Affordable Mallorca Guide: Living and Working in Spain – How to Import a Car #
You want to bring your car or motorbike to Mallorca? You've been driving around the island in a foreign-plated vehicle and MOT is coming up? Save yourself the trip to get it renewed. Here is how you change over to Spanish licence plates.
- All you need to know about importing a foreign vehicle into Mallorca
- We lead you through the process step by step
- Insurance, Taxes, Spanish MOT
There may be many reasons why you would like to import your non-Spanish plated car or motorbike into Mallorca and this guide will take you through every step. It may seem a bit daunting but the usual route to go ahead with this this is to get a local gestor to do it for you. They are used to these steps and deal with them all day every day. For the information in this article we talked to Zoe Leggett-Jakings in Palmanova who does just this and has done since the 1990s and is very knowledgeable about all aspects of vehicles and the laws around them in Mallorca.
Do I Need to Import My Vehicle and How Long Can I Drive It Before I Do? #
Firstly, let’s find out if you even need to import a vehicle or not. This depends very much on whether you are a Spanish resident or not. And by resident that doesn’t necessarily mean just whether you have the little green Residency card. If you work in Mallorca, have children in school here, are here for more than six months of the year or own a business here, then you will be considered resident whether you have that card or not. If you are already a resident, then you should note that you cannot drive a foreign plated car full stop. Unless (and there’s always a loophole) you are on your way to the ITV station and can prove it!
If you have just arrived in Mallorca and are planning to live here, then you have thirty days to register the car. This doesn’t mean you have to have the whole process completed from start to finish (which usually takes up to three months in total) but it does mean you have to have started the process within thirty days of the vehicle arriving here.
Non-residents can technically have a car here indefinitely, so long as it has a valid MOT (or whatever the certificate of roadworthiness is in the country it is registered in). If this runs out, you must return it to its home country for this test as the Spanish ITV or Voluntary ITV will not be valid for this. It must also carry a valid insurance which can be a tricky as technically insurance companies only cover a car to be out of its home country for ninety days a year. If you are a non-resident and would like to keep your foreign car in Mallorca long term then this could be a problem. For British cars it is possible to have a Spanish insurance that covers them annually, but for other foreign-plated cars it is not.
What Vehicles Can Be Imported? #
Any vehicle that carries a M1 classification and is not commercial can be imported. This generally includes motorbikes, cars and some smaller mini vans. If the vehicle is right hand drive and classified as N1, this means it is commercial and cannot be imported. This classification system is EU-wide. You can find on the UK logbook under the J. category which classification your vehicle is under.
Importing Vehicles from Within the EU #
The steps below are based on imports from within the European Union. If you are importing from outside of the EU, then it is still possible but there are some more complex steps and custom duties to be paid. The smart thing to do here would definitely be to employ the services of a gestor to take the headache out of it.
Steps to Importation #
1) Get an Engineer’s Report
The first thing you must do is to get a certified mechanic to inspect the vehicle and give a specific report or you can obtain a so-called "Certificate of Conformity". This will contain all the technical detail of the vehicle, specifying the Type Approval of what the car is allowed and that it conforms to EC standards and can therefore be cleared through customs for export.
2) First ‘Industria’ Appointment
Once you have the engineer’s report or Certificate of Conformity, you must make an appointment and take this and all your paperwork (NIE, passport, proof of address and vehicle logbook) to the Consell de Mallorca, commonly known as ‘Industria’. It is the office where they make the Spanish vehicle paperwork up, and it is at every ITV station. You will be given an appointment for an ITV (the Spanish annual technical inspection that states whether a vehicle is roadworthy) and the engineer’s appointment to get the Ficha Técnica.
3) Pay Your Road Tax
The next step is to go to your Ayuntamiento (local town hall) and pay your road tax. The tax is calculated on the horsepower of the vehicle. For an example of the costs of road tax, at Cálvia Council (and bear in mind it does change depending on the municipal, but Andratx, Palma and Cálvia are the most expensive on the island) it starts at just 20.90€ per year for any vehicles less than eight horsepower and the highest you will pay is 217.35€ for any car above twenty horsepower.
4) Pay Matriculation Tax
This can be done in your local bank, the receipt you then would take to the Hacienda - the local tax office. Or, if you have a digital signature, you can do it on the website http://atib.es. Matriculation tax is calculated depending on the CO² emissions of the vehicle. If you have a UK car you can find its CO² value under category V.7 in the logbook.
The good news is that if you have a very clean vehicle that has a CO² emission value of less than 120 you don’t have to pay any matriculation tax. Between 121 and 160 you would pay 4.7% of the value of the vehicle and the most you would pay is 16% of the value if your vehicle has a CO² value of more than 201.
