Overview of Dual Citizenship in Spain
Spain doesn’t routinely allow nationals of another country to acquire Spanish citizenship if they intend to retain their original nationality.
This means that if you want to become a Spanish citizen, you will usually be obliged to give up the citizenship of your country of origin.
However, Spanish law makes provision for citizens of certain countries and Sephardic Jews who meet strict eligibility criteria to acquire dual citizenship.
The process of applying for dual citizenship can be a complicated and lengthy one, but Spanish citizenship confers important rights and benefits on the holder.
- Overview of Dual Citizenship in Spain
- Who Is Eligible for Dual Spanish Citizenship?
- What Are the Rules for Sephardic Jews?
- Do I Have to Be Resident in Spain to Acquire Dual Citizenship?
- What Are The Benefits of Dual Citizenship?
- How Do I Apply for Dual Citizenship in Spain?
- What Documents Do I Need to Apply for Dual Citizenship in Spain?
- Processing Times and Cost of Applying for Spanish Dual Citizenship
- Formalities of Applying for Dual Citizenship
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is Eligible for Dual Spanish Citizenship?
You are eligible to apply for dual citizenship in Spain if you are a citizen of one of the following countries or belong to a group listed below:
- Spanish nationals by origin can acquire citizenship of a second country, but they must make a declaration that they intend to retain their Spanish citizenship.
- For Spanish nationals who apply for citizenship of a Latin American country, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or any other country with which Spain has signed a bilateral citizenship agreement, this requirement is waived.
- Nationals of Ibero-American (also known as Latin-American) countries in which Spanish or Portuguese is an official language and have historical and cultural ties with Spain.
- The Philippines.
- Equatorial Guinea.
- Individuals who can show they are Sephardic Jews.
A law passed in 2015 allowed Sephardic Jews to acquire dual Spanish citizenship without renouncing the citizenship of their country of origin.
Individuals who wished to use this route to acquire dual citizenship had to be able to show that they were members of the Sephardic Jewish sect and their ancestors were part of the Jewish diaspora that began in Spain in 1492.
Sephardic Jews who wish to apply for Spanish citizenship must provide:
- Proof of Sephardic status. This involves appearing in person before a notary appointed by the Spanish authorities to confirm the individual’s status as a Sephardic Jew.
- Proof the applicant has passed both the Spanish language (for non-native Spanish speakers) and the cultural knowledge exam.
Current Status of Spain’s Sephardic Jew Citizenship Programme
Spain has so far accepted around 34,000 applications for dual citizenship from Sephardic Jews.
It has rejected more than 3,000 applications and approximately 17,000 applicants have so far received no response to their applications.
In September 2019, Spain’s Directorate-General established a deadline for rectifications to applications filed before the deadline of 1 October 2019 of one year. This was subsequently extended to 1 September 2021.
Provided that you initiated your application before the 1st of October 2019 deadline and supplied all the required documentation before the window shut in 2021, your application is still valid and you should soon receive an update.
As things stand, Spain currently has no plans to reopen the scheme for Sephardic Jews.
Do I Have to Be Resident in Spain to Acquire Dual Citizenship?
Nationals of Spanish-American countries, plus Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, and France can apply for dual citizenship after a minimum of two years of residency in Spain.
Until October 1 2019, individuals who could demonstrate they belonged to the Sephardic Jewish sect weren’t required to live in Spain and could apply for dual citizenship in their country of origin.
What Are The Benefits of Dual Citizenship?
- You can live and work anywhere in Spain and its territories.
- You and your family can enter Spain without the need for a visa.
- You can travel freely in over 190 countries without a visa, including the 27 member states of the European Union.
- You are eligible to vote and hold public office in Spain.
- It is possible to transmit your double nationality to your children and immediate family.
- You can retain citizenship of your country of origin, which means you can maintain a link with your native country.
- Should you need diplomatic assistance while travelling overseas, you are eligible to receive assistance from both your country of origin and Spain.
How Do I Apply for Dual Citizenship in Spain?
If you wish to apply for dual citizenship, you can submit the application online using the Spanish government’s SEDE electrónica.
You can also apply in person at a civil registry.
If Spanish is not your native language, you will be invited to take two tests as part of your application:
- The DELE (Spanish language exam): A minimum A2 level pass is required.
- The CCSE sociocultural exam.
If you are unable to sit the exams, you may still be eligible to apply for dual citizenship in Spain, but you will need to obtain a waiver from the Spanish authorities and file the waiver with your application in place of proof you have passed the exams.
