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Bringing French car to Spain... can it be registered with Spanish plates if non-resident?

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Posted: Mon Apr 1, 2019 6:06pm
24 replies259 views6 members subscribed
Dubiner92500

Posts: 171

Location: El Campello

8 helpful posts

Hi there,we live in France and have a small but trusty little car which we think will be useful for all our short trips when we come to Alicante for holidays (we are not permanent residents here).  I've received conflicting information from fellow expats/non residents who have managed to switch cars over to Spanish plates and advice from French-Spanish lawyer who maintains that to do so would mean that we are permanent residents in Spain (ie. fiscally, which we definitely do not want as we both live permanently in France).

Any advice would be appreciated... from what I understand under 'normal' EU rules you can drive a non-local registered car for up to 3 months on your own 'home ' car insurance..... even if you can stay in another country for 6 months....so unless we can manage to persuade our French insurance company to extend existing contract for 6 months of the year, it's a bit messy!

thanks for any advice on this!

Movingon

Movingon

Helpful member

Mon Apr 1, 2019 7:26pm

Posts: 484

Location: Albatera

262 helpful posts

Posted: Mon Apr 1, 2019 7:26pm

Registering a car absolutely does not make you Spanish resident however to do so requires that you be on your local Padron which legally you cannot be unless you are so maybe that's where the advice from your French/Spanish lawyer is coming from. 

As to insurance; in common with all motor policies written in the EU your French policy covers you through the union for it's duration but only for minimum 3rd party risks so if one of your options is to drive the car down and use it for x months at a time then drive it back then assuming you accept that 3rd party limitation then you can keep it here for up to 6 months in any 12.

LeckyLes

LeckyLes

Helpful member

Mon Apr 1, 2019 7:32pm

Posts: 416

Location: Cabo Roig

333 helpful posts

Posted: Mon Apr 1, 2019 7:32pm

Hiya Dubliner, I think the people giving the advice that you would become a fiscal Resident if registering a car in Spain could be confusing the matter of liability to register as fiscal Resident if you were to be buying a new car in Spain. In your case you are not buying new so I would say you don't need to become fiscal resident.

LeckyLes.

PeteKnight

PeteKnight

Super helpful member

Mon Apr 1, 2019 7:44pm

Posts: 1447

Location: Villamartin

1559 helpful posts

Posted: Mon Apr 1, 2019 7:44pm

Movingon said "...however to do so requires that you be on your local Padron...".

I'm 99% sure that this isn't true. I'm a non-resident who spends less than three months at a time in Spain and so I'm not (and cant legally be) on the local Padron. I looked-in to the possibility of importing and re-registering a LHD car from the UK to Spain with a very experienced and reputable re-registration company and this issue was never raised (even though my Padron status was discussed because of the potential for tax savings).

As far as the OP's issue is concerned, most UK based cart insurance companies only provide 28 days of EU cover, unless you pay for an extension. A couple of companies (LV and SAGA) will cover for 6-12 months, even though having the car in one country for more than 6 months would be illegal.

You should look at the option to have unlimited EU-wide cover for your vehicle with a number of French insurance companies, if using your own French car is something that would work for you.

Pete.

Dubiner92500

Dubiner92500

Original Poster

Tue Apr 2, 2019 9:54am

Posts: 171

Location: El Campello

8 helpful posts

Posted: Tue Apr 2, 2019 9:54am

Thanks Movington, your explanation explains better what the French (tax) lawyer meant... but he didn't express it quite as well!! I was hoping that there may be some way to get our insurance covered for more than the 3 months .... because of course the contradictory thing in all of this, is that you can be in another country where you are not resident for up to 6 months (or 183 days I think), but you can't get the insurance to cover your 'own' country's car!  thanks for once sounds like the French guy was right.... even though I've met lots of English, Danish people who maintain they've done it... but to be honest I wouldn't want to accidentally become resident!! thanks for your advice !

Dubiner92500

Dubiner92500

Original Poster

Tue Apr 2, 2019 10:02am

Posts: 171

Location: El Campello

8 helpful posts

Posted: Tue Apr 2, 2019 10:02am

Thanks Pete,  well what you were talking about is something that we had originally planned: 'exporting' my little old (but perfectly healthy) car to Spain, get it registered/taxed here...and that's when our French lawyer told me we couldn't have a Spanish reg car and NOT be resident... I pushed for the legal clarification and he sent me the bit from the Spanish legal references..

Yes I'll have to try and find out if I can find a French insurance company which can extend the coverage to 6 months...needless to say we wouldn't be using it/staying here more than the 6 months, but would like to have the maximum coverage insurance-wise...as you'd just never know!!

I've looked on French fora, and there seems to be quite a lot of confusion there too: some people also maintain that being on the Padron would mean you are resident, and others the contrary... A lot suggest contacting a 'gestor' to find out what is possible: one French woman (who definitely seemed to be staying more than the 6 months in Spain) kept her French-reg car ...which her 'gestor' said was fine..... but I think she may have been an exception as she had dual-nationality but fiscally resident in France...

It would be nice if for once, there was a standard coherency in Europe, between being allowed to 'stay' up to 6 months in a country where you are not a permanent resident, and having the car insurance to cover it!!

thanks - I think I may try and find out if I can sort out the French car insurance extension.....and then investigate later with the 'gestor' if no news...From one what French person said, once you've paid your IBI you are 'registered' locally and it is possible to get some type of certificate in order to insure a car here....but as we've only bought our place last year (and paid the 50% to the former owners for the 6 months we had the place last year),...I'm guessing that it may be wiser to wait til we've paid the IBI for this year, before going anywhere near anything or anyone official here!! 

thanks for your help!

