Spanish Nationality
In this section you will find the different methods for acquiring Spanish nationality along with the important information on the loss and preservation of same.
5/11/2018

How can Spanish nationality be acquired?

 

Methods for acquiring nationality

The different methods for acquiring nationality are:

 

Nationality for those of Spanish origin

Those of Spanish origin are:

  • Those born to a Spanish father or mother
  • Those born in Spain who are the children of non-Spanish parents if at least one of their parents were born in Span (with the exception of children of diplomats).
  • Those born in Spain to non-Spanish parents, if both have no nationality (status of stateless persons) or if the legislation of neither grants nationality to the child. In this case a form can be submitted at the local Civil Registry of your place of residence to declare Spanish nationality on the basis of mere assumption.
  • Children born in Spain whose parents' identity is unknown. Children whose first known place of stay is Spanish territory are assumed to have been born in Spain.
  • All children under 18 years of age adopted by a Spanish national are of Spanish origin. If the adoptee is aged over 18, they may opt for Spanish nationality of origin within two years following the legalisation of the adoption.

 

Nationality by possession of status

All persons who have possessed or used Spanish nationality for ten years, on a continued basis and in good faith (without being aware of the real situation, i.e. that they were not in fact Spanish), on the basis of a record held by the Civil Registry. Spanish nationality is not lost even where the record held by the Civil Registry is annulled. The interested party must have maintained an active attitude in such possession and use of Spanish nationality, meaning that they must have behaved in a manner considering themselves to be Spanish, in both the exercise of their rights and in fulfilling their obligations to the bodies of the Spanish state.

 

Nationality by option

The option is a benefit in our legislation extended to foreign nationals subject to certain conditions, for them to acquire Spanish nationality. The following persons shall have the right to acquire Spanish nationality by this method:

  • Those persons who are or have been subject to the parental authority of a Spanish national. This option expires when the interested party reaches 20 years of age, except where their relevant legislation states that the interested party does not reach legal age at the age of 18, in which case the term shall be for the two years following their reaching legal age.
  • Those persons whose father or mother was Spanish or born in Spain.
  • Those persons whose determination of parentage or birth in Spain is only made after reaching the age of eighteen. In this case, the term for opting for nationality is the two years from the determination of parentage or birth.
  • Those persons whose adoption by Spanish nationals occurs after reaching eighteen years of age. In this case the right to opt for Spanish nationality is valid for a term of two years after the legalisation of the adoption.

 

Nationality by residence

This method of acquisition of nationality requires continued legal residence in Spain for ten years immediately prior to the application. There are cases in which the period of residence required can be reduced. These are:

  • Five years: for the granting of Spanish nationality to those persons who have obtained refugee status
  • Two years: for nationals of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or persons of Sephardic origin.
  • One year:
    • Persons born in Spanish territory.
    • Persons who have not exercised their right to Spanish nationality by option.
    • o Persons who have been legally subject to the guardianship (in the care of a guardian) or foster care (foster care allowing for the reduction of the legal residency period to one year is that in which there is a resolution issued by the public body responsible for the protection of minors in the relevant territory or judicially recognized foster care) of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, including where they remain in this situation at the time of application.
    • o Persons who, at the time of the application, have been married for one year to a Spanish national and are not legally separated and have not had a common-law separation.
    • o The widower or widow of a Spanish national, if, at the time of the death of the spouse, they were not separated in fact or legally.
      o Those born outside Spain to a Spanish father or mother (also born outside Spain), grandfather or grandmother, provided that all were originally Spanish.

 

Nationality by naturalisation

This method of acquiring nationality is ex gratia and is not subject to the general rules of administrative procedure. It shall be granted, or not, at the discretion of the Government by Royal Decree, after an evaluation of the exceptional circumstances.

 

More information

Ministry of Justice How can Spanish nationality be acquired?

 

 

VERY IMPORTANT:

 

LOSS AND PRESERVATION OF SPANISH NATIONALITY

 

How can Spanish nationality be lost?

Spanish nationals shall lose nationality where:

  • They are emancipated, reside abroad or voluntarily acquire another nationality. They can prevent such loss if, within a term of three years, they declare their wish to preserve their nationality. The acquisition of the nationality of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal is not sufficient grounds for the loss of Spanish nationality.
  • Are emancipated, reside abroad and, for a period of three years, exclusively use the nationality attributed prior to their emancipation. They can prevent such loss if, within a term of three years, they declare their wish to preserve their nationality. The acquisition of the nationality of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal is not sufficient cause for the loss of Spanish nationality.
  • Emancipated Spanish nationals who have another nationality who habitually reside abroad and voluntarily renounce Spanish nationality.
  • In the case of Spanish nationals who were born abroad and are Spanish by virtue of having been born to a Spanish father or mother also born abroad, shall lose Spanish citizenship if, within a term of three years from emancipation or reaching legal age, they do not declare their wish to preserve their Spanish nationality.

 

Spanish nationals not nationals by origin (for example, those who have acquired Spanish nationality by residence) shall lose their Spanish nationality if:

  • After acquiring Spanish nationality, they use the nationality they had renounced in order to acquire Spanish nationality for a period of three years.
  • When they voluntarily enter the armed services of, or hold political office in, a foreign State against the express prohibition of the government.
  • Where a sentence declares that the interested party engaged in falsification, concealment or fraud in the acquisition of Spanish nationality.

 

Where to make a declaration of preservation

Spain's Consulates abroad perform Civil Registry functions.

 

More information

Ministry of Justice How is Spanish nationality lost?

 

 

RECOVERY OF NATIONALITY

 

How can Spanish nationality be recovered?

Once Spanish nationality is lost, there is a possibility of recovering it (Article 26 of the Civil Code). To do so, it is necessary to meet the following requirements:

  • The interested party must be legally resident in Spain. However, this requirement shall not apply to emigrants or the children of emigrants. Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice may waive this requirement where exceptional circumstance occur. (e.g. persons who have carried out charity activities to the benefit of Spanish interests or associations, Order of the Ministry of Justice of 11 July 1991. Official State Gazette of 24 July 1991).
  • The interested part may declare their desire to recover Spanish nationality before the Registrar of the Civil Registry.
  • They must register the recovery of nationality in the Civil Registry.

 

When is the prior authorisation of the Government required for the recovery of Spanish nationality?

The prior authorisation of the Government shall be required for the recovery of Spanish nationality where lost by those who had not held nationality by origin or the loss occurred for any of the following reasons: • Persons who, for a period of three years, use exclusively the nationality they had renounced in order to acquire Spanish nationality.

  • Those who enter the armed services of, or hold political office in, a foreign State against the express prohibition of the government.
  • Where a sentence declares that the interested party engaged in falsification, concealment or fraud in the acquisition of Spanish nationality.

 

Where to request recovery of Spanish nationality

The request must be submitted to the local Civil Registry of their place of residence. Spain's Consulates abroad perform Civil Registry functions.

 

Obtaining the request form

The request form can be obtained at your local Civil Registry or Consulate.

 

More information

Ministry of Justice How can Spanish nationality be recovered?

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