A worringly frequent number of drivers seem to end up in Ibiza port.

There are many reasons you and your car may encounter the services of Spain’s Gruas. In the case of a roadside breakdown, you will view them as angels. Should you be one of the drivers who, with an alarming frequency, somehow manage to drive their car into the port, you will always think of Gruas as the people who dangled your shame for all the island to see. However, for the purposes of this guide, we are dealing with that very British affair of having your U.K. registered vehicle towed by the Grua on instruction of the Police.

Handling and process will vary slightly around Ibiza’s municipalities, and more so around Spain as a whole. However, in broad terms the laws and process will be similar throughout the country. We are basing our walkthrough on the Ibiza Town municipality, not least due to the borough’s reputation of pursuing UK and foreign plated cars with particular vigour.

The Compound

Your car will have been taken to the ‘Depósito Municipal De Vehículos’ of the area in which it was seized.

In Ibiza Town’s case this is at Carrer del Voluntariat s/n, telephone 971 199 799. They are open 7am to 11pm.  (See our town hall contact list at the end of this article for other areas).

In Ibiza Town they have an administration office at the compound itself. In some other towns you will need to deal with matters at the Police Station before ultimately getting your car back from the compound itself via a pre-arranged appointment with the Police.

The Documentation

As with any official appointment in Spain, take as much documentation as you can, both for the car and yourself.

I’m Just Off the Ferry, Honest.

Ibiza’s Police would tell you that almost every driver stopped in a UK registered car will claim to have arrived on the ferry a few days ago. They will also tell you it is exceptionally rare to come across anybody who has been towed where they ultimately prove a valid legal justification to drive their British registered car in Spain. It may have taken a while for the Spanish police to realise the potential and usefulness of technology, but they are getting up to speed now, and have ready access to everything about your car’s status directly from the DVLA.

If you are one of that very rare breed who has been unfairly towed you will have no difficulty presenting proof of your recent arrival – take your tickets, receipts, whatever you have. It will be obvious what to take as proof – and it will be just as obvious that you do not have that proof if you post a question on Ibiza Winter Residents asking ’for a friend’ what types of documentation the police want and how hard they scrutinise it. The days of knocking up some dodgy tickets on photoshop or slipping a fifty to Mad Barry Spanner who can ‘get hold of Balearia Ferries booking pads’ are long gone.

It’s a Fair Cop.

Most of us will be dealing with a justifiable tow. Though initial reaction may be one of anger, and for some people a complaint of being ‘picked on’, perhaps we should just accept it as a fair cop. We know the rules, and choosing to break them we know the risks too. Having accepted the situation you will need the car log book in your name as proof of ownership. There is a grey market in Ibiza of UK registered cars bought and sold where no official change of ownership is recorded in the DVLA V5 log book. In this case you really are at the mercy of the officers you encounter. You may have to face the fact that the car cannot be retrieved.

Take whatever documentation you can relating to road tax, insurance and MOT. Recently expired documentation will not stop you getting the fines but will certainly present you in a better light than somebody who has had no insurance, tax or mot for the last 10 years.

Personal ID should include your NIE or TIE, driving licence, passport, and something that links you to your current address, your empadronamiento is perfect.

Be Cool.

Along with your documents you should take a positive outlook, be contrite and respectful. Adopting the right manner with the Police can make things a lot easier for you. Be an arse and they can make your day miserable.

The Fines

Not all fines will be payable in every situation, but some fines are inevitable – nobody is walking out of the compound without some pain.

Everyone will get the Grua fee for taking your car to the compound in the first place, and everyone will have to pay for daily storage.

The fines relating to the car’s status for insurance, tax and MOT/ITV will depend on your own situation.

Insurance

Despite debate regarding the dubious legality of specialist ‘ex-pat’ insurance policies that give insurance cover to vehicles that are known to be illegal in not complying with regulations on road tax and MOT/ITV, it does seem that for now at least the Police will accept these policies as valid. Also, current UK policies are to our knowledge generally accepted, even if you are outside of the UK beyond the scope of the policy terms.  

Road Tax

Similarly with road tax, if your UK road tax is current, the Police are known to often accept this as valid and so the taxation fine will not be levied even when your car has been in Spain far beyond its allowed period prior to it needing to be formally imported. As you are only proving you are paying UK road tax, which is not their concern, and not paying Spanish road tax, which is their concern, it is one of several examples where matters could be a lot worse than they turn out to be.  

Table of Fines

There is no guarantee on which of these fines you will receive. Some will be lucky in being let off whatever takes the officer’s fancy, others will get every fine thrown at them to the fullest extent.

There are two further fine possibilities listed re ‘scrapping’ that we will come to in the next section on outcomes.

Sanction

Fine

Prompt Payment

Grua Tow

Around 150€

 

Daily Storage Rate

Around 9€ per day

 

No MOT/ITV

200€

100€

No Road Tax

500€

250€

No Insurance

800€

400€

Requested Scrapping

375€

 

60 Day Scrapping

900€

 

Unless your vehicle is leaving the compound road legal you will also need to cover the cost of a Grua transporting it away.

