Freelance Spain
Taking out Spanish nationality

David Searl discusses the regulations for taking out Spanish nationality in this excerpt from his best-selling You and the Law in Spain.

If you move to Spain, take out a Spanish residence permit, pay taxes in Spain, raise your children in Spain and do business there, that does not make you or your children Spanish. Unless, of course, you choose to formally renounce your nationality in order to take another.

At which point the complications arise: some countries permit dual nationality, and do not mind if one of their citizens takes on another nationality in addition to the one he was born with. A British citizen, for example, can take another nationality without forsaking his British citizenship. The United States formerly did not permit dual nationality, but now if one of its citizens takes Spanish nationality this is no longer grounds for loss of his US citizenship.

An American woman who marries a Spaniard does not lose her American citizenship, nor does she automatically become Spanish. Her child born in Spain will be able to have Spanish nationality through his father and place of birth, and American nationality through his mother. 

Until he reaches the age of 18, that is. Then the child must make a choice. Spanish law does not recognize dual nationality for adults, so the child must either renounce his American nationality, or lose his Spanish nationality.

But if Spain does not recognize dual nationality, what about an American citizen who takes Spanish nationality, but is still regarded as American in the US? Spain does not regard him as even the slightest bit American: he is now Spanish, all Spanish and only Spanish. If the US choose to regard him as American, that is no business of Spain's.

The basic requirement for applying for Spanish nationality is a residence period in Spain of at least 10 years, although this period can be lower for some people, such as South Americans. To apply for Spanish citizenship, you need your birth certificate, your parents' birth certificates and marriage certificate, all translated into Spanish by official translators and authenticated by your own consulate. You need a certificate of good conduct from the Spanish police, and a recommendation from two Spanish citizens. You also need to prove that you have been a legal resident in Spain for at least 10 years.

Finally, you are required to formally renounce your former nationality before a Spanish judge, and to swear an oath of allegiance to the Spanish crown. 

Excerpted from You and the Law in Spain by David Searl. Copyright David Searl.

IMPORTANT NOTICE. This article is meant as a general guide for those seeking information on Spanish laws and regulations. It is not a substitute for professional legal advice and cannot be a basis for any claim against Freelance Spain or its editors. You are strongly advised to seek more detailed information from the Spanish Embassy in your country and to contract the professional services of a qualified Spanish lawyer.

For a comprehensive guide to Spanish laws for foreign residents, read David Searl's authoritative You and the Law in Spain, published by Santana Books, Spain. For details on obtaining a copy, see Santana Books.

See also: Why I Became a Spaniard

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