , ITV) is only valid when it is issued in the country of registration.  Knowingly using a vehicle on EU public roads without a valid certificate of road worthiness could result in insurance cover being withdrawn by the underwriter.

Chris     carimportinspain

















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15 Jun 2012 07:20 by guslopez Star rating in Lorca, Murcia.. 745 posts Send private message

Whilst I agree with most of what you say Chris , you cannot actually have an un-insured vehicle under the law.It will always be covered for the minimum 'Road Traffic Acts' cover. They'll just come after you for everything they've had to pay out & if you own property here in spain, it'll be gone to pay the bill !


Another thing most people don't realise is that even if you are a  legal tourist , including motorhomes, if you are in spain for more than 3 months you personally are required to register.


Todos somos Lorca.

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15 Jun 2012 07:55 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 4869 posts Send private message

Another thing most people don't realise is that even if you are a  legal tourist , including motorhomes, if you are in Spain for more than 3 months you personally are required to register.

Gus is correct. 

The problem arises then that having registered on the EU Citizen’s Register the Spanish tax office treats you as tax resident in Spain,. This over rides the 183 day rule for tax residency.  (When a  friend registered,  her bank  was instructed, from  a Gov. source, to freeze her Non Resident’s bank account, I confirmed it with the bank and with Hacienda, She had to cancel the registration to be npn tax resident).


The way to avoid this would seem to be to leave Spain before the 3 months is up, say a visit to Portugal, France or Gibraltar, as the rule says ‘Permanently’  here for 3 months.


It is anticipated that in September there will be changes to the registration requirements, maybe, they will also amend this apparent anomaly


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15 Jun 2012 08:26 by chrisdann1 Star rating. 3 posts Send private message

Thanks for that Gus.   All very useful info.  If I understand you correctly, you would always have minimum cover but they would come after you through the courts to recover what they have had to pay out.  

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15 Jun 2012 17:05 by guslopez Star rating in Lorca, Murcia.. 745 posts Send private message

Yes that's correct Chris.


Todos somos Lorca.

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16 Jun 2012 09:35 by steone Star rating in Santiago de la Riber.... 391 posts Send private message


Thanks for the detailed explanation of the Law. However I think that your comments are slightly wrong in saying that a vehicle after 6 months in a foreign country must be returned to the home country for a continuous 6 month period. I understood that the Law stated that a car can be used on foreign roads for up to 6 months in any 12 month period. That means you can for example use a car in Spain for say January, March., May, July, etc. so long as the maximum time in any 12 month period that the car is in Spain is 6 months.

If I am wrong please correct me as I do not like saying the wrong thing. Can you also confirm that to replate a foreign car you still must have owned it for at least 6 months prior to the replating or else it will be treated as importing for business purposes and not treated as part of your personal posessions

I understand that in the U.K. a little while ago the Police seized a Spanish plated car from someones drive (not on the highway) in August as it had also been there in January of that year. In fact the car had been in England for only January and then again in August only being in England for about 50 days within the 12 month period. The police had to return the car when Solicitors informed the police that they had got the Law wrong.

Regarding insurance if you have a U.K. plated car here in Spain on Spanish insurance then when you replate it your insurance automatically ceases and you have to start a new policy immediately. If you use the same company then they will just pro rata your premium. However if you change companies then the 'old' insurance company will charge you short term rates which might mean that after about 6 or 7 months there will be no refund.


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16 Jun 2012 11:32 by swarty Star rating in Gosport England. 3 posts Send private message

Hi All,

Thanks for all your comments looks like things never get any easier there, we now feel that it may be easier to buy a vehicle with spanish plates, headlights in the right place, and anything else that they require.

Unless anyone knows different !!!!

Can anyone reccomend a good used car dealer ?






Stuart Crawford

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16 Jun 2012 17:22 by floella Star rating in SE Spain. 742 posts Send private message

 Agree swarty unless you have to drive to Spain then much easier to buy a car here. Although think you should consider new as 2nd hand cars are expensive. Plus you never know where the car has been driven. Many  friends of ours live 15+ mins up tracks that  would wear out a 4x4 very easily. 

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23 Jun 2012 09:00 by zzr1100d Star rating in England & Orihuela. 2 posts Send private message


Does anybody know if this covers motorhomes also, my UK insurance company allows me to be touring for 365 days in a year, moving to Spain soon , only thing putting me off of registering as Spanish is the insurance is £500 more in Spain for the same cover. Motorhome is Lhd with habitation door on the right , Lhd headlights etc

Steve R

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23 Jun 2012 09:02 by billco Star rating. 7 posts Send private message

Hi Stuart
I think it is easier to buy a Spanish car .. Less hassle.
I bought a car from Victor in Motorcadespain
He was very helpful
Enjoy the sun...

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23 Jun 2012 10:46 by Tiberon Star rating. 13 posts Send private message

I imported 3 vehicles when we arrived here. It was the worst thing I ever did. It is just an opportunity for the authorities to fleece you and they did me at every turn. Where I live most people have chosen to leave their vehicles on English plates. You can get overseas drivers insurance in the UK which covers you for 12 months out of the country. Our local insurance company states on its website that they will cover you on English reg vehicles provided you have an ITV. My local garage has told me that many of their spanish clients have bought English reg vehicles to avoid tax and fines. As long as you have some paperwork the spanish police are not interested.

Alternatively you can get good deals from main dealers, we got €5000 off the price of a new car because it had been their demonstrator, it only had 4000kms on the clock, and we got the full warranty.

