TOWN HALLS across the region are being urged to request non-Spanish residents to register on the padron of their local municipality, by a national statistics organisation.
Many foreign nationals are wary of registering for a number of reasons and receive mixed messages from officials, friends and even from the town halls themselves.
Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE – national statistics institute), recently released a report quoting the most recent statistics available regarding numbers registered on their local town hall’s ‘padrón’.
The report confirmed the confused messages residents receive. Most who had been in Spain since before 2009 will probably have been told that once they had registered on their local padrón, they did not have to update the information. However others may have been told that they do need to update their details, anything between every two and five years.
The actual rules are that since 2009, foreign residents coming from other European Union member states have been required to update their details every five years. Residents from non-EU countries are asked to renew every two years, in line with their residency papers. In both cases if they fail to do so, their names will be removed. Previously, foreigners, like Spanish residents, were kept on the register permanently once they had registered,
The report stated that many non Spanish residents gave the reasons for not registering as the inability to communicate in Spanish when filling in the form. Some reported stories of officious clerks at town halls refusing to help them in their own language. Other reasons given were mostly financial worries, such as altered tax status and pension issues.
Antonio Requena Segovia from the INE said in the report, registering on the padrón, has nothing to do with paying taxes and it doesn’t cost anything to register. He said he has been made aware of the concerns and rumours that go around foreign communities that being on the padrón means that a foreign resident will be required to pay more taxes, which, he said, is “absolutely not true”.
And whilst the police do have the right to consult town hall registers in the case of a foreign resident being arrested or involved in some way with a crime or incident, the information doesn’t automatically get shared with the police or any other body, other than the INE.
Although registering on the padrón is not a legal requirement, people are strongly encouraged to do so as population numbers relate directly to the amount of central government funding towns receive for services such as medical centres, fire stations, schools, cleaning and other municipal facilities.
He cited the case of a town with a registered population of 21,000 residents. If the population registered on the padrón remains above 20,000, the town is eligible for more funding for core services. Should the population drop below the limit, it is likely to lose key facilities. As Requena pointed out, foreigners who use these services should be part of the head count.