If born in Spain, are the children of foreign parents Spanish? | My rights

According to him Statistics National Institute, Spain currently has a population of 47 million inhabitants, of which just over 10% are foreigners. Among them, the citizens of Morocco, Romania and the United Kingdom predominate. Thanks to the foreign population, the birth rate in our country falls more slowly, since around 20% of the 168,047 children born in Spain in the first half of 2020 (the latest official data offered by the INE), were children of foreign mother.

The nationality of those tens of thousands of children born each year in Spain to foreign parents can offer certain doubts that we will try to clarify below.

Spanish nationality can be acquired in several ways: by origin, by possession of the state, by option, by residence or by nature letter. According to article 17 of the Civil Code, children born to a Spanish father or mother are Spanish of origin. Therefore, the general rule is that children born in Spain to foreign parents acquire the nationality of their parents and, therefore, are not Spanish of origin.

However, Spanish legislation provides exceptions to this general rule. Thus, in certain situations and to protect the interests of the minor, he / she will acquire the Spanish nationality of origin. This occurs in the following cases:

  • When at least one of the parents was born in Spain. The child will be of Spanish origin even in the event that, at the time of his birth, his parent born in Spain does not have or does not retain Spanish nationality.
  • When both parents are stateless, that is, they lack nationality, or if the legislation of their country or countries of origin does not attribute a nationality to the child born in Spain.
  • When the identity of the parents is unknown. Minors whose first known place of stay is Spanish territory acquire the Spanish nationality of origin because they are presumed to have been born in Spain.
  • When, being under 18 years of age, it is adopted by a Spaniard. If the adoptee is over 18 years of age, he may opt for Spanish nationality within two years from the adoption.

Another way – very rare – of acquiring Spanish nationality is what is called “possession of state”. It is about the right to Spanish nationality of those people who, in good faith, have believed that they were Spanish and have used that nationality for at least ten years, based on a title registered in the Civil Registry, even if it is later discovered that the title was invalid. It would be the case, for example, of a registration made by the parents providing false documentation.

Spanish nationality can also be acquired “by option”When so chosen, before reaching 20 years of age, people who have been subject to the parental authority of a Spanish citizen. If the law of your country provides that the age of majority is acquired at an age other than 18 years of age, in order to qualify for Spanish nationality, our legislation gives them a period of two years, a period that will begin to count from the moment that person acquires adulthood.

People whose father or mother was Spanish and was born in Spain, and those who, after turning 18, discover that they were born in Spain or that their parents were Spanish can also opt for Spanish nationality. In this case, the deadline to apply for nationality is two years from the date of their filiation (who their parents are recognized) or their birth.

In addition, acquisition by option is a right of people adopted by Spaniards after eighteen years of age, a right that they can exercise during the two years following their adoption.

Nationality is acquired by residence when the foreign person lives legally in Spain for ten consecutive years immediately before applying, although the terms may be shorter in certain cases: five years for refugees, two years for nationals of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or people of Sephardic origin, and one year in cases such as those born in Spanish territory, married to Spaniards, widowers of Spaniards or children and grandchildren of Spaniards, among others.

And finally, nationality is acquired “By letter of nature” when the Government grants it at its discretion to certain persons in whom exceptional circumstances concur. This is the case, for example, of the English pianist James Rhodes, who received Spanish nationality in December 2020 for “his artistic merits and, above all, his commitment to abuse and violence against children,” as he explained at the time. the Vice President of the Government. It has also been awarded to footballers such as Bojan Krkic or Munir El Haddadi, and to personalities such as the Lebanese violinist Ara Malikian, the sister of Queen Sofía, Irene of Grecia, the parents of the Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, or Andrés Pastrana, former president. from Colombia.


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