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Importing a vehicle into Tenerife

UPDATED: 18th January 2020

There is no doubt that Tenerife loves cars. It was recently estimated that the island is home to 1 out of every 1000 cars on the planet! For an island of just over 2000 square kilometres with an official resident population of approximately 920,000 plus an estimated unregistered population of up to 50,000 more, that is perhaps not surprising.

Given the enormous recent influx of immigrants and tourists to the island, it is perhaps therefore unsurprising that car sales increased a whopping 8% between July 2016 and August 2017. The number of newly registered or newly imported second-hand vehicles registered in Tenerife has also increased from 51,000 in 2014, 65,000 in 2015 and is estimated to have been approximately 75,000 in 2016.

For non-resident visitors to Tenerife who intend to stay no longer than 6 months per year, there is no requirement to ‘import’ or re-register (matriculate) the vehicle. You simply take the car out of the island prior to the end of the 6 months, or you can ask Customs to ‘seal’ the vehicle pending your return.

However, if you are registered as resident in Tenerife or plan to stay longer than 6 months, then you are legally required to import and re-register the vehicle within 2 months of the vehicle’s arrival. The procedure can be rather complicated, so it is generally recommended to use a ‘gestor’ or similar professional offering to handle the re-registration and import process.

IGIC

Unless you are moving to Tenerife to become a resident for the very first time, you must pay IGIC (Canarian Value Added Tax) at either 9.5% or 15% depending on the ‘Caballos Fiscales’ (Fiscal Horsepower) rating of the vehicle. As a very rough reckoner, a 1.6 litre car will typically fall into the lower range, whilst a 2.5 litre will be in the higher range.

The above IGIC figure is calculated either upon the purchase price reflected in the foreign purchase invoice for the vehicle, or the government’s official valuation tables, whichever is the greater.

The Canarian Government has an official vehicle valuation web page where you can check the official value for your vehicle:

https://sede.gobcan.es/tributos/jsf/publico/consulta/ttpp/valoracion/vehiculos.jsp

TRANSFER TAX

If you have purchased your car from a registered dealer within the EU whose invoice shows a valid VAT number, then you do not have to pay any additional taxes. However, if you purchased the vehicle privately, you will also have to pay vehicle transfer tax (ITP) at 5.5% on the amount originally paid at the time of purchase, or on the above government tables, whichever is the greater. This is the same transfer tax that everyone pays within the Canary Islands upon buying a second-hand car in any event.

REGISTRATION TAX

You also have to pay a Registration Tax for the vehicle, which is based upon its CO2 output. Vehicles that produce up to 120g per kilometre are exempt. The bands are as follows:

From 0 to 120 grs./km .: exempt.
From 121 to 159 grs./km .: 3.75%
From 160 to 199 grs./km .: 8.75%
From 200 grs./km .: 12.75%

Once again, the relevant percentage is calculated on the purchase invoice value, or the official government valuation, whichever is the higher.

TRAFICO REGISTRATION FEE

Next, you have to pay a fee for Trafico (the equivalent of DVLA in the UK) to register the car on their database. In 2016 the fee was €95.80.

IMPORT ITV

Before being allowed onto Spanish licence plates, the vehicle must pass a technical inspection (ITV). This is similar to an MOT in the UK. However, the first inspection is usually more rigorous than typical renewal inspections that all second hand cars must go through.

Where an imported vehicle has an unusual specification, or is not accompanied by a European Certificate of Conformity (e.g. coming from the USA or Middle East), it is likely that the vehicle may be assigned temporary green “P” licence plates whilst further checks and/or paperwork can be dealt with.

ROAD TAX

You also have to pay your Local Council Road Tax (IVTM) for the current financial year. This tax ranges from approximately €20 Euros for the smallest engine vehicles to approximately €215 Euros for gas guzzlers. Once your car is registered for this tax in your local borough, you will automatically receive a renewal notice each year with a bank payment slip. Alternatively, you can go to your Town Hall and set up a direct debit for the payment(s).

LICENCE PLATES & PAPERWORK FEES

To pay somebody to deal with the above matters for you, expect to pay in the region of €300 Euros, or possibly more if you also require them to accompany you at the ITV appointment. Most will provide a quotation that includes the cost of the new number plates.