The quick and easy guide to importing your car and other possessions into Spain

Our guest blog comes from Crystal Parker who enjoys reading, writing and relaxing at the beach, as well as spending time with her daughter.

Historically, Spain has always been considered as a popular destination for UK expats, particularly those looking to retire to sunnier climes. From a global perspective, however, Spain saw its net migration levels decline following the Great Recession in 2009. This trend was finally reversed last year and the migrant population in Spain increased by an estimated 0.19%.

This increase includes migrants from far-flung locations such as Canada and the U.S., not just from other European countries. Individuals from these locations will need to adhere to numerous regulations and duties when importing their cars and household possessions. If you’re interested in moving to Spain from Canada or the U.S., you’re going to want to read this article.

Here’s what we’re going to discuss:

Everything you need to know when it comes to importing your car to Spain.
A breakdown of how you can import your household goods into the country.
Other useful tips that are designed to make the moving process easy on you.

Importing Your Car into Spain – What You Need to Know

When looking to import your car into Spain, it’s most important that you collate all of the necessary certificates and documentation. These can be completed and verified with the assistance of your chosen haulage firm, while you can only really begin this process in earnest once you’ve relocated overseas.

With this in mind, here is a list of the key documentation required to import your car quickly and register it in Spain (some information sourced from a1autotransport.com).

Application form: This is the document that you need to kick-start the import process, and it can be sourced for free from the traffic department in your region of choice.

Personal Documentation: As the importer, you’ll also need to present personal documentation before shipping the vehicle, including proof of your Spanish residence, passport, and a certificate from the local police in your new jurisdiction.

Proof of Home-ownership or Tenant Agreement: As part of proving your residence, you’ll also need to showcase either your mortgage or tenancy agreement. If you are renting overseas, you’ll need to note that the rental contract should last for at least one year.

A Spanish Driving License: In order to import your car into Spain, you’ll need to present your Spanish driving license. This ensures that you’re qualified to drive on Spanish roads in a safe, knowledgeable and compliant manner.

Registration Document and Technical Test Certificate Card: Once your car has landed in Spain, you’ll also need to apply for a registration document for your car, which may require a fee depending on the age and type of the vehicle. Similarly, you’ll also need a copy of the vehicle’s Technical Test Certificate Card, which is awarded after an ITV test that verifies that your car is compliant with Spanish technical standards.

Confirmation of Payment for Registration Tax: A standard registration tax is payable in order to drive your car in Spain. You can pay this prior to relocating, but you’ll need to provide a receipt when completing the registration process once you’ve arrived.

Confirmation of Local Car Tax Payment: As with any nation, you’ll need to pay a local car tax before taking your vehicle out on the road in Spain. This is similar to the road tax levy applied in the UK, and is known as impuesto municipal sobre vehículos de tracción mecánica (this translates into the municipal tax on mechanical traction vehicles). So, when registering the car, be sure to show evidence of this payment to the local authorities.

Proof of Purchase and VAT Payment: During the registration process, you’ll also need to showcase the vehicle purchase receipt from the country of origin. Two copies will be required, including the original and an exact copy for their records. You must also provide proof that VAT has been paid in the country of purchase, otherwise, this will be charged alongside standard import duty.

The Certificate of Conformity (Certificado de Conformidad): This can be sourced either from the vehicle manufacturer or a certified representative, while it is required to ensure that a car is compatible with Spanish engineering standards. Cars being imported from outside of the EU will need a national certificate from the country of origin, while both the original and a photocopy should be presented to authorities.

Even with all of these documents, there are other considerations when importing your vehicle into Spain. When shipping a car from the U.S. or Canada on a tax-free basis, for example, this vehicle cannot be sold, rented or have its ownership transferred within one year of registration.

Once the registration process is complete, you should also note that you can’t immediately drive the vehicle on Spanish roads. Instead, you’ll need to visit the local provincial traffic department and present your registration documentation, in order to receive temporary and compliant registration plates. These are typically green in colour and valid for a period of 10 days, and they enable you to drive to the nearest testing station for the aforementioned ITV (inspección técnica de vehículos) test. Only once your vehicle passes this, it will be fitted with permanent Spanish number plates and deemed as being roadworthy.

