Importing a Car to Lanzarote

 

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I am often asked by those planning to come and live here in Lanzarote whether it is worth their while bringing their car, and importing it into the Canary Islands. I always say ‘NO!’ It may be convenient to bring all your most precious bits and pieces in your own vehicle, including the dog, and it might at first glance seem financially sensible, but I promise you it isn’t worth it.

Unless you’re in love with your car!

I have such a car. I bought a 20 year old LHD MX5 in immaculate condition for £800, and by hook or by crook I wanted it to be in Lanzarote.

But let me tell you the tale of importing the car, before you decide to do the same thing yourself.

First you have to get it here. We chose to take the ferry from Plymouth to Santander, because then you get to see the wonderful mountains just south of Santander, and to make a diversion through Rioja for obvious reasons, rather than chasing straight down through Spain to get to Cadiz. However, if you take the direct route it is still the best part of 700 miles and will probably take you a couple of days.

So what’s this part of the proceedings going to cost:

Assuming a medium sized car, driver and passenger, you are looking at:

Ferry Plymouth/Santander, sharing a cabin with a couple of strangers ……………….... ..£400
700 miles at 50 mpg, petrol in Spain around £4.50 a gallon ……………………………………..... £63
Two nights in hotels along the way ………………………………………………………………………...... £200
Ferry Cadiz /Lanzarote, again sharing a cabin …………………..……………………………………......£989
So already you have spent: ……………………………………………………………………..…………. £1,652!

Now you have to import the car, so don’t throw your tickets away!!

You have 45 days after the car’s arrival on the island in which to take out your residencia and import the car, otherwise you pay a fine of 200€. So let’s be generous and assume you are well enough organized to meet this deadline. Or perhaps not.

You also can only import a car manufactured before 2005 if you are becoming resident for the first time. My car was 20 years old and I have been resident here for 24 years, so this gave me a problem. Fortunately I have a friend who wasn’t resident, so I gave him the car so that we could import it in his name. However as you have to have owned the car for 6 months before you import it, we couldn’t meet the 45 day deadline, so add in another 200€.

First you take out your Residencia – the easy part. Takes a week or so and costs ………..£17

Now make multiple photocopies of everything: passport, residencia, V5C, travel tickets, and as you go through the process, every document you come across. It helps to have a photocopier at home!

Next you need a Customs Agent. He will ask you to produce:
The car documents (V5C in the case of a UK car)
Your Residencia
Your passport
A consular certificate, which you get by registering with ‘Locate’
then paying the consulate to issue the certificate …………………………………….. £37
Your ferry tickets.

And photocopies of everything.

You will pay the Customs Agent his fee, around …………………………...............£80
Import duty at 13% - let’s assume your car is worth £15k …………….............. £1,950
That fine of 200 Euros ……………………………………………………………………..............£174

A total of ………………………………………………………………………………………......£2,204

The Customs Agent will issue you with a green form known as a DUA.

While you are dealing with the Customs Agent, if you are importing the car from the UK you need to change the headlights. Shopping around is essential. The Toyota Dealer’s price for lamps for a Landcruiser, both in Lanzarote and in Holland (for comparison purposes)
was around 350 Euros EACH. For the Mazda (from the dealer) they were 119€ each. I eventually got the lamps for the Mazda from Germany for 89€ the pair including postage.

Another problem which only arises with a car imported from the UK is the tow bar. As it is not mentioned on the car papers (V5C) it is not officially part of the vehicle. This is the point at which you have to remove it (just pray it is bolted on and not welded), and wait until the car is registered in Spain, then you can have a new Spanish one, fitted by an official garage.

Now you make an appointment with the ITV station to get the car inspected. They will ask you to produce:
Your residencia
Your passport
The DUA and a
Ficha reducida

And charge you around …………………………………………………………………………………… £40

To get a “Ficha Reducida” (which is an extract of the technical specifications of the vehicle, to make sure it is acceptable on the roads of Spain, which is a bit ironic if you think of some of the vehicles you see around here), you have to find an engineer to issue it. He will want a copy of your V5C, the answers to lots of other questions, and photos of the manufacturer’s plaque (usually on the driver’s door post), the chassis number and the plaque on your tow bar if you have one fitted, and he will charge you a minimum of …………………………………. £90

Make copies of the Ficha Reducida.

