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DUAL NATIONALITY in SPAIN (for US natives)...RENOUNCE US Citizenship?!

So, I just reached the final step in the 6-year process of being approved for Spanish nationality.  I was filling out the online form to attend the "sworn oath" and when I reached the last of 4 steps, the button that says something like "I renounce my current nationality" and there is a YES / NO button choice, I saw that the "NO" button was disactivated ... I couldn't choose anything but "YES" ... so, before I clicked, I called ....

It turns out that there is no "convenio" (agreement) between Spain and the USA for dual nationality, (just like I learned for my driver's license and my university credits for my degrees) and hence the Spanish gov't requires you to renounce your US citizenship to acquire Spanish nationality.

So I called the US Embassy who passed me to the US Consulate in Barcelona where they informed me that "There is no law that prohibits US citizens from acquiring other nationalities ... and in order to renounce or abandon US nationality, one must enter the Embassy and state/claim that their wish is such." ... They went on to assure me that the "renunciation" on Spanish soil is only valid, in the eyes of the US gov't, in Spain ... and until a US citizen expressly renounces his/her citizenship in person and with that expressed intent WITHIN the setting of the US (Embassy/Consulate, etc) he/she remains a US citizen with all of his/her rights, privelages and obligations.

So ... I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this ... or if they've gone through the process ...

My little sister told me right away, "DON'T DO IT! WHAT IF LAWS CHANGE IN THE FUTURE AND YOU'RE STRIPPED OF YOUR US CITIZENSHIP FOR HAVING RENOUNCED IT IN SPAIN!!!"

I'm a little freaked by it ... and want to know if anyone has, perhaps, seeked legal advice on this one ... even though the people at the Consulate were more than assuring that it's just a legal formality.

Note:  My sister is residing in Italy where they don't require you to renounce your nationality.

2nd Note:  My children both have dual nationality, but that is because they were "born involuntarily" into the situation and THEY did not choose ... hence, they don't have to choose nor renounce.

I hope to hear from you all ....

The naturalization process in almost every country in the world requires one to "renounce any other citizenship" that they may have. This is strictly a pro forma declaration that has no validity in law outside that particular nation.

Speaking for the situation in the USA, you will NEVER lose your citizenship unless you formally renounce it in the USA.

The only thing the "renounciation" of your USA citizenship in naturalizing as a Spanish citizens it that under their laws you are always and foremost considered a citizen of Spain while in that country. You cannot thus excuse yourself from any of the resposibilities imposed on you under law by saying, ".... but, I'm an American". In Spain you're Spanish and only Spanish, outside of Spain you are whatever you want to say you are, American or Spanish.

In practical terms the loss of one's citizenship DOES NOT depend on the country in which one acquires any secondary citizenship, but rather on the nationality laws in their birth country. Some countries automatically cancel the citizenship of nationals when they acquire citizenship in another country. The USA IS NOT ONE OF THOSE.

Just ask the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you lose your US citizenship by naturalizing anywhere else... they'll tell you flat out NOT ON YOUR LIFE!!!! You are required to file an annual income tax return no matter what your other citizenship or where you live in the world until such time as you officially renounce your citizenship to the US government and pay a mult-million dollar "Exit Tax", just like Tina Turner and other wealthies who've done so.

For more information about multiple citizenship see the following Wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_citizenship

Cheers,
William James Woodward - Brazil & Canada Expert, Expat-blog Team

wjwoodward :

The naturalization process in almost every country in the world requires one to "renounce any other citizenship" that they may have. This is strictly a pro forma declaration that has no validity in law outside that particular nation.

That's not exactly true, just like the laws surrounding multinational children differ widely. In some countries you have to formally renounce other citizenships (Norway) before you can acquire, and give an oath of loyalty (USA). Others don't have such renouncing/oath requirements (Iceland).

These tiny variations can make a big difference. For example, there are lots of children with dual US-Norwegian citizenship here since children born to American parents are automatically considered US citizens. However, there are children born to Norwegian-Australian couples who have had their Norwegian citizenship revoked because the paperwork for registering the Australian children is an "application". The US registration is simply a "declaration" so the Norwegian government considers it differently.

in short, I think the OP should get some more local, legal advice about this (although probably not at the US embassy) before making a decision!

I have a Swiss fiend who took Spanish nationality.  She renounced her Swiss nationality, in Spain only.  She was told never to carry her Swiss and Spanish nationality papers in Spain, it would be a criminal offence if they discovered she had in effect lied about the renunciation.

My wife is Filipino. Being from a former Spanish colony,  she could legally have dual Spanish and Philippines nationality. 

