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Motoring in Spain Book Update, May 2007


 Queries from readers and listeners often bring up new problems about how to achieve some actions here in Spain and one recently from "Paul" was, "How do I scrap a foreign plated car here?"     If the car has been permanently exported from the UK then of course it should be on Spanish plates, but what if like many probably thousands, it is merely being driven here and has been for some months/years? 

The way to do it to protect yourself is:

Call the local official desguace or scrapyard to arrange for its collection.  You will have to pay for this service and you can find out when you phone.  If you are not fluent in Spanish, get a Spanish friend to do it for you, or the staff at the local foreigners department at the ayuntamiento.  If you can legally drive the car, take it there yourself to save the GRUA charge.   When you hand the car over, obtain an official receipt like a delivery note (recibo de la entrega) with the car's registration number and VIN number on it. 

Send a the original or a notarised copy of the receipt with the official scrapping form, part of the V5C if the car is a UK one, to the authority in the country of registration.

Sit back with peace of mind that all is well!  Your vehicle number will not be used for any criminal activity and if it is, you are administratively safe.

Note, the addresses and phone numbers of all the official scrap-yards in Spain, who are authorised by Trafico to issue scrapping receipts are listed in the Trafico web-site at (click)



Just received a phone call from Richard who lives in Almeria.  He tells me that the police are once again having a blitz on foreign residents who are still driving around on foreign registration plates and he wanted to know the facts.

Many expats. rely on the chat in the bars where the word is that in the EU now you do not now have to register your foreign plated cars as a resident in Spain.  Nothing is further from the truth.   With the advent of the radar cameras where the multas (fines) are sent to the registered owner of the vehicle in the photo, Trafico, the Guardia Civil and the policia locales are having campaigns to check out those who have not, as expats. (from ever EU country outside of Spain) who now live here more than 183 days a calendar year, and officially have Spain as their place of residence, must have their personal and commercial vehicles registered with Trafico and with a Spanish set of plates.

Why?   The vehicles need to be identifiable by the authorities, and also be paying the same taxes as do the Spanish.  The fact is that most are not even paying the taxes in the countries of registration and in the UK, this is simple by issuing a Sworn Off Road Notice to the DVLA so the automatic fines do not arrive at a UK address.   The Spanish are understandably upset at these "free-loaders", and those of us who are legal here can understand why.  After all, if say 50.000 vehicles owned by resident Spaniards were being used in the UK in such a manner, there would be an uproar with the media screaming for action by the authorities who would then have to stop "arresting children who throw pieces of cucumber" around and do something about it, especially with the 6.000 plus radar traps there meaning a lot of "lost potential income".

How do they catch you?  A few suggestions:

  • Road blocks:  You have a Residencia (a definite sign),  or a Spanish address with no proof of the driver moving back and forth to the UK, etc.   When you apply for Residencia, you have 30 days to start the procedure of registering your foreign vehicle.  If the GC or PL have any doubts, they will issue the denuncia/ multa and you will have to sort it out quickly, usually needing an abogado or lawyer. 

  • Your insurance certificate has a Spanish address on it.  

  • You have an ITV certificate, not a current MOT, etc depending on the country.   Trafico recently advised that there were too many ITV inspections on foreign plated vehicles compared with the re-registrations so they put 2 + 2 = 4 (for a change) and issued a bulletin to the GC and PLs.

  • Your foreign driving licence is registered at Trafico.

  • Someone you have fallen out with reports you anonymously.

  • You are seen over a period of months delivering your children to the local school or similar.

  • Parking fines in your town over a period of time.  It is now all computerised and so easy to analyse.

  • Can you think of any other ways?  If so, please let me know.

If you have a commercial vehicle or even a vehicle that is classed as commercial according to the V5C etc, it has to be re-registered within 30 days of entering Spain, unlike the private vehicles where the "free period" is 183 days.   I have seen vans and 4 x4s etc, with UK registrations with advertising of a Spanish-based company painted allover them.  A fine waiting to be issued.  The Spanish permiso de circulacion has the classification on the, especially the new document.

