Registering a Spanish car with the DVLA in the UK

These are my experiences of registering my second hand Spanish left hand drive car in England.
I hope that this will help anyone considering doing the same.

First of all, I have to say that if you can sell your car in Spain and buy a UK car when moving back to the UK, it will save a lot of hassle and some expense. The re-registration process is really quite complicated, the garage which did the work on my car had no experience of the procedure, so it has been a steep learning curve for us all.

The reasons I brought over my Spanish car were:

  • We needed the car to move our animals with us to England.
  • The car is just what I need and has been very economical and reliable since I bought it.
  • The car is only 5 years old and has low mileage.

Steps you will need to take when returning to the UK to live with your Spanish car:
1. Within 2 weeks of arrival report the import to HMRC. This can be done online.  Use the NOVA system explained in this link. Until you have done this you cannot register the car.

2. Send for a DVLA registration pack from here which will include the most important V55/5 form.

3. Speak to a local garage, preferably one which is a dealership for your make of car. Ask them to order any parts to make the car legal in the UK. I had to have UK specification headlamps fitted, UK specification tail lamps, and wiring modifications so that fog/reversing lamps were on the correct sides. If your speedometer does not show miles per hour, then you will need to have your speedometer changed or modified.
Speedometer overlay cards can be obtained online from Prodash Limited who are a professional firm making them.

4. You will need to obtain a European Certificate of Conformity, which I obtained from Ford head office. This will state whether or not (probably NOT) your car can be registered in the UK without modification.

5. If your car needs modifications it will need a Mutual recognition certificate. To apply for these download the form from the Vehicle Certification Agency website – Follow the links to download the form.  To get this certificate your car must have left dipping UK headlamps, suitable tail lamps and a speedo registering in MPH and KPH. You will also need official garage invoices, carefully worded, as evidence that the changes required by the VCA have been carried out.

6. Once you have had modifications done, and have all the relevant paperwork for the Vehicle Certification Agency, send off the completed form with payment of £100 (fill in a debit card authorisation or it will be delayed) and the Agency will issue a certificate. Mine arrived 6 days after posting it. Keep copies of everything you send and use “signed for” post.

7. Complete the form V55/5 very carefully, most of the information comes from the European Certificate of Conformity. The form is partly self duplicating, so be careful how you handle it. You will need to work out the vehicle tax for your car. This is based on emissions, as mine was low (119 CO2) it was £30, but you will need to use the information supplied in the import pack to calculate the tax for your car. Add to this the £55 registration fee.

8. When you have completed the V55/5 send it off to DVLA, and ensure that the following are included:

Proof of name: (DVLA licence, passport, birth cert, marriage cert, or decree nisi or absolute cert.) Only one of these.
Proof of address: (Gas, electricity, water or landline phone bill less than 3 months old. Council tax bill. Bank statement less than 3 months old, medical card) Only one from this group, too.
Payment by cheque or postal orders to cover tax and registration.
European Certificate of Conformity
Mutual Recognition Certificate (Individual Approval Certificate or IAC)
Original non UK registration document – in Spain this is the “Permiso de circulación” (NOT the ITV test card). This will not be returned unless you send a covering letter asking for it back. You will need it in Spain to de-register the vehicle so that you don’t keep getting Spanish road tax bills.
Certificate of Insurance based on the Vehicle Chassis Number or VIN plate. This has to be obtained from a specialist insurance company. I used Acorn Insurance chassis number insurance but if you search the Internet others are available. Mine was temporary – for one month.
UK MOT certificate done using the chassis number.

9. The DVLA should reply by sending you a V5 in your name, having allocated a registration number. You can then take this to a car accessory shop to have your registration plates made up. You can then apply to a standard insurance company for car insurance.

More after this advertisement:

WARNING: The law states that you must ensure that your vehicle remains insured at all times that it is being used on the UK roads.
I hope that you find this useful. All information is correct as at January 2015 – refer to UK government website links in case of changes. The cost of this changeover has been less than £1200, most of that in garage costs for changing lamps and inserting the new speedometer overlay. Paperwork and registration costs were less than £300 of that total.

35 thoughts on “Registering a Spanish car with the DVLA in the UK”

  1. Word of warning – once you have registered your car in the UK you should ‘baja’ the car in Spain..We discovered to our cost that DVLA does not inform Trafico – last year we had to pay car tax on a 20+ year old discovery which had been dead for nearly 10 years and pay to have it BAJA’d – we could have ended up with 10+ years of back payments but fortunately Traffico is not very efficient!

  2. Thank you. Very helpful guide which I shall use in August! Can you just clarify one point please. Paragraph 8, when sending off the V55/5 application are original supporting documents sent or copies? (passport, MOT cert, utility bill etc)?

