8 Top Tips For Buying a Car in Spain as a Foreigner

Buying a Car in Spain

Buying a car in Spain can be a tricky process if you’ve never done it before. This was especially true for us after we just moved to the country! It’s so important to follow the correct steps when buying 2nd hand cars in Spain, or dealing with any type of new or used car sales. Here’s our experience buying a car in Spain, the specific documents we needed, and tips from our own experience.

Why We Decided to Buy a Car in Spain

Before we get into all the essential tips for buying a car in Spain, we wanted to share a little bit about our own story. After many years of non-stop travel, we finally settled on a home base in the southeastern coast of Spain on the Costa Blanca.

Even though we now had a long-term apartment, we knew we still wanted to be able to explore and get around the beautiful Valencia region. So a few days after we moved in we started our search for a vehicle!

While a new car would’ve been nice, we weren’t ready to commit to the cost at a car dealership. For that reason, we chose to take a look at 2nd hand cars in Spain.

This article will be a step by step guide for how to buy a car in Spain. Hopefully, this will answer all your questions for when you’re ready to start your own search!

Buying a Car in Spain Guide

8 Tips For Buying a Car in Spain

1. Where to Find 2nd Hand Cars in Spain

You can use websites such as Autobild, AutoScout24, Autocacรญon, and Coches.com for buying a used car in Spain. However, after some searching around we found a great option on Facebook Marketplace.

We’ve had a lot of luck in the past with purchasing cars and other items on Facebook. It allows you to message the private seller and speak with them directly before actually meeting up. 

Just know that this way of buying a car in Spain does come with some risk! Be sure to do your due diligence, take it for a couple test drives, and ask for all the documentation on the second-hand vehicle history. 

To avoid any issues, you may feel more comfortable buying a car in Spain from a reputable dealer. This is the best way to ensure you’re getting a reliable vehicle. 

Some dealers even offer a 12 month guarantee where they will repair it for you within that timeframe. Another great advantage of going through an official dealer is that the paperwork will all be handled for you.

We did go to a number of dealerships before we checked Facebook Marketplace. Yet, the prices were double or triple the cost for the same type of car and mileage we were seeing online. 

Buying a used car in Spain

2. Ask For a Car Report and Service History

This is such an important step for buying 2nd hand cars in Spain! In the United States, we had become familiar with websites like CARFAX to check the vehicle history for accidents and repairs. While they do operate within the country, not everyone uses this tool. 

Luckily, there are other ways you can gather this information when buying a car in Spain. The first thing you’ll want to do is get the vehicle report from the car owner. 

These are issued by the DGT (Direccion General de Trafico) and shows that the car registration is in order with no unpaid taxes or tickets. If you skip this step and something is wrong you may not even be able to make the change of ownership! 

You should also ask for the recent service history to be sure it will pass its next ITV inspection. Always bring the car to a local shop to make sure it’s in good condition before agreeing to a purchase price.

How to Buy a car in Spain

3. Can I Buy a Car in Spain as a Foreigner?

โ€‹Spain has been drawing in ex-pats like us for years for its great weather, amazing food, and unique culture. The good news is you CAN buy a car in Spain without being a resident. 

Still, know that there are some rules and regulations for doing so. If you’re a resident of another country in the European Union the process will be much simpler. Yet, as you’ll see in this next section about car sales in Spain, it was a little bit more difficult for us coming from a non-EU country. 

When we bought the car in Spain it was in Jake’s name and he had to get an NIE number. This is an official Spanish ID number and something you will need when buying a car. 

The process can be annoying depending on what part of the country you are in and how long the wait is to get a lawyer. Our top piece of advice is to actually find a local lawyer first and ask the cost. 

They handled all the paperwork for us, and went in person to the office to translate everything. In the end we paid 100 Euros for the entire process. 

Buying a Car in Spain as a Foreigner

4. What Documentation Do I Need to Buy a Car in Spain?

Again, this all depends on what country you’re coming from. We were in the process of getting our Spanish residency when we were looking for a vehicle. We’re happy to announce that since then we were both approved!

This actually made it easier for us in the long run. Some of the paperwork we needed to buy a car in Spain we had recently obtained working with our Spanish lawyer for residency. The following documentation is what we had to provide to complete the process of buying a car in Spain. 

NIE Number: Tax identity number assigned to foreigners before they can work, buy a car/property, or deal with legal and social matters.  

