Your Car in Spain
More Trouble on the Costas
In Part one we deal with a new Spanish law change, obliging car owners who are driving in Spain on UK or Irish number plates, to change to Spanish plates within 30 days. This rule actually applies to residents but not to non-residents who may use their car for 6 months of any year in that country.
However Spanish Police are not really too worried about drawing a difference between the two and are very happy to impound any car for a week until you can prove which you are!
As a non-resident you need to carry all your vehicle documentation and a document in Spanish explaining you are a tourist staying in the country for less than 6 months, may help resolve a volatile situation.
For residents there is another danger lurking amongst the ex-pat population. Just when you think you are receiving good information about your car and its future in Spain, you could have lured into an information trap. There are now ex-pats offering the service of conversion of non-Spanish car to a Spanish registration. This could be a genuine offer. It might not be!
Janet Long moved to Malaga in the Spring. She dug her car out last month and was made aware of the law change on number plates by an English friend who did not know all the facts but put her in touch with someone who did! She had heard that this chap could do all the paperwork for her and change everything over to a Spanish registration for about 550 euros. Paul Meadows was an ex-pat who had lived in the area for many years, he had many jobs in his life and knew his way around the local police stations and tax office. He offered to help Janet with her problem and indeed confirmed it would cost little more than 550 Euros. He advised her to go to the local British Consulate and obtain an import certificate for 36 Euros and have her passport stamped. Then she needed to go to her local Town Hall and obtain a "Padrone", a certificate showing she was a resident in her local authority. He offered no help in these matters and it proved fairly difficult to obtain the "Padrone" and took her a whole day! Then Paul suggested he would order the new lights for her car, a Chrysler Voyager.
One day later he called back. The lights were more expensive than he had thought and would cost 950 Euros plus fitting. The bill was probably now to be 1500 Euros. A week later he rang again and said the additional MOT paper would cost another 100 Euros and that VAT would be payable. Yes you can calculate like me that Janet is now in for 1600 Euros. The day of the appointment came and Paul rang again to advise her to bring at least 2000 Euros in cash so that there would not be any problem! Later that day the final bill came to 1864 Euros.
When I caught up with her last week it was too late and it had all been done, and so had she!
The British Consulate advised me what a person should do if they wished to convert their car to a Spanish registration. Yes you need their import declaration form, the "Padrone" and a valid MOT certificate which would only be given if the correct lights were fitted. Armed with all this documentation Janet should have gone to the local Tax office and submitted her case. Having bought the new car one year ago in a legitimate deal in the UK she had paid English VAT and purchase tax, she had the bill of sale and the DVLC document which she had filled in to state that she was exporting the car to Spain. (After this DVLC would have no further interest in the vehicle.)
The Spanish tax office would agree that tax has already been paid and that the British Consulate had checked that she was a declared bone fide UK citizen. Her document would be further stamped.
At the Traffic department with all these documents, she could obtain her Spanish registration and her number. Back to the Garage to fit the new plates and she was done! This sounds horrendous, but it's not, just a few days of your life, which someone may charge a fee to help you achieve or a Spanish speaking friend can hold your hand.
It's that fee really which worried me. I checked with the Chrysler dealer in Malaga. The price of 2 new headlamp units was 800 Euros total. The price fitted was 850 Euros, 30 minutes work and fairly charged at a minimum hourly rate. The labor carries VAT at 16%, 8 Euros. The MOT should cost no more than 150 Euros depending on whether there is other work involved.
My maximum estimate for the total was 1050 Euros.
You may draw your own conclusions.