members For Members

El Padrón: Your need-to-know guide about registering with the town hall

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
El Padrón: Your need-to-know guide about registering with the town hall
Photo: ppl1958/Depositphotos"

Along with the NIE, registering on ‘el padrón’ is one of the first things you will need to do when you arrive in Spain as you will be asked to provide the certificate for a whole host of bureaucratic matters.


What is El Padrón?

It is Spain’s population register and details who lives where within which municipality.  Registration provides proof of residence in the municipality.

And it also helps the local council calculate how many people live in their jurisdiction so that services (doctors, police, etc) can be provided.  Funds are distributed by the government to the regions and municipalities depending size of population so it matters that you are counted.

The register also serves as an electoral roll and although as a foreigner you won’t be entitled to vote in National or Regional elections, you will have a vote in municipal and European elections.

The certificate for the padrón in Spanish is called ‘certificado de empadrónamiento’.

Who must register?

Anyone who resides in Spain should be registered on the padrón whether you have an NIE or residence certificate or not.  If you live in several places – or have several properties – you should only register in your primary residence: the one where you spend the most time.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the NIE number



Well apart from reasons of census and voting as explained above you will need to present an up-to-date padrón certificate for the following:

  • To register for local healthcare
  • To access public services and discounts
  • To access income-related benefits and social care
  • For a pensioners card
  • For a reduction in taxes
  • For discounted travel for residents on Spanish islands
  • To enrol children in school
  • To register a car with a Spanish number plate

As proof of residence

In some circumstances when you are required to prove your place of residence, a utility bill / letter from the bank is all that is required. But not always. Sometimes you must present the padrón certificate. Sometimes it needs to be one that has been issued within the last three months, in which case you will have get a new one issued.

How to get a padrón certificate

You will need to make a “cita previa” – appointment -  at the town hall or council office that deals with empadrónamiento. To do this chose ‘cita previa’ your local ayuntamiento webpage.

Of course, when navigating Spanish bureaucracy be prepared for different offices issuing different requirements – or even different workers in the same office diverging on what exactly is needed. It doesn’t hurt to go in advance and ask exactly what it required.

However, as a rule this is what you will need:

  • Passport
  • Property deeds (if you own the property)
  • Or Rental contract (if you are renting)
  • A recent utility bill in your name
  • If you have your residence certificate then take it, if you are waiting for padrón to get residence certificate then explain that and take appointment confirmation with you. You may need to come back within three months to confirm and give your NIE.

TIP: Take originals and at least one photocopy of each document.

Print off at home

Once you are registered you can request a new certificate to be email so you can print off at home. But this isn’t a service that is available everywhere. CHECK HERE

What El Padrón is not:

It cannot be used as a form of ID (although will be required alongside ID for multiple things)

It should not be confused with your residency certificate. (READ MORE ABOUT THAT HERE)

You do NOT need to keep it on you at all times or keep it your vehicle

Do I have to renew?

Not exactly, once you are registered you stay registered and only have to renew when the town hall asks you to (by sending you a letter). Usually this is every two years if you haven’t requested a certificate and every five years if you have.

If the town hall contacts you and you fail to respond then you will be removed from the padrón.

When you move house you will need to reregister with  your new address.

You can check with your town hall to check your padrón register at any time.

More information: 

  • To check your local ayuntamiento webpage find it HERE
  • Ask an expert: David Ruiz at Torrevieja Translations has written books about navigating the bureacracy in Spain and offers a service to guide you through the process.

If you have been through the process, then let us now how the experience was and whether you can offer any tips to those planning on doing it soon. Leave a comment below or email [email protected]



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also