Your vehicle must have a license plate, not the dealer plate, in order to ship it here. Leave your license plate in your vehicle when you ship it, or pack your license plate in your suitcase. Do not pack it in your household goods shipment. You will need your U.S. license plate to pick up your vehicle once you are in Spain.
All active duty military personnel and DOD civilian employees in receipt of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders to Spain are entitled to import one POV (one motorcycle OR one vehicle), free from all Spanish duties and taxes. If your spouse is also military active duty or a DOD civilian coming to Spain on separate PCS orders, he/she is also entitled to import one POV into Spain under the same tax exemption conditions.
In addition, members of the force and the civilian component may purchase and maintain one European Union manufactured vehicle, acquired in Spain, free from Spanish Value Added Tax (VAT). Family members of eligible personnel, 18 years of age and over, in possession of a Spanish driver’s license, may also own and maintain one European Union manufactured vehicle, acquired in Spain, free from the VAT. There are several new car dealers in the area which cater to Americans.
Vehicles arriving directly from the United States with a current stateside registration and license plates are issued a 45-day import permit (referred to as a “conduce”) by Spanish Customs, which will legalize the operation of the vehicle in Spain while a Spanish registration is processed. Vehicles with either expired “conduces,” no registration document, expired or invalid registrations or expired plates will not be released to their owners, nor operated until Spanish registration is obtained. Likewise, the vehicle will not be released to personnel without a Spanish translation of a valid stateside driver’s license or an International Driver’s License. Spanish translations are available through the Security Department’s Pass and I.D. section.
Your vehicle must have a license plate, not the dealer plate, in order to ship it here. If you are moving from another overseas installation and no longer possess your license plate you must request a new plate. If you purchased a new vehicle or previously relinquished your license plate you must obtain a license plate to drive the vehicle here in Spain. It can take two to four weeks for you to be issued a European license plate. Please contact your motor vehicle facility in the state of your vehicle registration to obtain a license plate prior to arriving in Spain.
U.S. personnel not desiring to ship a vehicle to Spain may acquire one from another U.S. service member stationed here, purchase a new U.S. vehicle directly from NEX New Car Sales for delivery duty-free to Spain, or purchase a new or used vehicle duty-free from official Spanish distributors in Spain. Personnel driving their POV to Spain in the execution of their PCS transfer from another European country must report to the Security Department Vehicle Registration Section in Bldg. 3262, with their vehicle within 48 hours of their arrival to the Rota Naval Base for processing of Spanish registration.
In addition to the duty-free imported vehicle, you may acquire one European Community-manufactured vehicle free from registration and Spanish Value Added Tax which amounts to 24 percent of value of vehicle. Your family members, 18 years of age and over, in possession of a Spanish driver's license, are also entitled to purchase a European Community vehicle free from VAT and registration tax.
POVs must meet the minimum standards of exterior appearance that are considered acceptable in the military and civilian community. The importation of a vehicle whose body or motor structure has been modified by other than the manufacturer is prohibited.
Service for American and foreign vehicles is limited by the availability of parts. The Navy Exchange garage offers auto repair service, but carries a limited selection of ignition parts, plugs, oil, air and gas filters, hoses, shock absorbers, mufflers, electrical system components, and accessories. Again, important items and spare parts for your POV should be purchased in advance and included in your household shipment.
Current Spanish traffic laws require installation of seat belts on all seats for vehicles registered in Spain after June 15, 1992. However, U.S. Navy regulations require seat belts for each occupant regardless of the date of registration. The third brake light (cyclops light) is authorized in Spain only if it is factory installed.
Children up to 18 months and 28 pounds or less must use a rear-facing seat. Children 9 months to 4 years old and 20 - 40 pounds must use a forward-facing seat. Children 3 - 12 years old and 33 - 80 pounds must use a booster seat and cushion.
It is prohibited to travel with a 12-year-old child in the front seat of vehicles unless they are taller than 53 inches. Children less than 12 years old and 53 inches or shorter must use a retention device adapted to their height and weight.
Per Spanish regulations, the installation of dark plastic coating or other material on front windshield and/or front side passenger windows to simulate smoked/colored glass is prohibited in Spain. As a result, owners of vehicles in this situation will be officially warned by the NEX ITV safety inspectors that their vehicle does not meet Spanish safety criteria and the inspector will recommend they have the plastic coating removed. Window tinting of rear windshield and rear side windows is permissible only when approved plastic coats are used and installed by professionals.
Vehicle Pick-Up Procedure
Check Where is My POV to determine the status of your vehicle. When you arrive in Spain, contact the POV office immediately to make sure that the shipment of your vehicle is on schedule. All vehicles must be picked up no later than 45 days from the date the vehicle arrives in Spain.
