Spanish citizenship For Members

Why Spain's nationality deal with Romania is good for other foreigners

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Why Spain's nationality deal with Romania is good for other foreigners
Romania's Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca (L) and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez shake hands during a Romania-Spain summit in Castellón de la Plana on November 23rd. The two leaders have agreed to award their nationals in each other's countries dual nationality more easily. (Photo by Jose Jordan / AFP)

Spain has committed to allow Romanians to acquire dual citizenship a year after it reached the same deal with France, a sign that authorities are making it easier for more foreigners to hold onto their original nationality when becoming Spanish.


Obtaining Spanish citizenship is no easy task for foreigners living in Spain. 

It takes most extranjeros on average twice as long to be eligible for Spanish nationality through residency than in other EU countries (ten years as opposed to five), the application process is long and arduous (it can take two years) and for the majority of foreign nationals it means having to give up their own nationality for them to become only Spanish. 

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


And still, citizenship remains an interesting option for many foreign residents who have made a life for themselves in Spain and wish to obtain greater rights in the country they call home. 

READ ALSO: Seven reasons to get Spanish nationality (and four not to)

Back in 2021, France became the first country with which Spain has signed a dual nationality deal outside the Ibero-American space, understood as being applicable to nations that have Spanish or Portuguese as one of their official languages. 

So far this has included agreements with Portugal, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and twelve Latin American nations: Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Colombia.

The new Romanian deal and why it matters to the foreigners

On November 23rd, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met with Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca for bilateral discussions, during which they made a series of agreements ranging from employment law and nationality applications to creating partnerships on culture and language.

In terms of nationality, Spain and Romania have agreed to establish a working group "in order to analyse solutions for the dual-nationality of members of the Romanian community in Spain".


Pedro Sánchez paid homage to the contribution of Spain's Romanian community, adding that as many of them are now second and third generation the "possibility of acquiring Spanish nationality without having to renounce Romanian nationality" is of "great relevance" to many people.

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

However, he did temper expectations somewhat, declining to commit to deadlines and emphasising that the decision is already in itself "an extraordinary political message" owing to the fact that Spain's nationality rules are so strict and that Spain only has dual nationality agreements with France besides the several Ibero-American countries (including Portugal).

Though Sánchez was somewhat vague, stating "if it occurs and when it occurs... it will be the third country in Europe with which we have this type of alliances and recognition," he added that the final agreement will be "something positive for both countries."


A step in the right direction?

Although the Spanish rules on dual nationality are notoriously tough, and the process time consuming, the matter of dual nationality is also of interest to foreign parents whose child or children are born in Spain.

Spanish citizenship for the infant can be achieved after a year, but in many cases dual nationality won’t technically be possible, meaning that parents and children can end up with different nationalities. 

READ ALSO: How to apply for Spanish citizenship for a baby born in Spain

Yet despite the vague deadlines, the trend of Spain's citizenship rules 'opening up' to other European countries is encouraging to other foreigners in Spain and could indicate a trend.

Margaret Hauschild Rey, an immigration lawyer whose English-speaking law firm Bennet & Rey in Madrid, told The Local in 2021 that she hoped the French dual-national agreement "will serve as a basis for effectively opening up the possibility of signing similar agreements with other countries of the European Union and the United Kingdom."

With another deal made little over a year later, it seems she could be right, and the law that specifically deals with dual nationality, Article 11.3 of the Spanish Constitution, actually establishes that “the State may carry out dual nationality treaties with Ibero-American countries OR with those that have had or have a particular relationship with Spain”, which suggests that for some nationalities there’s room to be hopeful. 

UK nationals represent the largest European (non-Spanish) population group residing in Spain after Romanians, estimated at more than 407,000 in 2022, but the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union may well be a stumbling block in future negotiations on this front. 


It is worth also noting that although the bilateral agreements with France and Romania are undoubtedly a positive step, French and Romanians still have to reside in Spain for ten years before being able to apply for citizenship through residency, contrary to what it is for nationals of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or people of Sephardic origin, for whom it’s only two years.


Comments (1)

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conrad_60e6b672dadd8 2022/11/28 12:09
Spain has dual citizenship with South American countries, so it should be possible for other non-EU countries such as the UK. The UK allows dual citizenship with any country so it's 100% Spain's decision to make this happen. Let's hope they get on with it.

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