Buy a Car in Spain

Paperwork needed for buying a car in Spain

This information for buying a car in Spain is correct as of April 2017 but may change without notice, also different areas have different requirements

The Buyer

Before you even begin to think about buying a car either new or second hand you’ll need to make sure you have all of the following (take photocopies of everything with you). Note that you do NOT have to have a driver´s license to buy a car in Spain.
  • Your Permiso de Residencia or Residence Permit (NIE) or passport.
  • Your escrituras, or house deeds, or a rental contract for a minimum of one year.
  • Certificado de Empadronamiento or proof of residence in your municipality, available free or for a few euros from the Town Hall. It should not be older than three months. Some car dealers insist on it, and if you don´t have it, everybody wastes time until the dealer checks his facts.
  • If you are financing the car through a dealer you will also need to provide a tres nóminas, your three last payslips, or some other proof of income, such as a copy of your work contract.
Whether you decide to buy from a private seller or a dealer, similar paperwork is involved. You should ask to see the originals of all documents, particularly when dealing with a private seller.
The Seller
The Permiso de Circulación or Log Book, which is the car´s ID. It shows proof that the chassis number (vehicle identification number) corresponds with the one on the vehicle´s registration document, and provides information on the car, such as the number plate, make, model, name and address of the owner and when it was first registered.
A Transferencia, or transfer of ownership form.
The Inspección Técnica (or ITV) document or MOT, stamped and dated on passing the last inspection and detailing when the next one is due. This proves that the car met the minimum environmental and road safety standards required by law.
The Impuesto Sobre Vehiculos or road license fee for the current financial year, paid in full.

The price for the same new car may vary in Spain from a dealer to another. Also, if you give your old car to pay the new one, you will find the price highly reduced, depending on your old car value.

The dealer might pay the registration fee, especially on a new, list price car or if you are paying cash.

Due to various government plans to reduce pollution, cars over ten years old may be taken in part exchange and qualify you for a discount.

In the event that the car model you have chosen is not available at the time of your request, you should fill in a purchase order for a new car. Pitfalls to avoid:

  • Make sure that the purchase price cannot vary while you are waiting for your new car and that the deposit of money you give takes part of the car final price.
  • The purchase order shall contain the features of the car you have chosen, as well as thedate of supply.
  • In case you give your old car as part of the new car price, ask for a copy of your old car’s sales contract, in order to inform the Provincial Traffic Authorities (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico) and the Town Council (Ayuntamiento) about the new owner name of your old vehicle; otherwise you may be still liable for taxes payment and possible traffic fines.

Once you are given your new vehicle, the dealer shall supply the following documents:

  • The vehicle circulation permit.
  • The technical sheet corresponding to your new car.
  • A written guarantee of the car.
  • The instructions and maintenance manual.
  • The purchase invoice of the car.

These are only general guidelines; Any other questions applicable to your individual case on buying a car in Spain should be directed to a Spanish Lawyer.


If you buy a second-hand car in Spain, whether privately or from a car dealer, you should be provided with the following documents:

  • The circulation permit (permiso de circulación) duly signed on the reverse of the document, together with the technical sheet of the car.
  • Receipt of the municipal vehicle tax (Impuesto Municipal sobre vehí­culos de tracción mecánica). This is a municipal tax, which varies from town to town, you should keep this with you in your car.
  • ITV test certificate, when applicable. ITV is the inspection for vehicles older than 4 years to verify its condition.

Check the vehicle history before buying any car, as the vehicle may have past debts and the creditor is entitled to use the car as an asset for seizure.

Either the seller or buyer, depending on what both parties agreed, shall apply for a new registration certificate, in order to transfer the ownership of the vehicle (notificación de transferencia de vehí­culos), obtainable from the provincial traffic department. Both parties must sign this document.

The buyer must pay:

  • the transfer tax at the tax office at a rate of 4 percent of the car price.
  • The Traffic fees, when applying for the transfer of vehicle’s ownership.

About the guarantee:

The seller is liable for the later possible imperfections of the vehicle, which could not be discovered by a non-expert car buyer. Private buyers may renounce this guarantee, however, the dealer is mandatory responsible for imperfections on the car.


If you’ve seen an ex Spanish vehicle for sale in the UK or another European country, at first glance, it may appear to be both cheaper and more convenient, but, there are a few things to consider.

It is absolutely essential to find out if the vehicle is still "live" on the Spanish traffic system (de alta) or if it’s been properly taken off the Spanish system (de baja), especially if it’s now registered in another European country. This can be done with a vehicle check, using either of the following links:

The vehicle check will determine which documents you will need and tell you if the vehicle has any administrative issues, that would prevent it being registered in your name, such as outstanding road tax, embargoes etc.

If the vehicle has been properly de-registered in Spain then you would need to apply to the DGT to rehabilitate the vehicle, once permission has been granted, you can then get the vehicle tested, but you must have a full year's insurance policy in place on the old Spanish registration number at the time of the test and the vehicle needs to be tested on the old Spanish Plates.. The ITV station also needs to order paperwork before the ITV test.

Once the vehicle has been tested, number plates need to be swapped back to the number plates that correspond with the country of current registration, whilst the vehicle is pending registration with the DGT.

If the car is still registered in Spain. It's quite often the case that an ex Spanish vehicle that has been registered in another country hasn't been properly de-registered in Spain. If this is the case with your vehicle you will need the ID docs of the previous owner to be able to register the vehicle in your name.

About the car insurance:

If you buy a second hand car you may subrogate (Subrogation, is the right for an insurer to legally pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured.  This is done as a means of recovering the amount of the claim paid by the insurance carrier to the insured for the loss)  The seller's car insurance, the insurance company shall be informed about this.  Make sure that the sell is up to date on any payments, otherwise once the vehicle is transferred, you will be liable for any pending payments.

These are only general guidelines, other questions applicable to your individual case should be directed to a Spanish Lawyer.

You can find more information on buying a car in Spain from our Facebook Group

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