To pick up your vehicle you must: Pay the registration fee at the local Banco Popular on base, between 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri. The vehicle registration fee is subject to change. Report to the Vehicle Registration Section at the Personnel Support Center, Bldg. 52 between 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.- Fri. with:
- the receipt from the bank
- valid stateside registration
- vehicle insurance (green card)
- a Spanish driver's license or a Spanish translation of a valid stateside driver's license
Upon receiving the release form from Vehicle Registration, you may proceed to the POV Office with the following items to pick up your vehicle:
- Release form from Vehicle Registration
- 2 copies of your PCS orders
- DD form 788 (POV shipping document).
Your vehicle may be picked up by your spouse if he/she has a Power of Attorney and the items listed above
By agreement with the Spanish Government, U.S. military, DOD civilian employees and their family members assigned to Spain on PCS orders must be in possession of a Spanish driver's license to either operate or register a vehicle in Spain.
To obtain a Spanish Driver's License:
- Must be 18 years of age or older
- Possess a valid stateside driver's license (Note: If your state allows active duty personnel to keep an expired license, this will not work in Spain. You need a VALID stateside license. An expired license will not be accepted.)
Family members in possession of a valid driver's license, but not at least 18 years of age, are not eligible for a Spanish driver's license.
If you want to obtain a Spanish motorcycle license, make sure that your stateside driver's license is endorsed for motorcycles prior to your transfer. You will not be able to get a motorcycle endorsement once you are in Spain.
Prior to applying for a Spanish driver's license, applicants must satisfactorily pass a written test on Spanish traffic laws and signs. This test will be administered by Security Department personnel during the week that you and your family members attend the Intercultural Relations (ICR) Class. It takes two weeks to get the Spanish license once the paperwork is submitted by Security. In the meantime, you and your family members may drive legally in Spain by obtaining an official Spanish translation of your stateside driver's license from the Security Department Pass and I.D. Section in Bldg. 52, at no cost to you.
Vehicle owners must have a third-party liability insurance policy with the following coverage to either operate or register a vehicle: bodily injury, liability minimum of €450,000 per accident and property damage minimum of €150,000 per accident. To prove compliance with Spanish compulsory insurance laws, personnel holding POV insurance acquired in or outside of Spain must have an International Certificate of Vehicle Insurance (green card).
If you wish to retain your current insurance, contact your agent before you move to Spain and request a green card. You can also buy POV insurance from legally established Spanish or U.S. companies in Spain after your arrival. It could cost between $400 and $1,000 for third party liability and as much as $2,500 for full coverage, depending on the type of vehicle, age of driver, etc.
The green card is the only acceptable proof of compliance with Spanish compulsory insurance requirements. Therefore, the vehicle registration section will not accept any other document as proof of insurance for vehicle registration or re-registration purposes. Green cards are readily available from most international insurance agencies. They will email you the forms once you have established the policy with the required coverage.The same regulations regarding importation, registration and operation of POVs applies to motorcycles. A motorcycle is considered your POV. You will not be allowed to import another vehicle unless you and your spouse are both active duty military or DoD civilian component on PCS orders to Rota.
Any small motorbike or scooter exceeding 50cc-engine displacement is considered to be a POV. Per Spanish law, motorcycles cannot be shipped as or with household goods. They must be shipped separately as a POV. Motocross motorcycles are not considered POVs (if they remain off-road). They can be imported to Spain with your household goods. Possession of this type of vehicle, for off-road use only, will not count against the vehicle limitation.
All motorcycle riders must complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved basic rider safety course prior to riding on-base. Courses are usually held monthly and must be scheduled using the Enterprise Safety Applications Management System (ESAMS) or at http://navymotorcyclerider.com.
Note: If assigned to NATO units, contact your NSE for specific details on your motorcycle importation.
Motorcycles with U.S. specs are authorized to pass the ITV on base (NEX - gas station), Spanish motorcycles or with European specs must pass the periodic ITV off base, in a Spanish ITV station.
Regardless of current DoD regulations concerning shipping of mopeds, there are no provisions, customs clearances or registration procedures under Spanish law permitting importation of mopeds (50cc or less engine displacement) to Spain. Mopeds bought in Spain that were taken to the States may be brought back, provided you have the original Spanish Certificate of Registration (Certificado de Ciclomotor). Spanish manufactured mopeds may be purchased upon arrival in Spain from any authorized distributor off base.
Mandatory insurance for mopeds often costs more than car insurance. Check with your insurer for details.
Mopeds must pass an annual or bi-annual safety inspection (depending on age of the vehicle), known as ITV. This inspection is mandatory if a moped is to be used on or off base. While the ITV location at the Navy Exchange gas station can conduct auto and U.S. motorcycle ITV inspections, moped ITVs are conducted off base only. Call the vehicle registration section of Security Department at 727-2318 for schedules.
Driving In Europe
If you are in possession of a Spanish driver’s license, you will be able to drive in all countries that are members of the European Union (EU). Driving outside the EU will require an International Driving Permit, normally valid for one year. It may be obtained from the American Automobile Association (AAA) in the States, from any Royal Automobile Club Office in Spain or from the Spanish Traffic Bureau in Cadiz.