Empadronamiento, what it is, and how to register at the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) in Spain…

The Empadronamiento, also known as the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes, is a municipal register or census record, similar to an electoral roll. To register on the Padrón is to “empadronarse“. Registering on the empadronamiento places a resident of a town on the list of local inhabitants.

Registration with the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes is obligatory for anyone planning to reside in Spain for more than six months per year. Residents may register individually or as a family. To be registered is to be “empadronado“.

The Benefits of Registering

There are certain advantages of being registered on the Padrón. For each person registered in a municipality, the Ayuntamiento (town hall) receives funding for services such as policing, health centres, firefighters, schools, cleaning and maintenance. In some areas registering could mean further reductions in certain community charges and inheritance tax.

The register is used to serve as an official tally of how many people (legal or not) live in a community. Registering on the Padrón Municipal ensures that the registrant is considered an official member of the community, and verifies their presence in Spain which is useful in a number of situations. Those registered can vote in local elections and find it easier to carry out various administrative tasks; for example enrolling in school or registering a car.

Foreigners without up to date documents (expired visa, or no passport) are also required to register; no penalties are issued, but neither are legal residency documents made available.

The Certificado de Empadronamiento is an entirely separate administrative process from residency applications.

More information can be found on the Ciudadanos extranjeros website. Or at the Spanish Federation of Municipalities (Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias)

When a Certificado de Empadronamiento is needed

The use of the Certificado de Empadronamiento varies greatly from one administrative region to another. In Madrid, Andalucia, Valencia (among others) it is needed in order to complete numerous actions. However, this is not consistent across all regions of Spain.

The Certificado de Empadronamiento may be required to achieve the following:

  • Buy or sell a car
  • Register a child in school
  • Apply for the NIE (Numero de Identification de Extranjeros)
  • Apply for residency (Residencia)
  • Get married
  • Vote
  • Apply for a local health insurance card

How to Register

In most towns, registration for the Empadronmiento must be made in person at the town hall or neighbourhood administrative office (Junta Municipal). In some areas registration can be done online. Obtaining the Certificado de Empadronamiento is a fairly quick and easy process.

The documents required to register include:

  • A completed application form (available at the office where registration is being made)
  • Identification such as a passport, and a photocopy; if registering as a family, ID is needed for each individual
  • Proof of address, such as a utility bill, rental contract agreement or copies of the property title deeds (escritura)

If the tenant of rented accommodation is not named on the rental contract, they must also provide:

  • A completed Autorización de Empadronamiento (available from the town hall) which requires that the person who holds the rental agreement also be registered on the Padrón Municipal
  • A photocopy of the leaseholder’s identification

In some areas, the local police will visit the home to confirm the address.

Normally a Volante de Empadronamiento is issued on the day of application. This is a temporary version of the Certificado de Empadronamiento, and is suitable for official purposes. Some regions charge a small fee for issuing the Volante de Empadronamiento.

Note: In most cases, the Certificado de Empadronamiento needs to have been issued within the previous 3 months to be considered a valid proof of address (and is generally only required for national or foreign bureaucracy). A current dated Certificado de Empadronamiento can be requested from the Ayuntamiento at any time it might be needed (for example to buy a car or apply for the NIE).

Renewal of the Empadronamiento

Non-EU nationals who do not hold a permanent residence visa must renew their registration on the Empadronamiento every two years. EU citizens living as permanent residents of Spain do not need to renew and will be considered a resident in that community unless notified otherwise. EU citizens only need to re-register if they move home or there is a change in personal circumstances for example; the birth of a child. It is the responsibility of the individual to renew their registration on time.

Births, deaths and change of address

A change in status (birth, marriage, move to a new location) must be reported to the Padrón Municipal.

  • When moving house within the same community details must be updated by notifying the Padrón Municipal
  • When moving to a different municipality, repeat the registration process in the new community. Once registered, the current community should notify the previous community of the change
  • When moving away from Spain, the town hall or Junta Municipal should be notified so the Padrón can be updated

Further Information