Abstract The present study examines the role of transfer in the processing of double object constructions (DOC) in English as a third language (L3). A group of Basque/Spanish bilinguals and a group of Spanish speakers divided into three proficiency levels completed a self-paced reading task. Findings did not fully confirm the predictions of the L3 transfer models. Evidence from accuracy and reaction time data indicated a non-facilitative role of transfer since participants did not reach native-like accuracy rates across proficiency levels. Moreover, transfer does not seem to occur solely from Spanish, as predicted by the Typological Primacy Model. Proficiency level seems to be relevant when determining transfer in dative alternation.