Sorry about the tabloid style header, but it’s the best that I could come up with to advise that Right Hand Drive commercial vehicles can no longer be re-registered

“What!” you say, “I didn’t know that they could”. Regular readers of my column may remember that I wrote an article about a year ago entitled “White van man now legal in Spain” another dreadful tabloid style header and I don’t even read the press from England. Yes the gates were opened allowing personal imports of commercial vehicles into Spain provided that the vehicle had European Type Approval and so I re-registered a few.

This ruling has now been overturned with a European directive that RHD commercials cannot be re-registered in countries where the steering wheel is traditionally on the left. Similarly your Spanish LHD van cannot be re-registered in the UK or Ireland. Vehicles whose use is spread across Europe such as delivery trucks may continue to drive in all countries. The reason given for the change of heart is the lack of visibility increasing the likelihood of accidents. Whether there is some statistical evidence to back this up or it is just another interfering whim of some hidden bureaucrat I don’t know

Is yours commercial?

Cars and motor homes are unaffected by this law, though some could argue that motor homes share a similar lack of visibility; however they typically spend less time on the road. If you are not sure whether your vehicle falls foul of this new law, there is one simple check. Take a look at section “J” of your registration document (log book). This should either show the vehicle category as M1 or N1. M1 is normal vehicles such as cars; N1 is the classification for commercial vehicles. If it has not been completed on the registration document, it will almost certainly be M1. Wherever in Europe your vehicle is registered the codes on the log book are universally applied so there can be no confusion because of language or the layout of the document itself.

Incidentally the ITV stations have started issuing a new style Ficha Tecnica (ITV card) which carry far more comprehensive information than before and has an added benefit to those wishing to re-register their vehicles so let me slip on my anorak and explain the advantages of this

Tax and emissions

Many of you know that registration tax is applied when vehicles are registered in Spain; this applies to new cars bought here and is similarly applied to cars being re-registered irrespective of the age of the vehicle. I add that last bit because for some reason the bar room lawyers continue to say that this tax doesn’t apply to vehicles over 10 years old which is complete hogwash; it applies to all vehicles. I will digress here and say that exemption from the tax may be granted to us foreigners (not the Spanish) if we re-register within a strict time frame and take out residency etc

The tax is based upon the Hacienda (tax office) value of the vehicle and then multiplied by a percentage based upon the CO2 emissions level; the lower the level, the lower the tax. Until now the CO2 had to be on the log book or Certificate of Conformity produced by the manufacturer. On many occasions DVLA and other authorities omitted this vital piece of information so guess what? The tax office charged the maximum amount as of course they would. With the new ITV card, information regarding the CO2 level of any vehicle (including bikes for the first time) can be sourced from the web and subsequently added to the card. This means that many people who would have paid the maximum tax can now pay the correct amount which in many cases is less

As the tax is partially based upon the emissions it is also known as emissions tax and because it applies to imported vehicles as import tax. You could also call it is an “any reason to tax tax” or “what can we tax next tax” but it amounts to the same thing; the government is grabbing more of your hard earned cash. Incidentally, if you pay this tax, the Hacienda issues a receipt showing the calculation and the amount paid so it is worth checking it as mistakes can happen

What can you re-register?

For the benefit of those of you new to this fine country or those of you considering bringing a car over for use at your holiday home rather than continuing to hire one, it may be worth recapping what vehicles can and cannot be re-registered in Spain. Generally speaking any vehicle in class M1 can be re-registered if it has European Type Approval which the majority of vehicles do. The approval number is found on the weight plate on the door column or inside the engine compartment and will look something like this e1397/270040*. On bikes it is found on the yoke, by the engine or under the saddle

If the vehicle does not have this number it may be because it is very old, say pre 1995 or was made for a market other than Europe; certain Japanese MPV’s fall into this category. Providing that you owned the vehicle before coming to Spain and can prove it, vehicles without European Type Approval can be re-registered with no problem as a personal import. Motor homes irrespective of where the steering wheel is can be re-registered providing that they fulfil the above criteria. Caravans weighing in excess of 750 Kg which is virtually all of them have to be registered in Spain in the same way that cars are. Take no notice of the bar room lawyers who say that they cannot because the door is on the wrong side; this again is utter crap

No problem with bikes, though for re-registration the extra lights, throaty exhausts or extended forks may have to go for the purpose of inspection

Sorry to bring the news regarding vans, so take it home or look less conspicuous as your profile is now much higher