How to carry copies in your car

You don’t need to carry original paperwork with you in your car. You can carry special photocopies, and keep the originals at home.

So, if the worse happens and you lose your paperwork, you still have the originals safely at home!

Your car paperwork

The DGT (traffic police) will accept photocopies, as long as they are authenticated by a competent authority. A notary, a council or your local DGT office can all issue certified photocopies of your essential paperwork which will be accepted by the police.

How copies work in Spain

There are four types of copies under the law.

  • A basic photocopy, worthless for official purposes.
  • A copia cotejada, where a professional signs, certifying it is a truthful copy, usually used in specific circumstances (ie a copy of a sworn translation by the translator or a copies of draft contracts by the lawyer).
  • A copia compulsada is a photocopy which is certified as a true copy by a government functionary or notary. Depending upon the use given to the document, a government body will accept different authorities. The DGT allows its functionaries (including police) to accept seals given by notaries, councils, public functionaries and DGT. Here’s a link to the DGT magazine giving an «easy to understand» explanation to the public (look for the box in the bottom right about fotocopias):…/archivo/pdf/num158-2003-papeles.pdf
  • None of the above contemplate the AUTHENTICITY of the original document, which is why you cannot use a copy of your ID to prove who you are (although in most cases the cops apply common sense and accept them – if you’ve done something seriously wrong, they obviously won’t). That’s why car rental companies are in the right when they refuse to accept them.
  • Finally there are copias autenticas. This are «authentic copies» of original documents and can only be issued by the authority that originally issued the document. They have the same validity as the original document.

Copias compulsadas can be issued by notaries, but don’t need to be on special «notary paper» papel timbrado.

Maria Luisa

María Luisa Cervantes is a chartered accountant who graduated from the University of Granada in 2002. Founder of Cervantes Alarcón Consulting, she is an experienced accountant and financial advisor who is a member of the Almería guild of economists. With more than 15 years of experience in business administration and international trade, she is also a subject matter expert in the UK - Spanish bilateral agreements which cover the rights of expats to live, work and retire in Spain.