We have just bought a property in Spain, we intend moving out a.s.a.p. I have noticed on AutoTrader that there are Spanish registered cars available no doubt brought over to the UK by people repatriating. If I bought one of these cars which still had Spanish tax and ITV, could I legally drive it in the UK with UK insurance until it was permanently taken back to Spain?

I am talking about buying the car now (August) and driving it to Spain in early October. The reason we are even thinking about this is the price and availability of second hand cars in Spain.

1 Answer 1


The first problem after buying the car in the UK is that you probably need to register it with the Spanish authorities that you're the new legal owner. I'm not sure how complex that is in Spain (for example in Hungary you have to appear in person with the car at one of the test centres, so buying a Hungarian car outside of Hungary is basically impossible), but be prepared that it might not be straightforward, or be basically impossible to do it from outside of Spain legally. If you don't need to appear in person the fact that you already have a Spanish home address would help though (so they can send your registration certificates).

The next one is insurance. As it's still a Spanish registered car with Spanish registration plates, you have to insure it in Spain. There might be insurance companies in the UK that would cover a Spanish registered car, but I guess they are very rare, and expensive. (I could only find one which can insure British cars in Spain, so the other way around). So you should probably get a Spanish insurance quote. Similarly, although you're not a resident yet, but you already have a Spanish address, this might work.

The third problem is driving it. As a British resident you cannot drive your Spanish car in Britain at all. You might get away with it, especially if you already have your ferry/tunnel tickets for the time you're leaving the UK, but you might face hefty fines, and your car might be taken away and crushed as well if you're especially unlucky. The only legal way to get it ouf the country is either to wait until you're a Spanish resident, or to tow it to the border crossing. Once it's in France you should be able to drive it legally (given your Spanish insurance covers EU driving)

While all of this could be done while still in the UK, I'd say you might be better off with just buying the car in Spain once you arrive there. Even if cars in Spain are more expensive, or you couldn't find one which you like, the hidden costs and risks associated with buying them abroad are probably much larger.

  • Wow, thanks for that info, it's obviously not straight forward, unlike the salesman who assures me it is simple! insurance in Spain is no problem, our solicitor as power of attorney and tell me she can take care of that for me. The biggest problem appears to be how to get the vehicle the 200 miles from the dealer to our home to load it for the trip, with a ferry/tunnel crossing booked the journey to the border should hopefully be problem free.
    – Musky
    Aug 14, 2015 at 12:41
  • the only clearly legal way is either give it to some non-UK resident to drive it (if your Spanish insurance allows it), or to have it towed to your place and then to the border crossing. That said if you want to drive it on your own, you'll probably have less issues around London and Kent, as foreign cars are quite common there, but consider the risks, as if they catch you and don't believe you're just leaving the country, they can actually crush the car for tax-evasion reasons
    – SztupY
    Aug 14, 2015 at 13:06
  • There are quite clearly risks with this, my original intention was to buy a UK vehicle, load our possessions and drive it to Spain and then exchange that vehicle for a Spanish vehicle, when I saw these Spanish vehicles advertised in the UK I thought I could save some time and money by just buying the one vehicle and driving it to Spain and using it whilst there, this is obviously not such a good idea. When you do a search for Spanish registered vehicles for sale in the UK there are quite a few companies specialising in this, so either they know a scam to sell these vehicles, or BUYER BEWARE.
    – Musky
    Aug 15, 2015 at 16:08

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