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Spanish Citizenship: Find Out If You Are Eligible

10 de July, 2024

Spanish Citizenship: Find Out If You Are Eligible

Learn here how to obtain Spanish citizenship, the main requirements, documents, and the steps of the process.
Reading: 10 min

You have entitled to apply for Spanish citizenship ? In today’s globalized world, marked by migrations and cultural exchanges, you may be closer to having dual citizenship than you ever imagined. Possessing a European passport can open up a vast world of opportunities. That is why, in this article, we will explain how it is possible to obtain Spanish citizenship, its main requirements, documents, and the steps of the process. Discover how to claim this right, and have the opportunity to connect with your roots, embracing a new identity as a Spanish citizen.

🚨 ATTENTION!!! 🚨 Learn how to take advantage of the benefits of the Democratic Memory Law, which facilitates access to citizenship for children and grandchildren. This law has been renewed and is now valid until October 2025. Read more details at the end of this text!

Read also: Spanish and U.S. Dual Citizenship: Does Spanish Nationality Affect US Status?

Who is entitled to Spanish citizenship?

It is not only the children and grandchildren of Spaniards who can apply for Spanish nationality. Many years ago the Spanish government made it possible for citizens of certain countries to obtain nationality after a short period of residence in Spain. In addition, for those who are descendants, there are also some laws that have facilitated access to Spanish citizenship.

It is important to note that Spanish legislation has undergone several changes over the years. This has made the rules for obtaining citizenship in Spain more specific than in other countries, such as Portugal and the Portuguese nationality.

When seeking Spanish nationality, it is necessary to have information about the dates and places of birth of family members, starting with the Spaniard who emigrated. You must verify whether or not he has lost his Spanish nationality or not. It should be noted that often, the fact that a person has naturalized in another country does not mean that he has lost his Spanish nationality.

It is also essential to identify whether the Spaniard was born in Spain and if he was still a Spanish citizen when his child was born abroad. If the answer is positive, the child was also born with Spanish nationality. If not registered as a child, it is still possible to do so later, regardless of age, although in some cases it is necessary to have lived in Spain for one year.

Do you want to live in Europe?

Realizing your goal of living in Europe or obtaining European citizenship can be simpler than you think. We offer personalized support to make the immigration process more accessible and uncomplicated.

Generally speaking, those who are entitled to apply for Spanish nationality are:

1. Spanish Citizenship for Spanish Descendants

Citizenship for Children of Spanish origin

If you are child of an original Spanish father or mother, regardless of where you were born, you have the right to Spanish nationality. Original nationality is the nationality that produces its effects from the birth of the person. Even if he obtains nationality later, the effects are retroactive to his birth. This is the best known way to obtain citizenship, also called “jus sanguinis” or “ius sanguinis” citizenship (blood right).

An important detail: the Spanish Code makes a distinction between Spaniards born in Spain and those born abroad.

Citizenship for Son of Spanish born in Spain

The children of Spaniards born in Spain always have the right to obtain Spanish citizenship, at any time and at any age.

Citizenship for Foreign-born son of Spanish

On the other hand, descendants of Spaniards born abroad will only have the right to Spanish citizenship if they are registered at the Spanish Consulate before turning 21 years of age. And those who obtained Spanish Citizenship because they are children of Spaniards also born abroad, must declare their will to remain with Spanish Citizenship in the period between the ages of 18 and 21, under penalty of losing it.

If you are the child of a Spanish citizen born abroad, and you were not registered with the Spanish Consulate before the age of 21, you are still eligible for Spanish citizenship. As a rule, in this case, the applicant would have to reside for at least one year in Spain to become eligible. However, there is a law in effect (the Democratic Memory Law), which makes the requirement of residency in Spain waived. 

Citizenship for Grandson of Spanish

Currently, the acquisition of Spanish citizenship by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren is facilitated, thanks to the Democratic Memory Law.