I am English (British) but also have Irish nationality. It is legal in both countries, but I cannot have British and Spanish nationality. It would be OK for UK but not for Spain.

Hello nj_bcn,

I suggest you read the blog on the following link: nothemingwaysspain.blogspot.com.es/2013/07/becoming-spanish-from-expat-to-immigrant.html

He explains how his dual citizenship between USA and Spain works. It's not a big deal. You will not lose your American citizenship unless you officially renounce it in the USA.

Lavidabuena

I can't see a link, but in any case Spain do not allow it's citizens to have dual nationality (except in rare circumstances, former colonies etc)  so to keep one's nationality, whilst obtaining Spanish nationality would be illegal, albeit one could take the risk of not being caught. 

(But one could rob a bank and probably eliminate the need for dual nationality, following that route !!!  )

Johncar :

Lavidabuena

I can't see a link, but in any case Spain do not allow it's citizens to have dual nationality (except in rare circumstances, former colonies etc)  so to keep one's nationality, whilst obtaining Spanish nationality would be illegal, albeit one could take the risk of not being caught. 

(But one could rob a bank and probably eliminate the need for dual nationality, following that route !!!  )

Well hopefully a mod approves the link as many people ask the same question.

The link is from "nothemingwaysspain"'s blog. The article is titled "Becoming Spanish: From Expat to Immigrant". Google it :)

All of this sounds promising ... however, it's still a BIG and SCARY step.  I consulted with a lawyer (friend) who said that if it were her, she would not renounce the US citizenship before the Spanish authorities.  If it's a signed application it's a binding document.  She did say that if it were a verbal oath and renunciation, that could be a different thing.

I've seen that the guy in the blog nothemingwaysspain  sent to us by "lavidabuena" has, in fact, obtained his Spanish citizenship ... and probably has both his passports by now....

@Johncar:  I think that what you say about the legality of dual nationality is incorrect ... it's not a criminal offense, especially if you are a dual citizen BORN into your situation (as are my 2 children) ...

Now I'm wondering if there are any people who have:

OBTAINED SPANISH CITIZENSHIP (Having followed the procedure of "renouncing" their US citizenship before Spanish authorities)AND HAVE SUBSEQUENTLY HAD A CHILD(or children)IN SPAIN AND HAVE OBTAINED HIS/HER/THEIR REPORT OF OVERSEAS BIRTH FROM THE US AND ACQUIRED HIS/HER/THEIR US PASSPORT?

Does that make sense to any of you?

....Now I'm wondering if there are any people who have:

OBTAINED SPANISH CITIZENSHIP (Having followed the procedure of "renouncing" their US citizenship before Spanish authorities)AND HAVE SUBSEQUENTLY HAD A CHILD(or children)IN SPAIN AND HAVE OBTAINED HIS/HER/THEIR REPORT OF OVERSEAS BIRTH FROM THE US AND ACQUIRED HIS/HER/THEIR US PASSPORT?

Does that make sense to any of you?

Nj bcn
        I think that what you say about the legality of dual nationality is incorrect ... it's not a criminal offense, especially if you are a dual citizen BORN into your situation (as are my 2 children) ...

I am not sure the Spanish Gov.  agree with you.  Take a look at :-   http://www.mjusticia.gob.es/cs/Satellit … anica.html


This is just an extract from that page:-   

No es necesario que renuncien a su nacionalidad quienes fueran naturales de países iberoamericanos, de Andorra, Filipinas, Guinea Ecuatorial o Portugal. Se consideran países iberoamericanos a estos efectos aquéllos en los que el español o el portugués sean una de las lenguas oficiales.

(It is not necessary to renounce their nationality for those who were natural Ibero-American countries, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal. They are considered Latin American countries these effects to those where the Spanish or Portuguese are one of the official languages).

Son españoles de origen:

Los nacidos de padre o madre española.
Los nacidos en España cuando sean hijos de padres extranjeros si, al menos uno de los padres, ha nacido en España (se exceptúan los hijos de diplomáticos).

(fuente:   http://www.mjusticia.gob.es/cs/Satellit … talle.html  )



Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship by a Child Born Abroad
Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock

A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) of the INA provided the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child's birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen, is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen, is required for physical presence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.) The U.S. citizen parent must be genetically related to the child to transmit U.S. citizenship.

(source:    http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship … _5199.html   )

"The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. citizen parents may be both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of the country of birth."  (source:  US BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS)

But I think that is USA law not Spanish.

