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How children born in Spain to foreign parents can obtain Spanish nationality

If your child is born in Spain, does that mean they will be granted Spanish citizenship? Here's how children born to foreign parents can obtain Spanish nationality.

How children born in Spain to foreign parents can obtain Spanish nationality
Can children born in Spain to foreign parents obtain Spanish nationality. Photo: sarahbernier3140 / Pixabay

In Spain, acquiring nationality usually depends on the nationality of your parents, not where you were born. But is there a way for your child to get Spanish nationality if you want them to?

The main answer is yes, there are various ways that a baby born to foreign parents in Spain can gain Spanish nationality. Read on to find out the different ways. 

Countries that do not recognise nationality if a child is born abroad

There are certain countries that will not recognise the nationality of a child who is born abroad, therefore it cannot obtain the same nationality as its parents. In this case, if that child is born in Spain, they will be granted Spanish citizenship.  

It’s important to note that both parents of the child must have nationality from one of these countries that don’t recognise the nationality of babies born abroad.

If this is your case, your child will effectively become stateless. In order for he/she to gain Spanish citizenship, you will need to apply at the Civil Registry. Here are the documents you will require, but they may ask for additional ones too. 

  • Literal birth certificate of the newborn in Spain
  • Certificate of registration at the Town Hall (empadronamiento) of parents and child
  • Birth certificate of each of the parents from their national country, legalised and apostilled.
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Original and photocopy of passports of parents
  • Consular certificate (issued by the Consulate of the country of origin in Spain) stating that the law of that country will not grant nationality to the child.
  • A certificate or ID documents proving both parents are from countries that will not recognise citizenship for the child.
  • The document specifying that the child is not a citizen of the country where its parents are from. This is done by applying for a consular certificate.

READ ALSO – Readers reveal: What it’s really like to give birth in Spain

READ ALSO: Empadronamiento in Spain: What is it and how do I apply?

What if my country does recognise the citizenship of my child – can they still get Spanish nationality too?

If you are not from a country that will not recognise citizenship for your child, the good news is that they can still get Spanish nationality. The way to do this is to get a residence permit for your child, then if they legally live in Spain for one year, they are allowed to apply for Spanish citizenship. You can prove this by showing both your child’s birth certificate and residence permit. 

You need to be aware however that Spain only recognises dual citizenship from a handful of select countries (mainly from Central and South America, as well as the Philippines) so if you choose to do it this way, then your child may have to give up the nationality it automatically acquired at birth – that of its parents.

If you get your child British citizenship at birth for example, and later apply for Spanish citizenship, but don’t renounce the British one, it could have serious consequences. The Spanish Foreign Office states: “Spaniards who are not of origin (for example, those who have acquired Spanish nationality by residence) will lose Spanish nationality if: After acquiring the Spanish nationality they use during a term of three years the nationality to which they had renounced when acquiring the Spanish one”.

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

Those who are stateless

Lastly, if the parents have lost their nationalities or are stateless themselves, the law states that the baby cannot remain stateless and will be granted Spanish nationality if the parents request it and can prove that their child would otherwise not have a nationality.

In this case, a form can be submitted at the local Civil Registry of your place of residence to declare Spanish nationality on the basis that the parents are stateless.

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

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How to apply for Spanish citizenship for a baby born in Spain to foreign parents

Here’s everything foreign parents need to know about the process to apply for Spanish citizenship for their child born in Spain, from the requirements to the documents they'll need.

How to apply for Spanish citizenship for a baby born in Spain to foreign parents

One of the first questions foreign parents ask themselves when they’re about to have a baby in Spain is what nationality the child will have. 

Foreign parents from most countries who have legal Spanish residency and have a baby in Spain will not be able to get Spanish citizenship for their new-born right away.

By law, they will first inherit the citizenship of their parents unless they are from Argentina, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guinea Bissau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, San Tome and Principe, Uruguay or are stateless, in which case their child can get Spanish citizenship straight after birth. You can read about it in more detail here

Parents from all other countries may only apply for Spanish citizenship for their child after he or she has continuously lived in Spain for a period of one year, usually from the date that their birth in Spain was registered.

This is covered in Spain’s Organic Law 4/2000, of January 11th, on the Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners in Spain and their Social Integration (articles 16 to 19 and 31) and the Regulation of Organic Law 4/2000, approved by Royal Decree 557/2011, of April 20th (article 186).

Keep in mind that this right to Spanish nationality after one year of residency continues throughout their life if they were born in Spain, so if you would rather wait for your son or daughter to decide later on in life if they want to be Spanish, they hold on to that right.

If your intention is for your child born in Spain to acquire Spanish citizenship as soon as possible, here’s what you have to do.

The first step is to register your baby’s birth at the Civil Registry, which can be done at the hospital or a few days later at the Registry Office.

READ ALSO: How to register your new baby in Spain and apply for a passport

Next, you will register your baby’s birth with the embassy or government of your home country and apply for a passport for them.

Most countries will grant this automatically for babies born abroad, although you will need to find out the specific process for your country. 

READ ALSO: Does having a baby in Spain mean I can become Spanish?

Apply for residency first

Once you have all the paperwork pertaining to your baby’s nationality, you will need to apply for a residency card for them, in a similar process to the one that you applied for when you moved to Spain.

This is referred to as the Autorización de Residencia para menor nacido en España (Residency Authorisation for a minor who was born in Spain).

You will need to book a prior appointment at the police station to apply for a foreign identity card such as a TIE.

According to the Spanish government website, the prerequisites for this are that:

  • The baby must not be an EU citizen or family member of an EU citizen
  • They must have been born in Spain
  • At least one of the parents must also have residency

For this, you will need:

  • their birth certificate
  • documents showing that the birth is registered in your home country such as a passport
  • your residency documents
  • padrón certificate from your town hall
  • possibly extras such as your marriage certificate and your passports
  • Anything not in Spanish or a co-official language in Spain such as Catalan must be fully translated by a sworn translator.

You will also need to fill out the form EX–01 for temporary residence or EX-11 for long-term residency.  

If you are a European citizen, you can apply for a special permit for children born in Spain to Spanish residents, which can also be applied for at the police station by taking your child’s birth certificate, their nationality documents, and your green residency card. 

The processing time should take around one month, after which you must take your child along with you when you go to collect their residency card.  

How to apply for Spanish citizenship for your baby born in Spain after one year 

After one year of legal residence in Spain, you can start the application of applying for Spanish citizenship by getting a Judicial Order from the Judge of the Civil Registry so that you can make this decision for a minor.  

In order to complete the process you will need: 

  • Your child’s birth certificate
  • Their residency card
  • Their passport from your home country
  • Residency certificates of the parents
  • Passports and birth certificates of the parents
  • Padrón certificate from your town hall
  • Pay a fee of €102

Extras that may be requested are your marriage certificate if you have one. 

Your child will not have to take the language or citizenship exam that adult applicants are required to as they are under 18 years old.  

Keep in mind, foreigners who are in Spain on a student visa will not be able to apply for Spanish citizenship for their baby born here.

One of the parents must first modify their residence permit before they can move forward.

Be aware that not all countries recognise dual citizenship, including Spain (except with only a handful of countries), so your child may be forced to give up the nationality they acquired from you when they were born.

This is not always the case, but you may want to contact a lawyer about the legal ramifications of this if you decide to move forward with Spanish citizenship for your child. 

READ ALSO: Do you really have to give up your nationality to become Spanish?