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How can a citizen acquire Spanish nationality?

How can I acquire Spanish nationality?

Each state sets criteria for obtaining it, although there is the possibility of changing nationality or of having more than one nationality at a time

Nationality is the link that exists between a citizen and the territory in which they were born or reside. 

Who has the right to Spanish nationality?

A citizen can acquire Spanish nationality in various ways, each with its own particular requirements:

Acquisition of nationality for Spaniards by birth:

Those considered to be Spaniards by birth are:

  • Those born to a Spanish father or mother.
  • Those born in Spain who are children of foreign parents in the event that at least one of the parents was born in Spain.
  • Those born in Spain to foreign parents in the case that both lack nationality or if neither of them can legally attribute a nationality to the child.
  • Children of unknown parents born or found in Spain and whose previous nationality cannot be verified.
  • Those under 18 adopted by a Spaniard or those over 18 who request it in the two years following the adoption.

Acquisition of nationality by the possession of status:

A person who has possessed and used said nationality for ten years continuously in good faith (without being aware that they are not a Spanish national) will be entitled to Spanish citizenship based on a title registered in the Civil Register.

Acquisition of nationality by option:

This mode of acquisition is a benefit that the legislation offers to foreigners under certain conditions so that they have the opportunity to acquire Spanish nationality. Those that have the right to acquire Spanish nationality in this way are:

  • Those persons who are or have been subject to the parental legal authority of a Spaniard.
  • Those whose father or mother would have been Spanish and would have been born in Spain.
  • Those persons who determine their parentage (meaning they find out who their parents are) or birth in Spain after they are 18 years of age.

Acquisition of nationality by residence:

This route requires the person to be a resident in Spain for ten years continuously and legally (with a work visa, for example). The period is reduced in some special cases:

  • Five years for refugees.
  • Two years for natives of former Spanish colonies and Portugal, and for Sephardic Jews.
  • One year for those born in Spain who did not have the opportunity to acquire nationality by option and for those born outside Spain who is children or grandchildren of people born in Spain.
  • One year for people married to Spaniards and for widows and widowers of Spaniards.

Acquisition of nationality by naturalization:

This route is not subject to the general rules of administrative procedure; nationality will be granted by the Government by Royal Decree once exceptional circumstances have been assessed.

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