Spain Citizenship by Descent

Updated on Wednesday 29th September 2021

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Many foreign citizens who decide to move to a foreign country on a long term consider applying for citizenship at some point. This is also the case of those who decide on Spanish immigration and who have various options if they are interested in citizenship.

A privileged category of applicants is that of persons who have Spanish ancestors and who can obtain citizenship by descent in Spain.

Moving to Spain and obtaining citizenship by descent implies checking the main eligibility requirements and filing various documents with the immigration authorities here. If you need legal guidance, our immigration lawyers in Spain who are experienced in these matters are at your service.

Who can obtain Spanish citizenship by descent?

When it comes to Spanish citizenship and the ways through which it can be obtained the safest option for many foreigners is naturalization which implies first obtaining permanent residency. However, these are also those who can secure a Spanish passport without having to live here for specific periods in order to become citizens of this country.

Here are the main categories of applicants who can be eligible for Spain citizenship by descent:
  • persons who have at least one parent who is a Spanish citizen;
  • persons with both parents born in Spain;
  • foreign citizens who were adopted by at least one Spanish national as a children;
  • foreign citizens who have Spanish grandparents.

It should also be noted that recently there have been certain changes in the regulations applied to foreign citizens who want to apply for Spanish citizenship by descent. Specifically, great-grandchildren of Spanish citizens can also become eligible for citizenship under the new law.

Our immigration lawyers in Spain can offer detailed information on the amended legislation and the requirements for citizenship by descent in Spain.

The new Spanish Citizenship Law

According to the amended law, the following categories of persons can apply for Spain citizenship by descent:
  1. grandchildren of Spanish women married to foreigners before 1978;
  2. children of persons who obtain Spanish citizenship by origin but who were not 18 at the time their parents became citizens;
  3. grandchildren of Spanish citizens who moved out the country and lost their Spanish citizenship;
  4. grandchildren of Spanish persons who could not express their intent of keeping their Spanish citizens as they did not have the legal age to do so.

If you fall under any of the categories presented above and want to apply for Spain citizenship by descent, you can get in touch with our local law firm who can verify your eligibility for a Spanish passport.

Spain citizenship by decent application procedure

The procedure for applying for citizenship by descent in Spain starts with the Spanish embassy or consulate in the country the foreign citizen lives. For this purpose, one needs to book an appointment a few weeks before (our immigration lawyers in Spain can offer guidance in this sense) and prepare various documents.

Among the papers that need to be filed are:
  • an application form (the document depends on who the ancestors are);
  • the applicant’s birth certificate;
  • the birth certificate of the Spanish ancestor.

In respect to the application form – Form I must be filed in the case the applicant has Spanish parents and Form II is required when applying through one’s grandparents.

When it comes to the birth certificate of the Spanish relative, it can be obtained from a local civil registry in Spain. Also, a baptism certificate can also be accepted in the case of grandparents who were born before 1870. Some of the procedures can be completed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A reply to the application should be obtained within 12 months of filing the paperwork.

If you are interested in Spain citizenship by descent, our immigration law firm can offer tailored assistance. We also invite you to watch our video below:


What is the easiest way of obtaining citizenship in Spain?

Spain is one of the European countries that offers several pathways to citizenship. Among these, naturalization, investment, and marriage are the most employed. However, for those with Spanish ancestors, citizenship by descent in Spain is a good option.

When it comes to the timeframe for the different procedures, here is what those interested should know:
  • citizenship by naturalization can be obtained in 2 to 10 years, depending on the nationality of the applicant;
  • citizenship by marriage can be obtained in 1 year provided that certain conditions are met;
  • citizenship by descent can be obtained in 1 year after filing the documents, therefore without any additional waiting period.

If you are interested in Spain citizenship by descent and need guidance, our lawyers are at your service. You can rely on our immigration lawyer in Spain for tailored support, so do not hesitate to contact us.