Empadronamiento in Barcelona: Everything You Need to Know

What to know about Spain's proposed digital nomad visa

Hola nos amigos!


Considering living in Barcelona


If you are, we totally recommend it—it’s exciting, alluring, endlessly entertaining, and full of other expats and foreigners just like you (around 20% of the city’s residents are from somewhere other than Spain). 


It’s one of Europe’s top choices for a relocation, it’s brimming with things to do, and lots of people flock to the city every day.


But when you move to Barcelona (just like when you move anywhere!), there are some bureaucratic banalities you need to consider. One of them is the so-called ‘empadronamiento’ certificate—and if you’re gonna be in Barcelona for a while, you absolutely need one.  


But don’t let the lingo deter you—this isn’t a complex concept. When you move to Barcelona on a long-term basis, you need to officially register your presence in the city… and when you do, this official registration process entitles you to an all-important certificate of empadronamiento.


Lots of people are intimidated and confused by the prospect of the process… but it’s all very simple and straightforward, especially if you know what you’re doing and how to get it. 


And in about 10 minutes, you will!


In this helpful guide, we’ve brought you everything you need to know about getting your empadronamiento in Barcelona. We’ve covered what it is, who needs it, how you can get it, how much it costs, and plenty more. When you’re done skimming through this article, you’ll be an empadronamiento expert. You’re welcome.


Wake up from that snoozy siesta, clean away your tiny plates of tapas, and come join the fun… here’s everything you need to know about getting your empadronamiento in Barcelona!

What is empadronamiento?

The word ‘empadronamiento’ literally translates from Spanish into English as ‘census’.


When you arrive in any new place on a long-term basis, you often need to register your arrival formally and officially.


And that’s exactly the case when you arrive in Spain—when you relocate to any town or city in the nation, you need to officially declare your arrival by registering for your certificate of empadronamiento. 


So, in short… if you’re moving to Barcelona for a while, you absolutely need to apply for your empadronamiento in Barcelona.


This act of registration is called ‘empadronarse.’ The certificate you’re applying for is called the ‘certificado de empadronamiento’ (or ‘padrón certificate,’ for short). And once you’re registered, you are officially ‘empadronado’ or ‘empadronada’ (the former for males, the latter for females).’ We hope you enjoyed that speedy Spanish lesson. We teach you a lot here at Homelike.


Importantly, this empadronamiento application is an extra requirement in addition to whatever visa stuff you’ve already had to go through or apply for. No matter where you’re from or what documents you already have, you still need to apply for your empadronamiento… so make sure you don’t forget!

Who needs Empadronamiento in Barcelona?

Who needs to do empadronamiento?

Anyone who relocates to a new town or city in Spain needs to go through the empadronamiento process. 


Even if you’re moving from within the EU, even if you’re moving from another part of Spain, and even if you’re Spanish… you still need to do the empadronamiento.


Yeah, we know, no-one likes going through the boring formalities of mundane procedures like this one… but the empadronamiento application is not an arduous process. It’s all very simple and easy.


That said, it’s important to note that you only need to do this if you’re planning to be in one town or city for more than 6 months. If you aren’t going to be in one place for very long, this empadronamiento registration isn’t necessary.


So if you’ll be in Barcelona for less than 6 months, you don’t need to get your empadronamiento certificate.


But if you’re gonna be in the city for longer than 6 months, it’s essential you get your grubby mitts on it. And here’s why…

Why do I need to do the empadronamiento in Barcelona?

Mainly just because it’s the law. And no-one wants to be a criminal (accidentally or otherwise). So if you need to do your empadronamiento, make sure you definitely get it done. 


The Spanish government of course want to know who lives where, and how many people live in each town and city… and that’s why they require the empadronamiento. They need to know this for many reasons—but partially so that they can spread money and resources throughout the nation in a balanced and appropriate way.


So if you do your empadronamiento, you’re ensuring you get your well-deserved slice of state-supplied pie.


Doing the empadronamiento in Barcelona (or anywhere in Spain!) is very helpful for you, as it allows you to successfully perform other tasks in the city.


With an empadronamiento, you’re able to get married, hire a car, vote, register your child for school, buy a house, receive grants and subsidies, obtain a work permit, get your hands on other important documents, and plenty more.


And without your certificate of empadronamiento, you can’t do any of those things. 


Basically, this certificate of empadronamiento will eventually become essential for daily life, and you definitely need to have one. Without an empadronamiento, long-term life in Spain becomes impossible (and illegal).

Who needs to get Empadronamiento?

What is a padrón certificate?

That’s just a different name for exactly the same certificate. Your ‘certificado de empadronamiento’ is also known as a ‘padrón certificate’.


So, no, these two different names don’t represent two separate things… meaning you don’t need to apply for two separate documents (hooray!).

What documents do you need for empadronamiento?

When you get your empadronamiento in Barcelona (or anywhere else in Spain!), you luckily don’t need to take very much with you. 


As we keep saying, it’s all very simple.


