Buying, Selling or Car Re-Matriculation

Banger or Bentley get your paperwork in order

Sometimes Spain tries to make things as difficult as possible and buying or selling a car falls right into this category. It’s not just a case of filling in new owner data and popping it in the post, oh no, it’s a trip to Trafico at the very least.

When you buy or sell a car it’s important to make sure the paperwork is correctly done or you could end up paying hundreds of euros in fines and charges which aren’t your responsibility.

Buying a Car

When you buy a car from a garage it is normal for them to do the transfer for you, if you buy it privately though you need to make sure you get all the necessary paperwork from the previous owner, this includes:

  • Copy of sellers passport and NIE number or residencia
  • Permiso de circulacion (log book)
  • Ficha tecnica (ITV / MOT certificate)
  • Last paid SUMA (road tax)

You also both need to sign a sale and purchase contract as well as the application form for the transfer from Trafico.

If the ITV is not up to date the transfer can still go ahead but if there is any outstanding road tax Trafico will reject the transfer until it has been paid up to date, so it is always wise to ask to see a copy of the last paid SUMA (paid in May of each year).

As well as the cost of the car there is a transfer fee to pay (which is calculated on the age, engine size and value of the car) plus a Trafico fee for preparing the new log book. If the car is under twelve years old the transfer fee also has to be registered at the conselleria before presenting it to Trafico.

On the road

  • You must not overtake (undertake) on the right on the highways unless there is a slip road or another road indicated and you are taking it.
  • To take a left turn from many roads you will need to find a slip road to the right. You may not stop in the road and wait to turn left if there is a solid white line in the road, on highways and motorways you must look out for a “cambio de sentido” to change direction, these will either take you above the highway or below to change your direction.
  • All passengers (and the driver) must wear seatbelts and small children must be securely fastened to an EU approved child seat situated in the rear of the car.
  • Do not use your mobile phone whilst driving. If caught you will have to pay an on the spot fine.
  • When driving in heavy traffic on a dual carriageway, if the traffic ahead is stalled, especially in your lane, you must by law switch on your four way hazard lights to warn the vehicles behind.

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  • Contrary to popular belief, drink driving in Spain is not tolerated. The limits are much lower than in the UK (about half) and the fines can be very large. Recent legislation gives a court the authority to imprison an offender for 3 months, all fines must be paid on the spot, if you do not have the cash on you it is not uncommon for the police to escort you to a cash machine. Failure or inability to pay may again result in imprisonment.
  • There are many road related deaths in Spain and the government are trying very hard to reduce the figures. It is common to see checkpoints at various junctions where you may be asked for your documentation, in some cases they might check to ensure you have all of the basic requirements in your car for driving in Spain and may even ask you to take a breathalyzer test.
  • You are not allowed to sound your horn at night, town especially in residential areas and doing so can result in you being fined. Horns must only be used in an emergency as a warning to prevent an accident or when overtaking on a main out of town road.

Selling a Car

Although it’s the buyer’s responsibility to transfer the car into their name there are many instances where this hasn’t been done properly and years down the road the previous owner receives a fine for a car they have sold. If you can’t provide proof of the sale via a contract of sale and purchase you may be liable for the fines so it’s not always buyer beware.

  • If you have any doubt about the buyer’s responsibility or just want to belt and brace the process you can do a notification of sale at Trafico, this lets them know the new owner’s details and absolves you from any future disasters!
  • Remember though, when you sell your car you need to provide the new owner with a copy of your passport and NIE number or residencia, there is nothing sinister in this, Trafico just want clarification of your identification and the validity of the sale or purchase contract.

If you change your address it is a legal requirement that Trafico be notified and is important to make sure it is always up to date in case you have a notification which needs to be actioned.

If need to take your car off the road, you have to Baja it, this is done at Trafico and can be a temporary baja (you’re not using it or you’re doing it up) or a permanent baja (you’ve had it scrapped or exported). If you don’t do this you will find yourself paying car suma bills for the rest of your days.


Anyone looking to buy a second hand car in Spain will realise that they really do hold their price, whether this is down to the fact that cars don’t rust over here no-one knows, but sometimes people prefer to bring over their own car or buy one from Germany or France and have the registration changed over to a Spanish one.

If you have any doubt about the buyer’s responsibility or just want to belt and brace the process you can do a notification of sale at Trafico, this lets them know the new owner's details and absolves you from any future disasters!


When doing a re-matriculation the cost includes:
  • Engineers report
  • Headlight change if necessary
  • Full ITV (and a pre-check)
  • Road tax
  • Taxes if applicable
  • Trafico fee
  • Number plates

Basically, once completed your car is ready to go. As with buying a second hand car Trafico will want to see your original passport and NIE or residencia along with proof of address so they can prepare a new log book.

Getting an NIE Number from the UK

  • It is possible to apply for your Spanish NIE numbers in the UK, it is more expensive and does take more time, and you will need to go in person to the Spanish embassy either in London, Manchester or Edinburgh.
  • If you do decide to apply while still in the UK, you need to get together all the necessary documentation and then go to the consulate where you will be asked to sign the NIE application form in front of a consulate employee. Your signature will then be given an official validation stamp, you will also need:
  1. A stamped photocopy of your passport (also done at the consulate)
  2. Two recent passport size photos. The background must be plain and you cannot have

Convenio Especial

  • For those who don’t have the right to health cover via a reciprocal agreement with another EU country there are three other options, to work and pay contributions, to get private medical cover or to sign onto the Spanish “NHS” system (Convenio especial).
  • If you have been on the empadron for over a year you can sign onto the convenio regardless of whether you are a resident or not, this gives you full access to the healthcare system for 60€ a month, under 65 and 157€ a month for over 65.
  • One of the benefits of this system is that it doesn’t preclude ongoing illnesses, which private cover does, so you can get treatment for all existing ailments.
  • It’s simple to apply for, a couple of forms to complete, an appointment at Alicante then you become fully registered with no waiting period.

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