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Barcelona Village


Buying, insuring, taxing and MOT for a car in Spain.

For a long time after we arrived we survived without a car and just used public transport to get about, which it fairly easy in a city as small and well connected as Barcelona. It wasn't a deliberate choice, we had arrived from the UK with a British car, but rather than attempt the leaps and hurdles to get it registered in Spain we took it back.

Eventually we found ourselves needing a car to explore a bit more widely and for summer holidays. We had relied on hire cars, but the financial crisis put the prices of hire cars up enormously and reduced their availability.

So we bought a car. Most Spanish people buy new and there are plenty of car dealers in BCN, though scattered through the city, so a fair degree of traisping around. However, we're just not that bothered by cars and just wanted something secondhand. As we're no experts on cars - four wheels, a roof and no rust is about as far as our expertise goes we weren't taken with the idea of trying to buy privately. The lack of a secondhand market makes it more difficult to find motor traders - and those you do find seem to have some thing of the Arturo Daley about them.

In the end we went to Mundiauto - a big secondhand car 'supermarket' like some of the UK mega sale places (about the only one we've seen of this format). Found the car and paid the money.

At this point there is a paperwork handover (Permiso de conducir which is like the ownership document and the Ficha Technica or technical details). The paperwork with the transport department needs to be formally transferred which means queues and fees. The dealer set it in action via a Gestor but it is not a quick process. In the meantime you have no car documents (you must travel with the documents in the car). So we were given a stamped note from the Gestor saying the paperwork was in process. Valid for a month. A month came and went waiting for the documents. After about 6-8 weeks we finally got them.

For insurance you can do it by phone or online (eg DirectLine in English). There was a quirk in that being a secondhand car, the insurance company wanted to check the state of the car before you'd have the policy. Presumably some people buy a battered car, take out insurance, and then immediately claim for the bumps. Insurance, like the UK, automatically covers you for outside Spain.

All cars pay tax, but there is no tax disc as such. Instead the owner of the car as detailed in the Permiso de conducir is sent a bill by the Generalitat each April. Car tax is relatively cheap.

The final piece of the puzzle is the IVT - the Spanish equivalent of the MOT which is needed every two years after four years. The car needs to have a sticker saying it has an IVT and when the next IVT is due on the windscreen. There are various dedicated IVT stations around - all these do is test the car. It's straightforward. You book in. Take the car and the documents and pay the fee (in cash). You then drive from one testing point to the next through the IVT centre. Hopefully popping out the end with a pass.

They do check the car technical details against the Ficha Technica and then it was a question of following instructions from the testers at each point. First was exhaust, then to the next test point for lights and visual inspection of body work and check wipers, check on seat belts, drive on to a suspension tester, drive onto a braking tester, then check wheels and axles from underneath. You're with the car the whole time and just drive the few metres from test to test like a conveyor belt. Took about 45 minutes in total.

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