In Spain nationality can be acquired in different ways.

  • Nationality by Option;
  • Nationality by Residence;
  • Nationality by Naturalization Card;
  • Nationality by State Possession;

1) Nationality by Option is a benefit that the Spanish legislation offers to foreigners who are in certain conditions, so that they acquire Spanish nationality.

They can request the acquisition of the Spanish nationality in this way:

  • Those people who are or have been subject to the parental authority of a Spanish citizen.
  • Those people whose father or mother was Spanish y were born in Spain.
  • Those whose determination of filiation (the determination of filiation means establishing who are the parents of a person) or birth in Spain occurs after eighteen years of age. In this case, the term to apply for nationality is two years from the date of filiation or birth.
  • Those persons whose adoption by Spaniards occurs after the age of eighteen. In this case, the right to opt exists until the expiration of two years from the date of adoption.

2) The nationality by residence, which is one of the most common way to acquire Spanish nationality, is obtained through the residency in the Spanish territory for a certain period of time.

The normal term is ten years, in which the person must reside in the Spanish territory legally and continuously in the period prior to the request.

In some special cases, shorter periods are required:

  • Five years: for people who have refugee status.
  • Two years: for those who have the nationality of Ibero-American countries: Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or people of Sephardic origin.
  • One year for:
    • those born in Spanish territory.
    • who has not duly exercised his right to acquire Spanish nationality by option.
    • who has been legally subject to the guardianship (under the supervision of a guardian), guardian or foster care of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, even if he will continue in this situation at the time of the request
    • after one year of marriage with a Spanish citizen and he is not legally or de facto separated.
    • The widower of a Spanish person, if at the time of the death of the spouse were not separated, de facto or judicially.
    • who is born outside the Spanish territory with parents , (born also outside Spain), grandparents , provided that all of them were originally been Spanish.

In all these cases it is always required that the applicant has good civic conduct, and a sufficient degree of integration into Spanish society.

3) Nationality by Naturalization Card is acquired in a special way because in this case the general rules of administrative procedure do not apply. This nationality is granted by the Spanish Government in a discretionary manner that has assessed the concurrence of exceptional circumstances.

In the event that you have acquired Spanish nationality by residence, by letter of naturalization or by option you must:

  • if older of 14 years and able to declare, shall swear or pledge loyalty to the King and obedience to the Constitution and the laws.
  • Declare that renounce to previous nationality, except if you are a person holding the nationality of an Ibero-American country: Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal.

4) Nationality by State Possession can be acquired in the case of persons who have had this nationality for ten years continuously, in good faith and based on a registered title in the civil registry. It is necessary that the subject has acted considering himself with the nationality, after enjoying his rights and fulfilling his duties to the authorities of the Spanish State.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.