Spain eyes beefed-up citizenship regime

The Spanish government is looking at introducing a compulsory language and culture "exam" for would-be citizens of the country as part of a package of immigration reforms which would also make it easier for Spanish authorities to strip new citizens of their passports.

Spain eyes beefed-up citizenship regime
Spain is mulling a leaner, meaner citizenship regime as it struggles to process a flood of outstanding applications. Photo: Daniel Lobo

If the draft bill gets the go-ahead, those people wanting to become Spanish citizens will have to prove they have a "sufficient" level of Castilian and that they have integrated into Spanish society.

The draft act also would also pave the way for the Spanish government to strip people of their Spanish citizenship for reasons of national security or public order.

New citizens of Spain could also lose their citizenship if they voluntarily join "the army of another country or take up political office in a foreign state", reported news agency Europa Press on Thursday.

Under the present regime, this is only the case if the Spanish government has expressly prohibited these acts.

New citizens of Spain who fraudulently use the nationality they have renounced to become Spanish could also see their Spanish citizenship revoked.

Spain's civil code only allows people from Hispanic countries, Portugal, the Philippines, Andorra and Equatorial Guinea to keep their citizenship.

Citizens of all other countries have to give up their original passport when they are granted Spanish nationality.

Apart from the changes described above, the new draft bill of the Reforma Integral de los Registros (Comprehensive Reform of Registration) also outlines key changes to the citizenship application process.

If the law gets the go-ahead, candidates will have to front up to a notary to have their documents certified.

That notary would then be required to certify that the candidate had passed the citizenship exam.

Notaries would also have to confirm that the candidate had given the obligatory oath declaring obedience to the king and the constitution.

The draft law states that these changes to the application process are designed to streamline a process which has seen long delays.

In October 2012, El Pais newspaper said that 430,000 applications for Spanish citizenship remained outstanding, and that this number was growing by 10,000 a month.

Peak immigration group the Madrid Immigrants Platform (PIM) responded on Thursday by telling Europa Press that the draft law was "a new attempt to restrict the rights of foreigners".

PIM said proposed changes that could see people stripped of their citizenship if they posed a threat to national security or public disorder were a way of frightening people into not participating in politics or social movements.

"They want to create a second legal category of Spaniards — those with full civil rights and those who are limited in exercising those rights because they run the risk that the government will look badly on their action and withdraw their nationality at their own discretion," stated PIM.

PIM also responded negatively to proposed changes that would mean would-be citizens had to obtain certification from a notary to show that they had passed the official citizenship exam.

"This change is something that will 'benefit' notaries at the expense of foreigners," said the group.  

"We call on society at large and the relevant authorities to stop this new attempt to limit the rights of foreigners.

"Prime Minister Rajoy and (Justice Minister) Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón need to know that we will continue to denounce these abuses," the group said in a statement.

Many citizens of European Union countries living in Spain would not be directly affected by the proposed changes as these people can live in Spain on their own passports.

The lion's share of the Spanish residents awaiting news on their citizenship applications are from Morocco, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


The little-known process you have to do when you become a Spanish citizen

Foreigners who've continuously resided in Spain for ten years have the option of applying for Spanish citizenship. But what happens when your get you new Spanish DNI number? How do you change all your documents over to your new nationality?

The little-known process you have to do when you become a Spanish citizen

Here’s how to request the change of your Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) for your new Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI), if you have obtained Spanish nationality. 

The process of becoming a Spanish national is lengthy and you will have to pass two exams to get it – the DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a foreign language) test and the CCSE citizenship test, testing your knowledge of Spain’s Constitution, its society and its cultural heritage.

READ ALSO – Quiz: Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?

But what about when you’ve passed both tests, you’ve gained your Spanish nationality and you’re finally holding that Spanish national identity card, the DNI in your hand?

In order for your DNI to really take effect, you’ll have to change your NIE for your new DNI number. To do this, you will have to carry out a series of procedures to update all the official paperwork and verify your identity. 

READ ALSO – Step by step: how to apply for Spanish nationality

How to make the exchange 

To carry out this procedure, you must notify the Social Security office, so they can change your number and your nationality. This procedure can be carried out electronically using your Digital Certificate or [email protected] here

Via the above link to the Social Security office, you must fill out the Modelo TA.1 form to make the exchange. You will need to fill out all your personal details, as well as include copies of your old NIE and your new DNI.  

Certificate of proof

You will also need to apply for a Certificado de Concordancia at the foreign office of your nearest National Police station. When you are making a cita previa or prior appointment to do this, you should choose the option (Certificados de Residencia, de no Residencia y de Concordancia).

This certificate is used to prove that you are the same person who now has a Spanish DNI. You can use it at various official places such as the tax office, Town Hall, the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) office, banks and any other administrative offices.

You can now inform other authorities of your exchange, including the tax office or Agencia Tributaria as well as your local Town Hall or Ayuntamiento. You will also need to request a new padrón certificate, stating your new nationality.

Other official offices you should inform of the change include your bank, your notary if you bought a property using your NIE, and the DGT office, if you need to change your driving licence too.  

READ ALSO: What are the reasons for losing Spanish residency or nationality and can I get it back?