Spanish Citizenship by Descent

Spanish Citizenship by Descent


Table of Contents

More than 70 million Latino-Americans can claim Spanish citizenship. Spanish nationality laws provide Ibero-Americans with a simplified naturalization procedure. This also extends to other nationals whose country has a historical link to Spain, including Filipinos and Sephardic Jews. Millions of Mexicans, Cubans, Brazilians, Puerto Ricans, and others living in the US can claim their Spanish citizenship by ancestry even if they can’t trace an actual Spanish ancestor in their bloodline. And unlike other European citizenship by ancestry programs, the document retrieval process is not exhaustive.

In the last few years, many Americans have sought second citizenship, especially European citizenship, often paying a million dollars or more in the process. Whether it’s for ease of banking, investing in crypto exchanges, facilitating travel, or for investment purposes, people worldwide view multiple citizenships as a valuable asset.  All Passport Indexes rate the Spanish passport as more valuable than its US counterpart. This is mainly due to the fact that EU passports enable their holders to live and work freely anywhere in the Union. You can choose your desired climate, tax rates, and political system out of 27 European countries. But for Latino-Americans and others, it’s mainly a valuable asset they can pass down to future generations.

How to know if you are eligible for Spanish citizenship by descent

Every Latino-American is eligible for Spanish citizenship, but not all paths to it are the same. There are direct and indirect paths.

Direct path

The direct path is only available to those born of Spanish parents.

Indirect path

This is where most people will fit it. There are a few indirect paths, and all of them require one or two years of residence in Spain.

  • Those with a Spanish grandparent born in Spain can apply for citizenship after one year of legal residence in the country.
  • Nationals from certain countries and persons of Sephardic origin can apply for citizenship after two years of residence in Spain. These countries include Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

To apply for simplified naturalization, those applying after 1 year of residency do not really need to show much physical presence in Spain after they obtain their resident permit. But those applying after 2 years of residency must have been present in Spain for at least six months. The only exception is for Sephardic Jews, who are not asked to meet any physical presence requirements before naturalization. For all indirect paths, you must apply for legal residency in Spain. This can be done by applying for a Golden Visa, a Wealth Visa, or some other form of resident permit in Spain.

What is the process to apply for Spanish citizenship by descent?

Direct path

The application process for the direct path is technically rather fast, but in practice, you can lose time if you don’t do each step correctly:

  1. Register your birth by submitting and completing the form at your nearest consulate.
  2. Get an appointment at the same consulate for citizenship; you must know if you’re applying for citizenship by option or recuperation.
  3. Gather all the relevant documents needed for you and your parents and complete the forms
  4. Go to your consulate appointment with all the documentation
  5. After a few weeks, you will be invited to collect your Spanish IDs.

Indirect path

Most Latino-Americans, Filipinos, and Sephardic Jews qualify for the indirect path to citizenship.

  1. Gain legal residency in Spain
  2. Gather all the documents proving your ancestry; this can be done with a simple copy of your passport for a Mexican to retracing over 500y of lineage for a Sephardic Jew.
  3. After 1 or 2 years of legal residence in Spain, apply for naturalization to the Spanish authorities.
  4. After 2 years, you will be asked to swear an oath of allegiance before collecting your citizenship certificate.

Spain does not allow dual citizenship and during the oath, and you will be asked to orally renounce any other citizenship. You do not need to renounce any Ibero-American nationality like Mexican, Cuban, or Filipino. Nevertheless, you are technically not allowed to retain your US citizenship. In practice, however, orally renouncing your US citizenship is not considered legally binding, so you cannot lose your US citizenship that way. You end up becoming a Spanish citizen and keeping your US citizenship.

What documents are required to apply for Spanish citizenship by ancestry?

Contrary to other EU citizenship by ancestry paths, the Spanish one generally doesn’t require to retrieve many documents from or about your forebears. That said, if you’re applying as a Sephardic Jew, you’ll need to trace your ancestry to the time of Muslim Spain and have strong documented proof that is deemed verifiable by the Spanish Authority. This can be a colossal undertaking, and nearly impossible without specialized help. But on the bright side, once you do it for yourself, all your extended family can use the genealogy work that has been already done.

Otherwise, the documents required are:

  • Copy of passport
  • Proof of legal residency
  • Your birth certificate
  • Other documents like a marriage certificate; the birth certificates of your parents and grandparents might also be required.

You will also likely need to translate and apostille some of those documents before the authorities will accept them.

How much does it cost to apply for Spanish citizenship by ancestry?

Applying for Spanish citizenship on its own is not very expensive. Global RCG normally charges $5,000 for simple cases. But it often requires you to obtain residency first. Our professional fees for obtaining a Spanish resident permit for the family start at $15,000. Our services include:

  • eligibility assessment
  • document retrieval
  • document translation and authentication
  • form case filing to the authorities
  • getting your foreign identity number and card
  • registering Empadronamiento

Do you think our fees are high? Many of our clients split them with other family members like parents, siblings, and cousins and get a family package! We also offer financing at 0% interest.

If you’re interested in learning more and finding out whether you’re eligible for Spanish citizenship, reach out to us. We’ll set up a free call with one of our specialists.