First up, you’ll need your passport (along with a copy of that passport, which the town hall staff might take from you, if you’re applying for the certificate in-person). You’ll also need to complete an application form accurately and completely. You can do this during your appointment, or you can do it online (if you’re applying online).


Third, and finally, you’ll also need to provide proof of your current address (even if it’s only a short-term interim place). 


Surprisingly, this can often be the most difficult part of the process. When you’re first looking for a place to live in Barcelona, you’ll probably find that it can be super tricky—lots of people move to Barcelona from all over the world, so the demand often outweighs the supply, and there are usually endless people viewing every vacant property.


On top of that, you typically find some unscrupulous landlords taking advantage of city newbies by attempting to charge exorbitant rental rates for their frankly-subpar properties. 


Combine these two factors, and it can be very difficult to find a good place to live when you first move to Barcelona (especially if you don’t speak Spanish).


So to make things easier and much more hassle-free, it’s often better to find a serviced apartment or rented apartment in Barcelona (at least for a little while, during that super-stressful settling-in period).


If that sounds like the perfect solution for your house-hunting situation, we offer both short-term rentals in Barcelona, and long-term rentals in Barcelona. They’re all comfy, cozy and affordable, and they’re all ready to move into right away. Perfect for an easy relocation!

It’s also important to note that if you’re renting a room (or an entire apartment) from someone, they’re sometimes reluctant to use their address to register you. This is a surprisingly common dilemma. But if you rent a place from us, you don’t need to worry about being placed into that potentially-precarious situation.

Documents needed for Empadronamiento

How quickly will I get my empadronamiento?

This varies from town hall to town hall, but it definitely shouldn’t take very long. 


During some appointments at some town halls, you might receive your certificate immediately. On other occasions, you might need to wait for a few days.


In the unlikely event you need to wait for longer than a few days, you’ll receive a temporary certificate which you can use in the meantime.


Importantly, you need to renew your empadronamiento certificate every so often. After being issued, your certificate is valid for a surprisingly-short three months. After these three months have expired, you’ll need to request a new certificate if you require one for any reason.


Even if you don’t require a new certificate for any specific application or process, you still need to occasionally renew your certificate, to make sure it’s fresh and up-to-date. The length of this re-submission period is dependent upon your circumstances and country of origin:  


  • If you’re an EU citizen or a permanent resident of Spain, you need to re-register every five years, even if nothing in your life has changed 
  • If you’re a non-EU citizen on any type of visa, you need to re-register every two years, even if nothing in your life has changed 

No matter who you are, you need to re-register if there have been any significant changes in your life. Change-worthy events include getting married, having a kid, moving to a different home, moving to a different town or city, or moving away from Spain

How much does it cost to get my empadronamiento in Barcelona?

Here’s some lovely good news for you… getting your empadronamiento in Barcelona (or any other part of Spain!) is absolutely free. Lucky you!

How can you get your empadronamiento in Barcelona?

The most common way to get your empadronamiento in Barcelona is by visiting one of the city’s town halls (which are known as ‘ayuntamientos’ in Spanish).


It’s obviously easiest to go to your nearest town hall, but you can complete your empadronamiento in any of the numerous halls in the city. 


To find them all, hop on Google Maps, zoom into Barcelona, search for ‘empadronamiento’, and you’ll see where they’re all located. There are dozens of them throughout the city, so you won’t need to travel very far to find one.


Importantly, you can’t just turn up to a town hall unannounced—you need to make an appointment in advance. So you should call or email your chosen town hall to get an appointment. You might need to wait a few weeks to get an appointment, so it’s a good idea to make a booking quite far in advance of your six-month anniversary in the city.


During your appointment, you’ll probably need to communicate in Spanish rather than English. So if you’re not a good Spanish speaker, it’s a good idea to take a friend or translator who can do the hard work for you.


If you can’t be bothered with attending an appointment in-person, you can instead apply online. To do so, here’s where you need to start. Right-click on the page, click ‘translate to English,’ then click ‘start the procedure’ on the top-right part of the page. 

Your third option is to apply via phone call. To do so, you should call your nearest town hall. But be warned—you’ll likely need to speak Spanish. So unless you’re fluent and confident, this probably isn’t an option for you.

Empadronamiento in Barcelona: Final Thoughts

Quicker than you probably imagined, we’ve reached the end of this bumper bureaucracy guide… and you now know everything you need to know about the empadronamiento in Barcelona. 


As we said, it’s a quick, easy process, and it should all be completely hassle-free.


And the longer you stay in Spain, the more you’ll need this certificate… so make sure you get your empadronamiento in Barcelona if you’re gonna be in the city for more than six months!


If you want to know anything else about relocating to Spain, check out our guides to the best neighborhoods in Barcelona, and all the top places to live in the nation (spoiler alert: Barcelona is one of them).


And if you’re a remote worker, head on over to our guide on everything you need to know about Spain’s proposed digital nomad visa


Thanks for stopping by, you globetrotting gallivanter, and we’ll see you again soon. Adiós!

Living in Barcelona: After Empadronamiento

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