Spain Explained

The padron and Spanish residency certificates

Which comes first the Spanish padrón or the residency certificate in Spain? For those who don’t know, the padrón is the town hall’s register of those living in the area and is used to keep a head count of  how many people are resident  and can be claimed for from regional and national government. You register initially and then if you need proof, for example, to get your SIP (Spanish health card) or to enroll your child in a local school then you can ask for a certificate to be printed for you.

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The certificate of empadronamiento has a limited life span of three months. Long enough to enable you to complete whatever the transaction you need to. Its short expiry date is necessary to ensure that it is the most up-to-date record of your current residence status.

The residencia certificate in Spain is a different document. It has changed in form over the years, beginning as a residency card that included your photo and then being replaced by a green A4 certificate without any visual proof of who you are. In order to obtain your Spanish residencia you must have an NIE number, and in some cases a padrón certificate. If you live permanently in Spain it is important that you have this certificate as, once more, it is needed for other purposes too.

So which must you obtain first? There have been changes in procedure and variations still exist depending upon which town hall you use. For many people initially coming to live in Spain in the early years, the Certificate of Residency could only be obtained if you had first registered on the padrón. However, from 2008 the residencia was required first.

The padrón is obtained directly from the office at your town hall. There is usually a building or section devoted to this. For this you will need your certificate of residency (although this can vary according to where you live as mentioned) your passport and documentation relating to your property e.g. copy of purchase deed or rental contract and latest utility bills. The residencia is obtained from the appropriate Foreigner’s Office or National Police station depending upon where you live.

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If you do decide to leave Spain and become resident elsewhere your Spanish residency must be cancelled in order to avoid any later complications or confusions. 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.

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Paul Gordon

6 March, 2020 10:01 pm

I have a residencia in April 2018, in Almuecar, but had leave Spain 5 months later. I wish to return in 2021. tobuy a property and live.. I am from the UK. While I understand with Brexit I may have to change status to an non EU residencia. Will my current residencia be valid? Thanks Paul

Oscar Paoli

26 March, 2020 10:26 pm

Hi Paul,
As the Resident document should have been cancelled you would have to re-apply when you come back to Spain to live under the new regulations as a Non EU member.
Best regards,
Ábaco Advisers