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Updated: 10/2020

Procedure for identifying a vehicle in Spain, assigning a registration plate

Vocabulary
  • What do you need to know?
  • What do you need to do?

The FEE VARIES depending on the type of vehicle and municipality

IT DOES NOT EXPIRE

You must apply BEFORE DRIVING in Barcelona as a resident

It is applied for IN PERSON​

What is it?

It is the procedure which allows a registration plate valid in Spain to be assigned to identify the vehicle.

Depending on the type of vehicle and its origin, the procedure may vary.

Important information

Once the formality has been completed, you will be assigned a registration number. Once you have it, you must buy the plates with the registration number and take out insurance for the new registration number assigned. You will then be able to use your vehicle in the city.

You can also consult the official website of the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT) (only available in Spanish). 

Why is this formality important?

It is obligatory to register the vehicle to drive in Spain if the period of residence is over six months.

Failure to obtain registration within six months of your arrival in the city is considered a serious offence and may result in an administrative penalty and immobilisation of the vehicle.

Who does it apply to?

It applies to citizens who move to Spain and are owners of a vehicle that they want to use in its territory.

Who should apply for it?

The application can be made by the owner of the vehicle or by a duly authorised representative.

What requirements must be met?
  • Be the owner of the vehicle or an authorised representative.
  • Have a Spanish residence permit.
  • Have registered in the municipal register of residents.
Which body is responsible for the formality?

Directorate-General for Traffic (Government of Spain) 

What advice and suggestions could help you?
  • Check the tax exemption requirements before making the payment.
  • If you register the vehicle within the European Union (EU) due to a change of residence, you will be exempt from paying road tax.
  • If your stay is longer than six months, it is essential to register your vehicle. However, if the sole purpose of your stay is to continue your studies, you do not have to register it. 
  • As a general rule, you cannot register a vehicle in the country where you have a second residence or holiday home.
What other linked formalities should you know about?

If you want to apply for registration of the vehicle, you must first complete the following formalities:

 

What do you need to do?

In person

Vehicles in Spain are generally registered in person by prior appointment, which you can request by calling 060.  

Although you can also request it online, from the electronic register, provided your vehicle has an ITV card in electronic format (NIVE). You must have a valid electronic National ID or electronic certificate or your cl@ve credentials for accessing the register. In addition, as the submission of your document will have to be signed, it is important you check, before you register, that you have downloaded the programme AutoFirma

In order to register your vehicle you must complete some formalities, mainly in person, related to the inspection of the vehicle, the payment of taxes and the registration itself.

What steps must you take to apply for registration?

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Take your vehicle to have the vehicle roadworthiness test (VRT) done

Any vehicle registered in Spain must pass the vehicle roadworthiness test (VRT), which aims to verify vehicles' compliance with safety requirements, as well as requirements regarding pollutant emissions.

To do so, you must make an appointment at an authorised centre. There are different authorised private companies that you can easily find on the Internet.

When you arrive at the centre, you must go to the offices, pay the fees and present the documentation.

  • The cost of the VRT will vary depending on the type of vehicle.
  • The documentation will vary depending on the country of origin and whether the vehicle is new or has already been registered. In general, you will have to submit:
    • The documentation identifying the owner of the vehicle.
    • The registration certificate or equivalent document from the country of origin.
    • The original of the technical data sheet, vehicle roadworthiness test card or equivalent document from the country of origin.
    • The approval sheet (proving the vehicle complies with the European regulations for vehicle approval).

Once the inspection has been completed, if the result has been favourable, you will be given the report and a sticker will be placed on your car demonstrating that it has passed the VRT. If, on the other hand, the vehicle has serious or very serious defects, you will be told what they are and you will have to repair them and carry out the VRT again at a later date.

It is important for you to know that the public documents issued in your country of origin which are necessary to complete formalities for coming to Barcelona must comply with international legalisation requirements.

There are two methods of international legalisation of a public document, depending on whether or not the country issuing the document is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961:

  • If the country issuing the public document is a signatory, the document will be recognised if it bears the Hague Apostille stamp. This stamp will be processed in the country of origin.
  • If the country issuing the public document is not a signatory, then the legalisation process will be carried out through diplomatic channels.

In addition, all public documents must be translated by means of authorised translation. In the case of standard EU forms, neither translation nor legalisation is required.

Next
Pay the taxes associated with registration

Once you have successfully passed the ITV, you will have to pay taxes. The taxes may vary, depending on how and where the vehicle was purchased. Even so, the two main taxes you will have to pay are the road tax and the registration tax. 

1) First you will have to pay the tax on motor vehicles (also known as road tax). 

  • It is a tax that must be paid annually by the owners of most vehicles.
  • The amount may vary depending on the type of vehicle and the municipality in which you have registered as a resident.
  • Payment can be made at City Hall itself, at the relevant bank with a payment card or over the Internet.

You can also consult the website of the Municipal Institute of Finance (available in English, French, Catalan and Spanish).

2) Then you will have to pay the registration tax to the Agencia Tributaria, Spain’s tax authority

  • It is a direct and definitive tax on the first registration of new or used motor vehicles used to drive on public roads and land.
  • The payment is made only once and varies according to the vehicle. It can be done electronically, using a digital certificate or digital Spanish national identity document (DNI), or in person at the Tax Office.

 

There are specific cases in which there is exemption from the payment of these taxes. To consult them, access the Tax Office portal (available in English, Catalan, Spanish and other co-official languages)

You can also consult the Tax Office website (available in English, Catalan, Spanish and other co-official languages of the Spanish state). 

Next
Register your vehicle

After completing the VRT and paying the relevant taxes, you must go to the DGT provincial office to submit all the documentation and register the vehicle.

To do so, you must make an appointment at the DGT, by calling 060 or on its website.

When you go to your appointment, you will have to pay a €97.80 traffic fee (except in the case of mopeds, where it is €27.30) and submit all the required documents. The vehicle will then be registered. 

Payment of the fee cannot be made in cash

Before going to the appointment, you must consult and prepare the documentation that you will be asked for:

Documentation

 

  • Official application form. 
  • Documentation proving the identity and address of the holder (note: content in drop-down format)
    • Spanish national identity document (DNI), Spanish driving licence, residence card or passport and identity number for foreign nationals (NIE).
    • In the case of minors or people with disabilities:
      • Details and signature of the father, mother or legal guardian
      • Identity document
    • Document accrediting the capacity in which they act
    • When the holder is not carrying out the formality:
      • Authorisation signed by the person represented, together with his or her original identity documentation.
  • Vehicle documentation
    • Documentation proving that the VRT has been passed.
  • Taxes
    • Proof of payment or exemption from the municipal road tax (original or photocopy).
    • Proof of payment, exemption from or not being subject to registration tax (except in the case of trailers).

If the vehicle comes from outside the European Union, you will have to submit the single administrative document (SAD) provided at customs.

 

Once the formality has been completed, you will be assigned a registration number. When you have it, you must buy the official registration plates and take out insurance for the new registration number assigned. You will then be able to use your vehicle in the city.

Important information

Formalities tend to change fairly frequently. That is why it is only the regulations in force that apply when you carry out the formality in question.