Our boys in green (Guardia Civil) have often been described by many expats I have dealt with as having as much charm as a Nazi SS officer. Altho accusing them as being the same as SS officers or members of the Gestapo is a bit harsh a brush with the law can be daunting especially when faced with a road block with side arms and machine guns. A client contacted me to enquire about the documents to be carried in his car as a non-resident of Spain. The answer is straightforward enough, but a direct answer will as always pose yet more questions, which I will try and anticipate Identification Those who have been resident in Spain for many years will remember the identity card which carried a photo. This was a very useful document as it could be used in various situations and accepted everywhere, even by the most meticulous jobsworth. A bunch of do-gooders one day stopped eating their muesli, slapped on their sandals and appealed to Brussels that the nasty Spanish shouldn’t force us Brits to carry such a card as there is no requirement to do so in our homeland The Spanish acceded to this, but anyone who thought that the bureaucrats over here would just lie down and forget about it was in for a shock, so what now? Well it is a requirement in many Continental countries to carry formal identification; this means for us our passport, so this is the principle document that must be carried whether driving or not. The Consulates are full daily with people who have had their passports nicked or lost, so it is prudent to carry a notarised copy instead. The current residency document is a small green card that states that it is not proof of identity nor nationality- oh well NIE and car doc’s Those of you who do not have the residency document should carry a copy of your NIE certificate. The NIE number identifies you as an individual, in a similar way to the social security number in the UK. This number stays with you for life, but here is another little bureaucratic twist. Changes were introduced last year to eliminate medical tourism so each new NIE certificate states the following “CADUCA A LOS TRES MESES” which translates as “Expires after three months”. Whilst the number remains the same, the document may need updating if it is to be presented especially at Trafico. Here is a tip; if your NIE certificate carries this notice, why not cover this statement up as many in authority are unaware of it? The other documents that you need to carry in your car are originals of the registration document (Permiso De Circulacion), ITV card (Tarjeta ITV) and insurance cover note. Your driving licence must be with you. I also recommend that you carry your road tax receipt So, in summary, if you are a non-resident, you should carry your passport, NIE certificate plus the above vehicle/licence documents. The same applies to residents who should substitute the green residencia for the NIE document Residency Residency is a hot topic and has various meanings. As a full time permanent resident, my income and other taxes are paid in Spain; the only British document that I retain is my passport as there is no need to change it whilst the UK is part of the EU. Many people prefer to be classed as UK residents for tax purposes. Fiscal residency in any EU county is defined as that country in which you spend a minimum of 183 days in any year. This means that you can obtain the green residency certificate and still remain a UK tax payer. Whilst I have sought advice regarding this, it is not my specialist area, so if unsure speak to a qualified person and definitely not a bar room lawyer. I can state however that a vehicle is classed as “resident” if it remains in Spain for more than 183 days in any year and so must be registered and taxed here Clearly the law allows you to own a vehicle as a non-resident, for example if you have a holiday home here and with the increasing concerns over car hire, more and more part-timers are bringing a car over for use in Spain
The Joys of Spanish Motoring
One of the wonders on moving to Spain is to see the sings for ITV. “Oooh look we can get English telly!” English language TV is a subject that is far too thorny for me to get involved in, but in Spain, this stands for “Inspeccion Tecnica de Vehiculos” In the UK, we would call this the “MOT” and the function is essentially the same, but there is one fundamental difference that I believe makes the Spanish system better. At the ITV the vehicle will be inspected in a similar way to the MOT and includes the following Headlights (sorry, but the plastic beam benders are not acceptable) All other running lights. Whilst a rear fog light will probably be used as often as snow chains, they are nevertheless compulsory. If your car has 2 rear fog lights, then great. If one only, it has to be on the left hand side (closest to the middle of the road) The reversing light however can be on either side Indicators. It has been rumoured that this is the only time they are used in Spain! Emissions testing. Brakes, both running and handbrakes must all be effective and in balance so that you don’t take a dive into a ditch under emergency braking Wipers and washers function. Though the condition of the wipers seems immaterial Seat belts match the number of seats The exhaust is OK; there are no oil leaks or damage to the car that may affect performance In Spain the tyres have to be identical on the same axle (so the pair at the front can be a different make to the pair at the back). The speed rating (how fast the tyres are designed to be driven at) is stipulated by the manufacturer and should be in your vehicle manual Four-wheeled vehicles also have the pleasure of having the front wheels shaken about by moving plates to check that all of the connections are intact For vehicles undergoing an import standard ITV, then they are measured, and sometimes weighed. The VIN or chassis number is also found and a “brass rubbing” of it taken for comparison with the paperwork Any well-maintained vehicle should have no problem, but if the vehicle fails, then after remedial work, the vehicle is re-inspected but only in the areas where it failed. After first ever inspection in Spain, you will eventually be given an ITV card which, unlike MOT certificates is a permanent document. When the vehicle is re-tested, this document is stamped with the result and handed back to you Brand new vehicles are first tested when they reach their 4th anniversary. After that it is every 2 years until the vehicle is 10 years old; thereafter annually The main difference between an MOT and ITV is this. In the UK mainland, vehicles are normally inspected at garages. Where a vehicle fails its test, then the garage would normally carry out the remedial work and re-test the vehicle. Whilst I’m sure that the vast majority of garages are totally straight, we have all had examples where the mechanic has put on his long face and said whilst sucking his teeth says, “sorry sir, but your brake pads are low and need changing; we’ll take car of it and your car will pass”. We don’t argue but pay up just to get that all important piece of paper In Spain, the inspectors do just what is says on the can and inspect. Where a vehicle fails, they cannot and will not undertake the repair work at the ITV. This is for the owner to deal with Of course the inspectors are human and subject to the normal whims that we all have after a row with our spouse, a whinge from the boss or alternatively a win for our favourite team, so discretion plays a part in the process Fortunately for us, we have developed a very good relationship with the inspectors and more often than not a borderline situation will go our way as long as they see us advising the customer that he must get it sorted. They will not however, nor would we wish them to, pass a car that has a safety problem You will know that after inspection, you car is safe and ready for the rigours of the Spanish roads For further information, please contact us.