UPDATED: 18th October 2020
Empadronamiento Certificate – Applying at the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall)
The Empadronamiento Certificate (registering on the electoral/residence roll) must be obtained at the local Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) – two words guaranteed to tongue-tie new arrivals to Spain!
Each borough in Spain (municipio) has a Town Hall. The Municipios covering the main tourist and expat areas of South Tenerife are ‘Adeje’, ‘Arona’, ‘San Miguel’ and ‘Guia de Isora’ and in the north they are ‘Puerto de la Cruz’, ‘La Orotava’, ‘Los Realejos’ and ‘Santa Ursula’.
Applying for Empadronamiento has benefits for both the individual and the community as a whole.
For the individual, it allows you to vote in municipal and European elections. It also entitles you to apply for a separate Residents Travel Certificate, under which discounts of up to 75% on the standard ticket price can be obtained on flights and ferries between the Canary Islands and up to 50% between the Canary Islands and the Spanish mainland, or between the Canary Islands themselves.
For the community, registering serves to increase the foreigner demographic. The more foreigners registered in a particular borough, the more the Town Hall will be obliged to consider and accommodate their needs. However, the biggest benefit to the community is that the government allocates funds to each Town Hall based on its population count. The more people registered in a borough, the more funding that borough will receive for a variety of public services.
Despite this, most residents only ever apply for the Empadronamiento for 2 reasons. Firstly, because they are applying for Residency, buying a car, or because they wish to enjoy resident travel discounts. To buy a car, the only accepted method for changing the car’s registered address at the Trafico department registry is to show an Empadronamiento.
To obtain an Empadronamiento, simply go to your local Town Hall and find the correct office (typically ‘Oficina de Atencion al Ciudadano‘). There is usually a ‘take a ticket’ queueing system. There is no paperwork to complete, save that they will ask you to sign a form. You will need to take your original passport, NIE and proof of address (which can only be an original Rental Contract for your accommodation, or an Escritura (title deed) or Nota Simple (Land Registry Office Copy Entry) showing that you own a property in Tenerife.
The certificate lasts for 6 months and typically costs around €4.
EMPADRONAMIENTO TRAVEL DISCOUNT CERTIFICATE
Once you are registered on the Empadronamiento (and regardless whether you choose to renew your actual Empadronamiento certificate every 6 months, you can apply for the corresponding Travel Certificate. Again, the application is made over the counter whilst you wait. You again need to take your passport, NIE and proof of address.
The cost is also approximately €2 (payable in cash), but is free for a limited certificate only covering inter-island travel within the Canaries. Like the Empadronamiento Certificate, the Travel Certificate expires after 6 months.
As of June 2019, the travel certificate entitles the holder to a typical 75% discount on flights and ferries between the Canary Islands and between the Canary Islands and mainland Spain (but not the Balearics).
Some residents have grown increasingly cynical about the travel discounts. Many believe that the airlines and ferries hike up the price on routes popular with residents knowing that the majority of passengers will qualify for the discount. On a pure economic consideration, those concerns would appear to be justified. In many cases, the resident-discounted fares are often similar to comparable European journeys of similar length that don’t benefit from any subsidies or discounts whatsoever.
Either way, unless you wish to pay a far higher amount than your fellow passengers, applying for the travel certificate is clearly a ‘no brainer’ for anyone needing to catch flights or ferries to/from Tenerife.
When booking your flights online, remember to select the applicable discount option (island resident), usually on the initial search page. This might be in a partially hidden drop down menu or checkbox and not immediately obvious. Some reseller sites (e.g. booking dot com) may not show you the option of a resident discount at all.
Once you have selected your flight and click on proceed, most major airlines then check online with a national database to see if they can identify your empadronamiento remotely. If successful, this technically means that you have been pre-approved for the discount and don’t need to do anything else. However, this system is notoriously inflexible and will fail if there is the slightest discrepancy with your details that are registered at your Town Hall (e.g. different spelling, omitted middle names, etc etc. Any passenger that is unable to be pre-approved online should simply take their paper travel certificate along when they check in. Although our advice is that ALL customers should play it safe and bring their paper travel certificate at check-in, even if they have been pre-approved online!