No more queueing at ‘Tráfico’: Motor ‘admin’ your local post office can now do for you
NATIONAL post office firm Correos has revealed that a number of motoring-related transactions can be carried out over the counter in any local branch, rather than having to travel to the nearest ministry of traffic centre – usually only found in provincial capital cities, meaning they can be a long-distance away, and typically with waiting lists or even a ticket-based queueing system which does not guarantee getting in the door on the first attempt.
It is likely few residents are aware that they can carry out a list of transactions over the counter in their own town – and, in fact, this was not the case until recently, meaning those who did not have time to spend a whole day in Tráfico and possibly have to return at least once if they did not make it to the front of the queue before closing time would typically pay a gestor, or legal and financial advisor, to go there in person on their behalf.
Clearly, this adds considerably to the cost and has in the past led to the bizarre situation where those who buy a second-hand car either need to take several days’ annual leave from work or save up, to register it in their own name.
This is no longer, thankfully, the case: One way of requesting necessary paperwork is via the General Directorate of Traffic’s (DGT’s) mobile phone App, and sometimes, these can be handled via the ‘online office’ or by telephone.
Where an in-person visit, or a legal representative’s signature, is necessary, Correos has turned out to be a valuable ally – here’s how.
Low-emissions certificate (Distintivo Ambiental)
A sticker or official document which shows your vehicle is a low-emissions type is necessary for driving within the city centres of Madrid and Barcelona, and could soon be the case with other major metropolitan areas, or even large towns.
The most famous of these so far is Madrid Central, the main hub of the capital within the M-30 ring-road, which is no longer accessible to traffic other than public transport, residents, those heading straight through to get to a parking space, delivery vehicles within certain time slots, or cars or bikes with a Distintivo Ambiental.
These, if your vehicle meets the criteria, cost just €5, can be obtained over the counter at any post office – and, so far, have proven to be the most popular motoring-related transaction Correos offers.
Duplicate of vehicle registration document (Permiso de Circulación)
Under Spanish law, the original vehicle registration document or VRD (Permiso de Circulación) must be kept inside your car at all times; being stopped by police and unable to show it could lead to a fine, and if you have ever owned a car which is more than four years old, you will know you have to present it when taking your vehicle for its ITV, or compulsory regular technical inspection (the UK equivalent being the MOT).
This can cause concern for some drivers new to Spain – if the car is stolen or catches fire, the VRD will be lost along with it, so how can you send it to your insurance company as proof of ownership to make a claim?
It is, however, possible to apply for a copy, and your national ID number and address are linked to your car details on the DGT database, so it is relatively simple to apply for, albeit much more convenient to do so at your nearest post office.
The cost is €30.10, and you will be sent a temporary one, suitable for official purposes before the ‘real’ one arrives in the post.
Checking out the vehicle ‘status’: Fines, embargoes…
You might not know if you’ve had a traffic fine, as they take a few weeks to arrive in the post, and if you’ve been worrying ever since you think you might have jumped a red light or not noticed a speed-limit sign and perhaps gone over the limit without realising, it may set your mind at rest to apply for an Informe del Vehículo (‘Vehicle Report’).
In practice, you are more likely to want to do this if you are buying a car, or selling your own to a private purchaser, to check there is no debt attached to it – fines, embargoes, outstanding hire purchase and so on.
As the debt travels with the vehicle rather than the owner in the case of taxes and fines, you might want to check you are not ‘buying’ these along with the car, or if you are the seller, you may need to prove the vehicle is debt-free to any potential purchasers.
All you need to do is go to the post office, where the report costs €13.50.
Notifying the sale of a vehicle
This is a legal requirement in all cases – if you trade-in your car at a garage or dealership, they will handle the sale notification on your behalf, especially if you are part-exchanging it for another on their forecourt; if you are selling it to a private owner, though, you need to do this yourself. Just imagine if the new owner neglects to transfer the car into his or her own name, and racks up a heap of speeding or parking fines…also in your name.
You might also want to arrange this yourself on behalf of the new owner, and include it in the sale cost.
Notifying the sale of a vehicle is a swift over-the-counter transaction at the post office, and costs €13.59.
Changing owner’s name on vehicle documents
Now far less of a headache than a decade or two ago, you do not have to queue up at the traffic department after travelling anything up to 100 kilometres if you live as far as you can get from your provincial capital city, and you do not have to pay a gestor – which could be anything from €50 to €250 just for his or her fee, depending upon your area – to go there for you. Also, you do not have to factor in the extra cost of 4% of the value of the vehicle or its sales price, as was once the case.
When you buy brand-new, or a second-hand one from a garage or dealership, they will handle this on your behalf, but if you buy from a private individual, you can change ownership into your name now at your nearest post office branch.
It costs €52.57, and Correos will do all the paperwork for you.
These standard fees for each transaction cover the DGT’s own taxes or tariffs for them and include a set charge of €9.50 by the post office for its service in dealing with the papers on your behalf.
This is covered by the prices listed here – €30.10, €13.50, €13.59 and €52.57 – so is not in addition to these, and you won’t suddenly find yourself having to shell out extras once in Correos.
The only service that does not attract this €9.50 fee is the Distintivo Ambiental – clearly, given that you only pay €5 for it in any case.
Even those transactions which you can start off online normally need you to attend somewhere official in person, which is where going to the post office is so much more convenient.
You may want to check with your nearest branch, or branches, whether they can in fact offer the service you need; in theory, they all should be able to, and it is likely they all will eventually, but if you find yours does not, you should be able to find a Correos branch close to home which will.