Spain And Your Car

Published on 11/15/2006 in Driving in Spain

Your Licence

As a member of the EU you do not need to apply for a Spanish license (as long as it is a photo-card style licence). If you do not have a license or are a non-EU citizen you must take a driving test in order to obtain a Spanish license.

Driving to Spain

There are three routes by which a vehicle can be transported from the UK to Spain:

  • Portsmouth to Bilbao, with P&O Ferries
  • Plymouth to Santander, with Brittany Ferries.
  • Folkestone to Calais, with EuroTunnel and then drive through France to Spain.

Advice for Driving in Spain

Speed Limits:

  • 120km/h on motorways
  • 100 km/h on dual carriageways.
  • 90km/h on single carriageways.
  • 50 km/h in towns.

The Guardia Civil constantly do road-side checks all over Spain. They can be strict and can issue on the spot fines.

You will be fined for the following:

  • Drink driving.
  • Using a mobile phone whilst driving.
  • Not wearing a seat belt.
  • Not having a valid ITV sticker.
  • Seating a small child in the front passenger seat.
  • Driving through a red light.

Be aware of:

  • "L" signs (inexperienced drivers).
  • Police, fire trucks and ambulances as they have the right of way on all roads.
  • Traffic lights – flashing amber is a warning to proceed with caution.
  • The driver and all passengers must wear seatbelts.


The roadside SOS phones connect you to the nearest police station.

For your safety you are required by law to carry:

  • Two warning triangles
  • A spare tyre and tools
  • A set of bulbs,
  • A reflective jacket
  • Spare glasses (if the driver wears them).

Toll Roads

The toll roads are a fantastic way of bypassing traffic as they are almost always empty and consequently, they are safer too especially in poor weather conditions. The AP7 is the toll road running across the Costa del Sol beginning near San Roque at Guadiaro and ending in Benalmadena. Be careful not to confuse it with the A7, more commonly known as the N-340 as it was once named. It is very easy to find yourself on the toll road against your intention. Electronic signs are now used along the coast to guide traffic onto the correct roads, but be careful to get into the right lane as you are not given much notice.

The toll roads accept cash to manual toll collectors and credit/ debit cards via machines in specific lanes. You can also acquire a “tag” card that allows you to drive straight through. You can order one of these through the toll company or at any Unicaja branch.

Registering your car in Spain

If you coming to live in Spain, it is easier to sell your car in the UK and buy a new one in Spain. However, the relocation process is an expensive one and when you are trying to keep expenditure to a minimum, this might not be an option. As a tourist you are allowed to bring in your car for six months and you can extend this for a further six months. Once you decide to stay permanently, you need to:

Send the vehicle’s registration documents to the DVLA in the UK. This will be exchanged for a certificate of permanent export. (V561) • Pay IVA (VAT) of 16% if the vehicle is less than 6 months old.

Pay import duty of 10%

Pay the Special Registration Tax (impuesto sobre circulacion de vehiculos) calculated at 12% of the vehicle’s value. You can avoid this by submitting a certificate of non-residence, which can be obtained from a UK embassy.

Apply for an import license from the Ministry of Economics and Finance (Ministerio de Economia y Hacienda)

Have an ITV test (see below) to confirm that the car complies with Spanish safety standards and emission tests.

ITV – Vehicle Inspection

Inspection points can be found in over fifty major towns and cities in Andalucia.

All private vehicles are exempt from inspection for the first four years, and then go in every two years until they are ten years old. After ten years they must be checked annually.

The purpose of the inspection is to ensure that all vehicles are road worthy with regards to safety features such as lights, indicators, horn and seat belts.

Features affecting public safety are checked including breaks, hazard lights and emissions.

Road Tax

Road Tax (impuesto municipal sobre vehiculos de traccion mecanica) must be paid annually, between March and May, to your local town hall.

Car Insurance

This is where you will feel a real saving compared to your UK premiums. In Spain, the car is registered not the driver, which is handy if you need to let other people borrow your car. Please note that a car registered in the UK must be insured by a UK-based insurer and not with a Spanish company.

Written by: Susan Pedalino

About the author:

Women In Spain

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dtsuchigane said:
Thursday, April 10, 2014 @ 8:57 PM

I have read all the info here but don't think it applies for me.
I am a US citizen and purchased my car in Germany and drove it to Spain with German tourist plates. They are now expired while I spend some time in the US. I am returning to Spain and need new tourist plates from Spain. Where do I go to get those and what is the procedure, what papers do I bring where?, does anyone know, please?

zargarif said:
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 11:54 AM

Hi I would like to find out how to import a car from Dubai? Can anyone help please?

mike c said:
Tuesday, October 5, 2010 @ 7:46 PM


You need to insure it with IBEX. And it is subject to a time limit just like everywhere. Dont go down the route of re registering it - its lotsa money and hassle! - its cheaper to buy a spanish run around. Ive done it.

Then if ye Spanish isnt up to scratch, you will need a hestor or the likes - they charge loads - then goods tax import tax -transfer fees normally a percentage of what they deem it to be worth - ye need a form for everything - ye first one is the town hall to prove where u live then a solicitude ( application forrn ) for everything - its a nightmare. igic/ vat... and a load of other snakes.


Get it insured with IBEX and drive it till its taken off u.


MIKE C said:
Tuesday, October 5, 2010 @ 7:35 PM

I need to drop into Santander from England as it the simplest way for at the moment.

Is there a list of ITV stations on line for the Santander area???
I need to time it right as the boat takes 24 hours and only sails 3 times a week - so hotels and an ITV need to be arranged. Would I be better booking a mechanic to put it in for me as they normally have slots at the test station?? - My jeep is from Tenerife

Mike C - in Englan for a couple of months.

maggie21 said:
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 @ 4:59 PM

What if you have a holiday home, and just want to leave a car over in Spain when you visit? We have a 'spare' car, and are thinking of driving it down to leave at our apartment so each time we visit, we don't have to hire. ???

krabi said:
Friday, November 17, 2006 @ 6:39 PM

Very imformative, thanks. To avoid some of these tax,s it seems,as pointed out, that its better to sell in uk and buy in spain. Is thers any problems with moving to Spain and immedietly buying a car or would a gap be needed whilst registering as living in Spain?.

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