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

You may have spent a lot of time and effort gaining residency in Spain or even Spanish citizenship, but there are several scenarios in which you could lose your rights to these. Find out what they are and if you can get your status back again.

What are the reasons for losing Spanish residency or nationality and can I get it back?
Can you lose Spanish residency or citizenship? Photo: Spain's Foreign Ministry

What are the reasons I could lose my Spanish residency?

Temporary EU Residents and their non-EU families

  • You could lose your residency if you leave Spain for more than six months in a year (12 months) in certain circumstances. 

There are however a few exceptional circumstances including leaving for longer than six months for compulsory military service or one 12 consecutive month period for pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or a posting to another country.

Permanent EU residents

You can only lose your right to permanent residence if you live outside of Spain for more than two consecutive years.

Temporary non-EU residents

The following reasons form part of Spain’s Migration Code (Reglamento de Extranjería) RD 557/2011, articles 162-166 and are outlined in Spain’s official BOE bulletin.

If you have temporary residence in Spain (five years) and are from a non-EU country you can lose your residency for the following reasons:

  • If you don’t renew your residency or wait to do so after it expires. You must renew your card in the 60 days before it expires. Remember you need to pay the associated fees for this too. 
  • If you change or lose your nationality. 
  • When you leave Spain for more than six months in a period of one year.
  • In the case of sporadic absences from Spain, the sum of these periods outside the country during the last five years must not exceed 10 months if you intend to apply for permanent residency. If the reason for the absence from Spain was work related, the allowed sum is 12 months over a five-year period if intending to apply for permanent residency.
  • When the circumstances under which you applied for the authorisation are no longer applicable.
  • When it has been proven that your application for residency was fraudulent.
  • If you no longer have a valid ID document and are not in the process of renewing it.

Other reasons could include:

  • If you commit a crime. According to Malaga law firm Sánchez Bermejo, anything from a positive breathalyser test to petty theft could put you in danger of losing your residency card. 
  • If you owe money to Spain’s Hacienda tax officer or the country’s social security system. states that when you renew your residency card you must prove you have no debts of this nature, otherwise you can’t renew it.
  • If the Spanish authorities have issued an order to expel you for any legal reason. 
  • If you applied to work in Spain, but are not working or are not trying to get a job. According to, you should aim to stay employed at least six months out of the year in order to retain your status. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Does Spain’s TIE residency card always have an expiry date?

expiry date tie card spain

Permanent non-EU residents

If you have permanent residency valid for ten years, you can lose your residency for the above reasons (with the exception of the time periods outside of Spain and the EU), as well as for the following reasons: 

  • If you have obtained authorisation for residency of Larga Duración EU (long-stay) in any of the other EU member states.
  • According to the British Embassy in Madrid, foreigners who have a permanent TIE card can spend up to five years away from Spain without the risk of losing their residency. 

Can I get my residency status back again if I lose it?

If you are a non-EU citizen and want to live in Spain again after losing your residency, you can do so, depending on your specific circumstances, but you will need to apply again.

The process will be slightly different depending on whether you had temporary or permanent residence. If you had a temporary residence, you will need to apply completely from scratch, according to Immigration Lawyers Spain.


What are the reasons I could lose my Spanish citizenship?

In terms of Spanish nationality – the Spanish government lists three main reasons you could lose your citizenship, which include being emancipated, residing abroad or voluntarily acquiring another nationality.

“The acquisition of the nationality of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal does not affect your Spanish nationality”, the Spanish government website states. 

losing spanish nationality

The reasons are explained below:

  • If they are emancipated, mostly live abroad and have voluntarily acquired another nationality. Also those with another nationality other than Spanish who for a period of three years exclusively use their other nationality. This does not apply to countries which Spain has dual nationality agreements with.
  • Foreigners who are not of Spanish origin but achieve nationality through naturalisation and for a period of three years use their previous nationality, which they were supposed to have given up.
  • If they forged their documentation to achieve Spanish nationality or committed another form of fraud relating to this.
  • If they join the armed forces or a political position in another country when it was expressly prohibited by the Spanish government.
  • According to the Spanish government “In the case of Spanish nationals who were born abroad and are Spanish by virtue of having been born to a Spanish father or mother also born abroad. They shall lose Spanish citizenship if, within a term of three years from emancipation or reaching legal age, they do not declare their wish to preserve their Spanish nationality”.

Can I get my Spanish citizenship back if I lose it?

The good news is that yes you can. If within a term of three years, you declare your wish to preserve your nationality, you can do so.

