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El Padron: Spain´s Population Census Register

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El Padron: Spain. Find out how to register on El Padrón, Spain’s population register, which is mandatory for foreigners to carry out certain procedures in Spain.

El Padrón is essentially Spain’s population register. Here, the official addresses of all residents in Spain are recorded for the purpose of carrying out certain civil procedures, alongside the NIE number that is also required by foreigners. This guide explains what the Padrón is, what el Padrón is for, and how to register on the Padrón and get your Padrón certificate.

In simple words, the Padrón is a local certificate you receive after registering at the town hall where you live. The certificate for the Padrón in Spanish is the certificado de empadronamiento. If you have several properties in different cities in Spain, you can only be registered in one padrón system.

Registering on the census means registering as a resident at the city or town hall where you are going to live on a regular basis. In other words, it’s about making sure that the authorities know exactly where you live.

It is a process that anyone who starts living in Spain must do. Because all nationals of the country living in Spain and legally resident foreigners are obliged to register by law. However, it is a really simple and easy process, and we recommend that you do it as soon as possible once you arrive in Spanish territory.

And why is it so important? Because many subsequent legal procedures will require you to provide your census or certificate of registration. For example, the vast majority of immigration procedures require you to attach this document, such as the work permit application procedure. This is the definitive proof that you are applying for your residence permit at the immigration office located in your province. And not in any other.

What is el Padron for?

The Padron in Spain has two main purposes:

  1. Census
  2. Local, regional, national, or European elections.

Through the census, authorities calculate how many public services each area needs. The more people registered, the more services an area receives. You can read statistics about Spain’s population (INE Padrón).

Regarding voting, at election time you’ll receive a letter informing you where to vote. If you are not registered on the padrón, you won’t be able to vote.

To clear up any misconceptions, el padrón is not:

  • a form of ID.
  • your Spanish residency.
  • a necessary document to keep in your vehicle.
  • something you need to renew every so often, just when the town hall says so.

Who needs a padrón registration?

In the case of foreigners, the main advantages of being on the padrón are:

  • Residency in Spain – you will need to get on the padrón to become a resident, so that the Spanish authorities know where your home address is.
  • Spanish driving license – the padrón certificate is necessary when you exchange your driving license for a Spanish one, for the same reason as above.
  • Spanish health card – another procedure where the padrón is proof of address. It’s a way of determining which medical center you will attend depending on your home address.
  • Pensioner’s card – the padrón certificate will show the local authorities where you live.
  • School registrations – through the padrón, certificate schools know where children live.

There are other procedures that you’ll need a padrón for, but essentially these are the most common.

What Is The Empadronamiento Census?

The municipal census is the administrative record where all the residents who live or habitually reside in that municipality are listed. Your details are proof of residence in the municipality. By law, everyone living in Spain is obliged to register in the municipality where they live.

What is the purpose of the census?

The empadronamiento is the document that accredits the length of time you have been in Spanish territory, regardless of your nationality or legal status, i.e. whether or not you have a residence or the same in process. Registration on the Padrón accredits you as a resident of the municipality.

In order to register you will need to establish an address, which does not have to be your own, it can be a rental address or the home of a family member or an acquaintance.

It is advisable to carry out the empadronamiento as soon as you arrive in Spain. The registration is done at the town hall corresponding to the town where you live. It is a very simple procedure and you will need this document:

To apply for regularisation or residence and work permits,

It gives you the right to apply for a health care card,

You will be required to exchange your driving licence if there is an agreement with your country of birth,

It is essential to register your children for school

And all the other formalities inherent to foreigners.

One of the most important reasons for registering on the municipal census is that this registration is proof of roots in order to obtain the final papers. It is also a way to access municipal benefits, such as social assistance.

There is a law from 2003 that establishes the required renewal of the census every two years for all EU foreigners without permanent residence authorisation. It establishes a two-year expiry date.

Can I register on the census even if I don’t have papers?

If you are in an irregular situation you should not be afraid to register at the Town Hall where you live. The Town Hall does not control the legality or illegality of people who live in Spanish territory. The Town Hall only keeps a register, “El padrón”, of the people who live in its jurisdiction and verifies the situation in which they find themselves.

Documentation required to Register for The Padron

  • Apply at the Town Hall Office that corresponds to your address.
  • The Individual or Group Registration form.
  • Photocopy and original of the passport.
  • Photocopy and original of the rental contract or the authorization signed by the owner of the house where you are staying. If this is the case, it must be included on the form in order to register at home. The owner of the property will also have to renew your registration to include you.
  • If you have children, you must present a photocopy and original of their passports and family book.

What do I do if I change my address to a new municipality?

If you change your address, you must apply in writing for registration in the municipality where you set up your new residence. The municipality will notify your old municipality within the first ten days of the following month to request that you be removed from the register.

What is a registration form and certification?

The registration form: this is the proof that your municipality will give you to prove your registration. You must apply for it to carry out administrative procedures where a rigorous test is not necessary, such as applying for school grants, social services, transport fees, etc.

Certificate of registration: you will need this when it is necessary to prove your registration with the courts, foreign organisations, etc. Certificates must bear the handwritten signatures of the Secretary and the Mayor or their delegates.

How to register on the padrón

The best advice is to ask at the town hall or relevant local office which documents you need, as Spanish town halls are autonomous entities with their own rules and conditions can vary. Generally you’ll need to take along your passport, property rental contract or title deed (for owners), electricity or water bill, and proof of Spanish residency.

Since you need the padrón certificate to become a Spanish resident, yet you cannot give the padrón office your residency until you apply for it, the padrón offices usually give you up to a set period to return and present your Spanish residency; in the Alicante province, for example, it’s three months. After this period of time, you may be removed from the padrón register if you don’t take your residency certificate, although this varies.

When exactly will you need the Padrón registration certificate or census?

There are many legal processes in Spain that will require you to provide this document. And that is true whether you are a foreigner or not. For example:

  • When applying for your residence card
  • To get your health insurance card
  • To get married in Spain
  • When buying a car
  • When you enrol your children in school

Do I have to have a residence permit to register?

No. You can be in an irregular situation in the country and still register without problems in Spain. If you provide all the required documents, the city council has the obligation to register you at the address where you live, no matter what your situation is.

In fact, you don’t even need an NIE number to register on the census. You only need your passport and a copy of it as identification elements, and you will be able to carry out the process without any problem.

How to register for The Padron in Spain, step by step.

This procedure is really simple and will not take long. You have 3 different ways to streamline the process: online, by phone and in person. If you do it in person (the most common way) you must make an appointment at the town hall or the citizen’s advice office, prepare all the documentation, present it and sign it. It is that simple. If you want to do it online, you will have to enter here and fill out the form to receive (by mail) a document to be filled out and sent in less than 30 days (you will also receive instructions on how to do it and where to send it). Finally, the process by phone is exactly the same as online, with the only difference that the first step to indicate your address will be done by calling 010.

You will have to make an appointment with the city council and present all the necessary information there. What information is involved?

Documents required to register your address as a resident in Spain

The documents you must present to register are the following:

  • Rental contract of the house where you live and a copy of it
  • Original passport and copy
  • Registration form, completed. It contains your address in Spain and the name of the other people who also live in the same house or apartment.

But what if you are only renting a room or living with one of your relatives?

 In that case you must present an authorization from the person with whom you have the rental contract, including a copy of the contract. In addition, the landlord’s identification document will also be required. He or she will have to go with you to the town hall and sign for you.

What happens if I change my address after I register?

For this specific process you must fill out a change of address form within the same municipality. The documents and requirements are the same as in the initial case.

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