There are two types of waiver: a total waiver and a partial waiver.
A partial allows you to take the test in an adapted form that takes into account any disability or incapacity you may be suffering from.
Applications by Existing Dual Nationals
You can acquire dual citizenship in Spain even if you are a national of a country with which Spain doesn’t have a dual citizenship agreement.
This applies to existing dual nationals who hold a passport from a country that meets Spain’s dual citizenship criteria.
For example, if you are a US national with citizenship of a former Spanish colony in the Americas, you can apply for Spanish citizenship once you have been resident in the country for two years by using the passport of the Latin-American country.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for Dual Citizenship in Spain?
- A valid passport
- A Foreigner Identity Number (NIE): this is a unique identifier that is assigned to foreign nationals in Spain who are engaged in activities in the country that require formal identification.
- A birth certificate.
- Proof of your legal residence in Spain if you are not a Sephardic Jew.
- A criminal background check.
- Health insurance.
- Marriage or divorce certificates.
- Proof that you have passed the A2 Spanish language test (DELE).
- Proof you have passed the cultural exam called the CCSE.
- Proof you have paid the application processing fee.
- Any waivers you have obtained if you are unable to complete the two citizenship tests.
If you are unclear about which documents you need to present with your application then you may wish to consult an immigration expert to avoid having your application rejected due to incorrect or missing paperwork.
Processing Times and Cost of Applying for Spanish Dual Citizenship
Spain charges a non-refundable fee to process a citizenship application form.If your application is rejected this means the fee will not be refunded to you. Therefore it is vital that you ensure your initial application is correct and complete.
The price of processing your application for citizenship is typically between €60-€100. The Spanish authorities may also levy a fee if they issue you certificates and other documentation that you require to complete your application.
The processing time for Spanish citizenship is typically within twelve months of the date of application.
The time depends on your circumstances and your documents being filed properly.
If your application has not been processed within 12 months, your application for dual citizenship may be refused as a result of administrative inaction (this is known in Spanish as ‘silencio administrativo’).
In this case, you are allowed to file an appeal to the Spanish authorities.
Formalities of Applying for Dual Citizenship
If your application for dual citizenship is accepted, you will receive notification from the Spanish authorities.
You then have approximately six months to complete the formalities that confirm your status as a dual national.
The formalities include:
- Swearing an oath of allegiance to the King of Spain and confirming that you intend to abide by the laws of the land.
- Entering your new status as a dual national Spanish citizen in the Spanish Civil Register.
Should you fail to complete the formalities within the prescribed time limits, you run the risk of losing your Spanish dual citizenship.
Dual Spanish citizenship affords the holder a host of valuable benefits but can be difficult to acquire even if you meet all the eligibility criteria and have filed your application in good time.
If you’re looking to acquire dual Spanish citizenship or simply want to learn more about the application process, IAS is here to help.
We are an experienced team of immigration lawyers with expertise in all aspects of Spanish immigration law. We have the skills and know-how to help and assist you at every stage of your application for dual citizenship in Spain.
Last modified on March 15th, 2023 at 3:19 pm
Need help with an immigration issue? Book a one-to-one advice session with one of our legal caseworkers.
We can complete your visa application on your behalf, taking the stress and hassle out of the process.
Fast Track Package
Need to submit an application quickly? We can help you complete and send it off in as little as 24 hours.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal with our legal support and guidance.
The Advice Package
With our Advice Package, you can book a one-to-one session with one of our legal team and receive bespoke advice tailored for your situation. We will review your case and give you expert advice on how best to proceed with your immigration matter. Reach out to a member of our team and book your session today.
The Application Package
Our Application Package is designed to help relieve the stress of immigration applications. One of our legal caseworkers will help you throughout the entire process, including establishing your eligibility for your chosen route, completing your application form to the highest standards and organising your documents. We will then submit it and monitor its status on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our premium Fast Track Package is ideal if you need to submit an application quickly, such as if you need to meet a tight deadline. Our lawyers will work closely with you to see that your application is completed to the highest standards and ensure you get your application in on time, helping to take the stress and pressure off you.
The Appeal Package
Visa appeals can be a stressful process, especially if you’re relying on a specific visa to be approved. Our legal team can help you navigate the whole process and maximise your chances of a successful appeal, working alongside you to reach a favourable result. We can also represent you in immigration-related hearings and tribunals.