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Getting an Empadronamiento in Spain

Updated 24 Feb 2023

By Olga Khobotko

Expats moving to Spain will need to obtain a town hall registration, known as an Empadronamiento, upon arrival.

This documentation is required in the legal procedures used by most formal Spanish institutions. Specifically, the Empadronamiento entitles expats to apply for free social security medical assistance for themselves and their families; it is useful if planning to import household goods, and you'd like to apply for a duty-free customs clearance; it is also necessary for sending expat children to schools in Spain and of course when applying for a residence permit.

Expats need to get an Empadronamiento if they don’t have a legal residence permit in Spain. Every several years the Spanish government launches a regularisation process, and normally expats can obtain their residence permit if they simply have the Empadronamiento stating they've lived here for at least five years and a valid passport.

Documents needed to obtain an Empadronamiento

Expats can apply for their Empadronamiento online or at their local town hall. Those who live in big cities such as Madrid or Barcelona will need to book an appointment online before visiting their town hall. Specific documents you must present at the town hall (Padron de Habitantes Department) vary from one town hall to another, but they generally include:

  • Your valid passport or NIE (Numero de Identificación del Extranjero) and photocopy

  • Property Title copy, or Spanish rental agreement as well as a copy

  • A filled-out application form, which is available online or from your local city hall

The process takes around 10 minutes and the certificate is issued on the spot. New arrivals should note that if their name is not on the rental agreement or their contract is for less than six months, they will need someone who is already registered to accompany them to the town hall. Expats can have their roommates or landlord assist them depending on their living situation. 

Expats must remember that although for Spanish citizens this registration lasts until they ask for deregistration or until they get inscribed into some other city’s town hall, for foreign citizens it is obligatory to renew/reconfirm this inscription every so often – usually every three months, although this regulation can sometimes change.

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