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Should non-residents in Spain register on the padrón?

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
Should non-residents in Spain register on the padrón?
Owning a property in Spain doesn't mean you have to register at the town hall where it's located, in other words you don't have to get onto the padrón. Photo: Miguel Ángel Sanz/Unsplash

So you're a non-resident second-home owner in Spain wondering if you should register on the padrón, the census from your local town hall? This is what you should be aware of beforehand.

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Spain’s padrón certificate is basically proof which shows where you are living. Your town hall - or ayuntamiento - uses a type of census to find how many people are living in the area and what their ages are.

The number of people living in each area will depend on how much money your local town hall will receive from the government. They can use this money for local services such as schools, health centres, parks and police officers.

You also need your padrón certificate to be able to carry out certain procedures in Spain such as registering at your local health centre, getting a Spanish driving licence, voting in elections (if you’re eligible), getting a local library card and getting a pensioner’s card for example.

READ ALSO - Padrón: 16 things you should know about Spain's town hall registration

Residents must apply for their padrón within three months of moving to the country, but what about non-residents who own second homes in Spain? Should they register too?

As a non-resident second-home owner in Spain, you won’t be eligible for many of the things you need your padrón for like registering with a health centre or voting in elections, but you may still want to benefit from getting a library or pensioner’s card for example.

If you are in either the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands, then getting this certificate can also get you big discounts on transport costs such as flights and ferries.

There’s nothing to stop non-residents from registering on the padrón and in fact, local town halls are more than happy for you to register, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

READ ALSO - Padrón: How to register at your town hall in Spain

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Being on the padrón does not affect your residency status in Spain and has nothing to do with residency permits, visas or EU green certificates. This means that registering doesn’t automatically make you a resident. However, it is still sometimes used as residency proof and certain authorities may take your registration to mean you're living here on a long-term basis. 

The padrón is designed for residents, meaning people who permanently live in Spain. Just like you’re not allowed to be registered for two different areas in Spain, you shouldn’t be registered as living in two different countries either.

Article 15 of Law 7/1985, on the Bases of Local Regime states that: “Every person who lives in Spain is obliged to register in the padrón of the municipality in which they habitually reside. Anyone who lives in several municipalities must register only in the one they live in for the longest time per year”.

If you don’t habitually live in Spain for the longest amount of time per year, then it stands to reason that you shouldn’t be registering here as if you do.

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Although registering can bring you several benefits, if you're a non-resident, it could bring you several headaches too.

In theory, there aren’t any tax implications to being on padrón and it doesn't automatically make you a tax resident.

Nevertheless, the padrón can also be used as proof for people to show they live in Spain full-time, so if you are registered you may be asked to prove that you’re not a tax resident here.

READ ALSO: How to prove you're not a tax resident in Spain

Being on the padrón can also have an impact on tax exemptions. For example, if you choose to move to Spain permanently and apply for residency at a later date, Spain's Hacienda may not give you the one-year exemption on import duties for the first year to bring over belongings at a cheaper cost, as they'll assume you've already been living here.

Most lawyers in Spain advise their non-resident clients against registering and Brexpats in Spain head Anne Hernández told The Local Spain “as a cautionary word of warning, check out what your obligations might be before registering on the padrón if you are not yet a full-time resident here”.

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Registering also means you may have issues if you decide to bring your car over to Spain as the police may see you as a resident with a UK-plated vehicle. This can cause various problems, including for those who want to drive over to Gibraltar and back.

“If you are a second home owner registered on the padrón check your rights before bringing your UK-plated vehicle into Spain” Hernández cautions.

READ ALSO: Can I buy a car in Spain if I'm not a resident?

According to the Consejo de Empadronamiento from Spain’s National Statistics Office (INE), “It can be deduced that the padrón is an administrative registry where only people who live in Spain must be included, as has already been reiterated on numerous occasions by the Permanent Commission of the Registration Council”.

It goes on to say that if the City Council is aware that people who do not reside there are registered in its municipality, it should carry out the necessary actions and operations to keep its padrón updated and deregister those who shouldn’t be on there due to improper registration.

Remember that if you're a non-resident and you do have to register for any particular reason, you should de-register soon afterwards, so that you're not permanently on the list as living here. 

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