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

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
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 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, unless for work, in which case 12 months.
  • When the circumstances under which you applied for the authorisation are no longer applicable.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 are no longer have 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. Immigrantes.info 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 Paraimmigrantes.info, 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?

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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.
  • When you are absent from the EU for more than 12 consecutive months.

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.

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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 exclusive 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 emigrants or the children of emigrants. 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


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