Tracing Your Origins: Spanish Grandchildren Law

Created: Sep 27, 2023 | Updated: Feb 29, 2024

The Spanish Grandchildren Law is a significant piece of legislation allowing descendants of Spanish emigrants to acquire Spanish nationality. This law has its roots in Spain's historical and political landscapes, opening doors for individuals worldwide to reconnect with their Spanish heritage.

The History of the Spanish Grandchildren Law

The Spanish Grandchildren Law is deeply intertwined with Spain's tumultuous history, representing a reconciliation with the past and a homage to those who suffered during the nation’s darker periods.

The Genesis of the Law

The origins of the Spanish Grandchildren Law are found in the Law of Historical Memory Bill of 2007. This bill was a groundbreaking initiative by the then socialist government, spearheaded by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, to acknowledge and redress the grievances and atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the subsequent Francoist dictatorship (1939-1975).

Objective and Impact of the Law

The primary objective of the law was to provide moral and legal redress to the victims of the Francoist regime and their descendants. It opened up avenues for individuals who had been forced into exile or whose ancestors had fled Spain due to political persecution or fear of repression, allowing them to reclaim their Spanish nationality and, by extension, their heritage.

This law had a profound impact, symbolizing a collective effort to heal the wounds of the past and establish a narrative of reconciliation and remembrance. It was seen as a step towards restoring the democratic memory of Spain and acknowledging the struggles and sacrifices of those who had suffered.

2022: Democratic Memory Law

In October 2022, the Democratic Memory Law was enacted as an enhancement and expansion of the 2007 Law of Historical Memory. This new law aimed to address the limitations and shortcomings of the previous law, offering a more comprehensive approach to recognizing and compensating the victims of the Civil War and the dictatorship. It provided more inclusive and extensive provisions, covering a broader spectrum of victims and recognizing more forms of suffering and injustice.

The Democratic Memory Law also emphasized the importance of education and remembrance, integrating the history of the Civil War and the dictatorship into the educational curriculum to ensure that future generations are informed about the past. It also established provisions for the removal of Francoist symbols and memorials from public spaces, promoting a landscape of collective memory that is more in line with democratic values.

Application and Repercussions

The enactment of the Spanish Grandchildren Law and its subsequent amendments have enabled thousands of individuals worldwide to reconnect with their Spanish roots. It has facilitated a process of cultural and emotional rediscovery for many descendants of Spanish emigrants, allowing them to explore their ancestral heritage and strengthen their ties with Spain.

However, the law has also sparked debates and discussions about the nature of historical memory and the role of the state in addressing past injustices. It has raised questions about the extent to which the government should go in redressing historical grievances and whether such measures can truly reconcile the divisions and traumas of the past.


How to get Spanish Nationality Through the Spanish Grandchildren Law

Acquiring Spanish nationality through the Spanish Grandchildren Law is a multifaceted process, designed for descendants of those who suffered exile or persecution during the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship. Before you begin the process of getting your Spanish Nationality, you should know if you are eligible to apply under the Grandchildren law or not. These are the categories of people eligible to apply for Spanish nationality under the Spanish Grandchildren law:

  • CASE A:  People born outside of Spain of a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who was originally Spanish.
  • CASE B: Children or grandchildren of Spaniards who lost or renounced their nationality due to exile motivated by political, ideological, identity, or sexual orientation issues, during the period from 1936 to 1978.
  • CASE C: Children of Spanish women who have lost their nationality due to marriage to a foreign citizen.
  • CASE D: Children (of legal age) of Spanish citizens whose original nationality is not recognized according to legal provisions.
  • CASE E: Adult children of Spaniards whose nationality of origin has been recognized by the right of option under the Historical Memory Law (Seventh Additional Provision of Law 52/2007 of December 26).
  • CASE F: Volunteers (and their descendants) who were members of the International Brigades (brigadistas), who participated in the War from 1936 to 1939. In this case, they can acquire Spanish nationality through a naturalization certificate.


Spanish Citizenship


If you want to take advantage of this law, you should know that the law has a validity period of two years, from the time it was enacted. It will expire as of 1 October 2024. So If you find yourself in any one of the eligibility categories above, here are the steps to apply for your Spanish nationality.

