Healthplan Spain


Can Non-Residents Legally Buy A Car In Spain? Expat Tips

When it comes to vehicle ownership in Spain, many non-residents wonder if they can legally buy a car. Whether you are a second home owner or spend only part of your time in the country, understanding the rules is essential. While urban areas in Spain often offer excellent public transportation and convenient amenities within walking distance, owning a car may be necessary, especially in rural areas or for weekend getaways. So, what are the options for non-residents who wish to own a car in Spain?

The good news is that non-residents can indeed purchase a car in Spain, regardless of their nationality. However, the process and requirements may vary depending on certain factors. According to the General Directorate of Traffic's (DGT) vehicle rules, foreign nationals can buy a car registered in Spain if they can prove their residency status in the country. It is important to note that this residency does not necessarily refer to fiscal residency in the traditional sense.

The exact proof of residency required for purchasing a car as a non-resident can be a subject of debate among Spanish and English-language sources. Some sources suggest that EU nationals should possess a green residency document, while non-EU nationals should have a TIE card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). Others argue that an NIE number (foreign identity number) or the padrón (town hall registration) should be sufficient.

Required Documentation

To meet the requirements, non-residents can provide one of the following documents as proof of residency:

  • Official residency document
  • Title deeds to a property in Spain
  • Rental contract for a property in Spain
  • NIE/NIF number
  • Padrón

Therefore, if you are a non-resident but own or rent a property in Spain, you can purchase a vehicle registered in Spain. Most non-resident individuals will have at least an NIE number, and some may also have a padrón if they are property owners.

The 183-day rule for non-EU nationals

Nonetheless, it is crucial for non-resident non-EU nationals to consider the 183-day rule to avoid becoming tax residents in Spain when purchasing a car. Following this rule, it may be more advisable for them to rent a car for a maximum of 90-day periods during their stays in Spain. However, due to the EU's freedom of movement, EU nationals and residents generally face fewer restrictions in this regard.

In terms of financing a new vehicle purchase, it is worth noting that non-residents may face challenges in this respect. Spanish financing entities often require proof of income, pension, or other financial documentation, and foreign documentation must meet their standards.

According to Spanish law, foreign citizens, whether from EU countries or other nations, can legally own a car in Spain. The requirement of residency does not necessarily apply for car purchases, whether the vehicle is new or second-hand. However, non-residents must provide proof of address, even if they spend less than six months of the year in Spain (not necessarily consecutively). The official State Bulletin (BOE) specifies that foreigners without a residency card must present an identity document from their country of origin if they are citizens of EEA member states. For citizens of non-EEA countries, a passport or certificate of nationality is required. Additionally, proof of address in Spain can be provided through various documents, including the empadronamiento (certificate of residency), house deeds, or a lease contract.

In the case of legal entities, such as companies, a Tax Identification Number, along with the national identity document, passport, or residency card of the representative, must be presented, along with a power of attorney document.


In conclusion, non-residents can legally purchase a car in Spain, as long as they meet the required criteria and provide the necessary proof of residency and address. Owning a property or having a long-term rental agreement can fulfill these requirements. However, non-resident non-EU nationals should be mindful of the 183-day rule to avoid unintended tax residency. It is also important to note that accessing financing as a non-resident may present additional challenges. By understanding the regulations and fulfilling the documentation requirements, non-residents can enjoy the convenience and freedom of owning a car in Spain.