Driving a UK Car in Spain

Driving a UK Car in Spain

Yet Again this week i was told of another horror storey of a guy who was driving his UK registered car here in Spain and now has to arrange a loader to take it back to the uk as he has no mot on it and can not get one here…thats gona cost him….

Once you have spent any amount of time in Spain you know the roadside checks by the police and Guardia Civil are an all too often occurrence.

The local police are out in force here in most cities now looking car UK plated cars they seem to love stopping cars early in the mornings on large roundabouts or last thing at night.

Once you are registered here you are considered as a resident not a tourist.

I have read a number of stories of ex-pat forums saying that the guardia civil in some cases will fine you on the spot in cash if you are driving to UK car in Spanish roads and are unable to prove that you are non resident, so be warned if you were living here permanently either register your vehicle ASAP or buy a Spanish vehicle. while driving your UK registered car in Spain it must be fully insured in the UK and have a valid UK mot.

If you are a resident in Spain, you only have 1 month to register it.
As a non-resident you can keep a foreign registered vehicle in Spain for 6 months before you are required by Spanish law to either re-register your vehicle as a Spanish one or physically take it out of the country for 6 months. REMEMBER..If you are a resident in Spain, you only have 1 month to register it.
Your vehicle must at all times be road legal in its country of registration. There are 3 main police forces that you can come across in Spain, Guardia Civil, Policia Nacional and Policia Local all of these can deal and investigate traffic matters.
They all have access to UK DVLA and other complying countries databases so can check a vehicles legality in minutes using a smart phone. They are able to check if your vehicle is taxed, MOT’d and insured i.e road legal in the country that the car is registered in. If any of these are not up to date you could have your vehicle impounded.
If you owned a vehicle before moving to Spain, there are virtually no restrictions that will prevent you from re-registering it. If you buy a non Spanish vehicle or Motor home after moving to Spain or are thinking of purchasing one there may be certain restrictions, so please check
right handed car
Yes you can import a right hand dive car or motor home. Usually right hand drive vehicles will need to have continental headlights fitted, left hand drive headlight beam conversion stickers are acceptable for permanent importation of a car into Spain.

Driving a UK Car in Spain

Driving a UK Car in Spain
British expats who are resident in Spain can drive their UK plated vehicles on Spanish roads for a maximum of 180 days. After this time, the vehicle must be exported or transferred to Spanish plates.

It must be legal on the roads of the origin country regardless of it being driven in another country. It is also important to note that you cannot get a UK Registered vehicle moted in Spain using the spanish equivalent ITV. Likewise you would not be able to imitate a Spanish version of the vehicle in the UK.

If your road tax runs out while in Spain you will be in effect driving without insurance as driving without road tax will mean that your insurance is invalid. You may then get stopped have your vehicle impounded and potential he be hit with a €2000 fine.
If you’re MOT expire you will either need to drive or transport the vehicle all the way back to the UK and have it registered. This is “extremely expensive and not to be mentioned time-consuming. The better option would be to either sell it i’ll get it registered in Spain.

Going to do it in Gibraltar ….. NO… MOTS are only valid for Gib reg vehicles in exactly the same way as Spanish ITV certs are only legally valid for Spanish reg vehicles.

The only valid MOT cert for a UK reg vehicle is one issued in the UK.

While driving your UK plated car in Spain you will need to be insured, your UK insurance will usually provide you with a certain amount of cover while in spain but it is essential that you check your policy before bringing your car or other vehicle into the country in many cases your insurance will cover you for around 90 days only but you must check with them to be on the safe side.

Driving a UK Car in Spain

Can I register my UK vehicle in Spain?

Yes but in many cases it is a bureaucratic nightmare to say the least with an abundance of paperwork to navigate your way through then there are the important taxes that you will need to pay which are 21% of a new vehicle, for a second hand vehicles the taxes based on the level of CO2 omissions.

If you register your vehicle in Spain it would need to pass in MOT inspection here this is called the ITV inspection in most cases it would be well worth employing the service of a local Gestor here in Spain if you are intent on registering your right hand drive vehicle here unless your vehicle is cherished and was real value for example is a vintage car it might be worth considering buying a Spanish vehicle here.

My Personal advice. after living here for 15 years i would never have a uk car here as you will find it hard to drive as you will be sitting on the other side so your vision is limited also the police just love stopping UK cars to see if the papers are all in order as they get large fines if it is not.
The Spanish police can seem quite intimidating when it comes to checking your vehicle and it’s documentation and if you are driving a foreign plaited vehicle you will stand out like a sore thumb.

But don’t panic you are legally permitted to drive your UK vehicle in spain. You just need to make sure you are familiar with the registration and documentation requirements so that you don’t become another brit who has had a vehicle impounded and been hit by massive fines. Another thing to consider is whether you are a resident or nonresident in spain as this can determine how long you can drive your vehicle on Spanish roads.

Generally speaking if you are a resident in spain you can bring your vehicle into the country year-round and drive it.

How long before it has to be registered?.
Under the EU directives you are considered to be a resident of spain if you spend more than 183 days of the year here this is why you are only permitted to drive a UK Registered vehicle in spain for up to six months of the year. Beyond the six months you will need the following.

Register your UK vehicle in spain.
Drive or transport it back to the UK or at least out of Spain.
If you have moved to Spain with the intention of becoming a permanent resident here you must register your vehicle within 30 days with the local traffic department so if you own a property you have children in school owned a business or employed here you are registered.

Personally i think you could avoid all these potential problems by just buying a Spanish car. after all you are living in Spain and there are some great deals on cars here now.

If this sounds like a night mare it is. thats why i recommend that if you live here just buy a spanish car and done with all the hassle.

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If this has been helpful please leave a comment below thanks.


  1. I have been driving my English car here for 10 years and have no trouble with driving on the rhs.I transferred it onto Spanish plates after having it here for a year and it cost me about €1500 all in, worked out about 50% cheaper than buying a Spanish car.


    1. i understand the costs but i have just driven from Almeria to Pamplona and back with friends a total of 1200 klm and there was loads of lorries and trucks on the main roads and overtaking was difficult even with left hand drive i wouldnt want to do it rhd. also car parks and barriers are set for left hand drive so you will have to get out each time you need to take a ticket. how do you get on in car parks.


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