  1. Submit your declaration of interest by filling out the form in Annexes 1, 2, 3, and 4. Enlist the help of a Professional translator, if you need help translating the form.
  2. Gather all the required documents, including your birth certificate, the birth certificate of your Spanish parent or grandparent, proof of the Spanish nationality of your parent or grandparent, and proof of your relationship through a certified family tree. Every document must be authentic and up-to-date, ensuring a smooth application process.
  3. Legalization of foreign public documents is crucial. This step may involve acquiring an Apostille or going through consular legalization, depending on the country of origin of the document. Once legalized, all documents must be translated into Spanish by a Sworn translator in Spain. Using a certified translation service is essential to avoid any inaccuracies and to ensure that the translations are accepted by the Spanish authorities.
  4. After preparing all the documents, apply. Those residing in Spain can apply at their local Civil Registry, while those living abroad should submit their applications at the nearest Spanish consulate. It’s crucial to keep copies of all submitted documents and to maintain regular contact with the consulate or Civil Registry to stay informed about the progress of the application.
  5. Once the application is submitted, the waiting game begins. The time frame for approval can vary, but applicants usually receive a response within a few months.
  6. After receiving approval and acquiring Spanish nationality, the next step is to apply for a Spanish passport.


Documents Required to Apply for the Spanish Grandchildren Law


  • Your ID card (if you are the applicant).
  • Birth certificate of the applicant.
  • Birth certificate of the Spanish parent or grandparent.
  • Proof of the Spanish nationality of the parent or grandparent.
  • Proof of relationship through a certified family tree.


  • Birth certificate of the applicant.
  • Your ID card (if you are the applicant).
  • Documentation proving the loss or renouncement of Spanish nationality of the parent or grandparent due to exile between 1936 and 1978.
  • Evidence substantiating the reasons for exile, such as political, ideological, identity, or sexual orientation issues. Some documents that can prove this are:

    - Proof of having been a beneficiary of the pensions granted by the Spanish Administration to exiles.

    - Documentation from the UN International Refugee Office that assisted Spanish refugees and their families.

    - Certifications or reports issued by political parties, trade unions or any other entities recognised by the Spanish authorities or the exile’s host State authorities that are related to the exile.


  • Your ID card (if you are the applicant)
  • Birth certificate of the applicant.
  • Marriage certificate of the Spanish mother to the foreign citizen.
  • Documentation proving the loss of Spanish nationality of the mother.


  • Your ID card (if you are the applicant).
  • Birth certificate of the applicant.
  • Proof of the parent’s Spanish nationality.
  • Documentation illustrating that the original nationality is not legally recognized.


  • Birth certificate of the applicant.
  • Documentation proving the recognition of the parent's nationality of origin under the Seventh Additional Provision of Law 52/2007 of December 26.
  • Any additional documents required to establish the parent-child relationship.


  • Birth certificate of the applicant.
  • Documentation certifying the membership of the ancestor in the International Brigades between 1936 and 1939.
  • Any additional documents required to establish the relationship between the applicant and the volunteer.


The Role of Sworn Translation in Accessing Benefits of the Grandchildren Law

Sworn translations play a pivotal role in the Spanish Grandchildren Law application process. It is not merely a procedural step but a vital component ensuring the smooth facilitation of applications and the subsequent acquisition of Spanish nationality by descent.

When applying for Spanish citizenship through the Spanish Grandchildren Law, applicants are often required to submit various documents, which must be in Spanish. For documents originally in other languages, a sworn translator in Spain must be engaged to convert these documents accurately into Spanish. This translation is not just about changing words from one language to another; it is about retaining the authenticity, integrity, and precise meaning of every piece of information.

Using a certified translation service is imperative in this process. It ensures that the translations are accurate, legally valid, and conform to the standards set by Spanish authorities. Any discrepancies or inaccuracies in translation can lead to complications, delays, or even rejections of applications.



What are Some Ways of Acquiring Nationality in Spain?

Apart from the Grandchildren Law, individuals can acquire Spanish nationality through residence, marriage to a Spanish citizen, or by having Spanish parents.


What Happens if the Spanish parent or Grandparent has no Birth Registration?

In cases where the Spanish parent or grandparent has no birth registration, alternative documentation or evidence proving Spanish origin and the familial relationship will be required. This might include Church records, Military records, Census records, or Newspaper cutouts.


Is it Better to Apply for Permanent Residence or Spanish Citizenship?

Spanish citizenship offers more benefits like voting rights and a Spanish passport, but it might require giving up existing nationality, depending on your home country’s laws. Permanent residence allows you to live in Spain but with fewer rights and privileges compared to citizenship.


How Long Does it Take to Become a Citizen in Spain?

The general process can take up to two years, but it may vary depending on individual circumstances and the route taken to acquire citizenship.


Do you Need to Take an Exam to get Spanish Citizenship?

Yes, applicants are usually required to pass a Spanish language and a cultural knowledge test unless exempt due to age, disability, or other reasons.


What Documents are Needed to Pass on Spanish Citizenship to Your Child?

To pass on Spanish citizenship to your child, you will need:

  • Your child’s birth certificate.
  • Proof of your Spanish nationality, such as a Spanish passport or a National ID card.
  • Any additional documents required to establish the parent-child relationship.


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