Changing car registration with a Spanish one

When you obtain your permanent residence (NIE number printed on a green card) you are supposed to change the registration of all vehicles on your name that you drive in Spain. Usually people in Spain employ gestorias for all topics related to traffic services - like registration, sales, etc. and I was going also to utilize such service for changing my car's German plates with Spanish ones.

When I started looking for a gestoria that could do that for me, I discovered that most gestorias are very afraid of the procedure for changing the plates due to change of residence. Probably most of them do not understand it, but bottom line there was only one gestoria that could do that in Madrid. So I headed there to ask, but the information I received was not satisfactory - after all they could not exactly explain me how much this is going to cost. Moreover, they wanted to keep the original papers of the car for 10 days, during which I would not have been able to drive it. This did not work for me, so I decided to do it myself - it is not rocket science after all.

First make an appointment with DGT

The very first thing you have to do is to make an appointment with DGT (Trafico). Keep in mind, that you can make the change wherever you want. If you are in a rush go to Burgos, you can do it for the next day. However also keep in mind that right after the change your old plates and insurance are invalid. We'll discuss this topic a bit later.

Decide to which office of DGT you will go, and make an appointment online here:

You are going to perform Tramites en Oficina and at the next step choose Area: Vehiculos. All you need to specify is your NIE, with which you will get the queue number from the machine.

Starting with the preparation of the required documents

You will need quite a lot of documents to present to complete the change, but all of these documents are dependent on the technical examination of the vehicle. Your vehicle will be considered as a newly imported, and will undergo a comprehensive technical examination. You need to go to a ITV center - search on the net for one close to you. You also might need an appointment, so call upfront or go there an ask.

In my case the ITV exam costed 145 EURO and took about 3 working days to get the papers.

Ficha technica reducida

Some ITV centers might ask you for ficha technica reducida - this is a short technical specification of the vehicle. Normally all information will be available on the car papers (at least German car papers contain everything). Before contacting someone for ficha technica reducida, go to ITV and confirm with them if they needed -- this way you will save some money. This document costs approximately 100 EURO.

Registration with the town hall

Next step would be to register your car with the town hall (ayutamiento) in order to pay your yearly tax. The tax will depend on the physical horse powers of your vehicle, as they are specified in the ITV green papers. The town hall will give you two documents - have them with you when you go to DGT.

For a 2016 SEAT Leon 1.4 benzin car, the yearly tax is about 40 EURO. You pay for the rest of trimesters until the end of the calendar year.

Registration with Agencia Tributaria

Agenica Tributaria charges all vehicle registration with percentage fee based on the emission of CO2 of the vehicle. If your vehicle is in the ecological class, with emissions lower than or equal to 120 mg/km then you are not charged anything.

However since you are changing plates because of change of residence, you are not obliged to pay anything - bring your epadronamiento with you to prove that you have address registration.

You will receive two forms, confirming your registration with Agencia Tributaria - take both of them when going to DGT.

Going to your DGT appointment

When the day comes, go to DGT with all the papers needed to change the registration:

  • Your NIE and ID card in original + copy of both.
  • Original car papers (some cars have two registration papers - all are needed).
  • All green ITV papers (3 pieces).
  • Registration from the Town Hall.
  • Registration from Agencia Tributaria.
  • Copy of your epadronamiento paper.

You also need to fill a registration form. You can get it here:

Fill all fields that you understand (such as your personal details). Leave blanks fields, which you don't understand - the staff will help you with the inputs.

Registration takes about 20 minutes. At the end you will get your Spanish registration papers with new license number of your car. 

Fee as of June 2018 for registration of a passenger car is 96.80 EURO.

Congratulations! You have managed to do everything by yourself. And also you have saved about 200 EURO commission that a gestoria would charge you.

Next steps

Now you need to make your plates - placas. You can do that in almost every workshop. Two plates (front & bank) usually cost no more than 30 EURO and you can have them done in 10 minutes. Choose acrylic ones, as they look better.

You need also an insurance. A good choice for making an insurance is Mapfre - they have well developed network and offer competitive prices. You can make the insurance as soon as you have the registration papers, even without having made the number plates. However if you are going for full cover (todo riesgo) the insurance officer will ask you to bring the car. What you can do is initially contract the chepest tercero insurance just to bring the car to the office without risking to be stopped by police and not to have an insurance, and right after the insurance officer can upgrade you to full coverage.

De-registration of the car

You must take car to de-register the car with the previous country! This should be an automatic process, but unfortunately it does not always work. So before handing over the original papers of the car to DGT, make some copies for your archive.

Talk to the respective traffic authority in the origination country to find out how you can de-register your car. For Germany for example, all you need to do is to send a copy of the new registration papers and the original license plates to the traffic authorities - you can do that with DHL, after which you will receive refund of the yearly tax and your insurance.