Democratic City

Most frequently asked questions section

What is citizen participation?

By citizen participation we understand not just the right that citizens have to take part in elections but also their entitlement to individual and collective involvement in the drafting, monitoring and assessment of public policies.

Citizen participation is an instrument for enhancing representative democracy by involving citizens in the municipal administration's work process, from drawing up the plans and programmes of the various sectors to evaluating their results. This brings politics closer to the citizens and helps to improve municipal government and its policies.

Their participation and involvement are expressed through a series of two-way activities and instruments that enable the municipal government to gage public opinion on municipal affairs and receive suggestions from individual citizens and citizen groups, through various bodies. Such contributions may be adopted, so influencing municipal policies and their resulting actions. Participation is therefore the basis of a new governance model, founded on the principle of “governing with the people”.


Who can paticipate?

Participation is open to any citizen through a variety of channels.

Everyone can take part, every man and woman, as individuals or groups, through Barcelona's wide range of associations and bodies.


What is Barcelona City Council's Citizen Register?

Barcelona City Council's Citizen Register is a tool for or means of grouping together citizens who have demonstrated their willingness to take part in the city's affairs on a database that enables them to join the City Citizen Council or the Neighbourhood Council Monitoring Committee, which are consultative municipal participation bodies.

The City Council periodically contacts people signed up to the Register and informs them of the main municipal affairs and issues relating to participation and associations in the city.

What is Barcelona City Council's Citizen Register?
Barcelona City Council's Citizen Register is a tool for or means of grouping together citizens who have demonstrated their willingness to take part in the city's affairs on a database that enables them to join the City Citizen Council or the Neighbourhood Council Monitoring Committee, which are consultative municipal participation bodies.

The City Council periodically contacts people signed up to the Register and informs them of the main municipal affairs and issues relating to participation and associations in the city.
What is Barcelona City Council's Citizen Register?
Barcelona City Council's Citizen Register is a tool for or means of grouping together citizens who have demonstrated their willingness to take part in the city's affairs on a database that enables them to join the City Citizen Council or the Neighbourhood Council Monitoring Committee, which are consultative municipal participation bodies.

The City Council periodically contacts people signed up to the Register and informs them of the main municipal affairs and issues relating to participation and associations in the city.


What is an association?

The Catalan Act on Associations (Act 4/2008, of 24 April, Third Book of the Civil Code of Catalonia on legal persons) defines associations as "non-profit entities, voluntarily constituted by three or more persons to serve a purpose of general or particular interest by sharing their personal or capital resources for a temporary or indefinite period".
An association is therefore a group of people who decide to come together voluntarily, freely and out of solidarity to achieve a common, non-profit aim of general or particular interest. To do that they undertake to share their expertise, activities or financial resources for the purposes of a temporary or indefinite association.


Can foreign nationals set up associations?  

Yes, seeing as Spanish and foreign nationals alike enjoy the basic right of association.

What are the rights and duties of association members?

Members' rights:

  • To be a member.
  • To contribute assets and money to the association's capital.
  • To take part in the activity of the association.
  • To be informed of the association's progress.
  • To receive the services the association offers in pursuing its goals on an ancillary basis.

Members' duties:

  • To be committed to the goals of the association and take part in achieving them.
  • To help to pay the association's expenses by paying their dues, responding to calls for funds and making any other economic contributions set out in the articles of association and which are approved in accordance with these.
  • To respect and fulfil the agreements validly adopted by the association's governing bodies.
  • To fulfil the duties laid down in the articles of association.


What is the procedure for getting a tax number (NIF) for an association?

Once the association has been provisionally registered with the Register of Rights and Legal Entities, it musts apply for a Spanish tax ID number (NIF) at one of the local tax offices. This number is required before the association may begin its economic activity, for example, issuing invoices.
The following documents must be submitted to the tax office:

  • a completed copy of Tax Office form 036.
  • a copy of the memorandum of association, the articles of association and the application submitted to the Register of Rights and Legal Entities.
  • a photocopy of the ID of the person who signs the 036 form (must be one of the founding members).
What is a federation and what is the procedure for setting one up?

A federation is a group of associations that come together to better achieve their own aims. In turn a group of federations may form a confederation. Federations and confederations are subject to the general regulations governing associations.
Before a federation may be constituted an application must be filled out to register its constitution, with the following documents attached to it:

  • Certificate: Each association that is to form part of the federation must have a certificate. This must be signed by the secretary with the chairperson's approval. It must contain:

      - the agreement of the general assembly to form part of the federation

      - the person(s) nominated to represent the association in the constitution of the federation.

  • Memorandum of association

This must be signed by the people responsible for constituting the federation. The following agreements must be adopted:

  • the agreement to constitute the federation, which must specify its name;

      - the articles that will govern it must be approved;

      - the people who make up the initial governing body must be nominated.

  • Articles of association: these must contain the same points as those of an association and be signed by the same people who sign the memorandum of association.


How is a foundation set up?

