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Spanish Citizenship by Descent

As part of its reparative responsibility, Spain stands out for those who suffered exile by the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship, and their descendants, to apply for citizenship. Depending on your family history, you may be eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship if one of the cases of the “Grandchildren’s Law” (Ley de Nietos) is applicable to you. Make the most out of your ancestry by acquiring a Spanish passport and experience all the business and lifestyle opportunities afforded by one of the top citizenships in the world.

Spanish Citizenship by Descent

Spanish Citizenship through the “Grandchildren’s Law”

Spanish citizenship offers a gateway to European residency and a plethora of opportunities. It offers its nationals the possibility of visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to approximately 190 destinations worldwide, as well as the legal right to live and work in Spain and anywhere else in the EU. Spain is particularly attractive due to its vibrant culture, excellent healthcare system, high quality of life, and prominent UNESCO World Heritage sites. Spain is also one of the sunniest countries in Europe and, compared to many other Western European countries, the cost of living is relatively affordable.

On 21 October 2022, the so-called "Grandchildren's Law" (Ley de Nietos) came into force, and with it, the instruction on Democratic Memory. According to the law’s preamble, its objective is to “close a debt owed by Spanish democracy to its past and foster a common discourse based on the defense of peace, pluralism and the condemnation of all forms of political totalitarianism that put at risk the effective enjoyment of the rights and freedoms inherent to human dignity.” This law is a legislative measure that aims to repair the damage caused by the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship.

When you acquire citizenship under the “Grandchildren’s Law”, you enjoy full citizenship for life, which can be passed on to future generations by descent.

Requirements of Spanish citizenship through the “Grandchildren’s Law”

Conditions for descendants

Case 1:

Those born outside Spain of parents or grandparents who were originally Spanish

Documents required:

  • Annex VI
  • Literal birth certificate of the Spanish father, mother, grandfather or grandmother of the applicant
  • If the request is formulated as grandson or granddaughter of an originally Spanish grandfather or grandmother, the literal birth certificate of the father or mother of the applicant (the corresponding descendent of the Spanish grandfather or grandmother)

Case 2:

Those born outside Spain of parents or grandparents, who were originally Spanish, and who, as a consequence of having suffered exile for political, ideological, religious or sexual orientation and identity reasons, have lost or renounced their Spanish nationality

Documents required:

Spaniards who left between 1 January 1956 and 28 December 1978, must present one of the following:

  1. Documentation that accredits having been a beneficiary of the pensions granted by the Spanish Administration that proves directly and by itself the exile
  2. Documentation from the United Nations International Refugee Office and the Refugee Offices of the host States that assisted Spanish refugees and their families
  3. Certifications or reports issued by political parties, trade unions or any other entities or institutions, public or private, duly recognized by the Spanish authorities or the host State of the exiles, which are related to the exile, either because their members have suffered exile, or for having excelled in the defense and protection of Spanish exiles, or for currently working in the moral reparation and recovery of the personal and family memory of the victims of the Civil War and the Dictatorship

When submitting documents for b) or c), any of the following documents must be submitted:

  1. Passport or travel document with entry stamp in the host country
  2. Certification of the registration of the Spanish Consulate
  3. Certifications from the Consular Civil Registry proving residence in the host country, such as marriage, birth and death registrations
  4. Certification from the local Civil Registry of the host country of having acquired the nationality of that country
  5. Documentation from the host country showing the year of arrival or arrival by any means of transport

Spaniards who left Spain between 18 July 1936 and 31 December 1955 are presumed to have been exiled, and therefore, must only prove their departure from Spanish territory by presenting one of the documents mentioned in the previous paragraph.

In cases where there is no birth registration of the parents or grandparents, the applicant may provide the baptismal certificate from the parish or diocesan archives, together with the negative birth registration certificate issued by the corresponding registry.

It will also be necessary to submit Annex I

Case 3:

Those born outside Spain of a Spanish woman who lost their nationality because they married a foreigner before the enactment of the 1978 Constitution

Documents required:

  • Annex II
  • Birth certificate of the Spanish mother
  • Marriage certificate issued before 29 December 1978 by the Civil Registry where the marriage is registered

For marriages formalized between 5 August 1954 and 28 December 1978, two additional documents must be included:

  • Document accrediting the acquisition by the mother of the husband's nationality
  • Document accrediting the foreign legislation on the acquisition of nationality by marriage in force on the date on which the marriage took place

These two documents will not be necessary in the case of marriages formalized before 5 August 1954, since the provisions of Article 22 of the Civil Code, in its original wording: "the married woman follows the condition and nationality of her husband", will apply to them.

Case 4:

Those of legal age, born of a Spanish father or mother whose nationality of origin was recognized by virtue of the right of option in accordance with the Seventh Additional Provision of Law 52/2007 of 26 December or with the Eighth Additional Provision of Law 20/2022, the “Grandchildren’s Law”.

Documents required:

  • Annex III
  • Literal Spanish birth certificate of the father or mother who have been granted the Spanish nationality of origin by virtue of the right of option when the application is filed in a Civil Registry other than the one in which the birth of the father or mother is registered

Case 5:

Those born of a father or mother originally Spanish, born in Spain, who opted for Spanish nationality not of origin (by virtue of Article 20.1.b of the Civil Code), as well as minor children of those who acquired Spanish nationality by application of the Law of Historical Memory, who opted, in turn, for Spanish nationality not of origin (by virtue of Article 20.1.a of the Civil Code) because they were under the parental authority of a Spaniard.

Documents required:

  • Annex IV
  • Corresponding accrediting documentation, depending on the case in question, in accordance with the provisions of Annex IV

Procedures and time frame for Spanish citizenship through the “Grandchildren's Law”

All applications for Spanish citizenship by ancestry must be initiated in person, using a standardized form (original and copy), at the civil registry, consulate or embassy where the applicant is domiciled.

Depending on the case, different documentation must be provided. However, regardless of the case, the applicant must provide a document that accredits their identity (passport) and the literal certification of their birth, issued by the local Civil Registry where they are registered.

It is possible that each consulate or civil registry may request different documentation, so it is recommended to check the list of documents at the specific place where the application will be made.

All foreign public documents to be attached to the application must be legalized, apostilled and translated by a Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs accredited translator.

Applicants are advised to read all the requirements carefully before submitting their application. Thereafter, they will need to complete a client intake form to check for eligibility.

Since the law has recently been amended, contact us even if your application has been rejected in the past.

Henley & Partners can seamlessly manage the entire citizenship by descent application process for you, from the legal review and verification of all documentation, obtaining or searching for the ancestor’s birth or baptismal certificate in Spain, booking the necessary appointments with the Spanish civil registry and police, to receiving your Spanish passport and DNI in hand.

The process for receiving the approval to the Spanish citizenship through descent takes between 1 to 2 years.

Note: To qualify for Spanish citizenship, you must give up your original citizenship, unless you are a citizen of an Ibero-American country (Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Philippines, Cuba, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Panama, Paraguay, Brazil, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Puerto Rico), as established by the Resolution of 27 June 2007 from the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries. Additionally, citizens of Andorra, France, Portugal, and Equatorial Guinea are exempt from this requirement.

Contact us today

For more information on how we can help you secure your future by connecting with your family’s legacy, please complete the Spanish citizenship by descent enquiry form below.

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