Like most countries, Spain has a vehicle testing scheme to make sure older vehicles are safe to be on the road. In Spain this is called the Inspección Técnica de Vehículos, or ITV. Most towns have an ITV testing centre, just check on Google Maps, ask people where they go or keep an eye out for the distinctive ITV logo. Our nearest for us in Murcia was in San Javier here.
If you are lucky enough to have a new car it does not need to be tested for the first four years. After year four, the test needs to be done every two years, and after ten years, the test becomes annual. Our car is nine years old so this test would hopefully take it up to 2024, after which it would need to be tested every year.
There is not a single ITV website for booking tests for all of Spain. Each region will have a site, and possibly individual towns. Our centre in San Javier had its own website, which luckily for us is also in English and explained everything. Unfortunately I did not discover all the English content until I started writing this! Just use Google to find the ITV website for the test centre you are going to use. From there you can book an appointment, rather than just turning up and queuing. I was able to book an appointment for the same day, about an hour later. Presumably some times are busier than others, but when I went there was only one other car.
I parked up, and went into the office. I had a big wodge of documents as I was not sure which ones I would need so I bought them all. In the end, the really helpful lady at the centre needed the following documents:
- Tarjeta Inspección Técnica de Vehículos. The appearance of this varies depending on where the car was registered in Spain. It is the original inspection document from when the car was new.
- Permiso de Circulación del vehículo. Equivalent to the UK log book. This is a green card that could be quite dog-eared if its an old car!
- Proof of insurance. A receipt or insurance certificate will do.
The rest of the process was like a drive-through restaurant. At the first window I paid for the test. For my 2.0 litre 2013 diesel the cost was 54€, smaller engines cost less apparently. We were directed to lane 1 in the drive through, and, this bit is something I have never seen before, we were given some ITV branded water to drink while we waited for the test! Never had that at a garage in the UK. Maybe it is a normal thing at ITV centres?
We drove to the start of lane 1 in the covered area, into the cleanest garage I have ever seen. No oily bits, dirt or the smell of stale cigarettes. A mechanic asked for us to leave the car so he could drive to the three test points in our lane. We walked down to the end of the building, sat down, started to drink our ITV water, and then watch the test.
The test took about 30 minutes in all. It was very thorough, with three guys looking over every bit of the car at times. Emissions were checked, and the tyres, brakes and handling were all tested.
When the test was done, the mechanic went off to print the documentation. All the while we were kept in suspense as to the result. When he came back, he told us the power steering fluid was a little low, and reminded us that tyres on the same axle need to be matching brands. I thought this was it, we would need to get them sorted and book a retest, but no, he handed us a little red ITV sticker to put in the windscreen. We had passed!
In all I was very impressed with how slick the system was. From booking the test to driving out with the sticker, it was less than two hours! The water given to drink while you wait was a really nice and unexpected touch. Definitely the ITV is not something to be feared!