There have been stories circulating in expat realms within the Alicante province that it is essential for foreigners to register on the padrón or reconfirm their resident status with their town hall.
I didn’t pay much attention.
Apparently, updating the padrón is required if you want to vote in next year’s European elections – which I don’t. (You must state that you want to vote in these elections and you should be issued with a separate form to fill out.)
However, with a day off work, I decided to accompany my mum to the local resident statistics office (I do have more interesting things to do in my spare time) and grab a few copies of an updated padrón certificate – just to be on the safe side as you never know with the laws here.
Seeing as I have been living in Spain since 1993 with all the correct paperwork and necessary official documents in place (including the padrón), I was surprised when the lady behind the desk told me that according to their records I was not registered as a resident and that if I didn’t return the following day with my green residency certificate I would be struck off the town’s records, which she made out could have disastrous consequences.
I was told that I could lose my health care cover and wouldn’t be able to get a job – even though I already have one – if I was removed from their records. She added that she couldn’t re-register me if I was taken off the census until I returned with my green form.
With her insistence of the seriousness of the matter, I didn’t really think about what she was saying, but I did return the following morning bright and early and rectify my incorrect status for their records.
I was issued with 3 new padrón certificates – to go with the three that I’d been handed the day before.
On studying the two sets of padrón documents, the only difference between them was that the information in the ‘identity document’ box had changed from passport to foreigner’s card with the relevant corresponding number also corrected.
When I registered on the padrón, which I remember now was shortly after buying my apartment, I did so by giving my passport as means of identity, which I presumed was OK. To me, by registering on the padrón that in itself meant that I lived where I said I lived - permanently.
What I didn’t realise, which I was only informed of the other day, was that if you register on the padrón and offer your passport as a means of identification (and not the NIE), you are given three months to return with your green residency certificate otherwise you will be taken off the padrón records. What I fail to understand is why 9 years later and during an unplanned last-minute visit to the padrón office, I was only then told that I would be removed from official records for sure by the end of the week.
On pondering the situation further I didn’t understand the panic of the woman manning the desk, so I decided to investigate a bit more and spoke to a representative from my town hall.
He told me that while there is a campaign to get people to vote in the European elections next May, that’s not the reason why many town halls, particularly in areas with a high number of foreign residents, are insisting that all expatriates register or re-register on the padrón.
Basically, it’s all to do with money and the government having to fork out large amounts of cash.
The central government in Madrid pays each local council in Spain a certain amount of money for each person that is registered on the padrón.
That money is used to pay for public services provided by the town hall. These could include transport, health centres and sports and education facilities. The bigger the population, the greater the number of services the town is entitled to.
When people do not register on the padrón, which is fairly typical in expat areas, the town hall receives less money than it is entitled to.
With less funding, it is more difficult for a local council to provide adequate services for the population – demand is too high and services become overstretched and inefficient. Imagine if a town has 100,000 residents but only 40,000 are registered on the padrón, yet all want to use and enjoy the services that the local council provides!
So, apparently the central government in Madrid has been looking at their census records and what a surprise, they do not tally up with figures from many local councils. This is probably quite normal as foreigners tend to come and go a lot more, move according to where there’s work, never thinking to advise their previous local council that they have moved.
Madrid has already warned a number of town halls that their figures don’t match up. Some could face losing hundreds of thousands of euros each year.
The Round Town News reports that town halls have been given until 31 December to get their padrón records sorted otherwise funding will be taken away.
The article says that all EU residents must notify their local town hall to inform them that they are still here and living where they are registered as living and have not disappeared into the unknown. You can sign a form to say that you still reside in the area or just ask for another padrón certificate which will automatically record your data and add you to the census.
So, my local council is trying to get all foreign residents to either register on the padrón for the first time if they have never done so, or to confirm that they are still here in the case that they haven’t been to pick up a padrón certificate in the last couple of years.
In my case, I also had to return the following day with my residency certificate to prove that I am a resident – but that is a separate issue. If, however, you did register on the padrón with only your passport for ID (check on a copy of your padrón), I would recommend that you visit your padrón office as quickly as possible to change your status. You could be struck off the census without knowing and this could have serious repercussions.
I have tried to find more accurate official information on the Internet, but have just found confusing articles that contradict one another. Also, as this is a personal experience, I do not know what the situation is in other municipalities. I would advise anyone that has not gone near a padrón office in the last 3 years to go, find out for yourself and get the situation clarified.