Living and Working in Spain

6 Steps for buying a car in spain

Living and Working in Spain Barbara de Swaan

When I still lived in the Netherlands, I used to travel all over the world. The further away, the better. This changed completely when I moved to Spain, because Spain is so beautiful, so big and the different regions are so varying. Therefore, one of the first inversions we did when we arrived as brand-new immigrants in Spain, was to buy a car and explore this beautiful country from North to South and from East to West.


What do you need to be able to buy a car in Spain? Please stop asking these questions on Facebook groups, because the people who give all these well-meant advice, are no specialists. Here the six steps for buying a car in Spain.

  1. . First, you’ll have to search for a car that will suit your needs. You can either buy a car from an official car dealer, who will give you some guarantee or directly from a private seller but he or she won’t give you any warranty at all. You will save some money by buying from a private seller and by law they are obliged to give you six months of warranty but if they don’t it’s hard to proof. If you buy privately, you’ll have to draw up a legal purchase agreement. You can download these from Google.

    Another advantage of buying through a reputed dealer is that they will probably also help you out with the bureaucratic paperwork that comes with buying a car.

    buying a car in spain


  2. Once you have decided which car you want to buy, you will have to make sure you have all the paperwork that is required for buying a car in Spain. You will need:

    -  Your NIE (Número de Identidad Extranjero), this is your foreign ID number
    - Your “Empadronamiento”, this is your official registration with the local town hall.

  3. Extra costs you will have beside the price of the car:

    - When you buy the car from an official dealer, you will automatically pay sales tax, which should be included in the agreed price. When you buy from a private seller you will have to pay transfer tax (impuesto de transmisiones patrimoniales). This amount is not included in the agreed price and will be calculated over the official current value of the car, not the sales price.

    - You will have to pay the Spanish road tax (impuesto sobre vehículos de tracción mecánica). This payment is on a yearly base. The amount you will have to pay varies according to the type of car, the weight of the car, the “Comunidad” you live in and a couple more things. An average to have in mind should be around 175 euro a year.
    Here you can calculate the exact amount you will have to pay: https://www.dieselogasolina.com/calcular-precio-impuesto-circulacion-ivtm.html

    - Spanish MOT test: ITV (Inspección Técnica de Vehículos). The price for a normal car will be between 35 and 50 euro.

    - Car insurance. In Spain a car that is on the public road, always needs to be insured. The minimum coverage is a third-party coverage. Caser Insurance can offer you the best quotes for your car insurance and we can even offer you the policy in English, German, Dutch or French.

    - Depending on where you will use the car in Spain, you might also have to pay Toll (peaje) on certain main roads. You can pay this with your credit card or in cash.

    buying a car in spain

  4. The car will have to be put in your name. You can either ask for an appointment with “Tráfico” yourself and save some money or ask the dealer or a “gestoría” to take care of this. You will first receive a temporary proof that the name change is in process (Permiso de Circulación Temporal) and about one month later you normally receive the final official paperwork in your name (Permiso de Circulación Definitivo).

  5. The Spanish Tax authorities will not send you a letter to remind you to pay your road taxes each year. In my experience, it is therefore a risk to forget to pay this and get fined. You can contact your local town hall and ask them to make this payment automated.

  6. When using your car, in Spain you are obligated to have the following things always with you:

    - “Permiso de Circulación”
    -  MOT certificate (ITV)
    -  Two warning triangles
    -  Driver’s license
    -  Insurance policy
    -  A fluorecent jacket for each person in the car
    -  A spare tire and tools to change it

Now that you have all 6 steps for buying a car in Spain, you only have to enjoy it!

Download Free Checklist:  Documents you need in your vehicle

Barbara de Swaan

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