The UK has no problem with it's citizens having dual nationality (I have British and Irish.  Ireland too has no problems).  As far as UK are concerned I could have British and Spanish. But Spain would not allow that. 

So as I see it, that USA say it's OK does not make it legal in Spain.

Hi nj_bcn,

I apologize for not writing back sooner. I think it is very admirable of you to take this dual citizenship concern seriously, though I'd encourage you to not agonize over it. There is a legal grey zone that nobody has an interest in clearing up, least of all the United States. (The last thing the U.S. wants, understandably, is for people to be signing up for dual citizenship left and right.) That does not mean that you shouldn't take the plunge, only that you will probably never get a clear green light on this question.

So here's my take on it. First, there was a lawsuit back in 1992 which established that taking an oath to a foreign nation wouldn't necessarily result in losing your U.S. citizenship. (In the case, an American "turned" Spaniard had committed a crime, and didn't want to face sentencing.) In other words, the U.S. government is not going to leave this decision in your hands just because it suits you (tax evasion, crime evasion, etc.). (This also means that if you become a Spanish citizen, but consider your U.S. citizenship still valid, you're still bound to U.S. citizen tax declaration laws abroad.) Second, I have a friend in Valencia who has been operating with dual citizenship for over a decade, and played for Spain's olympic basketball team, without ever giving up his U.S. passport (or American expat identity). Third, I consulted "off the record" with Valencia's Consul, who made it clear the Foreign Affairs office has much better things to do with its time than hunt down Americans who seek citizenship abroad.

So to clarify, I swore allegiance to Spain's Constitution, its King, and renouncing other oaths (i.e. U.S.) and I signed a paper to that effect. In a normal legal world this would be legally binding. But citizenship is a headache and heartache for officials, and once conferred, denying someone it is an extreme measure. I think nothing short of you committing a horrendous crime, or Spain and the U.S. going to war with each other, is going to open the question of what is _really_ your citizenship if you have both. Frankly, in my opinion, if either of those happened, where you'd possibly have to choose, you'd have bigger problems on your mind.

Which means that unless those happen, you could have, by default, dual citizenship. Thus, I took the plunge. Of course, I'm committed to it. It wouldn't be "so horrible" to lose my American citizenship. I'll always be an American, but I'm more than satisfied with being a Spaniard and European on paper.

Best,
Zach, a.k.a. Not Hemingway's Spain

P.S. Kids are a different story. They're born with dual citizenship, but often have to make a choice at the age of 18. And there are countries (I think Ireland), where there is absolutely no problem with dual citizenship. So each country is different, as is each manner of obtaining citizenship. As is the direction between countries, so any Spaniard reading this should know that Spain DOES NOT look the other way when Spaniards swear to the U.S., so your chances of keeping Spanish citizenship might be much lower.

thanks for the info, greatly appreciated

Zach:  " I swore allegiance to Spain's Constitution, its King, and renouncing other oaths (i.e. U.S.) and I signed a paper to that effect."

I would suggest that you never be found by the Spanish authorities in possession of your USA passport. 

I would assume under Spanish law, if you have not renounced your previous nationality, but said on oath that you have (lied) that must almost certainly amount to the equivalent of perjury.   It certainly would in UK and I cannot believe  in Spain, and in most other countries, it would not be the same.

PS      I have dual nationality  (British and Irish) but that is legal in both countries.

Hi,

This is topic is very important to me, and I appreciate any help anyone can give me. Can any American citizen who has acquired Spanish nationality please explain to me how we move through the airports and customs, traveling to/from Europe and the U.S. without getting caught with both passports by the Spanish government?

I´ve been in Madrid for over 10 years and am married.  I am fully integrated and applied some time ago for the Spanish nationality.  Now I have my juramento coming up soon.  I´m excited to acquire Spanish citizenship, but I am afraid Spain will catch me with both passports.  I´m getting cold feet.  I live in Spain and don´t want to have problems here. 

How can I travel?  For example, if I am going from Madrid to Chicago and later returning back to Madrid.

My general understanding is that in the U.S., I show American documents.  In Spain, I show all police, customs officers only Spanish documentation.  How can I get through the Spanish exiting police/customs showing my Spanish passport without their seeing any type of visa?  What about the return trip?  I will arrive in Madrid with no stamp in my Spanish passport.  How can I get back into Spain without having problems? 

Can anyone explain their experiences?

I appreciate all help.

Thanks...

The US Government actually has a web page about this very question.  The short answer is that no, getting naturalized in Spain and even saying (to the Spanish authorities) that you are going to give up your USA citizenship will NOT automatically put your US citizenship at risk.

