This is the second article of my series Living in Spain, where I’m going to speak about the well known Spanish “Padrón” which, ironically, most people don’t seem to know about (I used to be one of them).
Remember that my series Living in Spain consists of 6 articles:
If you are a non-EU citizen married to an EU citizen then click on Spanish residency for non-EU citizens
- Are you from the USA? Please read my 2020 guide all about moving to Spain from the USA
- Are you from Canada? Please read my 2020 guide all about moving to Spain from Canada
- Are you from South Africa? Please read my 2020 guide all about moving to Spain from South Africa
- Are you from Australia? Please read my 2020 guide all about moving to Spain from Australia
If you’re from a non-EU country and would like to apply for your permanent Spanish residency card click here as you should start with a visa.
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NOTE: Article updated on 27 December 2019
WHAT IS A PADRON?
It is an official certificate required for a lot of Spanish procedures.
According to the Spanish National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estadísitca – INE):
A “Padrón” is an administrative registration where residents of the municipality are included. This data provides proof of residence in the municipality and the habitual residence therein.
Another important detail about the “Padrón” stated by the INE is that:
Everyone living in Spain must be registered in the local “Padrón” of the current place of residence. If you live in several locations you must only register in the place where you live the most.
A Padron is a way to keep track of how many people are living in a certain area, in my own words; having more functions and benefits as I’m going detail next.
(Spanish National Statistics Institute – Official Website in English)
WHAT IS A PADRON FOR?
The two main purposes of the padron, in my opinion, are:
1. Census, which determines the total amount of people living there, and helps provide the correct services needed in that area. Just a simple case study. You live in an area where there’s a total of 100,000 people. However, only 75,000 thousand are registered on the Padron. How many people do the national government think are living actually there? Yes, 75,000 people. Therefore, the national government will only give funding for that amount of people, which translates into less services (hospital, doctors, local offices, police, etc).
2. Vote, the local office to exercise your right to vote – Spanish people living in Spain must be registered on the padron to vote at a certain office during the election. For instance, I live in Torrevieja. Every time they run elections, either local, national or European, I receive a letter advising where I need to go in order to vote. This is because I’m registered on the Torrevieja padron, where I permanently live.
According to the British Government official website “you can vote in local and European elections as long as you are registered on the Spanish padron”.
I assume that on this basis it must be similar for the remaining EU member states.
BENEFITS OF BEING ON THE PADRON
The main ones I see are:
• More and better public services – I explained this in last section: the less people registered the less public services.
• EU Spanish residency – you can’t become a resident without being on the Padron.
• Heath care – you can’t get a fully covered Spanish health without a Spanish residency, in case you are a pensioner (I will cover everything dealing with health cards on the article scheduled on Sunday 02/11/2014).
(A very important benefit, isn’t it?)
HOW CAN I USE IT?
A Padron is a complementary document that is used alongside other requirements, like obtaining your:
• EU Spanish residency
• Spanish driving licence
• Pensioner’s card
• Health card
• School grants and registrations
… and many others.
A padron may be required from certain organisations requesting proof of residence, depending on the situation.
Some places simply accept a utility bill as proof of residency. And by “residency” I don’t mean “Spanish residency”. I’m talking about “local residency”: the house, flat, attached property, villa or bungalow where you physically live.
Don’t take for granted that they will accept your utility bills: ask them first. Requirements can differ very much from one town to another, even within the same organisation or department.
Don’t take as gospel what the friend of your friend said: ask first. It’s my expert recommendation.
(You may receive census questionnaires in Spain once in a while)
The “padron” is not valid:
• As a personal ID (that’s your passport, Spanish residency with photo, or even driving licence, which can be used as ID in numerous situations)
• As an immigration document (they are NIE number, Spanish residency, Spanish Visas).
• As part of your car’s log book (I have seen this once in person. The padron has nothing to do with the vehicle documentation).
As I mentioned previous paragraphs, a padrón is just a document to legally prove where you live.
WHERE DO I GET A PADRON?
Simply go to the town hall of the area where you live and ask them. That’s all.
There aren’t any “national requirements” to obtain a padron.
I have read several “reputed” websites that state you should bring this or that. It does not work that way in Spain.
Believe me. I’m Spanish and I’ve been dealing with the local and national administration since 2010.
Town halls are independent entities, and each one has its own rules.
In Spain local regulations can change completely from one town to another just a few miles away.
You will definitely need your original passport and at least one photocopy. Then, you might need to show them the real link to that property: rental contract, title deeds, etc. Some town halls require you to be resident, others don’t.
In short, go in person and ask them. It is my best advice. Even if a friend of yours who registered on the padron a few months ago could be wrong now, as requirements can change overnight.
(You might have to queue to get your Padron depending on the town hall)
DO I NEED TO RENEW MY PADRON?
This basically depends on the town hall. Ask them at the time you get registered.
In the area where I live, because it’s a place with a big concentration of expats, they send letters every now and then to go to the town hall and confirm that you still live here.
Otherwise, they may have many people (thousands) on the padron that in reality are not living here anymore.
However, for numerous official procedures, like to get your EU Spanish residency or change the driving licence into Spanish, amongst many other, it is required that you padron is not older than 3 months.
I’ve seen some exceptions where they have accepted old padrons, but I would not try it. If you need to apply for an official document, go to the padron office and request an updated copy.
READY TO EXCHANGE YOUR EU/BRITISH DRIVING LICENCE IN SPAIN?
If you are a resident of Spain, you’ve had to get a Padron at least once, or renew the existing one at some point.
If you are thinking of moving to Spain, keep this article in mind as you will need a Padron to legalise your personal situation.
But keep this final (and repetitive) advice in mind: go in person or call the town hall first to find out what the requirements are to get registered on the padron.
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