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23 Jun 2012 12:15 by bergspyder Star rating. 44 posts Send private message

Hope this helps: I have foreign-registered vehicles in Spain & use them where they're registered. But they are -- and I am -- more than 3 continuous months a year in Spain so, officially, plates should be changed which would mean, officially, changing them back when I'm more than 3 months (in fact 1 month there) where they're registered. That would be difficult & expensive so I asked local officials (Guardia Civil, Ayuntamiento, Gastor, ....) what to do and although no-one would put anything in writing, the proposed solution was buy a Spanish car -- to be used in Spain -- and use one of the other vehicles when going back to where it's registered. So my garage is a bit full & I always have the wrong key in hand but the Guardia Civil is happy and it cost much less than changing plates each time at, what, €600 a go (before multas)? On the insurance issue, I'm not sure I agree: By law you/your vehicle must have at least 3rd party coverage and if you do/it does, the underwriters must cover 3rd parties no matter what, even if you're drunk/car no ITV/wrong plates/whatever. OK if you have fully comp, they won't pay you but I see their point........BTW & to my astonishment, a Brit recently parked his car in this village in the middle of nowhere and when he got back, some kind soul had stuck a note on his screen saying (in English) "If you don't change plates, I will report you". It was unsigned of course; how do such people sleep at night?

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23 Jun 2012 18:23 by swarty Star rating in Gosport England. 3 posts Send private message

Hi Everyone,

Much appreciate all your comments, and have decided to purchase a new vehicle from a reputable dealer i made the decision because of the costs involved in the conversion of the vehicle £1500.00 just for the headlight conversion much as i love my showgun this is just too much.

There is also the latest problem of british cars being targeted by thieves following you to your address and cassing your premises with intent to rob....

Has anyone heard of this ? On a trip last month to Alicante, we rented a car from the airport, was offered a upgrade to a larger vehicle, which we agree to... drove to El Campello parked in the car park next to the Marina went into Marias for some lunch half an hour later returned to the car to find we had been robbed laptop and cash. The police said it was a set up job as the car was unlocked not broken into beware of the hire car scam......

This is now the third time in 5 years i have been robbed in Spain and still come back for more

Best Stuart

Stuart Crawford

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23 Jun 2012 21:40 by chris meillam Star rating. 8 posts Send private message

We moved to Spain permanently last August and brought our Vovlo with us.  As long as it was re-registered within 6 weeks of our padron there was no import duty to pay.  Headlights changed with just 'a switch' - all very easy and straightforward and much cheaper than buying either second=hand or new car in Spain!

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23 Jun 2012 23:04 by guslopez Star rating in Lorca, Murcia.. 745 posts Send private message

23 Jun 2012 09:00 by zzr1100d Star rating in England & Orihuela. 2 posts Send private message


Does anybody know if this covers motorhomes also, my UK insurance company allows me to be touring for 365 days in a year, moving to Spain soon , only thing putting me off of registering as Spanish is the insurance is £500 more in Spain for the same cover. Motorhome is Lhd with habitation door on the right , Lhd headlights etc


Yes, exactly the same. Even worse if it is an older one & does not have a certificate of conformity & will need the engineers inspection.


Todos somos Lorca.

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24 Jun 2012 12:53 by Libelula Star rating. 7 posts Send private message

This is my first post and have searched the forum but am confused about the up-to-date laws on the re-registration of foreign cars.

We live in France but have recently bought a plot of land in Andalucia.

We needed a 4x4 to access the land and recently bought a Nissan Navara advertised locally in Spain, but still on UK plates. We were told by the seller that he no longer needed such a chunky vehicle but that a guy at his local ITV centre had said it was possible to put it onto Spanish plates.

We will not be resident for a few years, we will be in Spain for approx. 6 weeks a year until then and for the rest of the time the car is stored in a warehouse. It is insured through Ibex. We were thinking we could put it onto tourist plates before we move to Spain permanently and keep it road legal by getting an ITV.

However, beforehand, I had understood that the car could stay in Spain and that the 182 days referred to the owner being in Spain - as stated on the costa del sol angloinfo motoregister site for countries/spain.

Non-resident EU citizens

EU citizens who are not Spanish residents may drive their foreign-registered vehicles (cars, motorbikes and caravans) in Spain for up to 180 days (six months) in a calendar year as long as it is road-worthy in the country in which it is registered. In this case, only the owner of the vehicle may drive it.

A foreign-registered vehicle may remain in Spain for more than 180 days in a calendar year as long as it is not driven. Even though EU citizens are no longer required to obtain a residence card, after 182 days the vehicle must be registered in Spain or garaged.

Note: the six month period need not be consecutive and is counted over the course of a calendar year only. This period is based on the owner's and not the car's presence in Spain.

Its UK MOT runs out at the end of August and we were intending to get an ITV to replace this. I guess I'm surprised that it is suggested we have to take it back to the UK for an MOT and that an ITV is not equivalent - surely EU rules on vehicle inspections should be equivalent these days! This would also be extremely expensive and I will check this out with the insurance company.

However, this is not the worst of our concerns, as we have now been told that this model, classed as a light commercial vehicle on its UK documentation, cannot be put on to Spanish plates because of issues of visibility, being RHD. It is an open cab with much more visibilty than a standard car!

Does anyone know what the law is relating to this? We are waiting to hear from a gestor but her first thoughts are to confirm that it will not be possible. Can anyone help me with my queries and has anyone else managed to get a similar 4x4 onto Spanish plates?

Many thanks.



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24 Jun 2012 14:50 by floella Star rating in SE Spain. 742 posts Send private message

 If the RHD Nissen Navara is classified as a commercial vehicle then you probably won´t be able to matriculate onto Spanish plates.

Although an ITV is similar the rules are " as long as it is road-worthy in the country in which it is registered".  So therefore it won´t be legal unless it has UK MOT and the  subsequent  UK road tax disc.

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