  3. I’ve been in the UK for about 4 months driving a foreign plate number car and I decided to stay in the UK and register the car here. The law says you’re allowed to have it her 3 months inside a 6 month, or 6 months inside a 12 month.

    Obviously, the 2weeks notification doesn’t look like an option.
    What should I tell HMRC when asked about my arrival date?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Fer Mana, If you tell HMRC anything which is a lie, you expose yourself to risk of prosecution. I have a few suggestions:
      1. Contact HMRC and ask for their advice. If you have only just decided to import the car they may allow you to start the process.
      2. Consider the option of driving the car out of the UK for a while and returning.
      3. Contact a lawyer for legal advice, but do it quickly as time is running out.

    2. You just enter the date you decided to keep the car in the UK permanently. This becomes the date from which the 14 days notice starts. This is mentioned in the NOVA website.

  4. Good informative article. I’ve recently imported a left hand drive vehicle from France into the UK and I’ve found the process of registering it here expensive, time consuming and very bureaucratic. As this article indicates, there are lots of forms to fill in, and expensive physical changes to make to the vehicle – changing the headlights (stickers not acceptable), changing speedometer and fitting fog lights. When I do finally complete this process I reckon the total cost of getting all the documents, changing the headlights etc is going to be at least £700 and an awful lot of time!

    Some of the documents such as the certificate of conformity which I had to get from Nissan took 6 weeks. Had I know it was going to be the minefield it is I wouldn’t have bothered with a left hand vehicle (bought because I intend to go touring around overseas), and would suggest anyone thinking of importing a used car from the continent only do so for exceptional reasons.

  5. Can anyone tell me can I import my vehicle with Spanish plates on then re-register back to U/K plates,right hand drive first registered in the U/K 2002

    1. Hi Roy, yes, in fact it will be easier as the DVLA will already have all the details for your vehicle, including type approval in the old record. If you have the previous registration number and a copy of the old registration document, these would be helpful.
      Contact the DVLA as soon as you get the car back to the UK.

  6. Hello, very useful article. Thank you. I intend to register my left handed car here in the UK. One question, I am not the actual owner of the vehicle. Basically, it is registered back home on my company as a company car. Would there be any issues with this?
    Hopefully, there will be not lots of modifications to do as the car has a digital speedometer, adaptive xenon headlights with cornering feature, therefore I really hope there will be just a computer adjustment. The fog light has to be modified though.

    1. Hi Ovidiu, I see no problem if the car is currently registered abroad in your company name. You can call the DVLA before sending in any paperwork to clarify, as they may need you to prove you have authority.

  7. Thanks for this article which I have found useful as I go through the process of importing my Spanish Reg Seat into the UK.
    There are quite a few things to do – speedometer, lights, paperwork etc but I think it is very doable and will be worth it in the end for us. We want a left hand drive to use on return visits to Catalunya and we would lose money by selling it over there – quite apart from the fact the we need it usually to get back to the UK with our dog.

    One question – I am just about to send off all the paperwork to the DVLA – registered of course – but they have told me that they will not return the original car documents. they said there is a reciprocal agreement with EU countries so that DVLA will inform Trafico that the car is now UK reg.
    I have to admit that with my experience of the Trafico I don’t really feel confident that this will happen smoothly and without the original documents I may have trouble later doing the Baja.

    Has anyone found this reciprocal agreement to work smoothly?
    Or has anyone succeeded in getting the documents returned from DVLA?

    Thanks!
    Kate

    1. As in my post, item 8, I sent a covering letter to the DVLA and they returned my original documents, so that my solicitor could do the “baja” in Spain.
      I recommend that you do the same.
      Incidentally, since August last year, “my” Ford car is back in Almería having been re-registered onto its original Spanish plates by the new owners!

    2. Hi Kate. When I re-registered my Spanish-plated vehicle last year, DVLA said they would inform the Spanish authorities, and insisted I provide the original log book. I’ve just found out today, when Spanish tax was taken for my car, that DVLA did not inform Spain. I should have been offered an authenticated copy of the logbook, but this did not happen. Request this when you apply. If you don’t receive it, chase them up. I contacted DVLA today and they still have the Spanish logbook! They say they will send the authenticated copy, then I can get a gestor to inform the DGT that the vehicle is now on UK plates. I followed the procedure in the original post. It works, and is helpful.

    3. DVLA insists on the original registration papers, and say they will inform Trafico, but if they do, Trafico do nothing until you “baja” the vehicle in Spain. I took DVLA at their word, but Spanish vehicle tax was taken a year after the car was reregistered in the UK. A gestor sorted it out for us for less than 50 Euros. A photocopy of the Spanish permiso was sufficient. Do it as soon as possible or tax continues to be due.

  8. DVLA now say they HAVE notified the DGT, and will send me a copy of the Spanish logbook stamped to say the vehicle is now on UK plates. DGT did know this but still took tax, but don’t think that because you are dealing with Brits you will get efficiency!