As a rule, the grandchildren of Spaniards can only apply for Spanish Citizenship when they are minors. Upon turning 18 years of age, they have 3 years to declare their desire to retain Spanish Nationality. If he does not do so, he loses it, and will only have the right to request it again after one year of legal residence in Spain.

However, also in this case, and because of this law, the grandson will have the right to citizenship, with the exemption of residing in Spain!

Citizenship for the grandson of a Spaniard

The acquisition of Spanish citizenship for the grandchildren of Spaniards does not occur directly. It is necessary for a relative in the direct line to obtain nationality first and transmit it. However, with the enactment of the Democratic Memory Law, it is possible to simultaneously request citizenship for two generations. Both the grandson and the living ancestor (father or grandfather) can jointly apply for citizenship, provided they reside in the same consular region. This process streamlines the handling of requests.

Talk to our consultants and request your Spanish citizenship now

2. Spanish citizenship for those born in Spain

Spanish legislation recognizes as Spanish of origin the children of foreigners who are born in Spanish territory, and who do not possess any other nationality. These cases are called “simple presumption” and are intended to avoid the condition of statelessness (absence of nationality). However, it is important to note that this rule does not apply to all children born in Spain. There are criteria to be followed:

  1. To have the right, the parents’ countries of origin not adopt a criterion for granting nationality that allows the child to receive nationality automatically, regardless of the place of birth (countries that adopt the jus solis criterion).
  2. The child must first be registered in Spain. Then, if desired, at the Consulate of the parents’ country of origin, if this country allows dual citizenship.

This is the case for the children of Brazilians born in Spain. They will have the right to Spanish nationality, as long as they are not previously registered in the Brazilian consulate as Brazilians.

It is important to note that if the child is first registered in a foreign consulate before registering in Spain, he/she will lose the automatic right to Spanish nationality. In this case, an application for nationality can only be made if the child has no other nationality.

3.Spanish Citizenship by Time of Residence

Spanish law provides for the granting of Spanish citizenship to foreigners who have resided for 10 years in the country.

This period, however, is reduced to 2 years in the case of citizens of Ibero-American countries* and of the Philippines or Equatorial Guinea, as well as for descendants of Sephardic Jews.

*Ibero-American countries are: Portugal, Spain and Andorra, in Europe; and Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba and Dominican Republic, in the Americas.

See below the minimum legal residence time required for each case:

  • Citizen from Ibero-American countries in general: 2 years
  • Foreigners married to Spaniards: 1 year
  • Children and grandchildren of Spaniards who were not able to choose nationality: 1
  • Foreigner who was born in Spain and did not apply for nationality of origin: 1 year
  • Spanish widow or widower: 1 year
  • Sefardic Jewish descendant: 1 year

*Requirement dispensable until October 2024.

4.Spanish Nationality for Spanish Spouse

Spanish citizenship by marriage is also a form of nationality by time of residence. Spouses of Spaniards are entitled to apply for Spanish citizenship if they have lived in Spain for at least one year.

5.Spanish Citizenship by Carta de Naturaleza

This is a less common means, as it is a citizenship offered by royal decree in exceptional circumstances. It is usually intended for athletes, writers, activists or artists. Just as a curiosity, some of the famous people who have been awarded Spanish citizenship are: Lorenzo Brown (basketball player), Juan José Campanella (film director), Ricardo Darin (actor), Benicio del Toro (actor), Ricky Martin (singer), Federico Luppi (actor).

Sephardic Jews Can Benefit: Find Out How!

Lastly, it is important to note that the descendants of Sephardic Jews were eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship until October 1, 2019, under Law 12/2015. Those who began the process before this date can still complete it.

For those who did not, there is still the opportunity to benefit from the reduction in the minimum residence time in Spain required by the government, which in this case is only one year, allowing the application for Spanish citizenship based on the time of residence in the country.

What is the Grandchildren’s Law for Spanish Citizenship?

