Buying a car in Spain
Can I pay for a car in cash?
The cash payment limit is EUR 2 500 for Spanish residents and EUR 15 000 for non-residents. If the amount is higher, payment should be made by bank transfer. The fine for failing to observe this rule could be about 25 % of the payment price. When entering or leaving Spain, you must declare any sum of money of or equivalent to EUR 10 000 and above to customs using a es.
What about payment of VAT?
Within an intra-EU transaction new cars should be sold without VAT. A car is considered new if no more than 6 months have passed since the date on which it was first registered or if its mileage does not exceed 6 000 km. In practice, some sellers may require payment of VAT as a deposit, to be refunded once the car is registered in the buyer's country. Check in advance with the seller how to claim the VAT refund, i.e. what documentation the seller needs from you. In practice, the seller will require proof that the car has been registered in another EU Member State and sometimes, proof of payment of VAT. All other cars are considered second hand (more than 6 months since the date of first registration and mileage of more than 6 000 km). They are generally sold inclusive of VAT (21 %) if the supplier is a commercial seller (the supply is not liable to VAT if the supplier is a private person). You don't have to pay VAT in your country of residence.
Is the seller obliged to provide a vehicle inspection?
Yes. It is called "Tarjeta de Inspección Técnica de Vehículos" (ITV) in Spanish. A first periodic inspection has to take place 4 years after the car is first registered. The next two take place at 2-year intervals until the car is 10 years old. Subsequent inspections must be performed every year (4-2-2-2-1-1... rule). Prices are set by the autonomous communities and depend on the technical service, vehicle and test types, etc.. Average costs range from about EUR 25 to EUR 50.
Is the Spanish vehicle inspection recognised in my home country?
Some countries recognise it. Check in advance with your national authority to avoid unnecessary costs.
Can I have an expert carry out a check on the car at the seller's premises?
Yes, if the seller agrees. You will usually have to cover the costs (neither expert lists nor average prices are available).
What should I look out for in the contract of sale?
Read the contract carefully and only sign contracts you understand. Some traders try to exclude legal guarantee rights by claiming that the contract is a business-to-business contract or that the car is sold "without warranties" (only in business-to-consumer contracts would such a clause be considered null and void). Make sure that the name of the seller is the same as the name given in the registration document, or that the seller has power of attorney to sell the car in the registered owner's name. If you buy from a trader, make sure that the name of the company is mentioned in the contract and that there is an indication regarding VAT.
Can I cancel a signed contract?
- If the contract is signed on the seller's premises, you have no legal right to withdraw (unless the purchase is financed by a loan and the contract includes a clause allowing you to cancel if credit is declined or if you use your legal right of withdrawal from the credit agreement).
- If the contract is a distance sale contract and you have not yet collected the car from the seller's premises, you can withdraw from the contract before delivery. You can also withdraw up to 14 days from delivery of the car to your address. If you collect the car at the seller's premises, the contract is usually signed there and either will not foresee or will exclude the right to a cooling off period.
What documents should the seller provide?
- The contract of sale or an invoice;
- The registration certificate («Permiso de Circulación»);
- The seller is not legally obliged to provide the European Certificate of Conformity (COC). If no COC is available from the seller, you can contact the manufacturer in your country of residence. If the manufacturer cannot provide a COC, you can ask a technical service in Spain or in your home country .
Check if other documents are needed in the country where you intend to register the car.
Should I apply for temporary plates to drive the car home?
Temporary green plates ("placas verdes") are available . They allow you to drive across the borders of any EU Member State. Competent authority: Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT), C. Josefa Valcarcel 28, E-28071 Madrid, Price: EUR 19.20, Validity: 2 months. They can be ordered in advance if you provide the necessary documents to the DGT. You may be able to apply for transit plates from your home country. Check with your relevant national authority.
Do I need temporary insurance?
When driving the car home, you must be covered by insurance allowing you to drive on public roads. Ask your insurer or their representative in Spain if they can provide you with short-term insurance.
If I have a complaint about a cross-border purchase, whom do I contact?
Contact your es
What out of court dispute resolution body is available in Spain?
The es are the Spanish ADR bodies.
To whom do I report cases of fraud?