How NOT to matriculate your car – Rule 1, don’t leave it until August #livinginSpain


Just so we’re clear, this is not a blog about escaping the need to matriculate your car. 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 what not to do. Part one.


Part two will follow when and if I ever finish the process with my car, which is looking like a 6 to 8 week mission, and is exactly why you DON’T LEAVE IT UNTIL AUGUST.

There are many agents who will handle the process, because every car coming to live in Spain, whether from an EU or LHD country or not, has to be matriculated. Agent prices range from expensive to exorbitant. Most of the prices are fixed, and outlined below – it is the agent’s service fee which fluctuates. The English are known to be rich and delightfully gullible and it is essential you go to someone recommended.

Options –

  • 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.

  1. Find your agent, and get your quote. My new agent’s quote is 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. My car is small, 9 years old, and I’d been told fairly consistently by other Brits to expect to pay between 700 and 1000 euros for the whole registration – agent fees, 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. I do add a note at the end as to why, knowing all that, I brought my car anyway)
  2. The agent will arrange for a technical inspection, to advise what has to be sorted before even attempting an ITV test. For a right-hand-drive car, this will almost inevitably mean lights being adjusted or replaced. Modern headlamps are usually adjustable, but the fog and reversing lights on the backs of most modern cars are on one side only – the wrong side. 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. The técnico fee totals 90 euros, and will be settled by the agent.
  3. Source your parts – unless a local dealership has the parts in stock, it is probably quicker and cheaper to source the parts online and get them delivered by courier. Because I was trying to do my car in August, it would have taken a week for the dealership to get them in stock and the price quoted was eye-watering. I found my lights new on eBay and they arrived in 3 days.
  4. 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.
  5. If your Spanish is weak, and your agent can’t meet you there, take a buddy who knows the ropes or pay 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 and the price will be a one-off 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.)
  6. The ITV certificate and copies of all your documents will be forwarded to the nearest authorised Roads department for the matriculation. Alarmingly, my new agent said certified copies, but no-one else seems to be requiring that, so long as you have the originals with you for copies to be taken. I will confirm in part two, but I think the quote for this was 98 euros. Going to a notary will bump this part up if certified copies are required.
  7. You will have to pay the import duty. This is based on car value, for cars up to 20 years old, and engine size, i.e. emissions. The price can therefore vary wildly. A huge engine in a high value new car could be nudging the 2000 euro mark, and I’ve been told my 9 year old with its tiny green engine will be zero. Really? I await part two with bated breath. Thumbsuck figure to allow for in an older car with a moderate size engine is 400 euros.
  8. 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, this late in the year I will probably be paying around 20 euros
  9. 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.
  10. Notify DVLA and re-sort your insurance for your new details.

So a very, very approximate quote for the whole business at this point in the year is 880 euros – 

Agent                    185.00

Técnico                90.00 (paragraph 2)

ITV                         150.00  (paragraph 5)

Trafico                  98.00 (paragraph 6)

Import duty        400.00 (paragraph 7)

Road tax              20.00 (paragraph 8)

New plates         30.00 (paragraph 9)

Plus of course whatever the mechanics cost on top.


That had been factored into my decision to bring it.

  • 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. 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.

This is the bit about mistakes made. 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 . . .

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.  It is not, trust me, a good idea switching horses midstream, as you’ll see.


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 appointment is 11th September, so I am definitely feeling like a pawn in the games people play, but hey.  In the meantime the MOT has run out and I am learning all about buses and taxi services and how to kick myself for leaving the whole thing to the last minute.

Ever researching on your behalf and hoping oh so much to be wrapping up part two very soon





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