Councillors in Marbella are celebrating a rise in the resort's population of some 10,000 in the last year, in part thanks to a drive to get unregistered local residents to sign on to the town hall census roll, or 'padrón'. Marbella's population now stands at around 152,000, making it the seventh biggest municipal area by number of residents in Andalucía.
The spokesperson for the council, Félix Romero, said that two incentives had helped boost the number of official residents. Firstly, the new town hall policy to offer free bus travel to locals listed on the padrón, and secondly, a likely imminent Brexit, which has encouraged more UK nationals to come forward and join the census, as a step towards protecting their rights when Britain leaves the EU.
Romero explained that initially after the referendum many Britons left the register, but that, in the past year, there has been an increase in UK residents again.
Real figures for Marbella's population are estimated to be as high as 200,000 for most of the year. However, some people choose not to join the padrón and declare where they live, despite a legal requirement to do so. The council in Marbella admits that it does not know how much of the 10,000 increase in the last year is down to newcomers, or people who already resided in the area but still hadn't come forward.
Not the same as the green card
Registering on the town hall padrón is a requirement for foreigners who live several months a year in Spain and does not affect tax status. It is not the same as the green EU certificate of residency card (or A4 paper), organised via National Police stations, which is the main document needed in preparation for Brexit.