If you are a non-resident of Spain but from an EU member state then you can import your vehicle into Spain and use it with its own licence plates without paying any Spanish taxes for up to six months in one calendar year. The vehicle must be road worthy and legal in the country of registration. Your car may remain in Spain indefinitely, provided its UK tax and MOT are maintained, but you may not stay in Spain for any longer than 182 days in any one calendar year and neither you nor anyone else can use the vehicle in Spain during the remaining part of the year. Your car must also be insured in its country of registration under EU Law.
However, you automatically become a resident, from a tax perspective, after being in Spain for 182 days in a year. At this point you are by law required to pay import tax (unless you register as non-resident) and re-register your vehicle with Spanish plates, and can be fined for non-compliance. If you are taking your vehicle out of the UK on a temporary basis, you must take the registration document or certificate with you to present to the Spanish authorities if required.
The procedures relating to permanent importation are complex, and it is undoubtedly easier to sell your car in the UK and buy a new one in Spain. If you do wish to import a car, the use of professional help (Gestor) is almost a necessity unless you are patient and a good Spanish speaker.
If you are taking your vehicle out of the UK on a permanent basis you must notify the DVLA and send them the vehicle's registration documents, which will be exchanged for a certificate of permanent export (V561).
Virtually any vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, campervans etc, whether right or left- hand drive, can be imported, with the general exception of right hand drive commercial vehicles such as panel vans, due to lack of vision from the driver’s position.
If you are a Spanish resident already and wish to import a car from the UK, your foreign-plated car can only be driven from the Spanish border or point of entry to the place of residence in Spain and registration with the Department of Transport and application for Spanish plates should take place during the first 30 days of arrival in the country. The local provincial traffic department will issue a temporary green registration plate, which is valid for ten days, allowing you to complete an ITV test and receive a permanent registration number.
An application for an import licence must be made to the Ministry of Economics and Finance: Ministerio de Economía Hacienda. For this, a certificate is required from the Dirección de la Seguridad del Estado showing the date of issue of your resident's permit. The registration procedure involves acquiring a standardisation certificate for a right-hand drive car, which states that the vehicle complies with Spanish safety standards. This can be acquired from any Spanish ITV centre, which will perform an ITV test (equivalent to a MOT). Payment of IVA (VAT) at 16% will be required if not already paid, also import duty of 10% for vehicles imported from outside theEU. Payment of a Special Registration Tax ( impuesto sobre circulación de vehículos ) of 12% calculated on the vehicle's value may also be required, but may be avoided if a certificate of non-residence in the UK is produced, which can be provided by a UK embassy - applications for this exemption must be made within one month of the start date of your residence permit.
Road Tax (impuesto municipal sobre vehiculos de traccion mecanica) must be paid annually, between March and May, to your local town hall.
Permanent residents of Spain are not permitted to operate a car on foreign number plates, so if your status changes from non-resident to resident, and you have previously been driving a foreign plated car, it will be necessary to go through the process to obtain full national plates and pay the required taxes.