The Citylife team has collected the information below via intense research in collaboration with Proyecto Océano, one of Madrid’s most known legal associations. Please keep in mind that we are not directly related to any legal or government departments and the information may be subject to change.
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If you live legally in Spain, and are interested in applying for Spanish citizenship, you have to consider the multiple legal options that allow you to do so. Which could even include renouncing your citizenship of origin.
You can apply for Spanish Citizenship if you:
- Are the child of Spanish parents.
- Have been living legally and for multiple continuous years in Spain.
- Are from a country that has a special agreement with Spain.
- Were born in Spain to unknown parents.
- Are an elite athlete that has been playing for Spain for many years.
- Marry a Spaniard.
- Are a Sephardic Jew.
- Are from Guatemala and reside in Spain legally.
1. Citizenship by Origin
In Spain, as in many other countries, a person can acquire citizenship through bloodline. Not through the simple fact of being born in Spain. That is to say that citizenship depends on the nationality of the parents. Regardless of birth country. If your parents are Spanish, or at least one was born in Spain. Or you were adopted by a Spaniard when you were less than 18 years old. You are Spanish by origin.
2. Citizenship by Birthplace (Ius Soli)
This applies to children born in Spain to parents from Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guinea Bissau, Morocco (if the parent, stateless or not, requests the nationality for the child) Peru, Sahara (stateless), Switzerland, Sao Tomé & Prince. As well as children of Venezuelan and Colombian nationals. In these cases, the children born in Spain can apply for Spanish citizenship via ius soli. It is a fast and simple process. Children born in Spain to unknown parents are also considered Spanish citizens.
3. Citizenship by Choice
There are cases where a person has the right to choose Spanish citizenship or not. Foreigners older than 18 years old, adopted by a Spaniard qualify for Citizenship of choice. Those under custody of a Spaniard, or those born to Spanish parents, and born in Spain.
4. Citizenship via Naturalization
This way to obtain Spanish citizenship is mainly for exceptional circumstances. These extreme circumstances include, for example, victims of terrorism. Other examples are international athletes that are foreign nationals; yet play for a Spanish team. Or Sephardic Jews of Spanish origin, who can prove their origins with a certificate from the Federación de Comunidades Judías.
5. Citizenship via Residency
Citizenship via residency is the most common, and applies to those who reside legally in Spain for a continuous period of time. However, residency as a student is not valid. The minimum number of years of residency required to obtain Spanish citizenship is 10 years as a standard, 5 years for refugees, and only 2 years for citizens of Iberian-American countries, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, and Sephardic Jews.
There are also cases where applicants only need one year of legal residency to obtain Spanish citizenship. This applies to those born on Spanish territory without qualifying for Spanish nationality. As well as, those who work as guards, for Spanish institutions or individuals for two consecutive years. It also applies to those who, during their application, married a Spaniard for one year and are not legally separated. Or even those who are widowed by a Spaniard, and were not separated during the time of death. Lastly, it applies to those born outside of Spain, to Spanish parents, or grandparents.
6. The Special Case of Guatemala
If you are from Guatemala, and a legal resident in Spain, you can obtain Spanish citizenship. However, residency as a student is not valid. There is a special agreement between Spain and Guatemala that states that both Spaniards and Guatemalans by birth can acquire Spanish or Guatemalan citizenship, respectively. The only requirement for citizenship is legal residency in either country. You have to declare before the corresponding authorities your desire to obtain Spanish citizenship. And submit the corresponding documentation.
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We are here to help! We created a brand called MTS Relocation Spain, a specialized provider in relocation and legal topics offering high quality service at discount to the Citylife community.
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