Empadronamiento in Spain: Registering in Your Community

Consider this your first step to integration into Spanish life.

Posted by Dreamer

Information about local registration in Spain (empadronamiento) and getting yourself registered with your city (empadronado). Discussion of the benefits of empadronamiento to you and the city in which you live in Spain, essential empadronamiento vocabulary, how and where to get empadronado, required documents, renewal, and moving.

What is empadronamiento?

Empadronamiento refers to the process of registering with your community’s padrón (city roll), also called the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes. The municipal padrón is the official record of all the people who live in a particular community and is the official way to verify or accredit your stay in Spain. By law, everyone who resides in Spain should be registered in the community where they live.

In practice, city registration is your key to becoming a member of your Spanish community and you can apply as an individual or as a family. Whether you are here in Spain legally or not, you should register with your local padrón, as it provides innumerable benefits if you intend to live in Spain for any extended period of time.

What benefits do YOU receive from getting empadronado?

First, registration means that you’re an official resident of your community. Consider this your first step to integration into Spanish life. Second, the empadronamiento is the way that your stay or residence in Spain is verified or accredited – a necessity for a variety of administrative procedures.

For example, you will generally need to prove your city registration to do the following things in your Spanish community:

  • Enroll your children in local schools.
  • Get married.
  • Apply for a local health card (carnét para la asistencia sanitaria).
  • Vote.
  • Apply for certain visas.
  • Apply for residency by way of a general amnesty or arraigo.

What benefits does the CITY receive when you’re empadronado?

Based on the number of inhabitants, a city or town receives money from the government to provide services to those who live within its jurisdiction, which means that if you’re registered or empadronado, then the city receives money to provide services on your behalf. It’s therefore in the city’s best interest (and yours too, for optimum service levels) to have an accurate count of who is really living in the community and using (or potentially using) the public services in question.

Essential Spanish vocabulary: Navigating through all the padrón-type words

(el) padrón/Padrón Municipal de Habitantes=The official municipal record of how many people live in a particular area.
(el) empadronamiento=Registration with your municipality/community.
(el) volante de empadronamiento=A temporary or informal certificate of your registration as a member of the community. For most of your local needs, this should be sufficient.
(el) certificado de empadronamiento=The official certificate of your registration as a member of the community. You may need it for certain legal procedures with national or foreign bodies.
(la) hoja de empadronamiento=The application form you’ll need to register with your community.
empadronado (for men)/empadronada (for women) (it’s used as an adjective)=Registered with your community.
estar empadronado (for men)/estar empadronada (for women)=To be registered with your community.
(el) ayuntamiento=City or town hall.
(la) junta/Junta Municipal de Distrito=A city’s neighborhood administrative office. For example, Madrid has 21 neighborhood administrative offices, which among other duties, process empadronamiento applications from neighborhood residents.

How and where to get empadronado in Spain

Registering with your city is a question of filling out a form and gathering together the required documents. Considering the amount of bureaucracy required for other official procedures, empadronamiento is pretty painless.

Once I had the form filled out and the documents in hand, it took me only a half hour to: 1) wait in line at my local junta in Madrid, 2) have the application processed, and 3) receive confirmation.

When you apply in person, your registration will be confirmed on the spot.

You can apply for your empadronamiento in person, and depending on where you live, you may also have the option to apply by phone or on the Internet. However, when you apply in person your registration will be confirmed on the spot with a volante de empadronamiento. Otherwise, it will usually be mailed to you. 

To apply in person, you usually need to go down to your local ayuntamiento (city or town hall) or junta/Junta Municipal de Distrito (city neighborhood administrative office), although in some towns other offices are responsible for servicing applications. To find out exactly where you need to go, start by calling your town hall or visiting their website. Your local Spanish phone directory (Páginas Amarillas) may also list this information in the section called Gestiones under Empadronamiento.

If you divide your time between more than one Spanish community, you should register in the community where you spend the greater part of your time.

The initial volante de empadronamiento is free, but to obtain an official certificate (certificado de empadronamiento), you may or may not have to pay a fee, depending on where you live. In most cases, the volante is all you’ll need for official procedures (trámites) when working with the local bureaucracy. The official certificado is generally only needed when proving your residence in Spain to national or foreign bodies.

Required documents for getting empadronado

Since you will be dealing with a bureaucracy, you will need to furnish both the original and a photocopy of each required document (though you won’t need to photocopy the application form itself). 

Requirements may vary from municipality to municipality, so it’s best to check with your local ayuntamiento (city or town hall), but the most common required documents are:

  • The application form (hoja de empadromiento): The office that processes the applications will be able to provide you with one.
  • Documentation that accredits your identity (and those of your children if you are applying as a family): Passport, DNI or national identity card, residency card, etc.
  • Proof that you live where you say you live.

If you own your own house or apartment, you will need to provide a copy of your title deeds (escritura).

If you are renting a house or apartment, you will need to provide a copy of your rental contract signed by the owner, utility bills in your name, or receipts for utility bills that you have paid in your name.

If you are renting a room in a house or apartment, you will need your landlord (or a roommate who is already registered) to vouch that you are living at that address. This usually means that they have to sign your application form and furnish a photocopy of their DNI or passport, or even better is for them to accompany you to the local council to present their ID in person.

Renewal, moving, and other concerns

Renewal: If you are not a European Union national AND do not have a permanent residence visa (autorización de residencia permanente), you will need to renew your empadronamiento every two years. In all other cases, you will not need to renew. Your community will consider you a resident until they hear otherwise. However, if you move, have a child, or if any of the information you have provided changes, you will need to update your information with the padrón.

When moving to another community within Spain: Once you get empadronado in your new community, your old community will automatically be notified on your behalf.

If you are moving outside of Spain: You will need to notify your community that you are moving outside of Spain so they can update their records accordingly.

If you are moving to another address within the same community: You will need to notify your community that you have moved so they can update their records accordingly.

Last updated 19 03 2014

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Nora said:

Hi all,

I'm a little bit confused... If I apply for the certificado de ampadronamento I am an offical resident.. Does it have anything to do with the permanent stay? Furthermore, can I apply for it if I'm renting a room in a flat (officially)? If I change the renting place (in the same city), do I have to announce it?

And concerning public health care - with empadronamento and the social security number I will get it or do I get it automatically when applying for the social security number? Or do I need a job first? Thanks for the great article and this site!

Thank you

Tim Harris said:


I think this is like the electoral roll in the UK and has nothing to do with being a resident in Spain for tax or any other purpose...

Thank you.


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