One of the first things you need to do after arriving in Spain is to register at the city hall. Registering at the city hall is a way for your new municipality to know how many residents live there and get the necessary budget to provide basic services to all the residents. Once you register, you’ll get your certificado de empadronamiento or padrón, using which you can prove your Spanish address for any administrative formalities.
So how do you get your empadronamiento, how much does it cost, how long does it last, and when do you need to renew it? Find the answers to all your questions below.
The certificado de empadronamiento or padròn is a document that registers where you live in Spain and with whom.
The Spanish law requires all nationals and expat residents (legal or not) who live more than 6 months in Spain to register at the city hall (Padrón Municipal de Habitantes). By registering, you’ll get your certificado de empadronamiento.
This act of registration is called empadronarse and after you get your certificado of empadronamiento, you’ll be considered registered (empadronado or empadronada).
It’s highly advisable to get your certificado de empadronamiento as soon as you arrive in Spain because it:
On one hand, getting an empadronamiento is mandatory for expats as it’s a requirement to apply for:
Getting an empadronamiento is also essential if you want to:
Since getting an empadronamiento is essential for a lot of things, make sure you find a nice house to rent in Spain ahead of your arrival.”
On the other hand, the city hall or ayuntamiento receives funding from the Spanish government for each person that is registered in the municipality. This funding is used to provide essential services such as cleaning of public places, repair and maintenance of public spaces, police service, health services, etc. So it’s really in your interest to register yourself as this enables the government to allocate resources properly.
Having a certificado de empadronamiento is also important for illegal residents. This is the only way for them to prove they’ve lived in Spain for 3 consecutive years and apply for residency on the basis of arragio social.”
The process of getting your empadronamiento is easy and free of cost. And to make things easier, you can register as an individual or a family.
To empadronarse or get your empadronamiento, collect the following documents:
Proof of address can be proved in many ways, depending on your situation.
If you own the property, submit the original and copy of the property deed.
If you’re renting, submit the original and copy of your rental contract in Spanish. The rental contract must be at least 6 months long. You also need to submit a signed letter by the landlord proving you live there, along with a copy of their ID (unless they come to the city hall appointment with you).
If you’re just renting a room and living with roommates, you could submit an Autorización de Empadronamiento, a signed document by your flatmate, alongside a copy of their ID.
If it's not possible to submit Autorización de Empadronamiento, you can prove your residence by sharing bills that confirm your delivery address has remained the same for the past few months.
Now it’s time to submit the documents. In cities such as Madrid or Barcelona, you can apply for an empadronamiento online. For this, you’ll need to digitally identify yourself using methods listed on your city hall’s website, such as CI @ ve or eDNI/Electronic certificate.
You can also call 010 to apply via phone or visit the city hall directly. If you want to make an appointment at the city hall, follow the steps below:
When you’re at the city hall, be prepared to speak in Spanish or take a friend with you who can speak Spanish.
Some municipalities grant the padrón or certificado de empadronamiento immediately. But some may take a few days. In case it takes a few days, they’ll issue a volante de empadronamiento, a temporary document that does not contain the official signature of the city hall.
A volante de empadronamiento can be used to prove your address for some administrative formalities, such as school registration or getting a Spanish SIM.
Compared to this, the certificado de empadronamiento is the official certificate bearing the city hall’s signature. This document carries more weight and is essential for important administrative formalities such as collecting your NIE or getting married.
A certificado de empadronamiento is valid for 3 months since it’s been issued. If you need to submit a empadronamiento with the current date, you can always ask for a copy with a recent date at your nearest city hall. Depending on where you live, getting a copy may or may not cost you.
Updating your empadronamiento is your responsibility and is free of charge.
EU citizens or permanent residents in Spain need to update their empadronamiento every 5 years if there’s no significant change in their life. Non-EU citizens on a visa need to update their empadronamiento every 2 years.
However, if there’s a significant change in your living situation, you need to voluntarily update the empadronamiento. For instance, you must report changes such as moving to a different neighbourhood or city in Spain, marriage, having a child, moving away from Spain, or in the unfortunate event of a family members death.
So now that you know how important and easy it is to get your certificado de empadronamiento, you can tick one more task off your relocation checklist and start living your new life in Spain!
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