If you move to Spain, and bring your own car, it has to be registered in Spain and the process is called matriculación. It takes, usually, a couple of weeks from the first technical report to bolting on your new number-plates. Allow for a month, to be on the safe side. I’ll outline what you should do and then, for anyone who likes to point and laugh, I’ve added at the end what not to do.
There are many agents who will handle the process, because every car coming permanently to Spain, whether from an EU or LHD country or not, has to be matriculated. Agent prices range from expensive to exorbitant. Most of the fees involved are fixed, and outlined below – it is the agent’s service fee which fluctuates. The English are thought to be rich and delightfully gullible and it is essential you go to someone recommended, and get a written quote.
- You can hand the car over and wait a couple of weeks for its return, but have your chequebook ready, that kind of service really costs.
- If you source the parts (i.e. the headlamps and rear lights), get them fitted, and take it to the ITV station yourself, you should reduce the service fee, and have the use of the car most of the time.
- If you speak excellent Spanish, plus have lots of bureaucratic experience, time, and patience, you don’t need an agent.
This blog assumes the middle path, i.e. you will do a lot of the running around yourself.
- Find your agent, and get your quote. My new agent’s fee for finishing what had already been done was 185 euros. Talk to other Brits about who they used, and bear in mind few will know, or perhaps admit, they’ve been conned – the important thing is to know roughly how much you should be paying, so that you know whether the quote is realistic or inflated. Without a written quote, you are risking being ripped off.
- The general expectation for a second-hand car with reasonable emissions is to expect to pay between 700 and 1200 euros for the whole registration – ITV, import duty, road tax, etc. That doesn’t include the costs of getting the car itself suitable for life in a LHD country, or any costs involved in the car actually passing its roadworthy test – see #3.
- There has to be a technical inspection, to advise what has to be sorted before you can present your car for the matriculación ITV test. For a right-hand-drive car, this will be mainly lights. Your headlights will need adjusting or replacing, your rear lights will need replacing unless they are perfect replicas of each other. Parts and labour could add several hundred euros to the price of the whole business.
- The técnico will also want paperwork, so you need to have your passport, NIE, padron and the vehicle’s logbook (the DVLA’s V5) ready when you meet him. He will tell you what needs doing, then meet you again to check it has been done.
- Once the técnico is satisfied your car now meets technical regulations he will put his report into the closest ITV station and they will make an appointment for your ITV inspection. The técnico fee is 90 euros.
- Unless your Spanish is good, it is worth taking a buddy who knows the usual ITV ropes or even paying for someone to take the car through the test for you. The testing process is similar to the MOT, but extra time and care will be taken for this first time, a great many questions are asked and orders barked out, and the price will be a one-off around 150 euros. (With this and every ITV, if the car doesn’t pass you will have up to a month to make changes and present yourself again. You can drive in the meantime, unless the fail is catastrophic enough that the car must be collected by a tow-truck for delivery to a garage.)
- The ITV certificate, DVLA log book, and all your proof of identity documentation must now to be taken, by appointment, to any Tráfico in the province. The fee for registration is 98 euros.
- My agent was doing this bit, which can be Spanish intensive (and in Jaen, an hour’s drive past Granada) and he wanted certified copies rather than be responsible for my original passport, etc. So that was a visit to a notary, and an additional cost for certified copies.
- It is at Trafico that you pay the import duty. This is based on engine size, i.e. the emissions as established by the ITV test. Car value can also affect it – a huge engine in a high value new car could be nudging the 2000 euro mark for import duty. My 9 year old Toyota IQ with its tiny green engine was zero. Thumbsuck figure to allow for in a secondhand car with a moderate size engine is 400 euros.
- You will need to pay the balance of the road tax for the year – road tax for everyone falls due on the 31st of December, I paid two quarters, 20 euros
- The new papers and your new registration number will be sent to you. You will need to source number-plates – 30 euros – and get them fitted.
- Notify DVLA and re-sort your insurance for your new details.
So a very, very approximate quote for the whole business is 900 euros –
Agent 185.00 (variable)
Técnico 90.00 (paragraph 5) (fixed)
ITV 150.00 (paragraph 6) (fixed)
Trafico 98.00 (paragraph 7) (fixed)
Import duty 400.00 (paragraph 9) (variable per car)
Road tax 40.00 for the year (paragraph 10) (variable per car)
New plates 30.00 (paragraph 9) (fixed)
Trafico will take the righthand page of your DVLA logbook. Do NOT forget to fill in the export section of the left hand page, when you get your new registration, and post that section back to DVLA.
