Many expats living in Spain have SIP cards and are entitled to free medical treatment and medicines at
drastically reduced prices. The Spanish medical system is first class and rated as one of the best in the world and
many expats owe their lives to the treatment they have received. There is a direct link between SIP cards, the
padrón and NIE numbers. Central government has now decided that expats who received medical treatment but
whose padrón is out of date will be invoiced for that medical treatment.
Sofia Alvarez, councillor for foreign residents explained at a recent meeting with community leaders that by law
EU citizens must renew the padrón (census) every 5 years and non-EU citizens every 2 years. In order to register
on the padron simply go to the padrón office in the Playa Flamenca town hall with an hour to spare and take a
ticket. You will need your passport or identity card and something to prove that you are still living at your
address, for example a suma, electricity or water bill and your padrón will be renewed, and this automatically
renews your NIE as well.
Every October our local Town Hall has to send the padrón list to the central statistics office (INI) in Madrid. The
Town Hall gets paid based on the number of people on the padrón. Sofia Alvarez pointed out that greater
numbers on the padrón mean greater services directly in this community. Each year the INI send approximately
5,000 names back to Orihuela Town Hall with instructions to send the local police door-to- door to establish that
each of those names actually live at the addresses specified. If the property looks deserted, if nobody is home or
a neighbour says that the named person does not live there then that person will be removed from the padrón.
Normally the names checked are the ones that have not been recently renewed.
Many people, who do not want to be tax resident outside their home country assume that signing on the census
(padrón) requires them to become a tax resident. This is not correct. Once you are on the census for three months
you are required to become a resident (Residencia) but this is not the same as a tax or fiscal resident.
Although you can obtain a SIP card once you have signed on the padrón, the SIP card is technically only valid
for three months until you obtain “Residencia”. This is why a SIP card can be cancelled if the padrón is not
renewed.
Besides health care, other benefits of being “in the system” include the right to vote in local and European
elections and also there are large inheritance tax discounts available to residents. On the subject of Brexit, Sofia
Alvarez expressed the opinion that British owners of Spanish property who are properly registered on the padrón
will get preferential treatment over those who are not. So don’t delay, register or renew today.