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Cars & Motoring

The rental car industry is thriving in Andalucia thanks to a constant influx of tourists. An offshoot of this industry is a second hand car industry that features almost new cars that even come with a limited guarantee - all at a fraction of the cost of buying a new vehicle.

EU citizens are allowed to use their home country drivers' licenses while on holidays in Spain, residents have two options. Once you become a resident in Spain, you can head to your provincial traffic headquarters and apply for a new Spanish version (at a cost of 26 euros) or you can continue driving with your EU license.

Every year you must pay a municipally imposed vehicle tax at your local town Hall. This tax "impuesto municipal sobre vehiculos de traccion mecanica" varies from municipality to municipality. As a general rule it is cheaper in rural areas, which sometimes leads Andalusian businesses with fleets of company vehicles to use a rural address for the official headquarters of their business.

Buying a second-hand car can be a stressful endeavour. Many people believe that buying a used vehicle is tantamount to buying another person’s problems. However, purchasing a second-hand vehicle can be an economical way to maintain yourself in a trustworthy and even stylish vehicle.

EU citizens are allowed to use their home country drivers' licenses whilst a tourist in Spain. If you are living in Spain and use your home country drivers' licenses you may be asked to document your absence from Spain in the last six months or face a fine of 300 euros. If you are driving a vehicle you own on Spanish registration you must also carry some form of Spanish language license.

The region of Andalucia has a very high number of luxury vehicles due to the fact that its lifestyle attracts people from all over the world. Hundreds of beautiful vehicles including Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin, BMW, Jaguar, Maserati, Bentley, and Rolls Royce among others are constantly seen in posh places like Seville, Marbella, or among the massive yachts of Puerto Banus.

Anyone holding a Spanish drivers' license must renew the document according to the following schedule: From the time you receive your license until you turn 45 years old, you must renew every 10 years. From the ages of 45 to 70, you must renew every 5 years. From the age of 70, you must renew every 2 years. Renewal involves paying a fee, of course, and passing physical and "psico-tecnico" exams.

All vehicles in Spain must periodically undergo a technical inspection. There are 50 odd inspection points in Andalucia, with service more readily available in heavily populated areas. The schedule your vehicle is required to follow will depend on the date it was first licensed. Following are the year 2003 schedules for different types of vehicles.

All risk "todo riesgo" car insurance will cost between 1.000 euros to 2.000 euros per year for a small car. Third party insurance is the legal minimum and will cost about 400 euros per year. It will cover you for claims by third parties up to 360.000 euros, for injury and 100.000 euros for damage. It does not cover you or your car, only third parties up to the maximum limits stated.

Any national taking up residence in Spain will be exempt from Import Duties. Importing is simple however the re-registraton process is very complicated.

If you are a foreigner in Spain for more than six months (182 days) in one year then legally you must import your car onto Spanish number plates. The six month requirement is on the owner and not the car itself. As the movement of EU citizens is not recorded by passport stamps these days it may be more difficult to prove your status should the police request it.

Both unlicensed drivers and many non-EU citizens are required to take a driving test in order to obtain the Spanish license required of all residents in this country. If the test is available in your native language at this time, you're troubles are nearly solved. Proceed to seek out an academy that offers support, manuals and practice tests, pay your fees and continue with the course until you pass both the written and the practical test.

Spain has taken longer than most other European countries to introduce a drink drive law, but it is now in place, so imbibers beware! Couple these rules with the fact that many Andalusian roads require your undivided attention, and you can be sure that drink driving is no joke in these parts.

In Andalusia, as with anywhere in the world, the search for the right auto part for your vehicle, boat or machinery is a potentially time-consuming exercise. For those living in Andalusia the task can be made more difficult if you speak little or no Spanish. Even for fluent Spanish speakers, discussing engine parts can present an extra challenge.

If you are unlucky and have a car accident make sure you obtain the licence plate, drivers name and NIF number and the name of the insurance company of the other vehicle. Complete the blue form which you should carry at all times. This helps to record all relevant information and includes space to draw a picture of the accident. If you are driving a hire car telephone the hire car company for assistance.

To buy a car in Spain on needs more than just money. You will agree the price and payment terms with the dealer who will usually handle all the paperwork for the vehicle transfer procedures and if a new car pay the taxes on your behalf. If you have a used car that you wish to scrap when you buy a new one, the government will reduce your new car tax by 480.80 euros or 721.00 euros if you scrap a leaded fuel car for an unleaded fuel one.

The issues faced by owning a car and driving in Andalucia are similar to those faced in the rest of Spain. Some of these issues outlined below are different depending on whether you hold a license from Spain, or another EU country, or if you hold a non-EU license. Listed below is information on a variety of car and driver-related topics.

I am the proud holder of a Spanish driver’s license. You cannot imagine how proud. I can't tell how much it cost me – I went into denial once I hit four figures (in pounds). Learning to drive is a wallet-wincing business anywhere, but in Spain even for souls less automobilistically-challenged than myself, it costs a veritable ojo de la cara (lit. an eye off your face). To add humiliation to insolvency, once you have jumped through all hoops, practical, theoretical and bureaucratic, you must announce your first year as a driver with a green L-plate stuck in your rear window. Still, that's all water under the bridge now. The beep-at-me-I'm-an-idiot-sign's in the bin and I can afford to put petrol in the car.

When a driver loses points from Spain’s point based drivers’ license, they can officially be recuperated in two ways: Two points are given back to drivers if they manage not to lose any points for two years. Attending special refresher theory and road safety courses is a requirement for those who loose all their points.

Driving licenses in Spain have a credit of 12 points from 1st July 2006, except in the case of drivers who have been driving for 3 years or less; those only have 8 points. The points will be deducted from licenses of drivers caught committing driving offences – some of them were not considered as such before this new law.