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The Democratic Memory Law: a pathway towards Spanish nationality

The Democratic Memory Law: a pathway towards Spanish nationality

The Democratic Memory Law offers descendants of Spanish citizens the opportunity to obtain Spanish nationality. This law is designed to safeguard the Spanish citizenship rights of those affected by the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship by enabling them to apply for their Spanish nationality. As a result, it is centered on upholding justice and advancing reparations for both the victims and their descendants.

This law builds upon the 2007 Historical Memory Law, which aimed to recognise the rights of Franco dictatorship victims. During the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s regime, over 500,000 Spaniards sought refuge abroad, primarily in France and various Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba. The 2007 law allowed first-generation descendants of these expatriates to acquire Spanish passports. Now, 15 years later, the Democratic Memory Law expands this option to second-generation descendants.

The Democratic Memory Law does not establish an age limit for nationality applicants, and applicants are not obliged to renounce their current citizenship.

Who is eligible?

Scenarios contemplated in the Democratic Memory Law for granting Spanish nationality:

  • Those born outside of Spain to a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who were originally Spanish, AND those born outside of Spain to a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who were originally Spanish and who, as a result of having suffered exile for political, ideological, belief-based reasons, or due to their sexual orientation and identity, have lost or renounced Spanish nationality.
  • Children born abroad to Spanish women who lost their nationality due to marriage to foreigners before the entry into force of the 1978 Constitution can apply for Spanish nationality.
  • Children of parents who obtained Spanish nationality based on the 2007 Historical Memory Law. 

Processes and Deadlines

Those who apply for Spanish nationality through this new law will have two years to formalise the administrative procedures from the date of the publication of this law in the Official State Gazette (BOE), which was on the 25th of October 2022. Upon the expiration of this period, the Council of Ministers may decide to extend it for one year.

Applicants must submit their option declaration with official forms from Annexes I to IV within the specified timeframe. These forms, accompanied by required documents meeting legal criteria, should align with the Democratic Memory Law. The choice to apply is personal and voluntary, initiated by the interested party. After submission, authorities will notify applicants of their decision, which must be registered in the relevant registry. Applicants have the legal right to appeal any decision.

How can Del Canto Chambers help you?

Our international immigration department has extensive experience processing nationality applications with a high level of success. If you are interested in obtaining Spanish nationality and would like to find out if The Democratic Memory Law applies to your case, we would be delighted to help you.

Frequently asked questions


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