Buying a Used Car in Spain (Checklist)

Although our dealers agree to adhere to our code of conduct, its essential that you base your purchase decision on informed knowledge and as only you have the final say in whether you wish to proceed with buying a second hand car, we advise  you to follow these basic guidelines and let common sense prevail.

Before you do anything though, you should know, to transfer ownership of a vehicle, Spanish law requires that you have ALL of the following:

  • You have a copy of your Passport
  • Copy of NIE
  • ANY one of the following proofs of address
    a. copy of empadronamiento (date within the last 3 months)
    b. copy of rental agreement in spanish
    c. copy of escritura (property deeds)

So now that you know what documents you need when buying a secondhand car, its important to know what to look out for.

  1. Inspect it
    You should take your time assessing the exterior and the interior of the car, in daylight. Keep an eye-out for rust, damaged tyres, oil leaks and faulty windscreen wipers/seat belts/windows etc. Ask about any body work, such as replaced panels, welding or different patches of colour/texture. If you don’t know a lot about cars then take someone with you who does. You should also ask the dealer if the car has been in accident and is a write-off, as they are under no obligation to volunteer this information.
  2. Take it for a test drive
    Taking a car for a spin is a good way to make sure its road handling and brakes are up to scratch. You should also take note of the seat belts, the exterior lights, the handbrake and the gears. Keep an ear open for any strange mechanical noises.
  3. Agreeing the deal
    Make sure the price you are being quoted includes IVA, number plates, delivery charges and any other applicable taxes. In the case the dealer is in a position to offer you an incentive (such as free insurance or an extended warranty) then ask them to put everything down in writing.

Additional Notes: All Spanish vehicles come with two documents, The “Permiso de Circulación” (Permiso) and the “Tarjeta Inspección Tecnica De Vehiculos” (Ficha). Never be afraid to ask for the existence of either of these documents fro the seller of the secondhand car.

The Permiso is renewed at each change of ownership and records who is the legal owner and responsible for the vehicle. The Permiso  is issued by The Spanish Traffic Department only (Traffico). If you are handed a Permiso in the previous owners name when you purchase a vehicle this is Illegal as it always has to be returned to Traffico.

The Ficha (type of log book) details all the technical aspects of the vehicle and records the I.T.V’s on the reverse and the Ficha stays with the vehicle throughout its life.

BOTH documents must be presented for a change of ownership and also for an I.T.V. inspection.

You cannot drive a Spanish vehicle without the owners permission or consent unless you have an official “justificante” (cover note) from the Gestoria which proves the transfer of ownership is in progress as the Police may impound the vehicle even if you had insurance cover. Also, the insurance company would only pay (in the case of a accident or incident) the legally registered owner named in the Permiso or the official justificante.

Road tax is payable yearly  and varies in cost between the different town halls, But can only be paid between April and October by the person or company named in the Permiso at the local Town Hall. Road tax is not a Police matter.