Update 27.6.2016: We are preparing a special article to tackle all questions related to Brexit. Tune back in at the end of the week!
Update 29.6.2016: Worried about how Brexit will affect YOU? How Brexit Might Affect British Expats in Spain – we’ll be answering all Brexit-related questions here!
Thinking of applying for your Spanish citizenship? If you’ve been here long enough on your work residency, there are many reasons to consider becoming Spanish. Citizenship allows you to participate in Spain’s national elections and gives you easy access to the rest of the European Union. So here is some key info on how to get your Spanish citizenship (EU passport).
How long does it take to acquire Spanish citizenship? Brexit
You need to be 18 years old (mayor de edad) to qualify for citizenship, unless your legal guardians are able to assist you, in which case you can start the procedure at age 14. Then, things will be different depending on your situation:
- If you are reading this article written in English, you most likely have a passport from a country that does not have Spanish/Portuguese as its official language. In that case, your wait will be 10 years. (Except for the Philippines and Andorra, even though these countries have official languages that are not Spanish/Portuguese: see below.)
- If you are a refugee in Spain, then your wait will be 5 years.
- However, you might be from or have the passport from a country whose official language includes Spanish and/or Portuguese (all Ibero-American countries including Brazil [note: countries such as Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and others from the region whose official language is not Spanish/Portuguese are not included in the list], or other former Spanish colonies or territories with historical ties with Spain such as the Philippines (where Spanish is no longer the official language), Puerto Rico (whose residents are technically US citizens with US passports), Andorra (whose official language is Catalan), Portugal, Equatorial Guinea or if you are of Sephardic Jewish descent (of any nationality—be prepared, though, to prove it with your genealogical tree, Iberian surname, Judaeo-Spanish [Ladino] language competency, your parents’ or your own ketubah, etc.—the more the better!). In that case, your wait will be 2 years.
- If you’ve been married to a Spanish citizen for more than a year, your wait will be 1 year.
- If you were born in Spain to foreign citizen(s), abroad to Spanish citizen(s), or adopted by Spanish citizens, your wait will be 1 year upon reaching adulthood.
- Speak Spanish! Yes, it might sound strange and all… but if you want to be Spanish, speak Spanish. Also, integrate yourself into the Spanish society by knowing who the current President or the King is, and other aspects of life in Spain. This may be especially important if you’re eligible for the citizenship after a year or 2 of residency but you’re not from a Spanish-speaking country or background. Also, if you live in an autonomous community with another official language (Catalan, Basque or Galician), be prepared to know some basics as you might be quizzed on these languages as well.
- Please remember, residencia legal y continuada (legal and continued residency) will be required for you to be eligible, which means you cannot be out of the country for too long (more than 6 months per year). You must also note that estancia por estudios, investigación o formación (prolonged stay as a student, researcher or an intern; legally, it’s not ‘residency’ in Spain, it’s just a long-stay visa) is not considered a proper residencia and your years here as a student or an intern will not be taken into consideration when applying.
- Also important is that you need all documents in languages other than Spanish (or one of the official languages of the autonomous community) be translated and legalized. You’ll most likely need an Apostille of the Hague (or, if your country does not subscribe to said convention, such as Canada, you need to legalize it through the Spanish consulate in your country) on all your foreign documents, and have a traducción jurada (certified translation) produced in Spain.
Can I have dual/multiple citizenship?
Yes and no.
Yes. The persons eligible would include the passport holders of the following countries/ regions/ circumstances with special agreements with the Spanish government: Latin American countries including Brazil, Sephardic descendants and others from the former Spanish colonies including the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Puerto Rico.
No. If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you must renounce your former citizenship to the Spanish authorities (usually not to the authorities of your home country so you won’t really lose your original citizenship—there’s certainly a legal leeway; however, we do not endorse cheating the authorities under any circumstances and we’re not responsible for your actions—, but it’ll really depend on how strict your home country is) and use your newly acquired Spanish nationality actively (entering and leaving the EU with the Spanish passport, voting in elections whether you’re in Spain or abroad, and registering yourself at the Spanish consulate when abroad).
What are the benefits?
- You can live and work in any part of the EU and the EEA (that would cover most of Western Europe including the UK, Norway, Switzerland and other microstates such as Andorra and Liechtenstein) without any restrictions.
- You can be outside the country for an indefinite period of time without worrying about not being able to return later.
- You can vote and participate in Spanish and other European elections.
What are the disadvantages?
- You may lose your original nationality if your country has no special agreement with Spain. That is fine if you have no intention of returning to your home country to live or work, or if your home country has an easy procedure for you to reclaim your nationality later should you regret your decision.
- You are not exempt from special duties imposed upon the citizens, such as joining the mesa electoral (electoral council) when chosen (randomly) to be one of the members, or joining the mandatory military service (which was suspended in 2001, but if it ever comes back for some reason, as a citizen you will be expected to participate).
These are just a few pointers that may be subject to change, so make sure to check the Ministerio de Justicia website regularly, or consult a lawyer. If you’re lost or cannot find English speaking lawyers, our friends at SpainGuru can give you legal advice, and if you need traducción jurada (certified translation), our friends at Rodmell House can also help you!
More useful posts on living and moving to Spain:
- How to Become a Freelancer in Spain: Going Autónomo for Dummies
- Moving to Spain – Best Spanish Blogs and Websites
- Your Go-to Guide to Moving to Madrid – renting a room, getting a travel card and more…
- Great online bank account options for expats in Spain
- Top 5 Things to do and see in Seville
- 5 Best Kept Secrets in Barcelona: Don't Tell Anyone
- How to Make the Most Out of Your Summer in Barcelona
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