The Democratic Memory Law, often referred to as the “Ley de Nietos,” was created to facilitate the recognition of Spanish citizenship for descendants of Spaniards born abroad. This law aims to repair the damages caused to the victims of the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) and the Franco regime (1936 – 1975). The law benefits three main groups:

  1. Individuals born abroad with Spanish parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents who were exiled or renounced their nationality for political, ideological, religious, or sexual orientation reasons.
  2. Children born abroad to Spanish women who lost their nationality by marrying foreigners before the 1978 Constitution.
  3. Children over 21 years of age of Spaniards who had their nationality recognized by the current law or the 2007 law.

Even if you do not have a direct connection to the Franco regime or the Spanish Civil War, the Democratic Memory Law can benefit you as a descendant of Spaniards. The law is designed to be inclusive and to recognize the right to citizenship for a wide range of descendants, regardless of their specific connections to historical events.

If you are a grandchild or great-grandchild of Spaniards, your grandparents or great-grandparents may have lost or renounced their Spanish nationality for various reasons, including international marriages or exiles for reasons not directly related to Franco. The law offers the opportunity to reclaim this citizenship, honoring the heritage and family ties with Spain.

It primarily benefits descendants over the age of 21 who did not apply for or declare the desire to remain Spanish, even if due to lack of information, as it waives the one-year residence requirement in Spain to apply. In other words, you can continue living in your own country while applying for your Spain nationality!

⚠️ Democratic Memory Law Renewed Until 2025!

In July 2024, the Spanish government announced in its Official State Gazette (BOE) the renewal of the Democratic Memory Law. With this, the deadline to apply for Spanish citizenship under these favorable conditions has been extended until October 2025. Originally, the law was set to be in effect until October 2024. This decision was made in response to the high number of applications and the need for more time to process requests, as indicated by Spain’s Minister of Territorial Policy and Democratic Memory, Ángel Víctor Torres. According to him, the renewal of the law not only addresses the call for more time but also demonstrates Spain’s ongoing commitment to historical and social justice.

Since the implementation of the law, 300,000 citizenship applications have been received. Data released by the Spanish Government shows that 95% of the citizenship applications came from Spain’s 40 consulates in Ibero-American countries. Of these, 40% were made at the five Spanish consulates in Argentina and 13% at the consulate in Havana.

This extension ensures that more descendants of Spaniards can reclaim the citizenship of their ancestors, reaffirming their ties to the Spanish nation and complying with all established legal parameters. Will you miss this opportunity?

Test for nationality: who needs to take it?

The tests for Spanish citizenship are required for those who wish to apply for citizenship by time of residence, by choice or by letter of nature. In this case, it is necessary to prove integration into Spanish society. The tests are a way to evaluate the individual’s constitutional, sociocultural, and linguistic knowledge.

There are two tests:

DELE – Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language.

It is used to assess the level of knowledge of the local language (Spanish) of foreign immigrants. The required level is A2 or higher.

CCSE- Constitutional and socio-cultural knowledge of Spain.

This is the general knowledge test, which includes questions about government, legislation, culture, history, geography, and society.

Find Out If You Are Elegible >

Why hire an advisory service to apply for your Spanish citizenship?

In Spain, unlike in other countries, the laws for access to nationality have undergone several changes over the years. For this reason, the requirements and eligibility of each individual for Spanish citizenship are not such simple processes. Each case must be analyzed thoroughly, taking into account a variety of information.

Atlantic Bridge consultants have in-depth knowledge of the requirements, changing laws, processes and procedures necessary to obtain Spanish Citizenship. We can offer personalized guidance based on your specific case, helping you understand the eligibility criteria and identify the necessary documents. In addition, we provide assistance in filling out forms, avoiding errors and delays in the process.

Our support is ongoing throughout the entire application process, tracking the progress of your order. This gives you peace of mind and security along the way.

Not eligible for Spanish citizenship? Live in Spain with a residence visa. Discover the Spain Golden Visa, Non-Lucrative Visa, and the Digital Nomad Visa.

Contact the Atlantic Bridge consultants right now and schedule a consultation with us!

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Atlantic Bridge

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