The correspondence I get suggests that there are times when a great deal of confusion exists over what, on the surface, appear to be standard definitions that are simple to understand. So, following are the ones that clearly need to be explained in a bit more detail, at least to some people, and if you can think of any others where a definition would be useful, please just add it in the comment box below.

Freedom of Speech: a constitutional privilege or restriction whereby Governments allow their nationals more or less of a right to say things without being prosecuted, jailed or executed as a punishment for saying them. It is not a right to comment on a private website, nor even on social media generally. Even the likes of Facebook and twitter are not countries or Governments, and so can and do control what is allowed to be posted on them, banning fake news, bullying, libel, hate incitement, violation of official secrets or Court injunctions, etc. The principle can be easily explained by analogy with our ability in the west to go about our business freely without state interference but without any right just to walk into other people’s private houses on demand. Privately owned websites can be run as their owners choose, including denying other people access to post, comment, or even view. Not being allowed to comment on a blog post does not violate any right to free speech, which is a constitutional matter unrelated to private ownership rights.

Immigrant: Us, anyone who has come to Spain (or anywhere else) from their home country being able for a range of reasons to enter through normal legal channels. Often people use the word expat as a rhetorically loaded attempt to distinguish themselves from “migrants” whom they usually view as inferior but both words mean the same. “Illegal immigrants” are those who have come to Spain often through normal channels but then failed to comply with legal requirements such as registration with the police, not asylum seekers, who have come through channels that are abnormal but not illegal – there is nothing illegal about being an asylum seeker.

Misinformation: posts that actively seek to mislead or unwittingly pass on false information. Not something you don’t like or something you disagree with. Fake news must be wrong in essence, not just disagreeable to a particular reader.

Nazi: an adherent of the leadership and policies of Adolf Hitler’s Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party). Could alternatively be the German equivalent of the Spanish name Nacho (abbreviation of Ignacio), or a Sumerian goddess. Sumer was actually included in some of my ancient history lectures but I lay no claim to divinity. What a Nazi isn’t is someone running a blog, even if you completely disagree with the way they do it.

Passport: can’t believe this is needed but a passport is a document issued by a country to its own nationals, ie someone with citizenship rights. No-one can get a passport from a country in which they do not have citizenhip rights, and so it follows that a British national, with citizenship rights in the UK – see HERE – does not have the right to a passport in any other country where they do not have those rights. A passport holder cannot simply exchange their passport for that of another country just as, currently, residents in Spain are changing their EU Registros for a third-country TIE – these are documents of residence registration, not nationality. Spain does not allow dual nationality except in very specific circumstances that don’t apply to British nationals and so, in a nutshell, to get a Spanish passport you have either to be or become an actual Spaniard, and if you’re British this means renouncing your British nationality.

Property Owner: someone who owns a property in Tenerife (or anywhere else). These will either be residents or swallows … or indeed they could be tourists staying in a hotel while letting out the property they own. In short, the residential or tourist designation of someone who owns a property is unrelated to their actual ownership. Their rights of ownership are those that I myself enjoy, the responsibilities those that I myself have to comply with. All property owners pay IBIs (rates), utilites bills, and so on, and enjoy full constitutional protection for their own enjoyment of their own property provided only that that enjoyment falls within the law. If a property owner is visiting Tenerife and staying in their own property they are visiting their own property and staying in Tenerife as neither tourist nor resident, but as visiting foreign private investor.

Resident: someone who is legally registered with the police as required for all residents, and who is in possession specifically of either a Certificado de Registro issued to British nationals prior to 2021 (and which is still issued to EU nationals) or its post-Brexit replacement the TIE (which is issued to all non-EU nationals).  

Swallow: not an official definition but a term used for someone who migrates like the bird of the same name to a place for part of the year usually for weather reasons. Not counted as a tourist for official purposes because not staying (usually) in legal tourism accommodation. As such, their presence is not known to the tourism authorities because only legally regulated tourism establishments supply the Government, as they’re required to do by law, with details of those staying in them. As a free liberal democracy Spain, like the UK, does not keep tabs on law-abiding individuals who are at liberty to move around within the law and under the rights bestowed by their passport, and whose presence is therefore not tracked (public health emergency measures such as track and trace systems excepted), and so there is no means of including their arrival in official tourism figures nor of incorporating them into budgetary considerations

Tenerife Government: there is no such thing. In Spain, there are national and regional Governments, the latter having many devolved powers: here that is the Canarian Government. The Canaries have island administrative councils, called Cabildos, which operate above the municipal Ayuntamientos and have some local legislative powers but are not “Governments”. Please see THIS article with full information on how Spain is administered but one minor point that keeps arising should already be clear – that the Canaries are indeed part of the EU because they are a region of Spain which is a member, their different tax status in certain situations is because they’re a far-flung part of Spain, not because they’re a different country.

Tourist: someone staying in legal tourism accommodation. Not privately owned property unless it is registered as a Vivienda Vacacional and is being occupied through a booking done under that regime. As explained in the Swallows entry above, legally regulated tourism establishments are required by law to supply the Government with details of their guests, and since Spain doesn’t track ordinary individuals, anyone not staying in regulated tourist accommodation is not known to the tourism authorities and so doesn’t get counted as a tourist.

Transparency: various meanings including the quality of being see-through, but in media terms generally used in the sense of accountability given pressures coming from sponsorships, advertising, and political arenas. It is fundamentally concerned with the influence of money and/or power over what is published. In this blog there is no money or power involved other than my own because I own it outright and pay for it all. Therefore there is no pressure from any quarter, and so there is no lack of transparency because there is nothing to show.


  1. What about attempting a definition of ‘Second home owner’? My own try would be along the lines of – ‘a person owning property on Tenerife but who is neither a Swallow nor a Tourist. May be referred to colloquially as a part time resident but while attracting the normal legal obligations associated with property ownership, does not have any rights beyond those of any other third country national.’ Genuinely no sour grapes intended in putting this forward but a genuine attempt at a definition. I do think though as a category we merit a place in your glossary. Will of course defer to your own try at a definition, Janet.

  2. Author

    Good idea Moira because I get a lot of enquiries suggesting people confuse property ownership with certain designations. I hope you agree with my definition above … and I’ve also added one in on Passports too because, believe it or not, it is needed!

  3. Being described as a ‘visiting foreign private investor’ sounds very grand! LOL! 🙂
    Unfortunately my means don’t stretch to the Roman Abramovich level!

  4. Author

    I’ve deleted the Brexit stuff … please let’s keep this for questions about the definitions above and suggestions of other terms to be defined. 🙂

  5. Janet.
    Well done.
    Although we knew these facts, it’s amazing the arguments we overhear on our odd trips to ‘British’ bars on the Island.
    If this helps, then good.

  6. Love this Janet. I was faced with a Brit in a cafe this week who assured us all that he had been “told” that he could get “Basic residency” to avoid the 90 day rule. I was agog to hear his answer when this was questioned. It was, “just wait and see”…. I will still be here after March. Can’t wait… lol

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