In November this year the City Council of Marbella in Spain announced that the municipal register has exceeded 150,000 inhabitants, some 10,000 more than the previous year. Spokesman, Felix Romero said “This will allow us to increase our budget,”. In line with this the main municipalities of the Costa del Sol the Ayuntamiento de Marbella have launched a campaign to attract more “residential tourists” who already live here full time but are not registered. They have taken to social media including Radio, Facebook, emails, local newspapers, in fact any way to bring it to the attention of “The Ghost Citizens”.
“In fact is mandatory to register with your local town hall if you live in Spain” explains Aida Blanes, Councillor for Tourism and Foreign Residents of Torremolinos. “Having much more real population than the one registered is a serious problem in terms of services and resources,” he explains” A study carried out by the Diputacion itself in 2012 showed that the difference between the real population and the one collected by the register – without taking into account tourists – exceeded half a million people. Against the 1.6 million inhabitants that appear in the official statistics, the province of Malaga would exceed, according to that study the two million mark.
The Ayuntamiento of Marbella have analysed the consumption of water and waste generated to try to discover the number of real population, which they believe could reach 250,000 people, Estepona is carrying out the same tests. “We think there are over 100,000 living here which is more than 73,000 that the register reflects” says Aleksandra Broch, head of the Foreign Residents Department of Estepona. In Malaga City Councils, they are aware that it is not easy to convince foreign residents to register even though it only brings them positive aspects. Many foreigners reside “in vacation mode” and do not want to hear about bureaucratic procedures. Others believe that appearing in the register may affect their pensions or force them to pay their taxes twice, in Spain and their country of origin. “And it’s not true,” says Arantxa Lopez, Councillor for Foreigners in Mijas, where 40% of its 35,000 inhabitants are foreign. What does this all mean for us, the “visible” residents? Well for a start we will get better services as 75% of taxes given back to the communities is directly related to the registered population of that community, also with Brexit looming there has never been a better time to register!