Shipping Goods from USA to Spain


Spain makes the importation of household goods easier for immigrants, in general. Compared to other countries, shipping vehicles into the country is more manageable, too. However, shippers need all the help they can get with the paper work and the rules. Below is a quick guideline which should help you understand the shipment process easier.

On household items and personal effects

Generally, all used household items may be brought into the country as long as a Change of Residence can be established, and as long as these items have been owned by the shipper for six months or more. When shipping personal effects and household items, it is advised that all items qualified as “used” be shipped in a container separate from that containing new items. This is because once one “new” item is discovered in the container the Customs Agency of Spain reserved the right to place duty fees and taxes on the entire shipment.

Diplomats who are staying temporarily or over a long period of time in Spain may be entitled to import their personal and household effects without paying taxes or duties to the Customs agency as long as they are able to provide a Diplomatic Franchise and a Diplomatic Passport.

Non-diplomat foreigners may enjoy duty- and tax-free importation of their household articles and personal effects if these items are used, and they can provide work and immigration permit. They must submit proof of their residence in the USA, the cessation of this residency, a duty-free petition, and a community residence permit if they’re EU citizens.

Returning nationals, on the other hand, may import used items VAT- and Duty-free as long as they can prove (through a certification from the Consulate of Spain in the USA) that they were abroad for no less than 12 months, and that they have ceased living in the USA and are now planning to live again in Spain.

All shipments must come with detailed inventories with valuation (separate lists for used and brand new items, if possible), the passport of the shipper with the proper visa, and the original bills of lading or airway bills. For the importation to be approved, the shipment must arrive no later than 12 months after the shipper’s issuance of residence permit in Spain. Non-taxed- and dutiable items must have no commercial value and must be imported purely for personal use only.

If the shipper is including an inventory for insurance purposes, it is advised for this list not to be shipped with the items, especially if the “used” valuation of the items differs from the insurance valuation. This may cause confusion during clearance. Proper labeling of used household items from brand new items is also advised.

Importing vehicles

All vehicles owned by the shipper for more than six months qualify for VAT- and Duty-free importation into Spain. To prove this, the following documents must be provided:

i. Original registration forms
ii. Title bearing the shipper’s name to prove ownership and length of ownership
iii. Original commercial invoice
iv. Deregistration Certificate from the Consulate of Spain in the USA

To clear the vehicles without trouble, the name on the registration forms must match the name on the passport and visa of the shipper. The shipper must also have a certificate from the Consulate proving that s/he was a resident of the USA for more than one year, or six months if the shipper is a resident of another EU country.

Upon arrival of the vehicle, the shipper needs to insure the vehicle in Spain. If the vehicle is only shipped temporarily, the owner may drive the vehicle on foreign plates provided that s/he doesn’t exceed the temporary release permits and driver’s license. Once the leeway period passes, all imported vehicles must be registered with the Spanish Road Authority. Aside from the pertinent documents, the owner must also submit the vehicle to ITV testing for environmental reasons.

Shipping boats, industrial machinery, motorcycles, motor homes and aircrafts have similar requirements. However, because these are special vehicles, they are not listed in customs regulations for Spain online. This might be because the rules tend to change for these vehicles frequently. To know for certain, it is best to consult the Consulate of Spain in the USA for the complete details.

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