British expats in Spain rush to register as Brexit rears its ugly head

Published:  22 Oct at 6 PM
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Brits in Spain are rushing to register as Brexit looms.

With just over a week to go before the threat of Brexit becomes a reality, the numbers of British expats registering with their local authorities has soared, but the numbers of Brits officially registered in Malaga province tanked from 76,931 in 2013 to just 47,193 in 2019. Since 2013, the value of sterling has been steadily falling, putting pressure on the none-too generous UK state pension, and rises in property prices have also had negative effects on the Costa del Sol region as a retiree haven.

At first, the shock result of the 2016 Brexit referendum caused further falls in the numbers registering but, in recent months, the emphasis on the loss of freedom of movement and other rights such as free healthcare has caused expats’ awareness of their predicament to boom. The town of Mijas has seen the most effects as some 10 per cent of its residents are from the UK, with some 8.865 now officially registered in order to retain their permission to stay.

Local town halls in the popular region are expecting a surge in registration over the next nine days, and are working with community leaders to make the process as fast and easy as possible. According to one local mayor, his people are working closely with expat associations and the British consulate to ease expat uncertainty, adding that many British residents arrived over 20 years ago and need all the help they can get to ensure they’re not forgotten.

Authorities in other popular locations such as Fuengirola, Marbella and Estepona are also doing their best to ensure those wishing to register can do so in the short time until October 31, with one Fuengirola councillor telling local media he’s happy so many expat residents have chosen to stay rather than relocating back to the UK. He puts the decisions down to the area’s quality of life and lower cost of living, a view with which the vast majority of British expatriates would agree.
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