What is registration tax and what are we really paying?


When it comes to buying a car, we all know that we have to do several procedures that will cost us money since we have to pay several taxes in Spain for having a car and driving with it. One of the things that we will have to pay if we buy a new car is the enrollment. When we pay the registration tax, the car is officially registered and we only have to polish a few things so that we can finally use our car. But do you know what registration tax is? In this article we will explain it to you so that you know what you are paying for.

What is registration tax?

Registration tax is a tribute levied on the first registration of a car in Spain. This tax is calculated on the tax base together with other fees or taxes, such as VAT.

this tax is based on the CO2 emissions of a car, so it will vary depending on the car model. The tax applied to the tax base is between 0% and 14.75%.


When must the registration tax be paid?

This tax is paid when we registered the car, namely, one time, It is not like the road tax that must be paid annually. Normally, the dealer himself is in charge of the procedures for this tax, including it in the invoice. But if not, It is a payment that we must make at the Tax Agency or Treasury.

Even if the car changes hands, the registration tax is only paid once.

It does not only apply to new cars, you may buy a used car but it is not registered in Spain, in that case, you will have to pay registration tax.

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The registration tax in 2022

Those who have bought a car and have registered it since January 1, 2022, will make it more expensive since the registration tax is calculated based on a new homologation, the WLTP (World Harmonized Light-duty Vehicle Test Procedure, which translated into Spanish is “World Harmonized Test Procedure for Light Vehicles”). It is not that the tax has changed, what has changed is the standardization criterion for CO2 emissions.

Both the homologation before and now are divided into segments Depending on the section in which our car is located, a percentage of registration tax or another is applied to us. The new homologation cycle, being more realistic, has made many cars go up the section and are considered more polluting, therefore, they pay more than registration tax.

For example, cars that emitted 144 grams per kilometer of CO2 and that were registered when the NEDC approval was in place, applied a 0% registration tax, that is, they were exempt from paying it since they were in the first section. However, with the new homologation, a vehicle that emits the same, becomes in the second section and a tax of 4.75% is applied.

How is the registration tax calculated?

In order to calculate the registration tax, we must look at the sections into which the WLTP homologation is divided:

  • In the first section, the CO2 emissions are up to 120 grams per kilometer (120g/km inclusive). These cars are taxed 0%.
  • In the second tranche, emissions are between 121 and 159 grams per kilometer. In this case, the percentage applied to these cars is 4.75%.
  • The third section is between 160 and 199 grams per kilometer. These cars correspond to a percentage of the 9.75%.
  • And finally, the cars of section 4 are in 200 grams per kilometer or above. They will have to pay a tax 14.75%.
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Once we know the percentage that corresponds to us, the formula that we must follow is simple. The percentage is applied on the tax base of the car, that is, on the price of the car before applying the other taxes. In this way we will obtain what the registration tax will cost us.

So if, for example, our car is in the second section (4.75%) and its tax base is 20,000 euros, the total we will have to pay for registration tax will be 950 euros.

As usual, registration tax is included in the sale price of the car, as is VAT.

What cars are exempt from paying registration tax?

Electric cars are exempt from paying registration tax.

There are some cases where cars do not have to pay registration tax, for example:

  • cars that emit 120 grams per kilometer or less of CO2, since as we have seen, a percentage of 0% is applied to these cars. Among these are electric cars, hybrids or small vehicles.
  • Vehicles for people with reduced mobility or that are registered in the name of persons with disabilities for exclusive use will not have to pay registration tax either.
  • Cars that are registered in other people’s names but are intended for the transport of people with reduced mobility.
  • Taxis, driving school cars or rental cars.
  • ambulances and vehicles destined for surveillance or rescue on highways and roads.
  • vehicles for the transport of goods or passengers.
  • vehicles of industrial, commercial, agricultural, clinical or scientific application that are approved by the Tax Administration.
  • Vehicles used by the Armed Forces and the Security Forces.
  • Vehicles for private use of NATO members.
  • Diplomatic cars.
  • Special vehicles.
  • Vehicles two or three wheels have a cylinder equal to or greater than 250 cc.
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There are other cases in which they are not exempt from paying the registration tax but it can be reduced:

  • The large families for example they have a 50% reduction in vehicles with a capacity between 5 and 9 seats.
  • Motorhomes also enjoy a reduction, in this case it is 30%.

The registration tax makes let’s opt for cars that pollute less since that will allow us to pay less or even be exempt from paying it. Therefore, when you go to buy a car, keep this in mind, and thus you will know why it is more expensive.


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