For members


Empadronamiento in Spain: What is it and how do I apply?

Find out all about the "empadronamiento" process in Spain and why you should apply.

Empadronamiento in Spain: What is it and how do I apply?
Gabrielle Henderson/Unsplash

What is it?

The empadronamiento is a certificate you are supposed to get within the first three months of moving to Spain or if you move houses within Spain. It’s essentially a document which proves your address and adds you to the census of the area where you live.

What do I need it for?

There are several things you might need to show a padrón certificate for, including applying for a public health card, getting your children into a local school, getting married and obtaining a social security number.

Although not one of the official documents you need to exchange your NIE for a TIE (British residents), you may be asked for it during this process too.

Each area or Town Hall will also benefit from you registering for the empadronamiento, as they receive funding based on how many people are ‘empadronados’ in their area.

While it is not a strict requirement to register you may run into difficulties with certain administrative procedures if you don’t have one. It has also been advised that anyone trying to register for residency in Spain because of Brexit should apply for the certificate in order to prove that they are a permanent resident in Spain.

How do I apply?

You can apply for the empadronamiento through your local council at the ‘Oficina de empadronamiento’ or ‘Oficina d’atencion ciudadana’ depending on what it is called in your area.

In the big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, you will need to apply for an appointment or cita previa first. This can be done online or is sometimes done in person at the machines in your local office.

Each of the different neighbourhoods in the big cities has its own Ayuntamiento or Town Hall, and as part of this its own empadronamiento office or citizen’s attention office.

Once you get your appointment you will need to fill out a form called the Solicitud de Empadronamiento and bring along several documents. Because of Covid-19, you can now also fill out your form online with your digital certificate in some regions, such as in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. 

Once you have applied, you’ll either be given the certificate straight away or will have to wait a couple of weeks, depending on how the process works in your area. When you have the certificate, you will be described as ‘empadronado’ in that town or neighbourhood.

What documents will I need?

There are several official documents you’ll need in order to apply for the empadronamiento. Remember that you will need originals and photocopies of each of these documents. These include:

  •  ID documents such as your passport, green residency document, TIE or DNI
  • Proof of residence such as a rental contract, deeds to your property or a recent utility bill

Other things you should know

Keep in mind that your appointment may be issue for three months in the future, so you need to apply as soon as you can if you need to show your certificate for something.

Most official offices will require that your empadronamiento certificate be issued within three months, so remember you that you may need to renew it if doing anything official.

You also need to remember that you will need to ‘empadrón’ yourself each time you move house so that your address and record of where you live is up to date. This is true even if you’re moving somewhere else within the same city.

Useful Spanish vocab: 

Certificado de empadronamiento – The empadronameinto certificate 

Empadrónarse – To empadrón yourself or register where you live

Empadronado – When you have completed the process 

Oficina d’atencion ciudadana – Citizen’s attention office 

Sede Electrónica – A place where you can apply online with your digital certificate

Ayuntamiento – Town Hall 

Cita previa – An appointment made in advance, often for official processes

Useful links: 

Apply virtually for your padrón certificate with your digital certificate in Barcelona

Official website to apply for your certificate online or in person in Madrid

Official information about process in Seville and what documents you need

Information about the empadronamiento office in Valencia and how to apply with your digital certificate

Member comments

  1. Hmmmm … Having just gone through this experience, I also needed a signed confirmation from the landlord of the apartment that we are renting, along with a copy of his NIE, his passport and confirmation of his paid taxes in 2019.

  2. Also will need to provide information of others living with you, spouse NIE, children NIE and birth certificates of children. The certificate is also only valid for 3 months so if you need one later you don’t have to reapply or “renew” as the article states but you get a new copy with a new date.

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Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.


Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 


Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.


Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.


The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.