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The Law of Democratic Memory

The Law of Democratic Memory, as it is know officially, seeks to help Spain make some amends for its recent history. Its goals are obvious, the restoration, preservation, and propagation of that memory, which has been so severely damaged by 40 years of dictatorship. Additionally, “to foster soloidarity and cohesion among the many generations around the constitutional ideas, values, and freedoms.” 

The law offered Spanish citizenship to the children of Spanish exiles who had fled from the Franco regime. The 2007 Historical Memory Law had excluded children of exilies who had changed or renounced their Spanish citizenship; the new law entitled any descendant of Spanish immigrants born before 1985 – the year Spain changed its nationality law – to citizenship. This now included the grandchildren of people exiled under the Franco dictatorship, and the descendant of women who had lost their citizenship on marrying non-Spaniards. It is estimated that 700,000 people could be eligible for citizenship under the new “granchildren law”.










You can apply under 3 categories for Spanish Citizenship by Descent:

  1. Spanish by birth: if one of your parents is a Spanish citizen born in Spain.
  2. Fast-track naturalization after 1 year: if you have a grandparent who was a Spanish citizen or a Spanish parent born outside of Spain.
  3. Fast-track to naturalization after 2 years: if you are a national of Ibero-American countries and of Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, or persons of Sephardic origin.

If you are in category 1, simply visit the nearest Spanish consulate and get your identification made.

Fast-Track Naturalization To Spanish Citizenship

Naturalization to Spanish citizenship normally requires 10 years of continuous residence and the renunciation of your other citizenships. With the Spanish Citizenship by Ancestry stream, you can apply for naturalization after only 1 or 2 years of residence in Spain. Recently, the Spanish authorities relaxed their physical presence requirements for those applying through the ancestry stream. You are only required to spend no more than 3 months continuously outside of Spain (meaning you can travel back and forth every 3 months and only spend a handful of days in Spain a year, if that’s your desire).

Naturalization after 1 year:

  • For persons born in Spanish territory.
  • The widower or widow of a Spanish national, if, at the time of the death of the spouse, they were not separated in fact or legally.
  • Those born outside Spain to a Spanish father or mother (also born outside Spain), grandfather or grandmother, provided that all were originally Spanish.

Naturalization after 2 years:

For nationals of the countries below or persons of Sephardic origin:

  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico (U.S. Commonwealth)
  • Spain
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Residence Options / Resident Permit in Spain

If you qualify for fast-track naturalization, you’ll need to obtain a resident permit to be allowed to legally reside in Spain. To qualify for naturalization, you’ll need to have 1 or 2 years of residence. Residence means you spend less than 3 continuous months outside of Spain.  

You have a few options to gain a resident permit in Spain, but the recommended one is the Spanish Investor Residency program, also known as the Spanish Golden Visa. This is the favored option for HNWI since it offers more flexibility and security. Be aware that once your citizenship application is submitted, it takes 1 year for the Spanish authorities to process your request, meaning it will take 2 to 3 years from the moment you gain residence in Spain to the moment you become a citizen. This is why the Golden Visa is the recommended route, as others require annual renewals or have requirements to fulfill each year. Also, it’s the only way for you to dodge the Spanish Wealth Tax on your worldwide assets.

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Application Processing Time: 1-4 Years

Stage 1 - month 1

Before being able to apply for fast-track naturalization, you’ll need to gain legal residence in Spain. Choose your favored path and start gathering the relevant documents you need to apply. Application for the Investor visa is pretty fast and can be completed in 1 or 2 months.

Stage 2 - month 2

After you have landed in Spain, register with the municipality in which you will reside. You’ll have to be physically present for half of the year in Spain for it to count towards naturalization.

Stage 3 - Year 2-4

Once you are eligible to apply for naturalization (1 or 2 years of residence), gather your documents and submit your application (preferably online for faster processing). After 1 year, you’ll be notified of the decision. If the decision is positive, you’ll be asked to appear to pledge allegiance. You’ll receive your citizenship certificate shortly after that process is completed.



We recommend checking out sephardim.com. If your surname pops up on a list there, it’s a good sign that you have the required ancestry.

The FCJE is a good starting place to find a proper authority – the Fedeacion de Comunidades Judias de España.

Spain has dual citizenship agreements in place with a number of Latin American countries and former colonies (see list above). If your country is on this list you will not need to give up your passport.


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