Being behind the wheel of your own car has many advantages, from getting from A to B in your own time and space, to discovering new places. However, owning a car also comes with other considerations that can seem a hassle, but are legal requirements that you must keep up to date with.
Doing these necessary but boring ´life administration´ tasks, such as paying your car tax, can be a drag, but, thanks to the 21st century shift to technological systems and processes, there are now more options to complete these mundane tasks.
Many people do not know the ins and outs of paying taxes, and this can seem confusing at times, so I´m going to take you through the steps and requirements of how to pay car tax quickly and easily so that you can spend more time enjoying the open road.
First things first, here are some of the basics that you need to know:
What is it?
The annual car or road tax in Spain is referred to as IVTM (Impuesto Sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica) or circulation tax. It is a compulsory tax that has to be paid for any motor vehicle (cars, vans, buses, trucks, tractors, trailers, semi-trailers, mopeds, motorcycles) registered in Spain and driven on Spanish roads.
When do I pay it?
- There is a one-off vehicle registration tax that you have to pay when you register the vehicle, which nowadays is based on the % of environmental emissions of CO2that your car produces. This single payment is part of the registration process.
- You are also liable to pay the annual IVTM tax, which, in Spain, is paid in the period of March to May each year, but usually at the end of April.
- You must pay on time, if you don´t you will be liable for a “recargo” or late payment fee of 5% in the first month, which increases to 20% and is also applicable for interest charges. In addition, you need to be aware that, as a compulsory tax, if you do not pay it, the police have the power to impound your vehicle!
Do I need to display it?
Unlike in some other countries, you do not display the IVTM tax certificate inside the windscreen, like a tax disk or sticker. It is provided as a document/receipt of payment. I would highly recommend you keep this safe with your other vehicle documents, such as your driver’s licence, insurance certificate and so on, and carry a copy of it in the glovebox or a digital copy on your phone, as the police may ask to see it if you are stopped on the road for some reason.
And now, getting onto the nitty gritty of the matter, the big two questions regarding how to pay car tax are: How much do I have to pay? And how do I pay it?
The most important thing to note is that there is not a national payment system for IVTM. You have to pay your IVTM or annual car tax to the ayuntamiento of the municipality where both the vehicle and owner have been registered, and each has its own system and different methods for payment. Therefore, the first port of call for all car owners in Spain is their local ayuntamiento, details of which can be found using the map on the official government website. This also means that if you move municipalities it is vital you request to change the IVTM address of your vehicle so the details are registered correctly and kept up to date. (For more information about this you can visit the DGT (Direccion General de Trafico) website).
How much do I pay?
The amount you pay is also dependent on the region or ayuntamiento it is registered in, and also the type of vehicle, and the horsepower that it has. If this news is already making you feel stressed out as you just want to know a specific figure, don’t worry! You can check out the IVTM tax rates using a useful online calculator – where you simply complete the details of your province and locality, and the vehicle specifications in order to get a price calculation. This is also a great tool if you are in the process of buying a car and want to see the difference it could make to your annual tax costs if you opt for a different model or type of car (e.g., Petrol, Diesel, hybrid, electric). There are reductions for more eco-friendly cars, and there are also potential exemptions for people with certain degrees of physical disability.
Another common question is “What if I have bought the car in the middle of the tax period?” If you have just bought a car, then technically, the IVTM tax you are required to pay will be calculated pro rata for the current tax year. Be aware though, if you are buying a second-hand car, I would strongly recommend getting the advice of a gestor to help you check documents and re-register the car and the IVTM address. It is also worth paying the small fee to get your hands on the detailed version of the informe de vehiculos as this report will tell you if there are any unpaid taxes from the previous owner, which you could end up being liable for.
If the car is not being used, you can declare it as “off the road” (similar to SORN in the UK) and obtain a “baja temporal” which means that the registration and tax payment is temporarily suspended. However, you need to know that if you use the car even once, or you only want to use it for a short-term period of a month or a few months, it must be registered for IVTM. Unfortunately, in this case, the tax you have to pay is not calculated on a pro rata basis, you have to pay the full annual amount, and your tax payment will be the same as if you were using it for the whole tax year.
How do I pay it?
In the past it was necessary to pay your car tax or IVTM (Impuesto Sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica) in person at your local town hall office or ayuntamiento. However, in most municipalities now it is also possible to pay directly via certain banks, or by direct debit, or in some places, you can also make the payment online.
Various municipalities may make announcements in the period running up to the annual payment period, and some ayuntamientos may send you a reminder, but as I said before, the methods of payment and the services available differ depending on the local ayuntamiento systems in place, so please don’t assume you will be reminded or that you can choose from all of the payment methods I mentioned above… YOU MUST find out what services are available to you in your own area.1. Paying in person at the ayuntamiento:
You can pay in person, or presencially, at your local town hall. It is worth checking in advance if you need to have an appointment or cita previa. When making the payment in person you will need to present the following documents in order for them to process the payment.
- An identity document, such as your Spanish NIE, TIE or CIF – I would also say there is no harm taking your passport or drivers license, especially if you have the NIE without a photo, so that you have a copy of a photo ID with you.
- Registration Document (Permiso de circulación) of the vehicle.
