Flip Flops Driving Spain

Is It Legal to Drive in Spain Wearing Flip Flops?

Spain – summertime, the heat, the beach – often driving wearing flip flops or similar or even barefoot, might seem the easiest or most convenient option.

As summer approaches, the recurring question arises.  Is driving wearing flip flops or ‘chanclas‘ as they are called in Spanish, against the law? And what actually is and isn’t considered legal footwear for driving?

According to research, it is safer to drive in high heels, than it is driving wearing flip flops.  Under Spanish law, the same as in the UK, driving wearing flip flops isn’t illegal, however, ensuring you are able to operate the controls safely is.

Article 17 of the Spains General Traffic Regulations states that “drivers must be in a position to control their vehicles at all times”.

Interpretation of the law therefore rests on the traffic law enforcement authorities themselves, i.e. it’s down to the Guardia Civil Traffic officer carrying out any road side check, to decide whether or not you are shod appropriately for safe operation of the controls, and thus, safe driving of the vehicle.

Summer last year Guardia Civil posted of their X (formerly Twitter) channel:

#SabíasQue no está específicamente prohibido conducir con chanclas, pero puedes ser sancionado por no ser capaz de mantener la libertad de movimientos
Ahora vas y le das a RT para que todos se enteren. 😂
#NoEsPorLaMulta #ViajeSeguro a la #playa en #Vacaciones2023🌅

This translates:

#DidYouKnow It is not specifically prohibited to drive with flip flops, but you can be penalized for not being able to maintain freedom of movement
Now you go and hit RT so everyone knows. 😂
#It’sNotForTheMulta #SafeTravel to the #beach on #Vacations2023🌅

Studies in the USA, suggest that flip flops are the most dangerous type of footwear to wear when driving, mainly because they can easily slip.  So although not technically illegal, being barefoot or driving wearing flip flops, could be judged to be unsuitable, and if you are unlucky, you could face a fine of up to €200.

To sum up, this is a matter of safety, and we all know prevention is the best cure, therefore, tempting and convenient as it may be, to avoid risk of a fine, and more importantly an accident, best to don some proper footwear.

ITV Inspeccion Tecnica de Vehiculos

The ITV – Inspección Técnica de Vehículos – Spain’s Vehicle Technical Inspection

In Spain, the periodic road worthiness inspection, is the ITV. (Inspeccion Tecnica de Vehiculos – Vehicle Technical Inspection).  Like the UK MoT test, it’s mandatory for all road going vehicles, and driving without a valid ITV can result in fines.

When Does The ITV have to be done?

The frequency of the ITV test depends on the age and type of vehicle.  New cars are first tested after 4 years and must be inspected every 2 years thereafter, until they reach 10 years of age. Any car over 10 years of age has to be tested annually.

Motorcycles, mopeds and quad bikes are first tested after 5 years, after which the test is due every 2 years. Caravans are first tested at 6 years, after which the test is due every 2 years.

If a vehicle has been involved in a serious accident, it also has to undergo an ITV assessment after being repaired, to confirm its road worthiness.

Registering a UK car in Spain

Register a UK Car in Spain

The UK is no longer in the EU and the process and costs to register a UK car in Spain are a lot more than they were before Brexit.

This is because UK cars now are now treated as vehicles from third countries and must clear customs, have import duty and VAT paid, or get a waiver if your car qualifies for customs exemption.

The process you follow will depend on your situation, as will the cost.  You’ll need to budget for costs of around €1,500 with taxes as applicable on top.

Historic licence plates for classic cars in Spain

Historic Number Plates for Classic Cars in Spain

Registering Classic Cars in Spain

The process of assigning a registration number to a Classic Car in Spain is more or less the same as that for a normal car.  However the car will have to go through more vigorous checks before it can be passed.  There is no differentiation in regard to age of vehicle and the registration number issued.  So a 50 year old classic Ferrari brought to Spain from another country, and a brand new Nissan Micra, could end up with consecutively numbered plates.

This is quite different to the UK for example, where vehicle registration numbers have a year marker, so you can know the cars are from the number plate.  Spanish vehicle registration numbers have no age identifier.

From a Classic Car perspective, this means that, if you’re bringing your pride and joy 1964 Mercedes SL to Spain, when you register it, you will end up with a registration number that doesn’t fit with the age of the car.  The registration will be just like any other regular new cars registered at the same time. Not great for prestige.

Registering a car from and EU country in Spain

Register a Car from an EU Country in Spain

There are a few steps involved in the process to register a car from an EU country in Spain.  Fortunately because of European standardisation, or homologation as it’s known, in most cases, provided you know the steps, it’s relatively straight forward.

