How to acquire Spanish nationality

portada como obtener nacionalidad española

How to acquire Spanish nationality

In 2020, some 126,164 foreigners residing in Spain acquired Spanish nationality, 27.5% more than in the previous year, with Colombians being among those who became Spanish nationals in that year, only surpassed by Moroccan nationals, according to provisional data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) #1.

You may be wondering how to acquire Spanish nationality? Well, in Spain nationality is acquired by residence, by letter of nature, by possession of state and by option.

There was also the possibility of granting Spanish nationality by Law 12 of 2015 to Sephardic Jews, these are the Jews who inhabited the Crown of Castile and Aragon and were exiled from Spain by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, but this program formally stopped receiving applications in 2019.

Below we will explain the methods of how to acquire Spanish nationality that can be applied at present.

Nationality by residence

Nacionalidad por residencia

The first way of acquiring Spanish nationality requires the person to have resided in Spain for ten years legally, continuously and immediately prior to requesting it.

However, remember that time spent in Spain on a study or tourist visa is not taken into account, as these are periods of stay and not residence. There are exceptions in which the required period of residence is reduced in accordance with Article 22 of the Spanish Civil Code:

  • Five years: for those who have obtained refugee status.
  • Two years: for those born in Latin American countries (such as Colombia), Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or people of Sephardic origin.
  • A year is possible for the one who:
    • He was born in Spanish territory.
    • Has been legally subject to the guardianship (under the supervision of a guardian) of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, even if this situation is maintained at the time the application is made.
    • At the time of application, you have been married for at least one year to a Spanish national and are not legally or de facto separated.
    • Is a widow or widower of a Spaniard and that at the time of the spouse’s death they were not separated, de facto or judicially.
    • Born outside Spain to a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, as long as all of them were originally Spanish.

In addition, it will be necessary to prove good civic conduct and integration into Spanish society.

Who can apply?

  • The interested party, by himself/herself, provided that he/she is over 18 years of age or emancipated.
  • The person over 14 years of age assisted by his legal representative.
  • The legal representative of the minor under 14 years of age.
  • The incapacitated person alone or the legal representative of the incapacitated person, depending on what is stipulated in the incapacitation sentence.

Nationality by letter of nature

one of the ways of acquiring Spanish nationality is by letter of naturalization.

Nationality by letter of nature is found in Article 21 of the Civil Code, and is a form of acquiring Spanish nationality that is ex gratia in nature and is not subject to the general rules of administrative procedure. It will be granted or not at the discretion of the Government by Royal Decree, after assessing the existence of exceptional circumstances.

In the event that you have acquired Spanish nationality by residence, by letter of nature or by option, you must:

  • Anyone over 14 years of age and capable of making a statement on his or her own behalf shall swear an oath to the King and obedience to the Constitution and the laws.
  • Declaration of their renunciation of their previous nationality, except in the case of a person who holds the nationality of an Ibero-American country, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal.

Nationality by possession of state

It is stipulated for the person who has possessed and used this nationality for ten years, continuously, in good faith, based on a title in the Civil Registry. Spanish nationality will not be lost, even if the title registered in the Civil Registry is annulled.

The interested party must have maintained an active attitude in the possession and use of Spanish nationality, which means that he/she must have behaved as a Spaniard, both in the enjoyment of his/her rights and in the fulfillment of his/her duties with the Spanish State.

Nationality by option

How to acquire the Spanish nationality by option is a benefit that the Spanish legislation offers to foreigners who meet certain conditions, in order to acquire the nationality.

  • Those persons who are or have been subject to the parental authority of a Spaniard. This possibility expires when the interested party reaches the age of 20, unless by personal law the interested party does not reach the age of majority at the age of 18, in which case the period will be two years from the time he/she reaches the age of majority.
  • Those persons whose father or mother was born in Spain.
  • Those persons whose parentage determination (parentage determination means establishing who a person’s parents are) or birth in Spain occurs after the age of eighteen. In this case, the time limit to opt for nationality is two years from the moment the filiation or birth is determined.
  • Those persons whose adoption by Spaniards occurs after the age of eighteen. In this case, the right to opt exists until the expiration of two years from the constitution of the adoption.

Place of submission of the application:

It should be noted that, as a general rule, it must be filed at the Civil Registry of your domicile.

As a conclusion, in this type of process, it is highly recommended to seek proper advice from a lawyer with knowledge of Spanish and immigration law.