PeteKnight

PeteKnight

Super helpful member

Tue Apr 2, 2019 10:37am

Posts: 1447

Location: Villamartin

1559 helpful posts

Posted: Tue Apr 2, 2019 10:37am

You can certainly own a Spanish registered car without becoming a Resident. I'm nit a resident and own a car. In fact, it's my second.

I don't think Spain recognises/allows dual nationality (they certainly don't for Brits).

You need an NIE number to be able to do almost anything in Spain, including buying a house or a car. Paying IBI will give you a bill in your name, but nothing else, and won't be recognized for anything other than proof or occupation and even then you'll probably be asked to produce a long-term rental agreement or property deeds.

You could insure your car with a Spanish company. Try giving Linea Directa (the Spanish arm of Direct Line) a call and discuss your situation with them. If you look at their website they have an English language number you can call.

Your statement about buying your property in installments rings a few alarm bells! Was this done in a legally binding way, and have you paid the 10% property purchase tax?

Pete.

Dubiner92500

Dubiner92500

Original Poster

Tue Apr 2, 2019 1:18pm

Posts: 171

Location: El Campello

8 helpful posts

Posted: Tue Apr 2, 2019 1:18pm

Hi Pete

I've learned the hard way about the NIE - like buying things on line with it!Thanks about the Spanish insurance companies I'll check them out... already trying to get information from existing French insurance company as seemingly the car can be covered for more than 90 days if you have a holiday insurance policy.. Our current car insurance covers us for 90 days a year... but you can seemingly get extra coverage with that 'holiday insurance' so will need to check that out..

Just very weird that the French/Spanish lawyer maintains that you can't have a Spanish reg car here without being a resident.... he insisted on it:

La Loi 38/1992, du 28 décembre, de “Impuestos Especiales, Disposición adicional Primera” indique que:

“Deberán ser objeto de matriculación definitiva en España los medios de transporte, nuevos o usados, a que se refiere la presente Ley, cuando se destinen a ser utilizados en el territorio español por personas o entidades que sean residentes en España o que sean titulares de establecimientos situados en España.”

No we never paid our property price in instalments... we just had to pay the 50% of the IBI as it was decided that the IBI would be pro-rata for last year....so that's the only thing we paid... definitely not the house!!! That's why we spent so much money on the French lawyer!! We definitely made sure everything was in order before signing and paying everything!

PeteKnight

PeteKnight

Super helpful member

Tue Apr 2, 2019 1:41pm

Posts: 1447

Location: Villamartin

1559 helpful posts

Posted: Tue Apr 2, 2019 1:41pm

Without seeing the rest of the law that this quote is taken from, it's hard to know what it relates to, or it's relevance to the situation.

Most likely, it's to do with the law relating to the fact that a Spanish resident can't drive a foreign registered vehicle in Spain (unless the owner of the vehicle is not a Spanish resident and they are in the vehicle at the time, or it's leased/hired in a foreign country).

Exactly the same applies to UK residents - I couldn't drive my Spanish registered car to the UK, it would be illegal under UK law.

I misunderstood your comment about paying 50% to the former owner, I thought you were talking about purchase price.

One area I didn't mention before was the Padron. There is a lot of confusion about this amongst the ex-pat community. Basically, the rules are that if you are resident in Spain then you mist be on the Padron. If you aren't a resident then it's illegal for you to be on the Padron.

The confusion arises from the fact that some local authorities encourage non-residents to register on the Padron, because they get extra funds from central government. However, these local authorities can be fined when central government realises what they are doing, and - more importantly from your point of view - you can be fined a substantial amount as well (tens of thousands of euros per person).

People will tell you that you need to be on the Padron to do certain things (like buy a car), but this just isn't true. Those people who are on the Padron will be asked to produce this as proof of their address, but people who aren't on the Padron can use a long-term tenancy agreement or property lease as proof of address. The only reason this is needed is to ensure that road tax bills and speeding fines are sent to the correct address in future.

Pete.

Dubiner92500

Dubiner92500

Original Poster

Tue Apr 2, 2019 2:34pm

Posts: 171

Location: El Campello

8 helpful posts

Posted: Tue Apr 2, 2019 2:34pm

Thanks Pete, well the interpretation that the French lawyer gave me was this:

This means that the registration of means of transport is foreseen when these forms of transport are being used on Spanish territory by physical or 'moral' people resident in Spain. 

He did mention that a lot of people have Spanish-reg cars and have never had any problems but that this law wasn't meant to be applied to non-residents..

Yes I've seen a whole pile of contradictory stories regarding the Padron on French fora... I've only seen one French person say that it is illegal to be on the Padron if you are a non-resident...(I'm also guessing that would open up the gate for being considered fiscally resident...)  Besides the risk of being fined.... I'd also worry about the consequences if central government decided to teach people a lesson.... so I would also tend to be somewhat wary about that option!!

I would assume that if you own property here, and pay the IBI and have your lawyer confirm this, that such document would be enough to ensure proof of a Spanish address... but then again I'm guessing it all depends on whom you're dealing with!! Our lawyer prepared a note for my husband when he drove down from France with some personal effects last year, to the effect that we have a holiday home in Spain...as he warned us that sometimes the Spanish customs guys can be difficult...they had no problems  but it's always best to expect the worse and be pleasantly surprised!!

I'll continue on doing my research and see what I come up with: my 'gut' feeling is that it may be simpler to bring my car on French reg plates...wait til after we pay the IBI and then perhaps discuss this with a 'gestor'...the one we used for getting the 'NIE' (who is also French) seemed to know her way around the system (and the especially grumpy guys doing the NIE!)

thanks for your advice!

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