Home F.A.Q. What the Number Plate Can Reveal

What the Number Plate Can Reveal

by Mark Nolan
4 minutes read

Although there have been different variations, such as those that can be seen on older cars, currently the number plate of a car in Spain is formed of a series of 4 number, followed by 3 letters.

Each series, or, to put it another way, each number plate is unique, and is assigned to an individual vehicle.

It can reveal basic information, such as date of registration, pending administrative charges or validity of the ITV, among others, and it is crucial information if you want to buy a car, if it is abandoned on public roads, or if you have suffered an incident.

In addition to our personal identification, if we know where to look, the car’s licence plate tells us many other things. For example, the vehicle’s accident history; the homologated emissions of the engine; the expiration date of the ITV and whether the last review was positive or not; charges or any impediments to the transfer of the unit, which is important if we want to know if we can safely buy or sell it.

Also, in most countries there are public reports on each registered car available to anyone who pays the corresponding fees. Therefore, the Traffic offices make two groups of reports available to citizens: free, normally reduced; or the specific and more detailed documentation, with prior payment of the established taxes.

Indeed, in Spain, the free report offers the basic information of the car: date of first registration in Spain, make and model and type of fuel used. The report also indicates if there is any incident that prevents a transfer of the vehicle or its drivability, but without further detail. If you need to know the details, you are going to have to pay for the advanced report.

In short, the first, free report, includes basic car identification data, as well as all the technical information: power, fuel, maximum masses, ITV inspection history and Euro NCAP test results, among others. Meanwhile, the full, advanced report adds information on the disposition limitations that appear in the vehicle registry, which could affect a change of ownership.

Don’t worry though, the advanced report is not expensive. You can consult the current fees on the DGT’s website, but once you have paid you will have access to all the basic information, as well as the identification of the holder, municipality where it is domiciled, ITV history, mileage and loads, as well as technical data, Euro NCAP score and history of car repairs, if it has been carried out in workshops that use the digital maintenance book. Therefore, the DGT recommends downloading the advanced report.

If it’s your own vehicle, the DGT offers, only for the owner or an authorised person, a document that lists the vehicles registered in the name of the interested party. It should be clarified that last year 898,872 copies were registered in Spain, 7% less compared to the 967,326 cars registered in 2020. Although, these figures are still far from the 1.3 million registered before the pandemic, in 2019.

So, how do we request the car report?

The simplest way is online, although you will need a digital certificate, electronic DNI or through the Cl@ve system, but with this, both the reduced report and any of the detailed ones can be requested. Therefore, it is enough to identify yourself and enter the vehicle registration number. For detailed documents, the fee must be paid (it is common to all) and the query must be justified: purchase, data verification, certificate for other administrations, accident or abandonment on public roads, for example.

If your knowledge of the Spanish language is okay, then you can also use the 060 telephone service, where you can manage the three types of detailed report, but not the reduced one or the one called Vehicles in my name. Likewise, proof of identity and prepayment of the fee is required, and the report is sent by email as soon as possible. This practice is one of the most commonly used by the Spanish themselves.

Finally, you can also use the DGT application, MiDGT, with which you can carry your vehicle documentation and driving licence, and gives you access to the reduced and full report. The fee can also be paid in the app. However, to get your digital driving licence you must download the “app” and access it using your electronic certificate, cl@ve credentials or with your personal data and a password that will be sent via SMS to the registered mobile in your name. This is quite a complicated procedure in all honesty, and has become a stumbling block for many people wanting to use the app.

All of the procedures related to licencing and vehicles can be access via the Electronic Headquarters of the DGT, providing you have the secure digital access credentials, at https://sede.dgt.gob.es/es/, where the ability to translate the pages into English is also available.

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