Updated 25 January: There is seemingly enormous concern suddenly about the situation for “swallows”, those part-time residents who visit Tenerife for several months each winter. Clearly they are in a difficult position right now because they often visit Tenerife for more than three months and after 31 December 2020 will be restricted to 90 days in any 180 as are all other 3rd-country nationals (please see below, especially 20 January update).

The current legal situation is that when a part-time resident arrives in Spain they must register within three months and in reverse, deregister when they leave Spain. That way they can stay as long as they’re registered, and when they return to the UK will have access to the NHS. Without registering on arrival, they will not be legal in Spain – it’s one thing to be illegal as an EU national in an EU country but another thing entirely to be an illegal alien! – and without deregistering, they will be on record as living in Spain and so not entitled to the NHS when back in the UK because the right to use the NHS is a residence-based entitlement.

This could be problematic of course because of the tougher registration requirements for 3rd-country nationals but such is the system. The UK’s Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliot, has confirmed that the British and Spanish authorities are aware of “the swallow issue”, and the matter is firmly on their radar BUT he cannot confirm that special rules will be put in place or be able to be agreed in the bilateral negotiations which are ongoing throughout this year and naturally which are yet to be concluded. He also stressed, contrary to what many “swallows” think and allege, that the UK and Spanish authorities are not only planning to monitor and enforce these systems, they are already talking to each other and doing so.

Updated 24 January: The President of the European Council Charles Michel (Donald Tusk’s old post) and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (Jean-Claude Juncker’s old post) have just signed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU, opening the way for its ratification by the European Parliament. This was a formal event this morning. Pic from the EU.

Updated 23 January: The Withdrawal Agreement Bill has now received Royal Assent. The UK’s departure from the EU is now UK law. Now the Withdrawal Agreement goes to the EU Parliament to be debated next Wednesday, 29 January. The EU Parliament works in similar ways to the UK Parliament with committee analysis and oversight, and several EU Parliamentary committees have now recommended MEPs to vote for it. There is no chance now, in my opinion, that the EU Parliament will reject the Withdrawal Agreement, and so the UK will leave the EU at 11pm on Friday next week.

Updated 22 January: Local journalist Clio O’Flynn got an interview on Monday with Hugh Elliot, the UK’s new Ambassador to Spain on his first visit to the Canaries. Clio spoke to him at a lunch hosted by the FCO for those who work alongside the British Consulate as partners, as well as British-run charities and organisations. Obviously the main topic of conversation was Brexit, and you can listen to the full interview HERE.

Updated 20 January: To save any more questions about the 90/180 days rule, please see HERE. It is a calculator from the EU’s own Schengen website, and as it says:

Short-term visitors to the Schengen countries that do not need a visa and holders of multiple entry visas valid for at least six months and with 90 days of duration of stay, are not permitted to spend more than 90 days within 180 days in the territory of the Schengen Area.

Travelers often get confused by this rule, and fail to calculate how long they have stayed in Europe, and how long they are permitted to remain.

They need be confused no longer, and I will no longer answer questions on the 90/180 day ruling. Please use the calculator.

Updated 6pm: To some, it seems the 90 days in 180 rule is confusing. So to clarify, the period is not calculated by calendar year. This means that visitors cannot come for 90 days in October, November and December and then stay on for January, February and March as a separate 90 days in a separate year. This is because the 180-day period keeps rolling. As the Schengen Visa website HERE explains: anytime you wish to enter the Schengen, you just have to count backwards the last 180 days, and see if you have been present in the Schengen for more than 90 days throughout that period.

British nationals will not need a visa to enter the Schengen area after Brexit because we have been granted an exemption but the timings remain firm, and the Extranjería has said they will start stamping British passports on 1 February this year so they will be able to monitor … though as I’ve already said, the rule comes into force for us at the end of the implementation/transition period, i.e. at the end of 2020.