Car registration

Quick guide

For those who want to register their vehicle and do not want to get overwhelmed with information.

To start the process we will need the following documents from the official owner of the vehicle:

  • copy of the passport
  • copy of the NIE number / Residencia document
  • copy of Escritura / Rental agreement
  • original car registration document

Also, we will need to see the vehicle to record technical and physical details.

Please contact us to make the appointment. We can meet you in our office, or closer to you if you do not wish to travel far. Bring your car and the above documents and we can kick off.

We try to make the process as easy as possible for our clients. We do all the work ourselves!

Important legal information



By law, you are entitled to drive your foreign plated car for 183 days or 6 months as a tourist, providing your car is legal on the road according to the law of the home country: it needs to have original registration document, valid Road Tax paid in home country, Technical test of the home country (not Spanish!) and insurance from the home country.

As a tourist means that you don’t have any legal long-term connection with Spain: Residencia, bank account, children in school, etc. If you have either of those, you are considered a RESIDENT, and you have to register your vehicle within TWO months after arriving to Spain. Two months are counted from the moment the OWNER enters the country, NOT the vehicle.

Driving your foreign car

A lot of people don’t bother to register their vehicles because the police have never stopped them yet. They are just delaying the big problem, which every time becomes more complicated.

If you haven’t started the process yet, but continue driving, try not to get sopped by the Police or Guardia Civil, as you can be in trouble. Your car may be impounded on the spot or, if you are lucky, at our house. You may not be able to convince the Police that you do plan to start the registration shortly.

Type approval number

Here it is also called “homologation” number. This number tells authorities that the car meets the European Road specifications and the ITV test can be passed. This number can be found on the documentation, on the vehicle, or on both. Usually the vehicles, which are produced for Europe after year 1999, will have this number. It looks like this: e9*93/81/0015. It is usually stamped on the plate under the bonnet together with the chassis number and weights of the vehicle.

Some vehicles without this number cannot be registered, unless the vehicle is “homologated”.


During this process the vehicle is given a personalised Type Approval number by the Spanish “Ministerio de Industria” - Industry Ministry. It may take up to 30-40 days and costs around 1500€. A representative from the Ministry will travel to see the vehicle. He will then provide a list of necessary adjustments that have to be implemented. Official homologation document is then issued that allows the ITV test to be passed.

If you got stopped

Once the Police have decided they want to impound you, they may follow you to your house, or take the car to a Police depot. The impoundment of your vehicle means that you have to start the registration process immediately by payment of the registration tax (now called emissions tax or matriculación tax). Other taxes will have to be paid for non-European vehicles. And the registration has to be finished within two months. The vehicle has to be collected from the depot with certain documentation that proves the start of the process. Please see information below regarding the registration process or contact us for advice on your personal situation.

Registration / emissions / matriculación tax

Current tax level since July 2010 is 16% of the value of the vehicle

How much will be my registration tax?

Here is how the Tax Office (Hacienda) calculate it for second-hand vehicles:

  • they take the value of the vehicle new (as if you buy it now new in Spain). Let’s take a BMW X5 4.6I from January 2003 as an example. The value of that vehicle new with 8 cylinders and 4619 CC will be: 67,500€.
  • now, they multiply that amount by the percentage depending on the age of the vehicle, which in our case will be 34%, so the value of the vehicle now is: 22,950€.
  • and the emissions tax is 16% of the previous amount, which is 3,672€ appr.

Please note that the age percentage above is taken from the moment you are “officially” in Spain (date of NIE number application or property purchase date), so you might be paying taxes for many years back! And no proof will be accepted that the car is not actually worth that much.

The emissions tax for brand new vehicles that arrive to Spain without any registration is calculated on the basis of the official invoice.

For vehicles that come from outside Europe other taxes have to be paid as well:

  • Customs /Aduanas tax of 10% - usually payable in the port when the vehicle enters Spain Spain plus expenses of Aduanas agent
  • VAT /IVA tax of 18% - has to be paid

So, the younger your car, the higher will be the taxes. You might be paying taxes for many years back as Tax Office estimates the value of the vehicle from the moment you are “officially” in Spain (date of Residencia application or other date they may find relevant).


The registration process

The process is very complex and it is important not to mix up the relevant steps as mistakes may not be rectified.

Please note that we take on the whole process and do everything for you. We want to make this process for you as painless as possible.


The process can take different routes depending on the needs of the owner.

Green provisional registration plate
  • The application for green provisional registration and plates may slow down the process by some days, but allows the owner to apply for Spanish insurance immediately and continue driving legally.
  • Vehicles without type approval number will have to go through a different route to pass the ITV. More documentation may be needed and the process will slow down.
  • Vehicles outside Europe may have to first sort out all the relevant taxes and adjustments to the vehicle before any steps are taken
  • Clients who require fast registration may take a direct route to ITV. In this case the vehicle can be registered within a week or two.


To start the process it is necessary to see the vehicle to collect the technical and physical data together with documentation for the vehicle and the official owner::

  • car registration document (original or copy, depending on the registration route chosen)
  • copy of the valid passport
  • copy of the NIE number document and/or Residencia certificate
  • copy of the Padron (Local Town Hall registration)/Escritura/Rental agreement. Please note that Padron might also be needed later if not provided in the beginning
  • “baja consular” may also be needed in the process (again, depending on the route chosen).


The following steps are usually followed for every registration process:

  • vehicle measuring process
  • application for Ficha Reducida
  • application for provisional registration document and green plates
  • homologation process (if needed)
  • passing of the ITV when the vehicle is ready(headlights, fog lights are changed, etc)
  • payment of the local tax
  • tax office registration
  • application for tax exemption or tax payment process
  • presentation of documents in Trafico and Trafico tax payment process
  • issue of new registration number and document
  • application for new Spanish plates

Thank you so much for your help! We have used M.E.Express now for many years and they have sorted out everything for us, without any problem!

See you again!