This is undoubtedly a subject that generates tons of doubts. Many foreigners are not sure what nationality their child will have if she is born in Spain and not in her country of origin. Will she directly adopt the Spanish nationality simply because she was born here? Is it necessary to go through any kind of legal procedure? Is there any condition that prevents it?

In this post you are about to find the answers to all these questions, and more!


Is a child born in Spain of foreign parents Spanish, yes or no?


As always, the answer depends. But it is important to understand that by the mere fact of being born in Spain a child does not directly acquire Spanish nationality.

That is to say, even though this is something that in certain cases (as we will now see) may end up happening, it will for reasons other than by simply being born in the country.

In summary, and to make this initial point 100% clear, the mere fact of being born in a particular country does not make you acquire the nationality of that country. There are a number of extra factors that must happen for that to be the case, and the general rule grants the newborn the nationality of her parents.

However, it is absolutely certain that the child born in Spain of a foreigner who is living in this country will have greater advantages when applying for and obtaining Spanish citizenship.

The path is much quicker for them, and in many cases completely straightforward and automatic.

To understand exactly how the situation works, let us analyze the following.

Whether these children can obtain Spanish nationality directly at birth in Spain depends on whether they fall into one of the following two categories:

  • In the first scenario we find the case of children who are born in Spain and can be directly Spanish, thanks to the nationality by simple presumption
  • On the other hand, there are the children of foreigners born in Spain who must wait one year to apply for their Spanish passport

Let’s now explore the differences in both cases.


Nationality by presumption: Being Spanish directly as a child of a foreigner


This first case refers to those children who will (almost) automatically become Spanish because they were born in Spain.

This is what is known as nationality by simple presumption.

The main requirement to obtain this type of citizenship is that the parents must belong to a country whose legislation and regulations do not directly attribute nationality to a child born abroad.

There are few countries where this is the case, more specifically:

Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador (if the children were born before 2008), Guinea-Bissau, Peru, Sahara, Switzerland, and Santo Tome and Principe.

If you as a foreigner are from one of these countries (and both parents must be) and your child is born in Spain, then as your country of origin will not assign your nationality to her as she was born outside the national territory, she would become Spanish by simple presumption (as Spain prevents the child from remaining without nationality).

But, in addition, there are two other cases in which the child would also adopt the nationality directly, even if the parents are not from any of these countries:

  • If the mother is from Morocco and is single, and the father (to whom she is not married at the time) is from one of the countries mentioned above
  • If the parents are from certain regions of Palestine, although here we also find a number of extra requirements

How would the process work in this scenario?

It is very important to note that in order for the child to adopt the Spanish nationality directly you cannot have registered the child at birth through the consulate in your country of origin.

That would grant her your same nationality, so she would no longer be able to obtain the Spanish one directly.

So, the first thing you should do is go to the Civil Registry (in Spain), where you will be allowed to apply for the Spanish nationality for the baby as long as you provide:

  • Empadronamiento certificate, proving that the newborn lives with her parents at the same address
  • Birth certificate of the baby
  • Birth certificate of the father and mother, translated and legalized (this document comes from the Civil Registry of the country of origin)
  • Complete passport of both parents, original and copy
  • Family record book (and copy)
  • Certificate from the consulate stating that the country of origin does not recognize the child’s nationality

To obtain the residence thanks to the Spanish nationality of the baby

It is very common that many parents who find themselves in the previous case finally obtain Spanish residency thanks to the nationality of their children.

The procedure of family arraigo (you can find out how it works and all its requirements here) allows you to apply for a one-year residence and work permit for exceptional circumstances thanks to being the parent of a Spanish child who is under 18 years old.

The only requirement to demonstrate is that that the child is currently living with her parents (applicants for residence).


Nationality after one year in Spain


On the other hand, we find the opposite case: parents who are not from any of the countries listed above, so the regulations of their country of origin make the child automatically adopt their nationality at birth, regardless of the country they were born.

In these cases the process to obtain nationality for the baby is a little longer, but certainly easier than in the general case.

The way to proceed here is to apply for citizenship by residency after one year living legally in Spain.

It would work as follows:

  1. First of all, it is important that the parents are legal residents in Spain, as this is what will allow their child to apply for residency later on
  2. Once the baby is born, her parents must register her in the Civil Registry so that she can get her passport (with the nationality of the parents)
  3. Once this procedure is completed, they must apply for her residency (residency as an under-aged child of legal residents)
  4. After one year of having obtained the residence, the child will be able to apply for Spanish nationality, with the advantage of not having to take any exams because she is under 18 years old

As you can see, the process is much easier than in the general case, reducing the necessary time of continuous residence in Spain from 10 years to only 1.

But that is not all.

Because one of the great advantages of this process is that this child will be able to carry out the process at any age.

Let us suppose that she is born in Spain, but then returns to her country of origin. By the mere fact of having been born in Spain, she will be able to return whenever she wants, obtain legal residence in the country, and after one year of residence apply for nationality.


Remember that if you need help to obtain Spanish citizenship or your residency in Spain, our immigration lawyers are at your complete disposal. Explain your situation to us and get step-by-step guidance.


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