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All foreigners obliged to sign on the Padron

Thu 21st Jan 2010

All foreigners could be forced to sign on the padrón in their town if a new government ruling is approved.

The ministry for the interior has proposed that even those not living legally in Spain should enter their names on the census, and their illegal status should not be grounds for their town council refusing them a padrón certificate.

Many European expatriates who, although they do not face the issue of living in Spain illegally due to their citizenship in the EU giving them automatic residence rights, avoid registering on the padrón since they fear it leaves them traceable or may prevent them claiming a State pension from their own country.

Neither of these is true, since permanent residence in an EU country does not deny a person rights to claim a pension from their country of origin.

Signing on the padrón is a legal requirement and a civic duty.

A town council needs to know how many people reside in their area of jurisdiction to be able to provide necessary services such as healthcare, education, police and fire staff, and car-parking.

As stated by the ministry of the interior yesterday, being on the padrón register relates to 'factual' information rather than 'legal'.

Therefore, it means that a person not residing legally in Spain still has the obligation to register on the padrón in the town they spend most of their time living in.

This does not necessarily mean they will be reported to any authorities.

The law in question does not distinguish between foreigners and Spanish citizens.

If a foreign resident needed to have their papers in order before signing on the padrón, the law would say so, and it does not, stresses the ministry.

Local authorities are unaware of a person's legal residence status, and it is not in their jurisdiction to check up on this.

Neither is it in their jurisdiction to inform any legal bodies, organisations or authorities in the resident's country of origin.

To register on the padrón, the resident in question does not even need a NIE – a valid passport is sufficient.

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