COSTA del Sol towns popular with British expats are concerned at the rising number of unregistered residents.
It comes after new figures revealed at least 16,000 people are living in Malaga province who are not officially registered.
The latest numbers from the National Institute of Statistice (INE), collected on January 1, showed there were officially 1,630,615 people officially registered as residents.
The figure is a 16,000 drop from the 1,646,955 registered on July 1 last year.
January 1 last year also showed 1,646,777 people as being officially registered.
Over the last decade, the population in the province is believed to have grown by 80,000 residents, yet the number of those registered has only grown by 20,000.
In towns popular with foreign residents, particularly British, the number of officially registered residents has been declining over the past three years.
It comes despite informative campaigns selling the positives of signing on to the padron, as well as several offices set up to deal specifically with Brexit concerns.
The main losers are set to be municipalities with the largest share of Britons.
In areas like Nerja, British residents contribute the most to the register after Spaniards.
In Mijas, specific campaigns to get Brits signed on have been developed through a resident’s office.
But the widespread fear is ‘that in 2018 the pattern of the bleeding of residents who choose to unsubscribe to the padron will remain the same.’
Municipalities say British residents are not signing on because of all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, ‘but in reality they are still among us, living here’.
It comes after the number of unregistered residents in the whole province was only estimated to be 2,000 in 2015.
Towns with more than 20,000 inhabitants say if the trend continues, they may have to cut down on the number of councilors or in a worst case scenario initiate budget cuts.
The padron is the reference from which the official figures of inhabitants in Spain are taken and it has a direct impact on how much money is given by the national government in Madrid.
Many municipalities, especially the most touristic ones, have a much higher population than what is officially recorded.Having as many registered persons as possible is therefore a fundamental issue in these localities.