SPAIN Drivers will have noticed that the Guardia Civil Traffic Unit are stopping them more frequently. They should know that the local Guardia Civil are well aware of all the foreign registered vehicles in their area; they know how long a person has been living in the area, and whether or not they have foreign-plated car at the door. Below, you will find a summary of what the law says -and a few suggestions- about a foreign registered car, most of which the GC have until now not been bothered with much. Until now. We keep hearing about cars being towed away or confiscated at the roadside because they are now clamping down on these illegal vehicles. The law is not specific about Gibraltar-plated cars, but it must be assumed that their owners living on this side of the border are covered by the same law.>>>
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- If you are a foreigner in Spain for more than six months (180 days) in one year then by law you must import your car and put it onto Spanish number plates. The six month requirement is on the owner and not the car itself. As the movement of EU citizens is not recorded by passport stamps these days it may be more difficult to prove your status should the police request it. Keep a plane or ferry ticket should this situation apply to you.
- EU legislation requires that a car be insured in its country of registration. An insurance company will require the car to be road legal and ask to see a vehicle inspection certificate. (MOT in the UK, ITV in Spain). You can not obtain a valid test certificate in the country of registration if the car is in Spain.
- In practice it is not difficult to find insurance agents who will insure your car and who will accept a Spanish ITV certificate as evidence of road worthy-ness. However, by not being strictly legal you risk an insurance company refusing to meet a claim.
- Spanish Law permits a foreign car to drive on Spanish roads as long as the car is road legal in its own country. A UK car without a UK MOT can not be legal in Spain.
- Non EU citizens who are tourists in Spain for less than six months a year may keep their foreign plated cars in Spain as long as they have them "sealed" or precintado by customs officials.
- The police now have in-car technology to check the vehicle's status at the touch of a button. Should you be stopped in a vehicle that is not legal they have the power to instantly impound your car and issue a fine of up to €2000. They also have the option of arrest.
- How do they know if you live here or are on holiday? Here's one way: having checked the car's status, they will have made a note of your surname - then they check local schools to see if you have a child registered there. Simple.
- You may be given up to five days to put your car's papers in order. If you don't comply, the police are allowed to intercept the vehicle, immobilise it and put it in the hands of the customs authorities. This is reportedly happening already in areas with large concentration of foreigners (e.g Costa del Sol, Axarquías), but is expected to expand from there very soon.
- In addition, you will be charged with driving a vehicle illegally and face a fine of up to €450.