Packing boxes in a room that have to meet Spanish customs regulations

Spain’s customs regulations can get a little messy. But whether you’re importing goods into the country as part of your business or you want to move your personal belongings to your own home, it often works out much cheaper than buying everything from scratch.

Most items imported into Spain are subject to import taxes. Thankfully, some exceptions help lower the cost and make importation more worthwhile. Here’s an overview of the customs and VAT rules you’ll need to know for moving items into Spain from a non-European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland. These rules apply to the US and the UK.

My advice: Use a professional removal service to manage the importation application on your behalf. This will make things much easier for you and boost your chance of success.

Paperwork for personal importation

Here’s a list of the paperwork you need to have to import personal items into Spain without having to pay import duty or VAT:

Application addressed to Spanish customs regulations officer.

Certificate of change of residence. From the embassy or consulate of the country where you’ve lived for the last 365 days. It needs to confirm that you’re changing your residence to Spain.

List of imported goods + estimated value + approximate date of purchase. A Spanish consulate in your country of origin must stamp it.

Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number. If you’re an EU / EEA citizen resident in Spain, you’ll need to contact your shipping agent to receive your EORI number.

Personal use confirmation. You need to sign a document that confirms you won’t sell, transfer, or lease any of the items you’re importing for at least twelve months. You must also prove you’ve owned the items for at least six months.

Proof you’ve lived outside Spain for at least 12 months. Tip: Use your certificate of tax residency, national identity document, utility bill, or employment contract to prove this.

Copy of your residence permit in Spain. You can use the empadronamiento certificate you receive from the town hall to prove your residency in Spain if you’ve already achieved residency status. You can use your TIE application receipt if you haven’t received formal residency.

Tip: Paperwork is constantly changing in Spain. Contact your local embassy or consulate to confirm the documentation you need to avoid unpleasant surprises and conform to Spain customs regulations.

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Exempt items

Goods that are exempt from import duties according to the Spain customs regulations include:

● Any items designed for personal use, for your family, or your home

● Portable tools and domestic animals that you need for your job

● Cars, motorcycles, bicycles, caravans, trailers, and recreational boats for personal use

Avoid: Importing new items, even if they are for personal use. Customs officers can check all items being imported into Spain. If they think you’re importing new goods into the country intending to sell them, you’ll have to pay the duty, VAT, and a hefty fine.

Requesting exemption from duty and VAT

Spain customs regulations provide several ways of requesting exemption from duty and VAT. You can ask for these extra payments to be waived. To do this, you can contact the city customs office where you plan to live at least six months before you move. If you do this, you need to prove you will move. This involves extra paperwork and can be an unnecessary hassle.

Alternatively, you can request exemptions at the customs office in the airport when you enter Spain. My recommendation: Avoid this option. Traveling is already pretty stressful, and adding the hassle of going through customs procedures when you’ve just landed is likely something you’d rather pass on.

My favorite option is to request an exemption from duty and VAT at any customs office in the municipality where you move. You’ve got 12 months to do this, giving you plenty of time to arrange your residency paperwork so things become more manageable.

Import duties

According to Spain customs regulations, most import duties are 0%. This includes items imported for commercial and personal use. However, some items may be subject to import duties because of the country in which they were manufactured.

For example, a bike made in China will be taxed according to statistical value or additional rate tax statistics of 48.5%. This is part of the EU’s antidumping mission to avoid foreign companies lowering the price of goods in other countries.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Although most items imported into Spain are duty-free, you’ll almost certainly have to pay VAT. The standard VAT for importing goods is 21% into mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands. It’s only 7% for importing goods into the Canary Islands.

Some exceptions to the rule make things cheaper and reduce VAT to as little as 0%.

Tip: Don’t let the acronyms confuse you. VAT in mainland Spain and the Balearics is known as IVA (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido). In the Canary Islands, it’s known as IGIC (Impuesto General Indirecto de Canarias).


  1. We are house owners but not residents of Spain yet. My husband would like to bring over and keep his bicycle in Spain. He has had the bike for 3 years and can prove it with an invoice Will he be made to pay Import duty on it? He would like to bring it over in February on the ferry in a Spanish car. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi. In practice, many visitors and tourists to Spain arrive with their used bicycles and leave with them. I’d suggest that declaring the bicycle would not be necessary given that common practice. All the best, Alastair

  2. HI I am planning to import goods from Australia (Sample – for engineering test and evaluation). However, the receiver do not have EORI number. What is other way to send the goods in spain? Thanks

  3. Hello, I’ve just been sent an invoice for €350 a mixture of Iva + fees from customs after I sent my Mac from UK to Spain via DHL. This is my own personal computer that is years old, is this correct?

    1. Hi Darren, I’m in the process of sending my old Mac over to Spain too. I plan to send it via Parcel Force, but I’m sure the same thing will happen. Did you finally resolve this issue? Or have any suggestions?

  4. Hi
    If I order furniture direct from M and S Ireland, instead of the UK, do I still have to pay import tax or VAT ?

    1. Hi Jane. You can order directly from the M&S Spain site (Alison is a regular user!), but no purchases from within the EU attract import duties or taxes outside the initial purchase. All the best, Alastair

  5. I am planning to move from the UK to Spain

    I was wondering if I can move personal stuff, such as a bed,…aswell as some of my catering business materials that I will use in Spain, they are a few years old

    1. Hi Steven. If you are moving to Spain and can show Spain will be your full time residence you can bring pre-owned personal items without incurring duty. Regards, Alastair

  6. Hi Alastair,
    I am planning on obtaining Spanish residency through property purchase, but will not be a permanent (fiscal, tax) resident there. Do you know if this form of residency would count for IVA exemption?
    Thanks so much,

    1. Hi Selena. The Spain Golden Visa doesn’t require you to be resident in Spain for taxation. As to the IVA question, I’m unsure how your residency status would impact your IVA status – can you expand on your question? All the best, Alastair

  7. Hello! What do you suggest for things like photo albums, kids’ memories, some clothing and small decorations? In other words just a few boxes? Thank you!

    1. Hi Jesica – we recommend a company called Send My Bag – use the link and you’ll get a 5% discount as a Moving to Spain client. All the best, Alastair

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