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The Law in Spain - How and why to register with your town hall

Officially, every person who lives in Spain for more than 180 days per year is required by law to register on the ‘Padron’, which is the official list of everybody who lives in a certain town. The Empadronamiento, also known as the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes, is a municipal register or census record, similar to an electoral roll.

The Town Hall holds this list, and it is a way for them to know how many people live within their area of jurisdiction. The information provided during ‘Empadronarse’ – the act of registering – is confidential and protected by data protection laws.

Registering with your Local Town Hall | Empadronamiento Costa del Sol hero image

So what are the benefits of registering?

Well, more people means more funding for better public services. Spain’s central government will allocate money to its various autonomous communities depending upon how many people are listed on the ‘Padron’. If you are absent, then that’s slightly less funds for health centres, police officers, street cleaners etc…

"The Empadronamiento, also known as the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes, is a municipal register or census record, similar to an electoral roll." 

If you are listed on the ‘Padron’ then you are eligible for access to certain income-related benefits and other aspects of social care available at your Town Hall, including discounted courses (such as language courses) and culture/leisure activities.

You can only vote as a resident, too. Local and European elections receive masses of attention in Spain, and you don’t want to be mute when the polling booths roll around. In addition, day-to-day life is generally more favourable for residents, too – your Residence Permit is your official proof of address, and is excellent when carrying out pretty much any administrative task in Spain.

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

  • Buy or sell a car
  • Register a child in school
  • Apply for residency (Residencia)
  • Get married
  • Apply for a local health insurance card

Documents you will need when registering

You will need:

  1. Original passport and photocopy/NIE or Certificate of Registration with the National Police Foreign Office and photocopy
  2. Proof of ownership of property (either your title deeds or a rates receipt in your name and a photocopy)
  3. If you do not own a property and are renting, your rental contract in Spanish and photocopy will suffice
  4. If you do not own a property and you are not renting, you have to come with the owner of the dwelling in order for them to sign the registration form, authorising you to register at their property
  5. All family members over the age of 18 have to sign the registration form

Renewal of the Empadronamiento

Non-EU nationals who do not hold a permanent residence visa must renew their registration every two years. European citizens living as permanent residents of Spain should renew registration every five years, as must Spanish nationals who are resident in Spain.

By journalist, editor and former Costa del Sol resident, Ian Clover.

Please note: Every effort was made to check the accuracy of the information contained within our 'legal stuff' articles at the time of writing, but may well have been superseded over time. VIVA cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions, nor for the authenticity of any claims or statements made by third parties. We therefore strongly recommend that readers of these articles make their own thorough checks before entering into any kind of transaction. Prices were correct at the time of publication but may now vary due to circumstances beyond our control. The views and opinions of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of VIVA .



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