Acquiring an empadronamiento is an important step to towards integrating in Spain and means that you are officially registered as a resident of your village, town or city. This has important implications for the area in which you live, and at the same time entitles you to a range of benefits.

The Spanish Government uses the Padrón to decide how much funding a town receives in order to take care of its citizens. In the past, many of those locations that are popular with expats missed out on increases in funding as foreign residents living here were not aware that they should register. This situation had severe consequences for municipal services (for example police, ambulance, fire, education, medical, postal, street cleaning and leisure), which weren’t receiving funds commensurate with the number of people using them.

In recent years, town halls have been working hard to emphasise to foreign residents the benefits in signing up, which differ depending on the location. Entitlements can include social benefits, reductions on annual property tax (IBI), discounted tickets for local attractions, invitations to special local events, free school text books for children as well as adult classes in culture, Spanish language, art and exercise, and organised trips to places of special interest.

Importantly, signing the Padrón also confers the right to vote in local and European elections to EU citizens holding Spanish residency. Foreign residents are gradually becoming more active voters in Spain and are beginning to have an influence on who represents them at local government level. After all, we all have to live with the decisions taken by our elected representatives so we should help to make sure they’re the right people for the job!

So how do you register on the Padrón? Visit your local town hall or ayuntamiento with the following documents:

  • •Original ID plus a copy: NIE, passport or residency card/certificate
  • •Original deeds / escritura or your rental agreement plus a copy
  • •Utility bill (telephone, electricity, gas or water) plus a copy

All those living in your household and aged over 18 should attend in order to be included on the Padrón. If you don’t own the property you live in and don’t have a rental contract, then the owner will have to accompany you as well to confirm that you are entitled to register as living at the property.

You’ll be given a straightforward form to complete and then you will either receive your Certificado de Empadronamiento immediately or will be asked to return and collect it at a later date.

And if you’re an EU citizen aged over 18 and want to vote, then you can sign the electoral roll or censo electoral at the Town Hall’s registration office. You’ll need to take your ID (passport and NIE) plus a copy of each as well as your new certificate.

Raquel Perez from Perez Legal Group travels up and down the Costa del Sol delivering talks on the Padrón and other important topics for expats in Spain. For more information, visit   

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