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Spanish Citizenship: Find Out If You Are Eligible

30 de May, 2023

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: 8 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.

Read also: Top cheap cities in Spain.

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, for example.

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. But beware! This law is only valid until October 2024!

Citizenship for Grandson of Spanish

At this moment, and until October 2024, 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!

ATTENTION! This advantage has an expiration date, October 24!

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.

It is crucial to emphasize that citizenship applicants must be alive. It is not possible to apply for citizenship for a deceased relative.

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.

*They 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 no longer apply

Finally, it should be noted that descendants of Sephardic Jews were eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship until October 1, 2019, according to Law 12/2015. Those who started the process before this date will be able to finalize it.

For those who haven’t done so, there is still the opportunity to benefit from the reduction in the minimum residency time required by the Spanish government, which, in this case, is just one year, enabling the application for Spanish citizenship based on residency time in the country.

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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