  9. Hi am looking to bring my historic road/race from Spain to UK,
    the car has never been registered in Spain will i be able to bring the car to UK and register it with DVLA.

    any suggestions would be greatly received.

  10. Hi I’ve bought a jeep wrangler from a mate and it has all the spainish paper work NIE’Photo of passport and reg docs
    its been here for 3 weeks is there any agents out there that can help me sought out this ?
    I want to put it on UK plates

    1. Hi Doug,
      I hope you trust this mate implicitly, as there is an awful lot that can go wrong!
      Does the vehicle have a permiso de circulación, a MOT history (tarjeta técnica), and have proof that the local Spanish vehicle taxes are paid? You will need a transfer document in Spanish to prove you purchased it before you can apply for the Jeep to be removed from the Spanish registration system.
      Did you drive the vehicle to the UK? If so, you are the importer and need to contact the HMRC to notify it being imported ASAP because it should have been done within 2 weeks.
      If in doubt contact the HMRC, DVLA and Vehicle Certification Agency. Be prepared for a bumpy ride if you do it yourself.
      Sometimes staff at local left hand drive vehicle dealers have experience which may help you.

      1. Hi
        I have MOT history and permiso de circulacion
        I didn’t bring it over myself, but want to sort it out before he goes back to spain the date of sale was 5 days ago so where can I get a doc transfer in spainish from ?

  11. Just one comment based on my experience. A Certificate of Insurance is not required by the DVLA unless you are registering to a Northern Ireland address.

    1. Yes, I was told the same… only after I had paid for an on chassis policy… it should be properly specified in the DVLA documentation.

      It is recommended, but not compulsory unless you are going to be driving the car.

    2. I can confirm that, I called DVLA yesterday as I wasn’t sure because the statement they have on the website wasn’t clear to me.

    1. Hi Marco, As both Poland and the UK are still in the EU the procedure will be much the same as for a Spanish car. You will need to get hold of all original documentation for the vehicle from the seller. You will need to know the date the vehicle entered the UK. You will also be well advised to check the history of the vehicle with Polish authorities, particularly whether the vehicle is free of hire purchase loans and that it has not been stolen.
      Good luck with the transfer.

  12. hello
    I am bringing my Spanish car to England hopefully i will be able to sell it, but if not, is there any professional body who can do all this reregistering for me. so i know its all done correctly
    cheers

  13. Hello, just found your post and hope you can help. I took my RHD 2004 UK reg Merc CLK to Spain in 2014, put it on Spanish plates, all legal and taxes paid.
    I have just returned the car to the UK (I’m UK resident) intending to put it back on UK plates. I completed form V62 explaining on the form the reason why I was applying for a new V5. After 5 weeks and 2 calls to DVLA they have finally informed me that I need to complete form V55/5 (Application for first vehicle tax and registration of a used motor vehicle) which ofcourse is entirely inappropriate as it is not the first time its been taxed or registered in the UK. Baring in mind that most of the info asked for on the V55/5 is on the original Reg doc for the car this does seem to be jumping through hoops, they just don’t seem to have a ‘box’ to put my situation in which seem ridiculous as it surely is not unique. Am I missing something?
    Additionally, I am over the 14 day limit for informing HMRC because I simply did not realise that it was required, there’s obviously no VAT etc to pay on the vehicle only UK road tax when it’s finally registered. Ignorance is no defence, so am I in trouble there?
    Would welcome any advise you can offer.

    1. Hi Gerry,
      The content of this post is intended for vehicles originally purchased and registered outside of the UK and in the EU.
      Re-registering a car originally purchased and registered in the UK will have a different process. You will need to follow instructions from the DVLA and they can be very helpful if you phone them. Sometimes queries can be resolved very quickly with them on the telephone. I don’t think HMRC will be interested as it is a re-import, but can’t be sure. Maybe someone who has done this will read your post and provide better information. I hope all goes well and you stay out of trouble!

    2. Hi Gerry,
      I am in exactly the same position as you and I’ve been trying to sort it out for weeks now, ringing/ emailing the DVLA but the paperwork is so confusing, and as you say the forms are not relevant to the situation.
      I brought my uk car back from Spain in December but I have been driving it on Spanish plates since, as I have Spanish insurance tax and mot I thought it was all legally covered for 6 months but apparently not!
      So I’ve only just informed the HMRC and completed the form online and it has been fine and no questions asked about my return date , also no tax duty to pay so just write a date from the last 3 months.
      Anyway, after some more research I have just read that if you send in the V5 original owner registration document, there is a section on the bottom part to sign declaring permanent export,
      I’m going to try this as I still have my uk plates with me. Also to de register it in Spain they wanted another €120 after me paying them €1100 to register it there only last year .
      I hope this helps, let me know how you get on and hopefully we’ll both get it sorted soon.
      Cheryl

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