The Spanish government under the Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has finally published the Democratic Memory Law in the Official State Gazette of Spain, on 20 October 2022.

The ground-breaking law is welcome news to many descendants of Spanish parents and grandparents. It absolves the victims of General Franco's fascist dictatorship and tackles head-on its regrettable legacy. However, it is imperative to bear in mind that the new law is only available for two years from the date of its entry into force until 21 October 2024, so the clock is ticking!

The Democratic Memory Law which condemns and aims to repair the damage caused by the coup d'état of 1936 and the subsequent Francoist regime, grants the right for the acquisition of Spanish nationality to certain descendants of Spanish citizens and former Spanish citizens who were affected. The law to become a Spanish citizen can be applied by individuals who are in any one of the following categories:

1. You were born outside of Spain, to a father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother that was originally Spanish and lost or renounced Spanish nationality for having suffered exile. The possible reasons for the exile are political, ideological, creed, or sexual orientation or identity.

Fortunately, the Instruction from the General Registrar's Office ( Dirección General de Seguridad Jurídica y Fe Pública) extends this right to those born outside of Spain whose parents or grandparents were originally Spanish citizens, regardless of the exile!

2. You were born outside of Spain, to a mother that had lost her Spanish nationality as a consequence of marrying a foreigner before the entry into force of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

3. You are an adult and your father or mother acquired Spanish nationality based on the temporary rules of the Historical Memory Law of 2007 and the 2022's Democratic Memory Law, meaning those who could not opt for Spanish nationality based on their father or mother's newly acquired Spanish nationality since, as adults, they were no longer under their parental authority.

Andreu Marin Muñoz,an associate in the Barcelona office, commented "the Spanish nationality obtained through the provisions of this new law will be categorised as Original. This means that those who previously obtained Spanish nationality categorised as Derivative will be able to request a change of categorisation to Original if they fulfil one of the situations presented in this new law." Andreu further pointed out "This is important because a nationality categorised as Original, unlike the ones categorised as Derivative, cannot be lost involuntarily."

How does it work?

An application must be presented in person to the relevant Spanish Civil Registry governing the applicants place of residence. It must be accompanied by the relevant and certified documents required to prove your right to acquire Spanish nationality through the new law depending on which one of the three circumstances previously mentioned that match your situation. Once submitted, citizenship applications are estimated to take only twelve months to acquire.

What is required?

First category – Exile

You must prove that your father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother were exiled from Spain. However, if you can prove, your relative was exiled from Spain via a passport, registration records and other documentation or alternatively if he or she left Spain between 1936 and 1955, you will not have to present any specific proof of exile.

If this is not the case, you will have to prove the exile through an official document certifying this situation, such as the certification of the right to receive a compensation benefit for exile, documentation from the Refugees' Office of the UN, or reports from private and public entities recognized by the Spanish authorities.

Second Category – Mother's marriage to a foreigner

In these circumstances, you must present the documents to prove that your mother lost her nationality because of marriage. Furthermore, in the case of the marriage taking place between 1954 and 1978, it will be necessary to prove the acquisition of the husband's nationality as well as presenting the nationality law of the husband's country in force at the time.

Third category – parental acquisition of citizenship through temporary rules of the Historical Memory Law of 2007

In this situation, you must provide the original birth certificate of the father or mother who obtained Spanish nationality based on the Historic Memory Law of 2007.

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.