Ley de Nietos: Spanish citizenship changes 2022

Article Breakdown

Who can apply for Spanish citizenship by descent and what documents do you need

The new regulation also called “Ley de Nietos” was published in the Official Spanish State Bulletin.

The new Spanish citizenship law expand the options for descendants of Spanish nationals who were exiled during the last Spanish Franco dictatorship to obtain Spanish citizenship, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Following the Senado of Spain’s approval of the project 15 days ago, the Ley de Memoria Democrática, also known as the “Ley de Nietos,” went into effect last Friday.

Other changes include allowing Spanish-speaking children and grandchildren of Spanish citizens who fled the country during the Franco regime to obtain Spanish citizenship within a two years timeframe.

The new regulation was published last week in the Boletin Oficial de Estado (BOE), according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union, and Cooperation of Spain, and it “enhances the options for the acquisition of Spanish citizenship for those who suffered exile.”


The new law extends the generations for Spanish citizenship by descent

Numerous Argentines, Mexicans, Colombians, Americans and other nationals who are the offspring of Iberians will benefit from the Ley de Nietos since Spanish law only currently allows children of citizens of that country to obtain Spanish citizenship and in specific cases it allows Spanish citizenship up until the second generation. See a complete overview of obtaining a Spanish passport through ancestry here.

Some of the effects of the Franco dictatorship are proposed to be mitigated by the Law of Democratic Memory. Additionally, it affirms the State’s commitment to searching for those who vanished during the Civil War and the Franco regime and opens the door to examining any human rights violations between 1978 and the end of 1983.

This way, some additonal benefits were enabled for Spanish-speaking Latin Americans who want to become citizens in order to facilitate potential immigration to Spain by becoming Spanish citizens.

Ley de Nietos

Rounded Spain Flag IconThe Historical Memory Law, sometimes known as the “Ley de Nietos,” aims to make it easier for the grandchildren and children of Spanish nationals who had to flee Spain for political, ideological, or religious reasons, to acquire Spanish citizenship.

The Spanish government officially condemned the 1936 military coup and the Franco era dictatorship for the first time.

The government also recognized those who suffered persecution or violence throughout the Spanish civil war and the Franco dictatorship in Spain and Spanish territory up until the promulgation of the constitution in 1978.

New options for Spanish citizenship through the Spanish maternal line

On the other hand, the new law also permits children of a Spanish mother who married a foreigner to obtain the Spanish nationality, and with that a Spanish passport.

The 1978 Constitution stated that heirs inherited the father’s citizenship, so before this adjustment, only children of a Spanish father could apply for Spanish citizenship.

Now all children and grandchildren of Spanish women can start the application procedure and become Spanish citizens.

Additionally, it was unanimously approved to set a deadline of two years for submitting the paperwork required to transit Spanish citizenship.

As a result, the law does not specify an age limit or require individuals to reside in Spain for a specific period of time in order to become citizens.

This is a big difference compared to the previous regulation, where candidates would have to reside in Spain for 2 years before applying to become a Spanish citizen.

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The process un the Ley de Nietos

Interested applicants must appear in person with a scheduled appointment at the Spanish embassy or Spanish consulate, and the following supporting documentation at the Consulate General.

Required Documentation

Spain Passport CoverIn order to get Spanish citizenship, you will need to bring the following documentation:

  • The form to become a Spanish national by option.
  • Birth certificate of the Spanish ancestors in case they are not listed in the Spanish Civil Registry.
  • Birth certificate of the applicant (apostilled and translated in case not in Spanish)
  • Marriage certificate of the Spanish ancestor or a birth certificate for the father or mother who is not a Spanish citizen.
  • Spanish passport or death certificate of the Spanish ancestor.
  • Local ID documents of the Spanish ancestor.
  • Local ID of the applicant
  • In case of adoption, the full adoption testimony as well as the adoptee’s birth certificate.

Dual citizenship in Spain

Spain in general does not allow dual citizenship, except in the following cases:

Citizens of IberoAmerican countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, and those of Sephardic origin.

Citizens of other countries will have to renounce their original citizenship and are not allowed to have dual citizenship.

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