Register on the Padron
What is It?
The padrón is a record of your residing at a given address. It allows you to vote in municipal elections and forms part of your town’s census. It differs slightly to the electoral roll in Great Britain insofar as you do not need to complete a census form every few years, and also because you are not automatically registered to vote.
Why should I register?
If you do not, you cannot complain that there are not enough police to attend to you when your house is broken into, that the fire service doesn’t get to your home on time or that you can never get to see a doctor when you are ill.
However, you can take heart from the fact that the information you give when you register is confidential and strictly protected by law. In fact, you are on the wrong side of the law if you do not register. If you are a permanent resident in Spain (ie you have decided to stay here for more than six months, or live here for a total of 183 or more per year) you must declare the fact by registering on the padrón
Its your civic duty
A town cannot allocate adequate services and facilities if it does not know how many people live there. The number of inhabitants affects the local council’s budget for providing health centres and their staff, police officers, firefighters, post offices and their employees, schools and number of teachers, and so on. For each inhabitant, the central government gives 193 euros a year to the town council to allow it to provide these services, improve on exisiting ones, and generally enhance quality of life of the townspeople. This means that in a municipality where 50,000 people are registered on the padrón and 10,000 are not, local people are losing out on a whopping 1.93 million euros a year. Imagine how many doctors’, teachers’ or firefighters’ salaries that would pay for.Whats in it for me?Proof of residence means reduced inheritance tax, and if you are aged 65 or more, you get a free municipal bus pass. I’ve heard that you have to re-register every three months. Is this true? No – once you are empadronado, you will be on the register until you move house and advise the town hall accordingly. However, a number of transactions you will probably need to carry out require a copy of the certificate you are given when you first register, and these certificates are only valid for three months. It is only necessary to have an up-to-date certificate in your hand if you need it to show someone when you are dealing with such transactions. To get one, just pop along to your town hall and ask for another copy, which they will usually print off in seconds.
When would I need to show a copy?
If you register with a doctor, you will need to provide your certificate of empadronamiento along with your social security number. Anything to do with your car – buying one, particularly if a loan is involved; re-registering your vehicle to put Spanish number-plates on, or changing the documents into your name – or your driving licence, such as changing it for a Spanish one or renewing it if ou already have a Spanish licence. You will need the certificate if you intend to take out a loan secured against your home, and may need one of your current address if you are buying a new property, particularly with a mortgage. In summary, you will probably need to take a copy of the certificate along anywhere that you might need to provide proof of your address. I’ve heard someone talk about a certificado de convivencia. Is is anything to do with the padrón and what’s it for? If you are making social security payments – or your employer is on your behalf - and you have a dependent partner, parent or child over 18 living with you who is not paying social security, yours will cover them for free healthcare. The certificado de convivencia is the same as a padrón certificate, just with a different title, and states the name of said person along with your own on it. Take it to your nearest social security office and they will give you a form with the dependent person’s name on it and an ‘affiliated’ social security number. This person should take both documents to your local health centre where they will be allocated a GP and given a SIP card to use for booking appointments and obtaining prescription medicine. A certificado de convivencia can be used in place of a padrón certificate, so there is no need to get a copy of both if, for example, you need to buy a car on the same day as you register your partner with a doctor.
How do I register?
Go along to your local Town Hall and, if it is not obviously signposted, ask at the information desk where you have to go to ‘empadronarme’ (‘register myself’). Take your passport and original NIE number, or a residence card if you have one; a copy of your escritura (deed to your house) or rental contract, and your last utility bill, eg. for water, electricity or IBI. It is usually free of charge, but in some larger towns may attract a small fee - normally no more than about five euros.