Once the ITV inspectors are happy with your car they will issue you with the Ficha Tecnica which is half of your car documentation in Spain, but still without a registration number.

Make copies of the Ficha Tecnica

The next visit is to the local Town Hall tax department (Recaudación), who will want to see the Ficha tecnica, your Residencia and your passport, and copies. You will pay them the first year’s car tax, probably around 45 Euros ………………………………………………………………… £40
Did I say ‘Make a copy’?

Next you need to pay the registration tax, which is actually the trickiest bit.

First you need to get an electronic signature, which allows you to get receipts for tax payments over the internet. To do this you go to a web page called CERES > cuidadanos > obtener el certificado >solicitud, where you enter your NIF in a box then follow the instructions. This page will come up with a number which you print off. You then go to one of several possible offices in your locality taking (you guessed it) your passport and residencia and copies. This office will confirm your identity and allow you to use your electronic signature when you get back home. However all your part of this has to be done on one computer as the signature only applies to forms filled in on that computer.

The form is ‘Modelo 576’ which is no longer printed on paper but only available through the Agencia Tributaria (tax office)’s Virtual Office.

Once you find this form (not easy: 576 - Impuesto especial sobre determinados medios de transport – Presentación) fill it in. Most of the questions are easy , but you need to know that the tax is 11% (unless you're dealing with a 4WD, or other vehicle with high emisions, in which case it is 13.75%), and valuation is the one given to you by the customs agent. – Oh, and a bastidor is a chassis.
However it asks for a “Numero de referencia completa” and it took me 24 hours to work that one out – it is the reference number given to you by the bank when you pay, through them, the 11%. So, print off the form as far as it goes without this number, go and pay at the bank, come home again and enter their reference number on the 576 form.

This will have cost you ………………………………………………………………………………….. £1,650

Now the web page will take you to a further page with more bits to fill in, and to be honest I had to go to the coding for the page and find out what the acceptable answers were before I could fill this bit in – and maybe I just imported a truck or a traction engine – but never mind, it let me ‘finish’ and ‘print’ Whew!

Now your big day! Off you go to Trafico, taking:

Ficha tecnica
Residencia
Passport
DUA
Reciept for Town Hall tax
Receipt for 11% (form 576)
and you pay them for allowing you through the door …………€90.90 ………………………….£80

At this point you call your insurance broker and take out a Spanish policy, as your UK one won’t be legal now that you’ve changed your registration number. You tell him you will let him know the registration number as soon as you have it

Of course, Trafico don’t give you the number on the spot (“Come back on Monday”) but you’ve got to cover that dead spot between UK number plates and Spanish ones. Personally I just kept my fingers crossed, but you’re probably better to leave the car at home for a couple of days.

Once you get the new registration number (‘Matricula’) you need number plates, and you will find that there are only two sizes of rear plates made in Spain – long thin ones and big square 4WD ones. Neither fit the Mazda so I had to order mine on the internet (www.craigsplates.com) and I ordered yellow, before noticing that all Spanish rear plates are white, so I forsee interesting conversations with gentlemen in blue on the horizon, but hey, this is a classic car we’re talking about.

But what you really want to know is what it cost, right? Hold on – here goes:

Ferries and travel (excluding food) ……………………………………………………£ 1,652
Residencia (though you’d have to pay this anyway) ………………………… £17
Consular certificate ………………………………………………………………………….. £37
Importation including Customs Agent ……………………………………………...£2,204
ITV………………………………………………………………………………………………………£40
Ficha Reducida ……………………………………………………………………………………£90
Car Tax …………………………………………………………………………………………………£40
Registration tax 11%.........................................................................£1,650
Trafico fee…………………………………………………………………………………………….£80

A total of......................................................................................... £5,810

Then of course you have to pay somebody like me to do all this for you!!

So let’s call the total cost £6,000. Your nice family saloon now stands you in at £21,000. Would it not have been better to have sold it, flown out here for £300, and treated yourself to a new car (with the steering wheel on the right side)?

Do you see why I say “Don’t do it”?