The page is at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel … ality.html

The first section lays out the law (the "INA", Immigration and Naturalization Act) that controls these kinds of questions.

The section "Potentially Expatriating Acts" talks about the things that can be used by the government to take away someone's US citizenship.  BUT... as the INA says, someone has to do these things both voluntarily AND with the intention to relinquish citizenship.

Then they list the various things.  The only ones that really apply are #1 and #2, getting naturalized in another country and taking an oath of allegiance to another country.

The section "Administrative Standard of Evidence" is the one that is the big deal.  The US knows people get naturalized in other nations all the time, but that most of them do NOT intend on giving up their US citizenship, so it has to decide how to treat those actions.

What this section says is that the State Department acts on the premise that when someone does that, they intend on keeping their US citizenship.

So then the section "Disposition of Cases when Administrative Premise is Applicable" talks about what the US will actually DO if and when they find out someone got naturalized in another nation. 

It says two things- first, there's no requirement for the person to tell the government ahead of time that they're going to do it, because the US government will assume that they mean to retain US citizenship; and second, that if a US consular officer finds out that someone got naturalized in another nation, they'll simply ask that person "did you mean to give up US citizenship?"  If the person replies "no", meaning they want to remain a US citizen, then "the consular officer will certify that it was not the person's intent to relinquish U.S. nationality and, consequently, find that the person has retained U.S. nationality."

Bleeec Can any American citizen who has acquired Spanish nationality please explain to me how we move through the airports and customs, traveling to/from Europe and the U.S. without getting caught with both passports by the Spanish government?

That is tantamount to asking how you can get away with a criminal offence.

As you cannot get the law changed to suit what you want, I suggest you make up your mind within the law what nationality you want/need and stick to the legal requirements.

Or break the law. It's your call.

Johncar :

Bleeec Can any American citizen who has acquired Spanish nationality please explain to me how we move through the airports and customs, traveling to/from Europe and the U.S. without getting caught with both passports by the Spanish government?

That is tantamount to asking how you can get away with a criminal,offence.

As you cannot get the law changed to suit what you want, make up your mind within the law what nationality you want/need and stick to the legal requirements.

Or be¡break the law. It's your call.

Johncar, you are responding to a question last asked in Sept 2014, kinda old topic by an inactive member :)

He was asking for advice from American citizens, you indicated you are English/Irish.  Do you know for certain that it is a criminal offense in Spain to possess passports of multiple countries?  I'm not aware that it is illegal.  I don't interpret his question as asking how to get away with a criminal offense.

Let's be helpful here and not issue judgement based on assumptions.

Romaniac
Expat.com Experts Team

Let's be helpful here and not issue judgement based on assumptions. 

(Offering advice not to break the law I believe is helpful advice).

It is a criminal offence to commit perjury, 

As I have posted,  in the circumstances declared by the poster,  I believe it is a criminal offence in Spain to have a USA and Spanish passport. 

The poster asks how they can 'get away with it'  thus it would appear they believe they would be breaking the law.(not an assumption by me)

As you so correctly point out I am (thank goodness) not American, but I have lived in Spain 27 years and respect their laws.  As I did in USA when I spent 6 months there travelling, 20,000 miles,  in an RV. meeting a wide variety of USA citizens.

However, as the question relates to legality, or should I say illegality, in Spain, and the forum is  'Living in Spain'  , that I have worked wit the National Police Police here for 17 years, I thought I might be at least as competent to answer the question  as 'an American'.   

Apologies if that offends.

Johncar :

Let's be helpful here and not issue judgement based on assumptions. 

(Offering advice not to break the law I believe is helpful advice).

It is a criminal offence to commit perjury, 

As I have posted,  in the circumstances declared by the poster,  I believe it is a criminal offence in Spain to have a USA and Spanish passport. 

The poster asks how they can 'get away with it'  thus it would appear they believe they would be breaking the law.(not an assumption by me)

As you so correctly point out I am (thank goodness) not American, but I have lived in Spain 27 years and respect their laws.  As I did in USA when I spent 6 months there travelling, 20,000 miles,  in an RV. meeting a wide variety of USA citizens.

However, as the question relates to legality, or should I say illegality, in Spain, and the forum is  'Living in Spain'  , that I have worked wit the National Police Police here for 17 years, I thought I might be at least as competent to answer the question  as 'an American'.   

Apologies if that offends.

You have misquoted and misinterpreted bleec's post.  At no point in his post does he ask if he can "get away" with anything.  His concern was with traveling with both a US and Spanish passport, not knowing if it was legal or not.  A fair question.  It's unfair to impose a presumption of guilt don't you think?

