Having your own independent mobility is one of the most important aspects of life no matter where you live. But when you are living in foreign climes, this independence becomes even more important because very often, the vagaries of the local public transport system can leave little to be desired.
Here in Spain, many people tend to take liberties by importing cars that they already own without bothering to make any proper declaration. It is remarkably easy to do so because all you need when crossing borders within EEC member countries is your passport. But even with your own vehicle, the Spanish government will only allow you a six-month grace period before the vehicle needs be officially registered, or imported!
After that, should you be stopped, for whatever reason and if the vehicle has not yet been officially registered, then you may be found to be driving an illegal vehicle. This is not a position that you want to find yourself in as the Spanish police can be quite unaccommodating.
Importing a car from the UK can be quite complicated, so you would be well advised to discuss the matter with a Spanish Car Dealer who will probably be able to point you in the right direction and who may be willing to help you to complete the necessary forms to obtain your Spanish registration.
You may however, decide it is preferable to buy a new or second-hand car (with left hand drive) here in Spain. The procedure is relatively straight forward, providing you have one of the following:
At the end of the day, any one of the above-mentioned criteria are required in order to be able to (a) prove your identity, and (b) to provide traceability with regard to ownership of said vehicle. Spain is no different to many other countries around the world in as much as they have their own problems with crime and car crime in particular. Should you be found at any time to be in "illegal" possession of a vehicle, you may be deemed to be complicit in receivership of the said vehicle.
The same can be said for any outstanding debts on the vehicle with regard to repairs and all road tax etc. As the current owner will be held entirely responsible, even though you may still be relieved of ownership of the vehicle. In other words, the sins of previous owners may well be visited upon yourself, but you may still be liable to relinquish ownership of the vehicle anyway.
So, it is important to ensure that you follow the correct procedure when buying a car and to help you, we have put together a few simple pointers to help you on your way.
Purchasing New or Second-hand Cars via a car dealership
This is the simplest way of buying a new or second-hand car because the car dealer will assume the responsibility for ensuring the correct documentation is in place. As with buying and selling cars back in the UK, your existing vehicle may be taken in part exchange or as part of the 2003 incentives (see separate notes below).
Purchasing a Second-hand Vehicle via a Private Sale
This is the scenario that you have to be particularly careful of because it is here that certain unscrupulous individuals may be attempting to sell on a vehicle that they do not even own in the first place. It is therefore essential to ensure that you are shown all of the original documentation. Copies are not acceptable. The most important thing of all is to match the seller's identification with the owner's identification as shown on the vehicle's documentation.
Documentation You Should Expect From The Seller
You, the buyer, should also provide, a “Solicitud de Transmisión de Vehículos” (transfer of ownership document) which can be downloaded from the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) website. The form is provided in duplicate and a copy should be kept by both the buyer and the seller.
Registering the Change of Ownership
The simplest way of doing this is for both the buyer and seller to visit the offices of the Jefatura de Tráfico with a copy of the sales invoice and the ownership transferred deed. If done independently, it is important that within 15 days, you, the buyer can provide the seller with positive proof that the sale and transfer has been officially recorded.
When all is said and done, it is important that the buyer must ensure that the appropriate authorities are fully notified of the transfer of ownership of the vehicle within 30 days of the actual sale. For the avoidance of doubt you should make sure that you take the following documentation with you:
2000E New Car Incentive Scheme
It is well worth knowing that the Spanish government has launched an incentive scheme to promote the sale of new vehicles. It is called the 2000E scheme and it provides the buyer with up to €2000 in exchange for his/her old vehicle, providing that (a) the vehicle being offered is at least 10 years old or (b) that the vehicle has done at least 250,000 km