- Tecnical Certificate (Certificado de Caracterísiticas Técnicas) of the vehicle.
2. Paying in person at the bank:
You can also pay in person at many of the well-known banks in Spain and you will also need to have a copy of the documents above to do this. I would recommend that, when you have made the first payment, ask the bank to set up a direct debit to pay it on an annual basis. This way you don’t have to worry about forgetting, being late, or physically going to the bank each year.3. Paying by SUMA
Some provinces, such as Alicante, have the facility to pay taxes, including this car tax, via the local administration service known as Suma, which may also offer a payment plan to help you manage the costs. If you want more information about this service, visit the Suma website which is also available in English.4. Paying online.
It is possible to pay your Spanish road tax online, however, this will depend on the region you are in and whether your town hall has an online facility. Some banks may also provide you with an online facility to pay your road tax. Check with your own bank’s website to see if they offer this service.
As a guide, here are the details of how to pay car tax online in three major cities: Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
- Go to the IVTM page of the Madrid Ayuntamiento website – you’ll be pleased to hear this website also has a live chat facility which can be useful if you need help as you go through any of the processes.
- To register in the IVTM you must complete the self-assesment form and make the payment. Here is a link to the instructions and printable version of the form that you can look at in advance to see the data you need to complete.
- To link to the online version of the form click here and follow the steps, to take you to complete it online. Please note, you need to be registered for the Cl@ave PIN, Cl@ve permanent or DNI electronic certificate to be able to do this procedure online.
- You will need to complete the form including the data of the person the vehicle is registered to and also the VIN of the vehicle. Then, the amount payable will be calculated, based on the details of the vehicle, and the data of the electronic Vehicle Technical Inspection car (eITV).
- Next you can choose if you want to continue with online processing or change to a physical face to face payment:
- Online payment: When making the payment online, you can use credit or debit card: Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, and Maestro. You may also be able to pay with a bank digital certificate through Banco Santander SA, Banco Sabadell SA and Caixabank, if you have a class 2CA electronic certificate issued by the FNMT or any of the electronic certificates accepted by the Cl@ve system.
- Face-to-face (payment at financial institutions): print and present the form following the instructions for presential processing.
- All the information, including frequently asked questions can be accessed via the IVTM page of the Barcelona Ayuntamiento website.
- For detailed information about this tax you can go to the Ordenanzas fiscales page and click on impuestos and select option 2 Ordenanzas fiscal reguladora del impuesto sobre vehículos de tracción mecánica this will bring you to a pdf page with details of costs for each type of vehicle on page 2 and 3.
- From the main payments page you will see the different payment options that you can choose from, including:
- Online, by card payment.
- By phone, calling 010 free or 931 537 010 if calling from outside Barcelona.
- At Kiosk services located in different venues and facilities in Barcelona.
- Through electronic banking or cash machines.
- If you choose the online option, you will be taken to a page which summarises the key information in 4 tabs, description, interesados, tramitación and responsible. Once you have read these, go to the top right of the page and choose the option “iniciar trámite” and you will be taken to the main page to complete the forms.
You have three options on here, and you may want to choose the estimation option first to help you see what you have to pay before you go to the first option to complete the forms and make the payment.
- Autoliquidación IVTM – with this option you will obtain the self-assessment of the tax calculated and prepare the form to make the payment.
- Autoliquidaciones tramitadas: comunicación de la matricula – with this option you can communicate the registration number that the Provincial Traffic Headquarters assigned to the vehicle when registering.
- Estimación autoliquidación IVTM – with this option you can do a simulation of what the self-assessment could cost for a specific case.
- Go to the main page for IVTM at the ayuntamiento in Valencia. This includes information about how to carry out the procedure. You can do it online or in person at the tax office, and you need identity documents and the supporting documentation of the vehicle registration and characteristics, including frame or serial number.
- To process online you need to go to the payment of taxes page in order to complete the self-assessment form. Under the main Formularis d'autoliquidació section, type vehicle in the search box, or choose the option for vehicles from the frequently used links in the yellow boxes.
- You will then be able to download the Self-Assessment Manager – choose Descarregar on the A600 Impost sobre Vehicles de Tracción Mecànica (Descarregar Gestor d’Autoliquidacions) option, or you can go direct to Individual issue option A601 Impost sobre Vehicles de Tracciò Mecànica (Emissió individual) and first do a simulation by choosing simulador to identify the tax you need to pay by inputting the details of your vehicle, and then you can complete the process and actual form online through the autoliquidar
- The council website also specifies that you can pay through any of the banks that collaborate with the Valencia city council if you are customer. These include Santander, Bankia, BBVA, CaixaBank, Sabadell, Cajamar, Caixapopular.
So, as you can see by the three examples, it can be a bit of a minefield trying to navigate the different systems of how to pay car tax online, but if you are stuck, try searching for IVTM in the search bar of your local ayuntamiento website, or if it is available try the live chat options which are now available on many of these systems.
If in any doubt, why not ask a friend or colleague that already has a car to help you, as they will have had to complete these procedures and can give you invaluable assistance to help you to do it for the first time. The final tip, I have is to save the links you use for the webpages as you go through the process, as these will help you save time in the future to repeat the process, and you can use them to pass on your newfound knowledge to other friends who may have to do this in the future!