To set up a foundation you need:

  • a founder or founders
  • capital
  • a legitimate purpose of general interest.

To constitute the foundation the public deed of the memorandum of association is required


What is the minimum amount required for the initial endowment of a foundation?

The foundation's initial endowment must consist of money or productive assets (*original and translation need verifying and correcting).
Initial endowment in MONEY
Permanent foundations may not have an initial endowment of under €30,000
Temporary foundations may not have an initial endowment of under €15,000
As a general rule the initial endowment must have been put forward and paid in full before an application is made to register the foundation with the Foundations Register. In any event, the initial payment must be at least 50% and the rest must be forthcoming within a period of four years.
Endowment in ASSETS
The assets must be productive and suitable for starting and carrying out the foundation's activities. They must likewise be free of any charges that may significantly impede or limit their public use. Their value may not be under €15,000 or €30,000, depending on whether it is, respectively a temporary or permanent foundation.
A report issued by an expert must be attached as an annexe to the memorandum of association, containing a description of the assets or rights, their registry details and any charges on the assets, as well as an estimate of their potential earnings, along with an indication of the criteria used to make such estimates. If this involves an economic operation, its annual accounts, duly audited, must also be presented.


Can legal persons set up associations?  

Yes. Legal persons, whether public or private, can set up associations.

How can you receive a digital certificate for an association or a foundation?

A digital certificate is an electronic document signed under a series of requirements that make it possible to guarantee the identity of the author of an electronic message or transaction. This certificate must be issued by a certification authority.
The e-certificate can be stored in the computer browser, on a USB memory stick, on a CD or in a chip integrated in a card, for example, an electronic ID card. The digital certificate must be accessed by a PIN, a secret number known only to the owner (like a mobile PIN).
A digital certificate allows its owner to:

  • Identify themselves to third parties to establish online communication.
  • Ensure their identity is not used by others.
  • Sign legally valid e-documents.
  • Maintain the confidentiality of the information sent.
  • Guarantee the integrity of the information exchanged between two parties.
  • Carry out official business and enquiries online securely, so speeding up subsequent business.

Digital certificate users can sign e-documents and emails, as well as identify themselves in internet portals to carry out official procedures in a totally secure and confidential manner.
Certificates issued by Barcelona City Council:
Certification body Digital certificates for private citizens and/or self-employed professionals Digital certificates for ANCERT businesses and entities, ANCERT Notarised Certification Agency, ANCERT Notarised personal certificates, FEREN ANCERT certificates, ANCERT certificates for employees, FNMT Notarised corporate certificates, FNMT National Mint, CA FIS FNMT Class 2, JUR ANF Class 2, ANF Certification authority, ANF AC Class 2 natural person, AC Camerfirma Class 2 legal person, AC Camerfirm, RACER AC Camerfirma,  Camerfirma RACER AC Camerfirma Chamber of commerce certificates, AC FirmaProfessional Camerfirma Chamber of commerce certificates CA1 CATCert Professional signature, CATCert EC-IDCat electronic ID Catalan Certification Agency.
The National Mint issues certificates without charge through the offices of the Spanish Tax Agency, where you can get hold of one. Information is available and you can start the process of getting a digital certificate on this website.


What is the purpose of participation and how does it affect public policies?

Participation makes local government more efficient by allowing the local authority to take into account the opinion of the people that municipal policies are aimed at, such people being able to explain their needs and propose solutions to enrich government actions. This not only helps but also improves the municipal government's decision-making process, as it brings about a reflective comparison of government decisions with public contributions.

This makes for greater transparency, effectiveness and quality management of public resources, insofar as they can be better adapted to the situation on the ground and user needs.

It creates a feeling of community. Individuals who take part in participation councils or in a satisfactory participation process, enjoy benefits that go beyond political results. Such benefits have more to do with what is to be expected from learning, building relations with other participants and enjoying the satisfaction of having worked to make a better community.

It raises critical awareness and creates social cohesion, by promoting civic-mindedness, tolerance, debate and consensus, and it encourages involvement from people with common goals.

Participation also means gaining access to information of a much higher quality than that offered by the mass media. Participation helps associations too, encouraging them to network and set up alliances, and gives them a say on decisions of interest to the city.
It promotes co-responsibility, citizenship training and communication with municipal leaders.

How and where can people participate?

Through the various virtual and face-to-face instruments the City Council puts at the disposal of Barcelona's citizens.

 Participation in person is open to everybody through the neighbourhood councils - the closest channel - the district councils and the district public hearings. There are also participation processes that the municipal government offers citizens who are affected by a particular issue.

There are various channels for virtual participation, including email , the public helpline 010 and the Citizen Advice and Information section on the municipal website You can find out about the various participation channels on this website,

You can forward suggestions, complaints and incidents via these channels and the Municipal Register. Your communications will improve and simplify how municipal services are managed.

You can likewise join one of the many associations that are part of one of the regular municipal participation forums, such as the district and city sector councils. There are sector councils in a variety of areas, for example, social welfare, education, women, elderly people, immigration, health and the environment.