You must carry your registration certificate in the car at all times, and your insurance certificate. (And your hi-vis jacket and at least one triangle, but you already knew that)
Your budget – The 900 euros doesn’t include whatever mechanicals were required. I decided on new lights all round and the parts / labour cost just under 500 euros. If I’d had to pay import duty, the car would have cost 1400 euros instead of 1000 – I also had to re-insure it for the next year immediately, so it was an expensive month.
That had been factored into my decision to bring it, and knowing then what I know now, I still would. However, you’ll usually be advised to buy a car here, and yes, I agree. The reasons I didn’t follow that good advice –
- I love the car, have owned it most of its life, I know its mechanical and service history.
- I couldn’t have sold it privately, considering its age and that I was a private seller, for more than about 1000 quid at best thanks to a paint problem Toyota had in 2009 with the opalescent paints used on the IQ models. They admitted the problem, but stopped making good once the cars turned 7. Mine lost its first (so far only) palm-sized flake of paint at the age of 8. Thanks for that, Toyota.
- I couldn’t buy the equivalent make and model in Spain for less than 4000 euros, and then I wouldn’t have known anything about its reliability or history
- Cars in Spain don’t rust, and they have double the lifespan and resale value of UK cars. I couldn’t expect to buy anything guaranteed reliable for under at least 3500 euros.
A year ago, therefore, I had known I would have to pay around 1000 euros for the luxury of bringing my own much-loved reliable little car to Spain. No problemo.
So that’s how to matriculate your UK car in Spain. You could read on for a grin at how not to. Experience may be cheap at any price but you don’t have to learn by your own mistakes if you can learn from the mistakes of others . . .
How NOT to matriculate your car – Rule 1, don’t leave it to the last minute – although it is supposed to be within 6 months, you are, at least in theory, covered by your MOT until that expires, especially if you are travelling in and out of the country in the car. However, if you had a bang-up-to-date MOT and keep forgetting the necessity to matriculate until a few weeks before the MOT expires, you are taking ludicrously stupid chances. Don’t. Sod’s Law is waiting.
Don’t try to do it in August. Spain kicks back into holiday mode in August. The ITV stations only open until siesta, they don’t re-open for the late afternoon / early evening as they do the rest of the year. Half the people you will need are on holiday. A process that normally takes a week or two will drag on for weeks and oops, there you are, illegal.
Don’t start the process with someone who is closing their business down. Oh, I know that sounds too stupid to need saying, but Antonio was highly recommended, spoke good Spanglish, and was an agent with a garage – could do the paperwork AND any repairs. Sure his garage was being knocked down for the road to be widened but not for about 4 weeks and the whole matriculation only takes a couple of weeks, right? No problemo.
As per the last blog, lights were eventually fitted and the técnico put his report into Motril ITV station and applied for an inspection date for my full in-depth roadworthy test.
Problemo. We’d run out of time for Antonio to complete the process. I had been fed into the system and could continue, but I’d be dealing with agents who only spoke Spanish, paying for who knows what, unable to understand what I should be doing and worst of all, no-one had yet given me a quote. Insanity to launch into something like this without a written quote, and when I said I had to have one, there were shrugs and no entiendo. WHOA. Don’t get into the bigger money without a quote. I ended up having to switch horses midstream, which had its own problems.
The agent I switched to is the guy I probably should have gone with all along and life would have been far simpler. However, he doesn’t like working through Motril. The técnico had to withdraw his documents and resubmit them to Orgiva. He took a week to do that and I got the distinct impression there is a history between him and my new agent, who said I would have paid a fee running to several hundred euros. Orgiva, being smaller, would, my new agent said, be able to give me an appointment within days.
Well, not so much, the wait was three weeks, so I was definitely feeling like a pawn in the games people play, but hey. In the meantime the MOT had run out and I learned all about buses and taxi services and how to kick myself for leaving the whole thing to the last minute. In my case the whole procedure took about 9 weeks.
Ever researching on your behalf.