This article is about the processes involved in buying and selling second hand cars in Spain. It will also look briefly at some of the pitfalls and problems to avoid, concentrating mostly on the buyer's point of view. As a seller, it would obviously be in your best interests to prepare things so that a buyer of a second hand car in Spain can actually buy your car.
The car might be for sale because the owner knows about an ITV problem that is not obvious...
Every car needs to have the following documents up to date to start the buy / sell process:
So one of the first things to check, whether buying or selling, is that these are all in order for the car in question. Ask to see the original of all these documents before going any further.
Let’s assume you’ve found a second hand Spanish car you would like to buy. Ask the seller to show you the originals of these three documents. Check that the names correspond between them. Check the seller’s ID too. If the person selling is not the owner for any reason, such as family member, or second hand car dealer, then you need to make sure that they are allowed to sell the car. This is particularly important in the case of a private sale.
The Permiso De Circulación is valid if the name and address are correct and the details correspond to the second hand car you are trying to buy.
The ITV could be out of date, or nearing it’s renewal date. If this is the case, then you would be well advised to ask the owner to pass the ITV before you continue. The car might be for sale because the owner knows about an ITV problem that is not obvious to a prospective buyer without actually testing. Would you know if the car would pass the environmental checks for gas emissions or noise?
The Impuesto Sobre Vehiculos could easily be out of date by one or more years. Once you have bought a second hand car in Spain, you would be liable to pay the back dated taxes before you could register the car in your local Ayuntamiento
He will steal the car back at the earliest opportunity, and you won't have a legal leg to stand on.
If you are buying through a second hand car dealership, then they will take care of all this part. If not, then go to another dealer for your car. They will ask you for your official identification, Passport, Residencia, and anything else they could require for the processing of the transfer of ownership. If you are buying privately you will need to make sure you have a full day free to go to your local Jefatura De Tráfico. It is a huge advantage for both you and the seller if you can both go. That way, any little details that could cause a hiccup in the process can usually be sorted out on the spot. If he/she cannot be there, you will need copies of all the car documents, his/her documents, and a signed declaration allowing you to make the transfer in his/her name. It is unlikely that the seller will refuse to go with you though, as he will want to keep the documents in his possession until paid, and you will not want to pay until you know the car can be transferred. Take plenty of CASH with you, and take plenty of PHOTOCOPIES with you of all your own documents. Take documents that are not apparently required, such as your Empadronamiento and your driving license. If you get a 'Jobsworth' then you will need these things. On the other hand, a 'Jobsworth' is your biggest protection against a fraud, as he will be double checking the details of the car being sold. And take a BLACK BIRO with you. It is no joke if you need to fill in a section you missed on the form, or anything like that, as you can lose your turn trying to borrow a pen, and so have to wait the full queue again.
All being well, the worst part is over. The car is in your name. Now you can go to your Ayuntamiento to make sure the road tax is in their system and paid up. There is no rush about this, but depending on where you live, it could mean another morning in a queue. A side issue worth mentioning is that you can also ask the seller if he could transfer the insurance to you. You could find it beneficial and it is easy to arrange. It means you can drive the car away same day with insurance included.
Apart from the usual difficulties associated with second hand car purchase in any country, the Spanish system opens up a number of extra pitfalls. This is because of the possibility of the transfer process not being completed. The seller will want some sort of down payment before going into the transfer process. Once completed, he will expect to be paid the balance before handing over the new car documents in your name and the car keys.
Generally speaking, if at the start you have checked that the original documents for the car seem to be in order, and correspond to the ID of the seller, you can assume that the sale is being made in good faith. Just doing that will detect the majority of the con tricks. If a seller cannot produce all of those original documents in his own name, then be very careful!! Maybe better to look elsewhere.
A second hand car dealer in Spain (some nice cars) Loquo (Barcelona) used cars - check around the other Loquo cities (on the left) for more. CraigsList's Barcelona second hand cars - again, check around the other craigslist sites too
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