The value of the vehicle is calculated on the basis of the BOE (Boletín Oficial del Estado) which specifies the value of cars, motorbikes, all-terrains and all sorts of other vehicles based on age and value when new. Anything up to 1 year old is valued at 100% (but remember, if this vehicle is new and more likely to be CO² efficient, there’s a good chance you could only have to pay the small 4.7% or even nothing). Between 5 and 6 years old they calculate the value at 39% of the original price (and again the price you have to pay will based on the CO² emissions percentage of this value). And anything more than 12 years old is deemed to have a value of 10% of its original price.
5) Get Temporary Plates (if needed)
This may not apply to everyone especially if your vehicle is from British or any other country where plates are tied to the car and do not change with owners. If this is the case, you can skip on to step 6. However, your car is on export plates from where you bought it (as might happen in Germany, for example), then these don’t last very long and you will need to obtain temporary plates until your importation process is complete. Also, if your MOT or insurance has run out you will need take all your paperwork down to Tráfico and apply for the green temporary plates.
6) ITV and Industria Appointment
Remember right near the beginning on step 2 when you went to Industria, you were given an appointment for your ITV and second engineer's report? This is now time for those. So, wait until your appointment comes up to take your vehicle through its ITV and second inspection. (See below for things to look out for with this ITV). If everything passes (don’t despair if it doesn’t, you can keep applying for re-tests until you have fixed everything) then you wait usually between ten and twenty days to go collect your paperwork from Indústria.
Common problems at the ITV with an imported car can include:
- a) Any modifications that have been made to the vehicle. For example, tow bars, bull bars, winches etc. These can prove a problem with the Type Approval which is a list of all accessories that are allowed on a vehicle when it is made by the manufacturer. These things can sometimes be gotten around but sometimes they can’t - depends case by case.
- b) Right Hand Vehicles should be aware of the direction of the headlight beams. These should point to toward the side of the road that you’re driving on. So, in Spain that is the right, whereas UK cars will be pointed towards the left. This can be overcome with stickers called Beam Benders that you can buy and stick directly onto the headlights to change direction of the beam. They can be quite fiddly though and it can take a bit of trial and error to get it right. It is recommended to do this at night with the lights on so you can see the alteration as you put them on.
- c) Right Hand Vehicles should also be aware that fog lights must either be on both sides, the centre or the left-hand side. Very often a UK car will have a fog light only on the right-hand side. This can be overcome sometimes by swapping the wiring over with the reverse light (and painting the reverse light red and taking out any red bulb or coloured panel from the original red fog light). Sometimes people opt to put an extra red fog light in the centre or on the left.
7) Register Your Vehicle at Tráfico
If you thought getting your paperwork from Industria was the final step then I’m very sorry to disappoint you! You still have to take it all down to Tráfico, after making an appointment of course. This appointment will see your car registered and you issued with a Ficha Técnica which is the Spanish logbook. You can normally pick this up the next day after your registration appointment.
8) Get Your Plates
The Ficha Técnica you were given by Tráfico will have your license plate number on it. You can take this to a plate shop - for example ‘Grabados Naybor’ (Carrer de Manuel Azaña, 28 in Palma) and they will usually make them up for you while you wait in about ten minutes. (This definitely seems to be the easiest and surprisingly quickest part of the whole process!)
9) Insure Your Vehicle
Before you put your brand-new number plates on your now Spanish-registered car you must make sure you insure it. Any insurance you had before will now be invalid as it is registered in a different country with a different license number. So, getting insurance is vital.
10) Put Your Plates On
Now that you have insurance and a Spanish-registered, road-tax paid, fully legal and roadworthy-certified vehicle - you can put your new plates on and away you go! Also, if you did this whole process by yourself then you should also think about getting a medal made up for you to wear!
Alternatively - Pay A Gestor! #
If all of this seems like a complete nightmare - and that’s not even taking into account the language which of course will all be in Spanish, it is highly recommended that you pay a gestor to do this for you. People like Zoe, who are not only bilingual but deal with this day in day out and can shortcut appointments and have the experience to navigate the common problems and issues that occur. They can take all of the headache out of this process. You just give your NIE, your passport and proof of address and they do the rest. Zoe’s fees for a relatively simple import from within the EU are between 250 and 300 € plus IVA.
All information contained in this article is based on personal experience and opinion and may change due to changing laws and regulations and/or based on where in Spain you are
I would like to thank Zoe Leggett Jakings for sharing her wonderful wealth of knowledge with us on this subject and can highly recommend her for all your vehicle and personal registration needs. http://www.zoeleggett.com/
Por Holly Jazz
1 marzo, 2020