If we apply a typical example where a UK plated vehicle has no insurance, tax or MOT, and the resolution process to get the car out of the compound takes 2 weeks, we are looking at total fines and fees of around 1,800€, which could be reduced by prompt payment – within 20 days of the vehicle’s initial seizure- to 1,050€.

Fines can be paid directly or at a branch of La Caixa bank, however, to take advantage of the prompt payment discount the fines must be paid directly to the police.

Unfortunately, the fees and fines will almost certainly be just the beginning of what the tow will ultimately cost you. Next you must decide on your options.

The Outcome

You and your vehicle’s legal status will determine which options are open to you. Again, as is so often the case in Spain, the options available to you may be dictated just as much by the whim of the officer you are dealing with as they are by any prescribed sanction process.

Possible Outcomes

If you have all of your UK papers in order, Tax, Insurance and MOT, so leaving your infraction as one of failing to import the vehicle, you may be able to drive away with nothing more than a warning from them and a promise from you.

A common outcome for a car that is in otherwise reasonable legal order is that the ’modelo 620’ import tax stage of the importation process is paid prior to release of the car. This is the most expensive part of the importation process, and once paid most people would naturally complete the process.

A well-known motor engineer in Ibiza tells me that the outcome options will have some baring on which municipality takes the car. In Santa Eulalia for instance, his experience is that you can take the car out of the compound, so long as it is taken directly to a registered garage, from where the legalisation process is completed before it is released to you. This at least saves the rapidly accruing daily fees.

The Green Plates Outcome

Perhaps the most common outcome for a car with no legal status in Ibiza is a requirement that you must get it to the stage of ‘green plates’ in the importation process before it will be released. We have covered the importation process extensively in our article in our guide here https://theibizan.com/registration-transfer-a-guiri-guide/ , but in brief this means you must obtain a ‘Fucha Reducida’ engineer’s report, an importation ITV appointment (this can only be made in person, not through the online portal), pay your road tax at the Town Hall, apply for the green plate transitional status, and have the plates made.

They will then release the car to you allowing you to complete the process in a given time. This is a lot to do, much of it coming with fees and all taking a time that racks up those daily fees further.

Seem harsh? It may feel that way, but in one respect it is surprisingly lenient. In allowing your car to be driven away on green plates the police are releasing it to you still without that ITV. You are then allowed to drive your potential death trap around for as long as you are waiting for that importation ITV appointment.

Consideration

For some people finding themselves at the compound, the importation process may be a viable option, even an easy option. It was always something that should have been done anyway, perhaps being forced into it this way is a good thing in just getting it out of the way.

Other people will look at things very differently. The reality is that for some people the reason they had not imported the car formally is one of finance, either because money is tight generally, or because their particular vehicle just happens to be one of those that are disproportionately and prohibitively expensive to import.  If you drive a big old Jag or Merc with a very high initial value and very low eco-credentials, you may well be looking at a cost to import that is greater than the value of the car.

Scrapping, by Choice or by Default

In this situation, or any other you choose where for one reason or another you do not want to undertake a formal importation, you can choose to have the car scrapped.

Choosing to have your car scrapped adds a further 375€ fine to your account, but if faced with importation costs of 1,000€ or even 2,000€, the 375€ may be the better of two evils, or financially simply the only option you have.

Do Not Do Nothing!

Whatever you do, do not do nothing. If you ignore the seizure your fines will still be waiting to catch up with you somewhere down the line, but after 2 months without contact they will scrap your car for you. It gets worse. In this scenario you will have racked up the 600€ in storage fees over the 2 months, and you are penalised with an additional 900€ as a 60 day non-attendance scrapping.  

Ignoring your tow could easily end up resulting in fees and fines of 2,500€.


Disclaimer

The Ibizan compiles Spanish process guides with the best of intent as a useful resource to people living or working in Spain. Though we use our best endeavours to ensure accuracy of information provided, we cannot be held responsible for any consequences of errors or omissions. Process differs due to location, interpretation and change over time. We appreciate any input from readers where they have any suggested amendments or additions based on their own experiences.    


Directory of Ibiza & Formentera Town Halls


Ibiza Town

Ayuntamiento de Eivissa

Plaça d’Espanya, 1, 07800

www.eivissa.es

(+34) 971 397 500

fax: (+34) 971 397 506


San Antonio

Ayuntamiento de Sant Antoni de Portmany

Pg. de la mar, 16, 07820

www.santantoni.net

ajuntament@santantoni.net

(+34) 971 340 111

fax: (+34) 971 344 175


San José

Ayuntamiento de Sant Josep de sa Talaia,

Pere Escanellas, s/n 07830

www.sanjose-ibiza.net

alcaldia@santjosep.org

(+34) 971 800 125

Fax: (+34) 971 800 221


San Juan

Ayuntamiento de Sant Joan de Labritja

c/ de l’Ajuntament, 4, 07810

www.sant-joan.com

(+34) 971 333 003

Fax: (+34) 971 333 117


Santa Eulalia

Ayuntamiento de Santa Eulàlia del Riu

Plaça d’Espanya, 1, 07840

www.santaeularia.com

(+34) 971 332 800

Fax (+34) 971 332 959


Formentera

Ayuntamiento de Formentera

Plaça de la Constitució,1, 07860

www.formentera.es

(+34) 971 321 087

Fax (+34) 971 322 556