I am full of admiration for those people with a natural skill which they have developed. Creating something from nothing is an amazing feat which the well versed make look so easy. A cabinet from a block of wood, a gate from bits of metal and a portrait on a bare canvas leave me feeling awestruck. Like most blokes of a certain age I can turn my hand to most things, but the results will be adequate rather than spectacular. If I want a job doing well, I call on the professionals; sure it may cost me more, but in the long run savings are made as the work does not have to be done again so the wall will stay up rather than be blown down in the first wind. Oh, you’ve been there too!!

A man that can

The temptation for all of us is to do a job ourselves as it will cost less in the beginning and in many cases works out just fine, but there are times when we need help. This is when we ask a mate if he can do such and such for us, or if he knows a “man that can”. Referrals are always the safest bet so long as you trust that that the person referring has used the service or has had a strong recommendation from elsewhere. This is how we get our house painted, car repaired, apartment purchased etc.

Skill combined with experience in any field is an unbeatable combination, along with keeping promises and not overcharging. Gifted amateurs are fine so long as it all works out well in the end, but what if unexpected problems are encountered?

Perceived experts

A recent call was from a person who had just re-registered their car. They had contacted a gestor for advice though the person did most of the work themselves, but ended up having to take the tow bar off their car and paying registration tax neither of which was necessary. Only when they asked for an extra number plate for their caravan then did they find out that the caravan had to be registered too; now they have a Spanish registered car without a tow bar and a caravan that they cannot tow as it remains British. This is by far the worst case of being given poor advice that I have come across, but I am sure that this particular gestor is very good in their specialist field which is about as connected to motoring as I am to knitting

Problems and then some

So what problems may you encounter? The first is knowing where to start, putting the donkey before the cart so to speak. All bureaucratic systems like the paperwork to be in order though the Spanish have perfected the skill of providing hurdles, obstacles and bloody mindlessness to a fine art; so the first task is getting the paperwork right. For example, there are 10 pieces of paper required to transfer ownership of a vehicle!

Do you need an NIE, Padron, Residencia, Certificate of Export, Customs receipt, receipt of purchase, passport, registration document, Hacienda registration, Baja Consular or ferry ticket? In every case some but not all of these documents are needed except the ferry ticket; this is an urban myth, but keeps doing the rounds! The combinations are endless

What about the vehicle; was it yours before you came to Spain? Different rules apply if it wasn’t. Is it acceptable in Spain? Not all vehicles are. Has it been modified in any way? Modification is a change from its original condition such as adding a tow bar or with bikes changing the exhaust; will your mod’ be acceptable? Does the VIN or chassis number coincide with the number on the registration document? In a few cases no and this is normally due to cock ups at DVLA who make more errors and omissions on registration documents than all other countries combined

Registration tax

The Spanish, along with the Irish and Portuguese for example, charge registration tax, loosely known as import tax. This tax is levied on all new vehicles bought in Spain and by extension on all vehicles registered here for the first time. Exemption from the tax is granted only to us foreigners and only in certain circumstances. It is important that the tax is calculated correctly so that you do not pay too much; there are a set of tables provided by the Hacienda combined with various formulae to correctly arrive at the tax.

The Hacienda isn’t daft enough to take your calculations at face value so they always check the figures themselves. Another little trick that they use to crowbar as much as they can from your wallet or purse is this: The tax tables show the lowest value for your vehicle based solely upon depreciation; this figure is typically 25-30% less than the market value as market value includes other taxes and profits. So when you go to the Hacienda with the purchase invoice for your car or a transfer of ownership document showing a higher price than the tables, guess which value they take? You got it, the higher one; a case of heads they win and tails they can’t lose

Speaking the same language

Why does the team that I work with know how to overcome these hurdles? Firstly they are all specialists in their own right and understand their part of the process well. They have a can-do attitude that sees problems as hurdles and not obstacles. They have mutual respect and we all speak the same language not only in a technical sense but also literally in that we speak in Spanish. The difference this makes, not only in general life as an expat but when working with natives cannot be understated; it is an invaluable tool

I sincerely admire those people that have the will to do things for themselves, but sometimes it is worth calling upon the professionals or your wall may fall down too!