Many people who are emigrating to Spain wonder, which comes first, the padrón or the empadronamiento? For those who aren’t familiar with these terms, the padrón is the town hall’s register of those living in the area. Essentially, the local government uses the register to keep a headcount of how many people are resident, and thus, liable for national and regional taxes. To get your padrón you’ll need to make an initial registration when you arrive to live in Spain.
In contrast, the certificado de empadronamiento is a document which proves you’re registered on the padrón. In fact, padrón is an abbreviation of empadronamiento, but usually, these terms distinguish between the register and the evidence itself. Your empadronamiento will have a limited life span of three months. Generally, this validity is sufficient for whenever you need to prove your residence. For example, you’ll need to provide your empadronamiento to get your health card or to enrol your child in a local school. This document has an expiration date to ensure it’s the most up-to-date record of your residential status.
How is the empadronamiento different to a residency certificate?
Even if you’ve distinguished between the padrón and empadronamiento, some people remain a little confused about how the empadronamiento is different from the certificado de residencia or residency certificate. Despite similarities, these are in fact different documents. Although the residency certificate has changed over the years – beginning as a residency card that included your photo that was then replaced by a green A4 certificate without any visual proof of who you are – it is evidence of your legal status in Spain. If you live permanently in Spain, it is important that you have this certificate. Once more, this is because you need it for other administrative purposes. Unlike the empadronamiento, your residency certificate doesn’t have an expiry date.
Which document should I obtain first?
To apply for residency, you will need to be on the padrón beforehand, as this certificate will be required for the Spanish residency process. Therefore, the padrón must come first.
To get on the padrón, you will generally need a copy of the purchase deed or rental contract and or latest utility bills. Remember, rules change depending on the region, so check before you go. The padrón certificate is official proof to the police where you live in Spain. Many years ago, you could use your property title deeds to show the police your address in Spain. However, the padrón became the standard and official document for this purpose.
A small administrative quirk to be aware of is that you don’t need your NIE number to apply for your residencia.
A final note
If you do decide to leave Spain, you must cancel your Spanish residency. Equally, if you are moving somewhere else in Spain, you should reapply at the new area to get the new address on your card. This will avoid any later complications or confusions in regard to tax liability. The procedure is basically the same as when you applied but in reverse. You should return to the same buildings where you obtained your documents and explain that you wish to cancel them.
Remember, if you need any advice on how to secure your legal status in Spain, our team is here to help. Contact us here for a free consultation, without obligation.