How to vote in the 2023 local elections – if you're not a Spanish citizen

Residents who are from the EU or countries with bilateral agreements have until January to register

A man in Barcelona voting in the November 2019 Spanish election
A man in Barcelona voting in the November 2019 Spanish election / Elisenda Rosanas
Cristina Tomàs White

Cristina Tomàs White | @cristinatomasw | Barcelona

October 17, 2022 02:51 PM

November 16, 2022 10:31 AM

The next municipal elections are just around the corner, on May 28, 2023, and the European Parliament elections will be taking place a year later.

If you happen to be a non-Spanish citizen residing in Catalonia, you may have thought these do not affect you personally – but you might, in fact, actually be able to vote.

Who can vote?

All Spanish citizens aged 18 and older can vote in Spanish, Catalan, European and municipal elections.

Adult EU citizens who are residents can vote in both European and municipal elections in Spain. If they choose to vote in European Parliament elections in Spain, they must inform the electoral census of their home country. 

Adult residents from countries with bilateral voting agreements with Spain can also vote in municipal elections. 

These countries are Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

How long do I have to have lived in Spain?

EU citizens can register to vote right away, but those from the 13 countries with voting agreements need to have lived in Spain for a certain period of time before being allowed to do so. 

Those from the UK must have lived in the country for at least 3 years by the day they register on the electoral census, while those from Norway must have lived in Spain for at least 3 years by the day of the election.

People from the other 11 countries have to have resided here for at least 5 years by the time they register to vote.  

How can I do this?

First, make sure you are registered in your local 'padró' census. This is required of anyone who lives in Catalonia or other parts of Spain for more than 6 months and is necessary for all sorts of administrative tasks, from applying for a NIE or TIE residency card to obtaining public health care coverage.  You will also need to have a Spanish identity card for foreign nationals. 

Both EU citizens and those from the 13 other countries may receive a letter from the INE in the mail with either a CERE-N or DFA form and a CTT password. 

EU citizens must then "manifest their desire to vote" – that is to say, register to vote – either online if they have a Cl@ve digital ID and the CTT password or by mail after filling in the following CERE-N form and sending it to the National Statistics Institute (INE). The registration period for EU citizens is open.

Non-EU residents from countries with voting agreements will have to fill in a DFA form, which can also be done online with a Cl@ve digital ID and the CTT password or by mail. The voter registration period for these citizens will begin on December 1. 

EU citizens who do not receive the INE letter by November 20 will have to request it, while those from the 13 countries will have to do so if they do not get it by December 1. 

When do I have to register by?

Non-Spanish EU citizens who are eligible must have registered by January 30, 2023 in order to vote in the municipal elections in May. 

Citizens of Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom should have until around January 15, 2023 to register to vote. 

Do I have to re-register to vote in every election?

EU citizens need not, but those from the handful of non-EU countries that can vote in local elections will have to every time.