The following is a basic run through of the steps and process.

Exchanging a UK or EU driving licence for a Spanish one

Exchanging Your UK or EU Driving Licence for a Spanish Driving Licence

If you hold a UK or EU driving licence from outside of Spain are expected to exchange it for a Spanish one when you become resident in Spain.

[creativ_toggle icon=”” heading=”European Union website information on exchanging licences” onload=”closed”]

Exchanging your licence

If you change your residence to another EU country, you don’t usually have to change your driving licence. You can use your current licence as long as it remains valid.

If you wish, you can voluntarily exchange your licence for an equivalent one in your new country of residence.

You will have to prove that you are a resident of that country and that you meet the conditions for having a driving licence (e.g. you have reached the minimum age, your state of health permits you to drive, etc.).

Before the authorities exchange your driving licence, they will contact the authorities in your previous country of residence to check that your driving licence has not been restricted, suspended or withdrawn.

Obligatory exchange

When living abroad, you will have to exchange your driving licence for a local one:

  • if your licence is lost, stolen or damaged
  • after 2 years of usual residence, if you have a driving licence valid for life (only if required by the country where you live)
  • if you commit a traffic offence in the country where you live

Many non-EU countries, UK included, have a reciprocal agreement with Spain to exchange licenses.  Where this is the case, you follow the same procedure as a EU citizen when you become resident and exchange your licence.   The only difference is, driving licences from non-EU countries are only valid to use for 6 months from the date of getting residency, so the exchange of licence needs to be done within that time.

Register a vehicle form a non-EU country in Spain

Import and Register a Car From a Non-EU Country in Spain

The are quite a few steps and costs involved to import and register and car from a non-EU country in Spain.

First and foremost EU conformity, import and registration costs must be taken into account as these can make the import and registration in Spain impossible or too expensive to be worth while.

This said, under EU rules if you are moving from a non-EU country to live in an EU country, such as Spain, you can bring your possessions including cars, and avoid paying the costly duties and taxes and having to pay for expensive EU conformity certification.

These transfer of residence rules give you up to12 months form the date you get your residency to import your car and avoid paying customs and VAT.  However you only have 60 days from the date you take up residency, to register your car and avoid registration tax (if it applies).  

Importing a High Value Car from the UK to Spain Post Brexit

Importing a high value car from the UK in Spain post Brexit, now comes with added costs.  As the UK is no longer in the EU and the standard process to import and register a UK car in Spain now involves customs.

This means on top of the registration tax which in most cases will be 17% of the vehicle value, 10% customs duty and 21% VAT will apply, unless you can find away around it.

Paying nearly £50k to register a £100k motor is simply not a consideration.  There are however various ways these huge costs can be avoided, bringing the cost of importing and registering high value cars in Spain down to a few thousand Euros, rather than tens of thousands.

Vehicle Taxes Spain

Vehicle Tax in Spain

When you own or register a vehicle in Spain, you almost always have to pay some form of vehicle tax.  The type and amount that applies depends on the vehicle.

Local Vehicle Tax

IVTM Impuesto sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica is the Spanish equivalent of what we refer to in the UK as road tax.  Almost all vehicles driven on public roads in Spain, are subject to this tax, which is administered and collected locally by the Town Hall.

The tax is set by the municipal authorities, and varies from area to the next. IVTM is paid to the local authority and can be paid in person at the relevant Town Hall office (Ayuntamiento), at a bank or by direct debit.

Vehicle Tax When Registering a Vehicle in Spain

When you register a vehicle in Spain, either new or used, in all cases locally collected road tax‘ – IVTM (Impuesto Sobre Vehículos de Tracción Mecánica), must be up to date.

There are 3 main circumstances and taxes that apply when registering a vehicle in Spain. These are:

  • Purchase of a new vehicle
  • Buying a second hand vehicle or changing ownership
  • Importing or registering of a foreign vehicle

Tax – New Vehicle Purchase

New vehicle purchases in Spain are subject to IVA (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido), Spanish VAT – currently 21% of purchase value.

In addition, when a vehicle is first registered in Spain, it may be subject to an additional registration tax.

This vehicle tax is based on the new value of the vehicle and it’s CO2 emissions.  Vehicles with CO2 emissions below 120g/km are exempt from the tax, and the rate increases with the level of emissions as follows:

  • 121g/km – 159g/km = 4.75%
  • 160g/km – 199g/km = 9.75%
  • 200g/km or higher = 16.75%