Census in Marbella… and beyond

For the first time in five years, the number of Brits on the electoral role in Marbella went up in 2018, bringing the total of registered UK expats to almost 3,866, while the sum of padrón registrations (in respect of Spaniards and foreign nationals combined) in all Spanish territories grew to 47,007,367.

The last time the latter figure broke the 47 million mark was 2013, while the year-on-year increase as at 1st January 2019 was 0.6% (or 284,387 individuals), according to data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE)1.

Breakdown by nationality

INE’s data also gives us a good idea as to the breakdown of the country’s populace by nationality. Of this new population statistic, 89.3% of residents were Spanish and 10.7% were of foreign descent.

The five biggest foreign populations in Spain in terms of padrón registration were Morocco (812,412), Romania (669,434), the UK (249,015), Italy (227,912) and China (224,372).

More Brits on the electoral roll in Marbella as padrón registration grows in Spain. Marbella beating Brexit

Brits on the electoral role in Marbella

In related (and more local) residency news, the registered population of the Marbella municipality was 149,184 at 1st January 2019 and comprised 141 different nationalities… yes, 141!2

Of these, UK citizens were the third most numerous – behind the Spanish (73.5% of all registrations) and the Moroccans (5,075 individuals) – accounting for 2.6% of the total and 3,866 registrations.

This doesn’t sound like much, I know. But when you consider the expat community is 39,597 strong, the proportion of Brits on the electoral role in Marbella jumps to almost 10%.

More Brits on the electoral roll in Marbella as padrón registration grows in Spain. Brits on the electoral role in Marbella

Why this is significant

OK, so Spain’s population is growing again and there are more Brits on the electoral role in Marbella. So what?

Well, in terms of the first point, it must be noted that the natality versus mortality rate is creeping up in Spain. Although it has fallen since the mid-80s, the number of births per woman is consolidating at 1.15, while the average life expectancy in Spain is now as high as anywhere on earth.

Its ageing population, exceptional healthcare system and Mediterranean diet led to Spain being crowned the “World’s Healthiest Nation in 2019”, with this privileged lifestyle continuing to attract emigrants to its shores.

It should be no surprise, then, that the average age of Spaniards on the census is as old as 44.2, while the average German and British expat is 49.2 and 53.6 years old respectively.

Marbella beating Brexit

All of this data-diving has a clear conclusion, as sure as 1 + 1= 2. Brits on the electoral roll in Marbella increasing in number for the first time since the financial crisis and the need for British expats to do so before 31st December 2020 means that UK citizens are getting their affairs in order and are combatting Brexit.

What is also interesting is that, on average, the Brits are the oldest nationality on the padrón registration; suggesting that, both in Marbella and elsewhere, the tendency and desire to retire to Spain is as fervent as ever.

What is the “padrón”?

The “padrón municipal de habitantes”, to give it its proper name (it is also known as “empadronamiento”), is simply the process of registering with your local town hall once you’ve found a place to live in Spain.

More Brits on the electoral roll in Marbella as padrón registration grows in Spain. Marbella Town Hall

It is a necessary bit of bureaucracy required for going onto the electoral role or census record and must be carried out, by law, by anyone residing in Spain for more than 180 days. This is the same length of time, coincidentally, that qualifies you as a fiscal resident, meaning you will have to submit an annual tax declaration here in Spain.

But, essentially, “empadronamiento” allows residents to make use of all municipal services and privileges (free healthcare at your local medical centre, voting in local elections, etc.) and is the basis for official population statistics.

For a more comprehensive list of benefits and required documentation, take a look at VIVA’s Registering with Your Local Town Hall page.

Do you think there's been a big push for British expats to secure their residency rights in Spain? Will you be affected? And did you find this post informative? Let me know by leaving a comment below!


1 http://www.ine.es/prensa/pad_2019_p.pdf

2 https://www.diariosur.es/marbella-estepona/numero-britanicos-empadronados-20190131214315-nt.html

  Marbella Town Hall Photo by Harvey Barrison from Massapequa, NY, USA