When we got our new car (last Monday, the 17th) we knew its ‘marbete’ (road tax) was only valid up until the end of the month. After that it would be reckless to drive without renewing it since every car has to have a current sticker in the windscreen and the police enforce this vigorously. No problem I hear you say. Unfortunately, we bought the car privately from a guy who had no paperwork. The car’s title was still in a dealer’s name, who supposedly was a friend of his (don’t ask… we didn’t!).
So we actually met at the dealer’s to take posession of the car. The dealer gave us a small slip of paper to serve as a temporary licence and assured us if we were stopped by the police it would be fine. He also promised us he’d get us the proper paperwork by Friday, giving us the whole of the following week to renew the marbetta. This sounded fine, so we parted with a very large stack of $20 bills and trundled off with our new car and this small piece of paper, which in all honesty could have been his dry cleaning receipt! 🙂
To be fair, we did also get a receipt from the individual guy confirming he’d sold us his car and all the relevant details, and, of course, we had the car.

Friday morning came and we were in the dealer’s neighbourhood, so we popped in, but he wasn’t there. A mechanic gave us his cell phone number and we called him. He said, “you’re too early come back this afternoon at 3pm”. At 3pm we called again to check and he said those words that we’ve come to dread… “my friend, we have a problem”
It turned out that since I didn’t have a PR driving licence I wasn’t in the department’s system and so he needed a photocopy of my passport. He said “bring it over Monday and I can get you the paperwork probably Wednesday or Thursday”.
As you can imagine, by this time we were starting to wonder if we were being played. We suggested, politely but firmly, that a more expedited approach was required. In the end we agreed to bring the passport over straight away to a colleague of his and they would try and get the forms for Monday. We phoned them Monday and they were supposedly in the middle of getting the forms and they’d call us back. This of course never happened, so fearing the worst we rang again at 5:30pm to be told “oh yes, we have your forms, come and get them tomorrow morning”.
So, this morning (after an early visit to the laundromat in town) we set off again, wondering a) if they’d really have our paperwork, b) would it be what we needed and c) would we know the difference!
On arrival, our worst fears were confirmed. Neither the dealer nor his colleague were there. As we were pulling out the phone to create merry hell, the original mechanic we’d dealt with came over chatting away in Spanish. He’d clearly been primed for our visit and pulled a sheaf of papers from the office with a flourish. We were delighted to recognise both the ‘certificado de titulo’ and the marbetta forms all showing my name. We grabbed them and with several cries of “muchas gracias” were off. The rest was easy. First stop, a gas station in Rincon to get an official vehicle inspection (cut down version of the UK MOT test) which took 5 mins and cost $11 – basically it seemed like a tyres, battery and emissions test. Armed with all the necessary forms & certificates we then drove to the regional vehicle licencing office in Aguadilla and purchased our marbete for $184 ($99 of which is for the compulsory insurance, which we can reclaim as we’ve taken out a private insurance policy).
Annual road tax for $85 (equivalent of about £42)… happy days!