According to the Spanish government, in order to do so, you must do the following:

  • You must be legally resident in Spain. However, this requirement shall not apply to migrants or the children of migrants. Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice may waive this requirement where exceptional circumstances occur.
  • You must declare your desire to recover your Spanish nationality before the Registrar of the Civil Registry.
  • You must register the recovery of your nationality in the Civil Registry.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about getting Spanish citizenship

Member comments

  1. This one is the one I’m most worried about:
    In the case of sporadic absences from Spain, the sum of these periods outside the country during the last five years must not exceed 10 months if you intend to apply for permanent residency. If the reason for the absence from Spain was work related, the allowed sum is 12 months over a five-year period if intending to apply for permanent residency

    When I travel to France or any other Schengen country, I don’t go through passport control or anything else. Does these stays outside Spain count? How do they track that? What if I simply train over to France and don’t even take a flight? I’m slightly worried with the extensive traveling I’ve been doing for the last 4 years that in 1 year’s time I may be right up against the limit.

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Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it’s second hand

A combination of supply and demand problems caused by the pandemic and a lack of microchips is making cars much harder to come by in Spain. Here's why you should perhaps consider holding off on buying that vehicle you had in mind for now.

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it's second hand

Getting your hands on a car – new, second hand, or even rental – is becoming much harder and more expensive in Spain.

The car industry has been hit by a perfect storm of conditions that have made new cars harder to come by and, as a result, caused prices to rapidly increase. 

According to Spain’s main consumer organisation, Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), the microchip crisis affecting the entire globe, combined with an overall increase in the price of materials needed for car manufacturing and increased carbon emissions legislation has created a shortage of new cars in the country.

New cars

With less cars being manufactured, prices of new cars have gone up: a recent OCU report reports that new car prices have increased by 35 percent, higher even than Spain’s record breaking inflation levels in recent months. 

READ ALSO: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

It is a shortage of microchips and semiconductors – a global problem – that has caused car production in Spain to plummet. In the first eight months of 2021, for example, production fell by 25.3 percent compared to 2019.

This is not a uniquely Spanish problem, however. The entire world is experiencing a shortage of semiconductor microchips, something essential to car manufacturing as each car needs between 200 to 400 microchips.

France’s car exports, for example, have fallen by 23.3 percent, Germany’s by 27 percent, and the UK’s by 27.5 percent.

Simply put, with less cars being produced and specialist and raw materials now more expensive, the costs are being passed onto consumers the world over.

Equally, these industry-specific problems were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.The average wait for a car to be delivered in Spain is now around four months, double what it was before the pandemic, and depending on the make and model you buy, it can be as long as a year.

Car dealerships across Spain were forced to sell cars during the pandemic to stay afloat, and now, when consumers want to purchase new cars, they don’t have enough to sell and can’t buy enough to keep up with demand due to the materials shortages that have kneecapped production.

Second-hand cars

With the scarcity and increased prices in the new car market, the effect is also being felt in the second-hand car market too. With many in Spain emerging from the pandemic facing precarious financial situations, then compounded by spiralling inflation in recent months, one would assume many would go for a cheaper, second hand option.

Yet, even second-hand prices are out of control. In Spain, the price of used cars have risen by 17 percent on average so far in 2022.

Cars 15 years old or more are 36 percent more expensive than they were in the first half of last year. The average price of a 15 year old car is now €3,950 but in 2021 was just €2,900 – a whopping increase of 36 percent.

As production has decreased overall, purchases of used models up to three years old have declined by 38.3 percent. Purchases of cars over 15 years old, on the other hand, have surged by 10.4 percent.

If you’re looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, keep in mind that the reduced production and scarcity of new models is causing second-hand prices to shoot up.

Rental cars

These problems in car manufacturing have even passed down to car rentals and are affecting holidaymakers in Spain.

Visitors to Spain who want to hire a car will have a hard time trying to get hold of one this summer, unless they book well in advance and are willing to fork out a lot of money.

Over the past two years, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage in rental cars in Spain. However, during peak holiday times such as Easter, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

It’s now common in Spain to see car rental companies hanging up signs saying “no hay coches” or no cars, similar to the no vacancy signs seen in bed & breakfasts and hotels.

READ ALSO: Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain

While all of Spain is currently experiencing car rental shortages, the problem is particularly affecting areas of Spain with high numbers of tourists such as the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.

According to the employers’ associations of the Balearic Islands, Aevab and Baleval, there are 50,000 fewer rental cars across the islands than before the pandemic.

In the Canary Islands, there is a similar problem. Occupancy rates close to 90 percent have overwhelmed car rental companies. The Association of Canary Vehicle Rental Companies (Aecav) says that they too have a scarcity 50,000 vehicles, but to meet current demand, they estimate they would need at least 65,000.

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), fewer than 20 million foreign tourists visited Spain in 2020 and revenues in the sector plummeted by more than 75 percent. While numbers did rise in 2021, the country still only welcomed 31.1 million foreign visitors last year, well below pre-pandemic levels and far short of the government’s target.

Many Spanish car rental companies have admitted that the fleet they offer is down to half after selling off vehicles in the pandemic due to the lack of demand.

End in sight?

With the microchip shortage expected to last until at least 2023, possibly even until 2024, it seems that the best course of action if you’re looking to buy a new or used car in Spain is to wait, let the market resettle, and wait for prices to start going down again.

If you’re hoping to rent a car when holidaying in Spain, be sure to book well in advance.