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Spain - Citizenship

There are a number of ways in which an individual can claim citizenship (ciudadanía) of Spain. For most expats, it will depend upon a minimum period spent legally living and working in the country or marriage to a Spanish citizen (ciudadano).

For most people a period of ten years as a Spanish resident is required. Those who come to the country to claim asylum (asilo) will qualify after a period of five years and those who originate from Latin American countries will only require residency for two years before they can apply for citizenship. For people who wish to claim on the basis of parentage the period is reduced to just one year and this is the same for those who are married to a Spanish resident. Residency periods must have taken place immediately prior to the application.

In order to apply for citizenship you must go to the Registro Civil. The department in charge of citizenship applications is the Justice Department (Ministerio de Justicia). For most applicants this will also mean giving up their former nationality (nationalidad), although this depends which country you are from originally.

When making the application for Spanish citizenship you will need to present a certain amount of documentation with the application. This includes your birth certificate, a certificate from your consulate which gives details of your current nationality, details of any criminal convictions and details of any military service carried out in your home country, a certificate from the Spanish authorities which details any criminal activity you may have been involved in during your time in Spain, a certificate from the police confirming details of your residency in the country and a copy of your registration at the local town hall (ayuntamiento).

Those who have a Spanish mother or father can claim Spanish nationality by right of birth. Some people who are born in Spain to foreign parents may be able to claim nationality if one of their parents was also born in Spain.

It is possible to lose Spanish nationality. Most people who lose it will find it is because they choose to spend long periods of time living in another country, particularly if this means that they take on the nationality of another country or if they continue to use the nationality they had prior to taking on Spanish citizenship. It can also be taken away if they become involved in serious criminal activity or join the army of another country.

If nationality is lost it can be regained and there are a number of steps which can be taken. The first is to once again acquire legal status as a resident. The second step is to make an official declaration that the intention is to regain Spanish nationality and then register the recovery of the nationality status. Some people who wish to regain their status will need permission from the authorities to do so. This can be if they have spent a long period of time using their own nationality, officially representing another nation or if they have acquired a criminal record.

The Spanish authorities will expect adults who apply for nationality to renounce their former nationality as they do not accept dual nationality (doble nacionalidad). However, the applicant is expected to deal with this themselves, so most people will hold on to their other passport. Some countries do not allow their citizens to simply give up their nationality, so in the eyes of the other country it may be that the individual has dual nationality anyway. Depending upon the country of origin, the applicant may need some legal advice in order to clarify their position.

Citizenship will give the holder a Spanish passport and they will also have the right to vote in Spanish elections. For those who are not already citizens of the EU, it will also give the right to live and work in other EU member states.

Once citizenship has been approved the applicant will be expected to attend a ceremony where you will swear loyalty to the Spanish king and promise to uphold the constitution and the laws of the country.

Useful Resources

Ministry for Employment and Immigration
http://www.mtin.es/en/index.htm (not all of website is translated into English)
Tel: + 34 91 363 00 00
Email: informacionmtin@mtin.es

Read more about this country

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