Another problem you will find, as E-mails sent to me have shown, if you have lived here for well over the 183 days, you my be asked to pay import duty on your vehicle when you register it.    Up to to 1600cc petrol, or 2000cc diesel = 7%: over these engine capacities, 12% all of the Hacienda (Provincial tax authority) listed value.

.So if you want to feel safe from a fine of usually 300 and given 30 days to get your vehicle onto Spanish plates anyway, I suggest you do it now. 

The full procedure is in my current book, Second Edition, to make it a smooth event without using a gestor, even if your Spanish is not up to scratch.



I have just sent in our old permiso de circulacion to have the address changed and have received the new layout A5 document which has more details on it.  One line is the type of fuel used and guess what?  They have described our Focus diesel as a "gasolina" or petrol- fuelled car.  So I looked on the old Permiso copy (the original must be sent in) and the Tarjeta Inspeccion Tecnica de Vehiculos and there has not been any mention of the fuel used before, so it is a new addition.  So if you are changing your address on your vehicle's permiso de circulacion, make sure that you add the fuel used, probably in pencil on the old one, it will be scrapped anyway.   There is no TASA charge now for an address change as I discovered.


Modification of the Motoring Penal Code Announced.

27 May 2007

The Spanish Ministerios del Interior and Justicia have announced that the penalties for the offences listed below are to be changed (increased in severity) from this summer.   The actual date will be announced soon.  The alcohol limits currently used, as on page 45 in the book still apply, but when the rate exceeds 1, 2 gr/litre of blood, then the added minimum penalties listed below will be set by the Court.  There are no minimum rates set for drug abuse which means that the mere presence of drugs found will constitute the maximum offence. 

The other added penalties are for speeding, driving recklessly or dangerously and driving without a licence.

At this Time

This Summer?

 Alcohol & Drug Offences Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

 Possible penalties awarded by the Court: prison sentence from 3 to 6 months, or  a from 6 to 12 months, and/or community service from 31 to 90 days, and losing the driving licence for 1 to 4 years.

 Driving under the influence of more than 1.2 gr/litre of alcohol or under the influence of drugs, prison from 3 to 6 months or from 6 to 12 months, and/or community service for 31 to 90 days.

 Speeding.   Currently, as in the table in the book.

 Driving recklessly or at proportionately high speeds for the established limit, prison 6 months to 2 years, and loss of licence from 1 to 6 years.

 More than 50 kph over the limit in an urban area, and 70 kph in an interurban area, prison from 3 to 6 months or 6 to 12 months, and/or community service for 31 to 90 days.

 Driving dangerously

 Driving any vehicle in such a way to be a danger to all road users, 6 to 2 years in prison and loss of licence from 1 to 6 years.

 Reckless or dangerous driving, 2 to 5 years in prison.

 Driving without a licence

 Administrative offence.

 6 months in prison or 12 to 24 months and community service of 31 to 90 days.









In addition to the above, the authorities are "hopping mad" that many drivers (at this time a figure of 5.000 drivers is noted in the Press) are still driving around after being charged with banning offences due to the time it takes for the offences to get to Court.  As a result, more drivers are expected to have their driving licences and/or vehicles taken away to prevent the numbers of drivers who seem to have no regard for the laws and safe driving.  The law has existed for some time where authorities at the road side can confiscate a licence or a vehicle, but especially if the driver is Spanish and so can be easily located later, this action is not often used.  This is reported to be changing where the event warrants it.  Another stipulation is that anyone taken to or who attends hospital after a road accident must have a blood sample taken to check for alcohol or illegal drugs.

In 2006, 50% of the accidents occurred between 3 pm to 5 pm and 2 to 6 am, many close to recreational areas where the restaurants, bars and night clubs are.  4.000 people were killed and 21.000 seriously injured.  It makes driving during those times a potentially dangerous proposition.

In 2006, 30% of drivers killed were over the alcohol limit: a staggering figure.  No wonder the authorities are very concerned.






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