Expat Guide for Documents When Buying a Car
Buying a car is more expensive in Spain than in many other EU countries. However they devalue much more slowly so when you sell, you´ll get a better price or trade-in deal. Used cars can be found for as low as €1,500 while new car prices generally start at approximately €10,000.
To buy a car in Spain you will need an NIE or residency card, proof of your address – a deed (escritura), lease or a certificate of residence (certificado de empadronamiento) in Spain.
New Cars in Spain
Spain generally remains a buyers’ market for new cars and you may be able to drive a hard bargain. New cars are sold at list price (which means getting it on the road will require the payment of stamp duty and other taxes), although you should still shop around for the best deal as dealers compete in offering discounts, guarantees, financing terms and special sales.
If you are seeking to obtain a loan or financing for your new car purchase, please know that most new and used car dealerships in Spain offer financing, but the interest rates are dependent upon your driving record, credit history and employment status – not much different than other countries standards.
You also have the option to seek out a loan or financing at any major bank, such as a La Caixa, Santander or Barclays but shop around and do your research before signing off on a loan. The banks tend to offer slightly lower rates on financing, but have stricter criteria for eligibility. Their criteria for financing is also dependent upon personal history, and interest rates can run from anywhere between 10 percent and 20 percent APR, depending on the driver and the amount borrowed.
Where to Buy
The best place to buy new cars is the old fashioned way – by going from dealership to dealership. Although there are plenty of car dealerships around, you might like to try an English speaking one. Listed are a couple that have good reputations:
93 247 05 02
93 5877 100
Used Cars in Spain
It pays to buy a used car that’s approximately two years old, as depreciation in the first one or two years is considerable (high mileage cars, particularly rental cars, can be a good value). However, older cars in Spain (outside of their warranty period) aren’t always well maintained.
There are many cowboys in Spain selling old, cosmetically-improved cars so it’s generally better to buy from a reputable dealer, even if you pay a bit more, and obtain a warranty.
Used car dealers, as well as private sellers, use Loquo. If you´re interested in buying a used car from a dealer, or are confident in buying privately, the best place to start looking is Loquo.
Here are the names of a couple of other places to look for second-hand cars:
- Global Car Centre: http://www.globalcarcentre.com/
- Victoria Cars – known for its rental-car services, but also offers sales of some second-hand cars: http://www.victoriacars.com/car_sales.html
Formalities & Registration
In general, the rule regarding license plates is that if you spend more than 6 months in any year in Spain, you will automatically be considered a resident and therefore you must obtain full national plates and pay the special vehicle registration tax (impuesto municipal sobre circulación de vehículos). You may also matriculate your foreign car on Spanish plates, but have to do so within 2 months from the time of entry.
When you purchase a new car through a dealership, they provide the license plates and you complete the registration process (as mentioned here) for the vehicle. Similarly, when you purchase a second-hand or used car, the original license plates normally remain with the car, and you complete the paperwork for purchase and registration. and you go through the registration process, you are given the license plates or second-hand car, the original registration normally remains. Please make sure you obtain the following documents when you buy a second-hand car:
- Registration document (permiso de circulación). The Permiso de Circulacion is the Spanish equivalent of the English Registration document and owner’s details have to be changed when vehicles change hands. It will detail all of the specifications of the car like make and model, number plate, chassis number, year of first registration, and most importantly the name and address of the current owner.
- The ITV test certificate plus the technical sheet ‘Ficha Tecnica’ and a photocopy.
- The road tax receipt and a photocopy.
- A receipt for the payment of transfer tax (8%). This transfer tax is often paid by the BUYER so add this to the expected purchase price. The tax is calculated by the trafico dept and NOT negotiable. It is calculated on the value of the vehicle.
You have exactly 15 days to register the vehicle in your name.
If you are buying your car from a dealer (recommended, especially for first-time buyers in Spain), they will take care of all of this. If you are buying a car privately, read on.
- Put a deposit on the car (usually around ten per cent). Then before you hand over the final payment, register the car in your name – see below.
- Make sure you have a full day free to go to your local Traffic Office (Jefatura De Tráfico).
- If the seller cannot go with you (unlikely as they will want to keep all of the documents related to the car until the final sale goes through), you will need copies of all the car documents, his/her documents, and a signed declaration allowing you to make the transfer in his/her name.
- When you are at the Traffic Office, be sure to ask about back-taxes, unpaid parking fines and so on. If the transfer goes through without these being paid, you will be liable for them. If there are unpaid dues, go with the seller while he or she pays them (usually at a local bank or Town Hall) to prevent them disappearing with your deposit.
- Once you have finished at the Traffic Office, you should go to your local Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) to pay the relevant taxes and finalise the transfer of ownership into your name.
You can also ask the seller to transfer the insurance to you as part of the sale. This means you can drive the car away same day and be fully covered.