How can I register with the Citizen Register?

Registration is free and you can register by filling in the form you will find at this link and including the following details: your first name and surname(s), ID Number, date of birth, postal address, neighbourhood and district, phone number and email address.

Under the Spanish Framework Act on Personal Data Protection, on the matter of sending information to interested parties, citizens registering with the Citizen Register are required to sign a paper giving their consent to receive information from the City Council and provide their personal details for that purpose.


How many people are required to form an association?  

The Act on Associations stipulates that there must be a minimum of 3 people.

What steps do you need to follow to set up an association?
  • The first step is to draw up the articles of association. These are the regulations that will govern the association. They must serve the aims put forward in the association's constitution and be adapted as closely as possible to the reality of the association. You will find several model articles of association here:
  • The second step is to constitute the association: all the founding members meet and draw up the association's memorandum of association. This is a private document in which the founding members agree to set up the association, approve its articles of association and elect its governing body.
  • The third step is to register the association with the General Register of Rights and Legal Entities at the Department of Justice. This body is responsible for the register of general associations. That excludes political, religious, competitive sports and professional (trade union and employers) associations, which have specific registers. To be officially recognised all associations must have a legal personality and it is compulsory for them to be registered at the Department of Justice of the Generalitat of Catalonia. To find out the procedures for being registered you can go to: this link.
  • The fourth step, which is optional, is to register the association with Barcelona City Council's General File of Citizen Entities. You can find out more information and register at this link.

For more information on the process of constituting an association you can consult Useful Practice 22.


What governing bodies must an association have?

An association must have at least:

  • A general assembly of its members, which is the supreme body of the association.
  • A board, which must have the structure laid down in the articles of association and generally consists of a chairperson, a secretary, a treasurer and members.

The procedure for electing the board is by a majority decision at a general assembly of all the members.

What tax breaks do associations enjoy?  

Only foundations and associations declared to be of public interest can enjoy tax breaks.
For more information consult Useful Practice 23, which deals with the tax obligations of non-profit organisations.

What is a foundation?

A foundation is legally defined as a non-profit entity, constituted by one or various founders with assets and economic rights, which allocates the income and resources obtained by other means towards achieving aims of general interest. A foundation is constituted by a memorandum of association.
It can also be constituted by a legacy left in a will for purposes of general interest.


What are the governing bodies of a foundation?  

The board of trustees is the governing body and represents the foundation, ensures it serves the purpose it was set up for, monitors the state of its endowment and ensures the fruits, income and assets at its disposal are directed towards its beneficiaries. The trustees must be involved in the day-to-day work of the foundation and the people who really run it.
They have THREE main roles:

  • evaluating the work done by the people who lead the foundation; evaluating the work done by the board itself, that is, making sure it really does see to the foundation's pursuit of its founding aim.
  • ensuring the foundation's accounts are justified before society, with the maximum possible transparency in its actions, and measuring the results and social impact of its projects and activities, to verify it is fulfilling its mission.
  • The board of trustees must be composed of at least three natural or legal persons. The nomination of trustees must be entered in the Foundations Register. In the case of legal persons, the name of the natural person representing them must also be entered.

The board must have a chair and a secretary, and both positions must be occupied by trustees.

Is it possible to turn an association into a foundation?  

Legal persons may be transformed, while preserving their personality, where the rules they are governed by so allow it and where the rules of the type of legal person they intend to become do not prohibit it. Associations may only be turned into another non-profit entity.
The transformation agreement must be adopted by the association's general assembly with the attendance and adoption quorums required by its articles of association or, where the articles do not establish these, by the quorums set out under Article 324-1 of Book III. The transformation agreement must contain the provisions required for constituting a foundation, including the initial endowment, the nomination of the board of trustees and the relevant changes to the articles of association.

What is Barcelona City Council's Citizen Entities' File?  

The General File of Citizen Entities is one of the instruments for linking Barcelona City Council to city associations and other entities.
Registration with the File requires exempts entities and de facto groups from the requirement of accompanying their grant applications to Barcelona City Council or any of its bodies with documents that entered in this File and which are up to date. It also entitles them to take part in the City Citizen Council, Barcelona City Council's highest consultation and participation body.
The following non-profit entities may apply for registration:

  • Those with their head office in Barcelona, and whose activity is based on the general interests of the city and improving the quality of life of its citizens.
  • Those which, within the territorial framework of Barcelona, represent sector, economic, commercial, professional, scientific, cultural and similar interests.

Consult this link if you want to register your entity in this file.
All the entities registered will receive information on calls for grants, participation processes launched by Barcelona City Council, public hearings and other participation initiatives.

How can we find out about the grants available to associations?

Barcelona City Council has an association services centre at Torre Jussana:
Tel: 932564118
Email address:
Av. Cardenal Vidal i Barraquer 30
Public opening hours:  Tues-Fri 10 am-2 pm, Mon-Fri 4-8 pm