Many foreigners have chosen Spain as a country in which to live. In the case of Sitges, where I have been living since 1986, more than 25% of the population are foreigners who have chosen to live here and who pay their taxes here, in addition to contributing to the multicultural and cosmopolitan wealth of the town.
However, many of them do not know how or where to vote. This is probably true, also, of many other towns in Spain.
1. Ensure you are registered on the ‘padrón’
Firstly, only people included on the official Town Hall register (el padrón municipal) may vote. Registering should be one of the first things done after selecting a municipality in which to live. Registering for the padrón provides many benefits including:
- enabling citizens to join the electoral register and vote
- helping the council to allocate budgets properly
- allowing an accurate census
- enabling registrants to use municipal services, such as libraries, schools and summer camps
- municipal car parking facilities
To be included on the Town Hall register, visit the local Town Hall Department, the Citizens’Advice Centre, which in the case of Catalonia is the ‘OAC’, taking:
- proof of identification (Passport, NIE or TIE)
- proof of address (an electricity bill, water bill, telephone bill, rental contract or similar)
- and then complete a registration form (volante de empadronamiento).
2. Register on the Electoral Roll
To be able to vote, it is necessary to be registered in the electoral roll (el Censo) for the municipal elections and for this you need:
- To be registered (empadronado) in the municipality of habitual residence. You do this at the OAC (see above), expressing your desire to vote in the municipal elections in Spain (‘quiero votar en las próximas elecciones municipales’).
- Be 18 years old on the day of the vote.
Applications must be submitted to the Town Council between 1 December of the year preceding the municipal elections and 30 January of that year, both inclusive.
Citizens of countries with a right to vote and to appear on the Electoral Register
- Citizens of the EU.
- The list of countries with bilateral voting agreements in force with Spain to vote in the municipal elections includes Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand and the UK (but see below for UK).
- If you have any doubts about whether or not your country has a reciprocal agreement with Spain then get in touch with your Consulate in Barcelona or your Embassy in Madrid.
UK Nationals living in Spain before January 2021
In spite of Brexit, if you were legally living in Spain before 1 January 2021, you can vote and stand in local elections in Spain, if you have been a resident here for 3 years.
Finally, once you are registered on the padrón, you will need to re-confirm your registration on the electoral roll for every local election (normally every 4 years) via the OAC which in 2023 will take place in the last week of May.
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