My 20 year old Mazda was officially worth £1,041, he’s tiny so the ferries were cheaper but he only does 35mpg – so my total was actually £2,282.17, but for a car for which I only paid £800, that was pure silly!

But I did say I’m in love with my car, didn’t I?

 

Angie Webster has lived and worked in Lanzarote for almost 25 years, and is an expert on many aspects of living on the island.  She can help with Spanish documentation and taxation matters, making a Spanish Will, and many other areas of personal administration.

 

You can contact Angie at webster.ar@gmail.com 

 


Comments (12)

Lizzie Buckley
Said this on 21-03-2010 At 07:36 pm
I'm glad I read this before attempting to take my much loved Renault Clio with me. I won't bother now - anyone know a good car showroom on the island?
Rostra
Said this on 21-03-2010 At 08:03 pm
There are loads of car showrooms, including a British run one which I can highly recommend-The Car Shop at Playa Honda. If you want a cheap Clio there are also plenty of ex hire cars for sale, which are much better value than in the UK as they can't do many miles without falling into the sea!

Congratulations, you made the right decision.
Said this on 06-04-2010 At 11:10 am
Thanks for the information. The cost of importing a car is truly expensive and it makes no sense to spend so much money on that.
Karen
Said this on 02-05-2010 At 02:57 pm
Very informative sets out in clear steps 'how to' many thanxs
Rishi
Said this on 03-05-2010 At 10:06 am
The procedure for vehicle import can be quite complicated for those without earlier experience. The residents who import a vehicle must register it at the local Town Hall and later obtain the number plates. Non residents may only buy cars with a tourist number plate. These are then valid for only 6 months per year and can be renovated each year. || Fox Car Rental
Rostra
Said this on 03-05-2010 At 01:45 pm
Not quite true, Rishi. the only requirement for buying a car is that you are 'Empadronado' - which means that you have an official address on the island, to which they can then send the bill for your annual car tax. Some Town Halls insist that you have a Residencia before you are allowed to become 'Empadronado, some don't, but ask for the permission of the owner of the property where you say you are living before they will register you.
If you own a property but dont live here you definitely can buy a car!
Aman
Said this on 14-05-2010 At 08:01 am
My personal opinion (only my opinion however) is “don’t bother!” For one thing, it is a pricey process to get it here, get it registered and not forgetting that the driver’s seat is on the other side – which could possibly be dangerous for visibility. It’s a hell of a lot of hoops to jump through, costly, and a lengthy process.
Said this on 17-05-2010 At 03:41 pm
I think if you take the direct route it is still the best part of 700 miles and will probably take you a couple of days.
Rishi
Said this on 04-06-2010 At 11:56 am
Thanks Rostra for your opinion on my comment. But surely you will agree with me that it is a pricey process to get it here, get it registered… and don't forget that the driver’s seat is on the other side – which could possibly be dangerous for visibility. || auto dealers New York
Angela
Said this on 04-06-2010 At 02:29 pm
Hi Rishi,
Yes, that is exactly the point I was making - it's too expensive to be worth the trouble, unless, as I said "you are in love with your car"! Some cars are worth the effort, and in fact a second hand MX5 like mine in mainland Spain would have cost more than it did to import mine from the UK. And I'd still have to have brought it over on the (very expensive) ferry from Cadiz.

I did take the trouble to buy a Left Hand Drive car before I started the whole thing, though in fact in such a tiny car it hardly matters which side you are sitting on. Make it difficult to sell, if you ever want to, though.
James Robinson
Said this on 26-09-2010 At 11:32 am

Sorry, but for an 'expert' on how things work in Lanzarote, the long drawn out process Ms Webster went through was unnecessarily complex & ridiculously expensive. A friend of mime imported his Range Rover from Oman. It was transported by ship from Muscat for around 600 GBP. He was driving it around the island, with all the paperwork intact, a month later having spent less than 3000 GBP. Well worth it , considering how little he paid for the vehicle in Oman

Said this on 29-08-2011 At 12:03 pm

If you are looking for a customs broker in the Canary Islands, Cargo Lanzarote S.L will tell you everything you need to now about bringing your car to Canary Islands, you can visit their site.

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