Importing your car into Spain as a newly-arrived expat

Importing your car into Spain as a newly-arrived expat

Importing your car into Spain as a newly-arrived expat

If you’ve decided to live permanently in Spain and don’t want to sell your car before you leave the UK, importing it is expensive and involves endless paperwork.

Selling as against exporting your UK-registered car can be a tough decision for many would-be expats, especially as the thought of buying a late-model secondhand car in Spain from an unknown car salesman is scary at best. Exporting your vehicle is expensive and involves reams of paperwork, but it can be done by expats with patience and a friend who speaks basic Spanish.

It’s possible that, dependent on your chosen district, you’ll find you don’t need to have a car, thus saving money and hassle but, for those who decide they can’t live without one, the process begins with the choice of driving it there yourself or sending it in a container with the rest of your possessions. If the UK’s still in the EU when you leave, there’ll be no customs charges, but no-one knows what will happen in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

To drive a UK-registered car to Spain you’ll need a full, valid UK license, full insurance and proof of ownership in addition to your passport. You’re able to drive with UK license plates for six months, after which it’ll need registering with your local authority, a complex and costly process. Requirements include a permanent export certificate from the UK DVLA and its updated log book.

Getting a Spanish MOT once the UK version has expired is the next step, needing the car’s tech spec, its purchase receipt and registration paperwork, the insurance document, your driving license and your passport. If you bought the car as new more than six months before you arrived in Spain, there’s no import duty if you can show proof you paid VAT, and for secondhand vehicles the registration tax is calculated using the level of the car’s emissions and its market value. If you’ve got this far, you’ll now be wondering why you didn’t sell the car before you left and buy new on arrival!

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