EXPLAINER: What you need to do in the post-Brexit era to vote in Spain’s May municipal elections

It’s a busy election year in Spain next year with general elections, a large number of regional elections and local council votes in May.

Non-Spanish citizens cannot vote in general or regional elections, but can vote in municipal elections if they are EU citizens or if they are part of a reciprocal agreement between Spain and individual countries, including the United Kingdom.

A change from the pre-Brexit era is that British nationals eligible to vote will now have to go through a voters list process every four years.

Who can vote?

Spaniards, citizens of the European Union and citizens of countries with an agreement, namely: United Kingdom, Norway, Bolivia, Cape Verde Islands, Colombia, South Korea, Chile, Ecuador, Iceland, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand.

What are the requirements to be able to vote?

  • Be of legal age (18 years old) on the day of the vote.
  • Not be illegally in Spain
  • Not be deprived of the right to vote
  • Be resident in Spain and be registered on the padron of your town hall
  • Have expressed the intention to vote and be registered on the local Electoral Census before it closes the taking of names at the town hall.
    • Registration deadlines vary depending on whether you are an EU citizen or come from countries with an agreement.
    • For EU citizens, you can apply between 1 December and 30 January and if you have already voted in the same municipality, your details should already be registered.
    • For non-EU citizens like the UK, the deadline to apply is before January 15 and unlike EU residents, you now have to register EVERY four years before the local elections. Previous registration before Brexit does not count.

Summary of key points

  • If you are from a country with an agreement such as the UK, you must register to vote for mayor.
  • To exercise the right to vote, you must bring your passport and residence document/card to confirm that you are living legally in Spain.
  • You should have had your residence permit valid for three years at the time of the application.
  • Another requirement is that you must be registered on the padron of the municipality in which your domicile is located.
  • Check registration times with your town hall.

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