This article has been prompted by the many who have contacted me over the past 24 hours (today as I write this, it’s 25/6/16) in a bit of a panic about what will happen to those of us who live in Spain. So first of all DON’T PANIC! The exit of Britain from the EU hasn’t happened yet, & will take quite some time to organise.
Here’s the British ambassador to Spain https://www.facebook.com/Britishembassymadrid/videos/1422119954481803/?pnref=story
He mentions ‘a process which could last a couple of years’. This is where that comes from: The Lisbon Treaty Article 50
That said, many of us still want to ensure our position here in Spain, by either becoming permanent residents, or even by taking Spanish nationality.
Generally speaking, for British citizens, once you have been a legal, registered resident for 5 years, you are considered to be a permanent resident. It’s a right. You can, if you wish, obtain a CERTIFICADO DE RESIDENCIA PERMANENTE DE CIUDADANO DE LA UNIÓN EUROPEA, but it isn’t obligatory to do so; as I said, you are considered to be a permanent resident regardless of whether or not you have the card/ certificate.
In certain circumstances, you don’t have to wait 5 years:
a) An employed or self-employed worker who reaches Spanish retirement age having worked in Spain for at least the three previous years. If married to or the registered partner of a Spanish citizen the period of residence requirement is waived.
b) A self-employed worker retiring early who has worked for at least a year in Spain with at least three years of continuous residency. If married to or the registered partner of a Spanish citizen the period of residence requirement is waived.
c) An employed or self-employed worker who has stopped work due to permanent disability, who has been a legal resident of Spain for at least two years. Should the disability be the result of an accident or occupational hazard which gives entitlement to a State pension either entirely or partly funded by Spain, the residence period requirement is waived, as it is if the person is married to or the registered partner of a Spanish citizen.
d) An employed or self-employed person who has worked & lived in Spain for at least three years, but begins to work in another EU country while returning to Spain either daily or at least once a week.
Use form EX18. You will also need the original & copies of the following:
- Up to date passport. If it has expired, a copy & copy of the renewal application.
- Document proving payment of the fee. This is usually given to you at the time of your appointment, you then take it to the bank to pay & return to the desk of the person processing your application.
- Proof of the circumstances under which you qualify, except where residence has been for 5 years or more. In that case, the extranjería will have it on record.
NB. Should you leave Spain for 2 years at any time after you become a ‘permanent resident’, you would no longer be a ‘permanent resident’! Upon returning you would have to register anew,
The process for applying for Spanish Nationality is obviously more complex.
Unless you have Spanish heritage, & therefore possibly have the right to Spanish nationality that way, for most British citizens, Spanish nationality can be acquired after continuous legal residency of 10 years.
There are some exceptions though which mean nationality can be applied for after a year:
a) If you were born in Spain. If a child is born in Spain nationality can be applied for by the parents on the child’s behalf once s/he is a year old & still resident in Spain.
b) A child who is in the legal care of the state or a Spanish citizen.
c) If you are married to a Spanish citizen you can apply for Spanish nationality after a year of marriage.
d) The widow or widower of a Spanish citizen.
To apply as an adult, the following documentation is required:
- Completed application form
- Resident card / certificate
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate if married
- Proof of payment of the fee. The fee is 100€
- Certificado de antecedentes penales del Registro Central de penados. This is a check that you have no criminal record. You can apply online here https://sede.mjusticia.gob.es/cs/Satellite/Sede/es/tramites/certificado-antecedentes
- Criminal record check from country of birth.
- Padrón certificate
- Diplomas from the Instituto Cervantes. *
*You need two diplomas from the Instituto Cervantes. One is a kind of ‘Life in Spain’ test to prove integration. You can practice for this here. Spanish Nationality Test . The other is a test of your Spanish language ability. The minimum level required is DELE A2. Click for a Sample Paper A2 level . More information about registering to take the exam DELE
As always, any paperwork not originally issued in Spanish will need to be translated by a traductor jurado & apostilled.
For more information or if the application is for someone under the age of 18, follow this link for more specific information. It’s in Spanish of course, but then you need to speak Spanish in order to apply! If you are applying on behalf of a child & don’t think your Spanish is up to it, here it is in English
Applications can be made online Nacionalidad por residencia – internet or in person .