Living in Spain: Obtain your empadronamiento

Choosing to live and work in Spanish cities and towns, like Barcelona, requires more than just packing up and purchasing the relevant airplane ticket; a number of legal steps and documents also need to be taken into consideration.

One of these is what is known as empadronamiento, a formal registration with your local Spanish council which details your place of residence.

Although this might sound like a big term and is quite a crucial factor, the process itself is quick and relatively easy.

More about “Certificado de Empadronamiento”

The  empadronamiento, also known as the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes (or simply ‘el Padrón’), is essentially Spain’s population register, where 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.

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

The benefits of registering

Each person registering in a municipality means that the Ayuntamiento (town hall) receives funding for services such as policing, health centres, cleaning and maintenance. In addition, registering could also help you enrol at the public library and schools, and even provide discounts on local events or venues in your neighbourhood.

Foreigners without up-to-date documents (such as an expired visa or no passport) are also required to register.

Please note that the empadronamiento is an entirely separate administrative process from residency applications.

What do you need the empadronamiento for?

The use of the Certificado de Empadronamiento varies greatly from one administrative region to another. For example, in Madrid, Andalucia and Valencia it is required to complete numerous actions, yet might not be consistent across all regions of Spain.

In general, however, the empadronamiento may be necessary to achieve the following:

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

How to register

You will need the following:

  • A completed application form (available at the local council office where registration is being made).
  • Identification documents (such as a passport), as well as a photocopy; if registering as a family, each individual family member’s ID is required.
  • Proof of address, such as a utility bill, rental contract agreement or copies of the property title deeds.

Should the tenant of rented accommodation not be named on the rental contract, they need to 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.

Please note that if the person that you share your residence with is already empadronado, they can sign the application form to vouch for you that you are living with them. However, you will need to provide a photocopy of their government ID that they used to register to be empadronado (such as DNI, NIE or a passport).

Receiving your empadronamiento

If all the required documents are in order, the task itself to obtaining your empadronamiento will take approximately 10 minutes. Your application form will be completed by the relevant official and you will be issued with the appropriate documentation – be sure to request an extra copy.


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