What About Importing Your Household Goods into Spain?

Before you start the process of shipping your household items into Spain, it’s important to make a note of the requisite documentation. This includes the following:

A Proof of ID: When looking to import household items and material possessions, you’ll need to present a passport and a copy of your Spanish ID card (if this is applicable).

Proof of Residency: Hopefully, you’ll have accommodation lined up prior to your move, and you’ll need to showcase proof of residency and evidence that you intend to live in Spain for at least two years. If this does not exist, you’ll have to produce a bank guarantee to support your proposed earnings and provide details of your intended relocation.

Documentation from the Country of Origin: Prior to the move, it’s important that you secure documentation from the local town hall in your country of origin. This should prove that you have lived there for a minimum of six months prior to relocation.

Application for Duty-free Import: Provided that the imported items are for personal use, at least six months old and you declare that you intend to keep these possessions for a minimum of 12 months after docking in Spain, you may want to make an application for duty-free import. This will reduce the cost of your shipment and the levies applied by Spanish authorities, although it may not necessarily be granted (we’ll have more on this below).

An Inventory of all Items: To support this, you’ll also need to provide a detailed inventory of your shipment to Spanish Customs authorities. This must be translated into Spanish, while two signed and dated copies should be provided and certified by the Spanish consulate in your country of origin. Most importantly, this should have a cumulative value attached, which should be accurate and carefully calculated. In the case of appliances, the make model and serial numbers should also be listed.

All of these documents must be presented to the relevant authorities, and filled in accurately wherever possible. If this is not the case, you may incur delays and significant import duties, up until the issues are resolved and the shipment is cleared. Not only this, but sustained delays could ultimately see the goods auctioned off, and this can only be avoided with an understanding of your legal requirements and a keen eye for detail.

On a similar note, Spanish legislation dictates that your shipment must arrive within the first three months of your residency. If you do incur delays that cannot be avoided, you’ll need to make a proactive application for a special permit that will carry an additional charge.

As is the case when relocating anywhere, individuals who move to Spain must be aware of the Customs restrictions pertaining to certain items. No animal food products can be taken into the country (with the sole exception of baby milk), while no more than 1kg of any food item can be imported into the country.

There are also significant restrictions on firearms, antiques, solvents, and artwork, along with miscellaneous items that are less than six months old. In fact, cleaning fluids and paints cannot be imported into the country, while official permits and authorization are required for firearms and ammunition. Authorization in this instance must be requested from the Spanish police, and it must be requested prior to your arrival.

If you hold more than 6010.12 Euros in cash when you arrive in Spain, you’ll need to declare this at Customs. Similarly, declarations will need to be made in relation to tobacco and alcohol, with individuals allowed to bring up to 200 cigarettes, 100 small cigars or 250 grams of tobacco with them.

Alcohol is limited to a single litre of spirit (or two litres of a lower strength beverage), excluding any items that have been purchased in duty-free.

When relocating and shipping goods from outside of the EU, it’s highly likely that you’ll pay duty on your shipment. Some items, including books, are exempt from this, whereas certain brands can carry a levy of up to 17%. Ultimately, the total levy will depend on the cumulative value of the shipment, while an additional charge may be applied on items that have been manufactured in specified countries.

Don’t Stress – Moving to Spain Is Easy

Relocating to Spain, or any other European country, can be a daunting prospect, particularly when you’re moving from a nation outside of the EU. This process can be even harder in instances where you’re looking to import a vehicle overseas, in addition to your household goods and material possessions.

The key is to understand the import regulations and tax levies applied by the Spanish authorities, and ensure that you comply with these in full while seeking professional assistance where possible.

Whatever you decide, moving to Spain is a wondrous experience and something that I highly recommend to any individual looking for new experiences in life. If you’re interested in learning more about Education or Female Entrepreneurship in Spain, make sure to look at the rest of MumAbroad.


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