Padron: This is the proof of address showing you have a home for six months or longer. We didn’t need this for the actual car, but we were asked for it when switching over the registration. 

Passport: You will need to make a copy of your passport to buy a car in Spain.

Remember that the current owner will need to show their NIE certificate, passport (or residency card), and the originals of all documents to complete car sales in Spain.

We did this all though a local lawyer. It was someone we found through the auto body shop that we had the car looked over at. 

Second Hand Car in Spain

5. Changing Ownership of the Vehicle 

This next step is the most important part of buying a car in Spain! Making the title transfer is the final action to take before you can make your purchase. 

We highly recommend going through Spanish Gestor to help you with the process when buying 2nd hand cars in Spain. For a small fee (we paid 80 Euros), they will make sure you have the correct paperwork from both parties to make it run smoothly. 

After getting the car checked out at the local repair shop, we went straight to a local office with the seller. They confirmed we had all the correct documents, verified the registration document, and even got us an official vehicle report. The sales tax was included in the companies fee which we paid to them directly. 

You can print out the transfer of ownership form and do this all yourself. Nevertheless, we felt much more comfortable hiring a Gestor to do it for us as it was our first time buying a car in Spain. 

2nd hand cars in Spain

6. Transferring Money to Buy a Car in Spain

Once you’ve completed all of these steps it’s time to pay for the car. We chose to make a wire transfer through our Spanish bank account to the seller. 

Just know that it can take 2 to 3 days depending on the bank and which day. Whoever you’re buying a car in Spain from may not be okay with waiting so that’s something to verify first.

You may want to do the transfer earlier in the week as it won’t be processed over the weekend. At the very least, you can send them a receipt to know that the money is on the way.

Plenty of people may decide to pay in cash instead. We preferred to have the exchange documented through our bank. 

How to Buy a Car in Spain Guide

7. Get Car Insurance After Buying a Car in Spainโ€‹

Do not drive Spanish vehicles before getting your insurance squared away! We got a great recommendation from the seller and started setting up our insurance coverage before we finished the sale. 

This way we had things all squared away before we drove off in our new car. There is a hefty fine of up to 3,000 euros for driving without valid insurance in Spain.

Spanish law requires you to have at least 3rd party insurance to own a car. However, you may want to opt for full comprehensive plan to be fully covered in the event of an accident.

Are you working on getting your residency like us? Then also be aware that you’ll need to get a Spanish driving license 6 months after residency is completed. 

Buying a Car Spain

8. How Much is Car Tax in Spain?

Be aware there is a car tax when buying a car in Spain. For 2nd hand cars in Spain, it usually ranges between 4-8% of the car price depending on the year and part of the country you’re located in. In comparison, the VAT registration tax for a new vehicle will cost you 21% of the value. 

The gestor we went through to complete the title transfer included this in the total cost we paid to her. Private buyers will also want to verify that the road tax has been paid from the previous year. 

Second Hand Car Guide Spain

Is it Worth Owning a Car in Spain?โ€‹

Yes! Buying a car in Spain was one of the best decisions we made after moving here. There are some decent public transportation options throughout most of the country.

Still, you’ll truly have the most freedom exploring with your own car. We’ve already taken so many fun adventures up and down the Costa Blanca to towns like Moraira, Calpe, Javea, and the stunning Granadella Beach.

We hope this article gave you a good idea of how to navigate the used car market in Spain for the first time. Obviously, buying 2nd hand cars in Spain is no easy task! Yet, if you get all your paperwork in order, you should have no problems.

Guide to Owning a Car in Spain

Have any questions about this article or want to share your own tips for buying a car in Spain as a foreigner? Leave us a comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Spain Travel Planning 

 Flights: We always find the best flights using Skyscanner. Sometimes it’s even cheaper to fly between cities in Spain than driving!

Train: One of our favorite ways to travel is by taking the train. We  use Omio which compares all the different times and companies.

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to get around with a vehicle. We’ve paid as little as $10 a day for a rental car in Spain! Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic Spain road trip.

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around Spain. 

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. This includes our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Spain Travel

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  1. Aubrey
    March 25, 2024 / 8:23 am

    This is really helpful for people who are considering buying a car. Some people might not know the benefits of buying second-hand or might not be aware of the necessary steps involved in purchasing one. Very helpful!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      March 25, 2024 / 8:26 am

      Thanks for reading! We’re happy our experience can help anyone planning to buy a car in Spain.

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