The Padrón (or Empadronamiento) is kind of equivalent to the electoral roll in the UK. It is a register of who lives in a given district of Spain. When registered on the padrón you can then get an official certificate (Certificado de Empadronamiento) that proves where you live. This can then be used for lots of administrative processes in Spain.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about who needs to be on the padrón, but basically, unless you live in Spain more than 180 days per year it is not necessary.
However, one thing you definitely do need a padrón for is to apply for your foreigners identity card, the TIE or tarjeta de identidad de extranjero.
How to apply
If you have already overcome the hurdle of your visa application, then this is a walk in the park in comparison.
Unfortunately, you will need to find the web link for your province to book an appointment with the local ayuntamiento (town hall or centro municipal). Either Google or ask on Facebook groups for your area. Chances are someone will already have the answer. For the Murcia region I can save you the trouble and point you here.
Click “Obtener cita previa”
Choose your local town hall or centro municipal. Incidentally, our local town hall was very busy, so we picked a nearby town hall and got an appointment much quicker. Worth doing if time is of the essence.
Fill in your names, telephone, NIE and email and hit “Enviar”.
When you go along to your appointment, check in with the receptionist and say you are wanting a certificado de empadronamiento.
The office was running late, so we hung around for about 45 minutes before being seen! No worse than my dentist in the UK to be fair!
The government official who saw us was very helpful, spoke a little English, and we spoke a little Spanish so we managed to communicate enough to complete the process. It definitely helps to have a few key phrases researched before you go in.
Firstly, we need to complete a simple form with our names, address and NIE/passport details.
He then keyed this into the computer, and asked for our passports. We showed him a document from our bank detailing our mortgage details to prove we had a property, as well as a couple of utility bills for good measure.
The official checked through and scanned everything. All was good, as we were asked to come back in a week to collect our certificados.
We left it for ten days for good measure, and then using the same website as above to book an appointment we turned up. We had to show our passports and then he printed out our Certificados de Empadronamientos. All signed and stamped ready for the next step, applying for our TIEs!