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Checks to make before buying a used car in Spain

- Updated: 09/04/2011
Checks to make before buying a used car in Spain

A Spanish Registered Vehicle

Any new buyer of a second hand Spanish vehicle in Spain is automatically liable for the outstanding debt attached to vehicle. This could be unpaid road tax from previous years, traffic or parking fines and even outstanding finance or unpaid loans that have been secured on the vehicle. Furthermore embargoes can be placed on a vehicle that the potential new buyer may be unaware of.

You may also be buying a vehicle that has been written off in a previous accident and been put back on the road, or worse still stolen and in all of these cases you, the buyer, will be the one left with the headache.

The Jefatura del Traffico - ( Ministry of Transport - similar to the DVLA in the UK ) has an office in the main city in each Province, and provides a service that, for a small fee can advise you the following information if you are able to provide just the registration number ( Matriculation ) of the vehicle that you are looking to buy :

  • Vehicle Make and Model
  • Year of first Registration
  • Engine size , Fuel, Transmission
  • Imported into Spain or not
  • Number of Previous owners
  • Bastitdor (VIN Number)
  • Details of Current owner
  • Stolen or Not
  • Registered off road or not
  • ITV ( Mot ) details
  • Any outstanding debt or emargoes

This information is provided on a single page A4 report, in Spanish, and will essentially provide you with enough information to make an advised decision on the true value of the vehicle that you are considering buying.

In most cases in life if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is and a small fee can either prevent you from making a big mistake , or give you peace of mind that your purchase isn't going to come back and bit you on the backside years down the line.

If you are unable to do this yourself, then there are specialist companies located closeby to most Traffico offices that can do this for you or alternatively a Gestor will usually do this , but you will need to add on a further small fee for their time in doing this for you.

A UK Registered Vehicle in Spain

The process on checking outstanding Finance etc... on a UK Registered Vehicle in Spain is very similar, except that you will need to make contact with a company in the UK who can liase with the DVLA on your behalf. Unfortunately it needs to be said that there are quite a few UK registered cars in Spain with questionable provinence due to the fact that many owners see taking a vehicle out of the country as an easy way to duck under the radar.

Comment on this Article

The best way to check if a Spanish vehicle is "OK" is with an official report from the Spanish Traffic Office and translated in English, for only 24,95 euros. We can advise you on how to proceed with the change of ownership. - Wed 6th Jan 2016
Arthur : If your Spanish is passable then you can do this by calling into the Provincial DGT Office and submitting a request (paying a fee of about 25 Euros) - OR there are a number of Agencies who will do this for you for a small surcharge. There is no other website or agency who would hold this information.
Tumbit - Admin - Sun 5th Apr 2015
Hi I only need to find out what age and model this Range Rover is 0039 HTH from Spain. Many thanks
Arthur - Sun 5th Apr 2015
To transfer my Spanish reg to my ownership I need copy of sellers passport and Nie . He will not provide them. I have the numbers on the sales form. What can I do ?
Bill - Thu 12th Dec 2013
Thanks, but it's not that, it's to do with how much Trafico charge when you sell your car to someone else - ie what the rate is depending on the make, age and value of the car, that is what the JUNTA believes the value is! I have seen the website somewhere but can't remember where!
Karen - Thu 19th Apr 2012

Karen, I don't know of any website that will calculate the final amount for you, but assuming you are importing an EU registered car to Spain registration tax will be 12% (11% for the Canaries) for petrol vehicles over 1,600cc, four-wheel drive vehicles and diesel vehicles over 2,000cc, and then 7% or 6% if smaller.

However, if importing a vehicle you have owned for 6 months, and coming to Spain to live permenantly, the vehilce will be exempt from tax.

Each of the above tax rates is applied to what the tax office believe the original value of the vehicle to be, with a reduction for each year of its age up to 10 years, e.g. 20% after the 1st year, 30% after 2 years, 50% after 4 years, and 80% after 10 years.

C Timpson - Thu 19th Apr 2012
Can you tell me the website which shows how the transfer tax is worked out when changing car ownership? I know it's on a sliding scale but I can't find the web address and I need the specific info! Thanks
Karen - Thu 19th Apr 2012
Fast response Tumbit! The thing is I was unable to sell the car without doing this. I did not know there was a way to sell a car with multas attached to it. Good advice on this site.
Giles - Wed 23rd Mar 2011
Giles, you are correct - it IS the responsibility of the seller of the vehicle to do this. The question is, as a buyer, would you trust them to do this legally and correctly, and not to mis-lead you as a potential buyer with a vehicle that has hidden defects or attached debt ?
Tumbit - Admin - Wed 23rd Mar 2011
I sold a car in Madrid and this is not correct, it is the responsability of the SELER to go to trafico and get the transfer documentation, they then chack if it has outstanding multas and you have to pay them.
Giles - Wed 23rd Mar 2011