As to your perjury claim (which applies to the oath of allegiance that you addressed to different member), it does not apply.  Unless the oath states that the applicant has taken definitive measures to renounce other citizenship with their respective governments and surrender their passport(s) or state that they will do so, it is not perjury.  The oath is merely symbolic and does not require the U.S to recognize her oath. 

Given the fact that Spain does recognize dual-citizens in limited cases, I would reasonably expect that possessing passports of multiple-nations is not illegal.  Again, I ask you, not based on your assumptions, but facts, is possessing passports of multiple countries a criminal offense?  If so, please refer to the legislation that states such, so we can be informed.  As you are neither Spanish nor American, you can show your competence, understanding of the law, and experience of working "with" police for 17 years by providing supporting facts.

Thank you

I do not see the point of repeating what has been posted and explained previously.   

However,  just one point. We are not talking about what the USA government thinks, does or says, the point is that in Spain when one swears allegiance to the King and says they have renounced all other Nationalities (or words to that effected quoted above  by someone who did it) that cannot be ambiguous in any way.  If they lie that is perjury.

I enquired of the police when a friend my mine told me, she has Swiss and Spanish Passports.  I posted the details on 25th Nov 15.  The police confirmed it was an offence to have two passport, unless one was covered by the clearly set out exceptions.  This is confirmed  by many pages on the internet.


Having a legal background and legal training, Romaniac, your interpretation of:- 

Can any American citizen who has acquired Spanish nationality please explain to me how we move through the airports and customs, traveling to/from Europe and the U.S. without getting caught with both passports by the Spanish government?

Leaves me speechless.

Johncar, having a legal background and legal training, you should know better than to rely on assumption and hearsay as evidence or support.  Since you can't or won't refer to any printed legislation, well it speaks for itself.

Did you urge the police to bring a case against your friend for perjury since she had two passports also?  :)

Did you urge the police to bring a case against your friend for perjury since she had two passports also?

Romaniac, If that is where you want this serious discussion to go, I will not waste my time suggesting yet again, that if you read the whole of the thread the question of the legality of having Spanish and another nationality has been fully covered.

The end

Hey everyone!

So I know that this an older post, but I thought you guys may find interesting what my lawyer in Spain said about the matter (I'm not going to translate the whole thing since if you are thinking of getting Spanish citizenship, there is a requirement to have an A2 in Spanish now...)

"Por último, algo que consideramos que debes tener en consideración es que el artículo 23 del Código Civil establece como requisito para adquirir la nacionalidad española que renuncies a la tuya. Así pues, establece:

Artículo 23
Son requisitos comunes para la validez de la adquisición de la nacionalidad española por opción, carta de naturaleza o residencia:
a) Que el mayor de catorce años y capaz para prestar una declaración por sí jure o prometa fidelidad al Rey y obediencia a la Constitución y a las leyes.
b) Que la misma persona declare que renuncia a su anterior nacionalidad. Quedan a salvo de este requisito los naturales de países mencionados en el apartado 1 del artículo 24 y los sefardíes originarios de España.
c) Que la adquisición se inscriba en el Registro Civil español.

Hemos estudiado lo que implica esta renuncia y a priori, según entiende la Dirección General de Registros y Notariado (DGRN) se trata de una mera declaración sin efectos en tu país de origen. Si bien, hemos realizado esta consulta en la embajada de EEUU y nos piden que sea el interesado el que la formule.  No obstante, sí te puedo pasar una consulta de la DGRN en este sentido pero lo interesante sería que lo corrobores en tu país:

EDD 2014/286246 Res. DGRN de 11 abril 2014. Registro Civil: “(…)la renuncia a la nacionalidad anterior que exige el artículo 23 b) del Código civil como requisito de validez de la adquisición de la nacionalidad española ha sido interpretada por la doctrina oficial de la Dirección General de los Registros y del Notariado como un mero requisito formal de "declaración de la renuncia ", con independencia de los efectos que tal declaración pueda desplegar para el ordenamiento jurídico extranjero respectivo, es decir, al margen de que dicha renuncia produzca o no de iure la pérdida de la nacionalidad a la que se declara renunciar , ya que lo contrario implicaría subordinar la adquisición de la nacionalidad española a la concepción propia sobre la nacionalidad del Derecho extranjero (vid. Resolución de 24 de septiembre de 1971)”."

Basically, the lawyer I consulted confirmed that since April of 2014, Spain even addressed this issue of what it means to renounce previous citizenship and said that they require the oath, but they do not check to see whether you have actually renounced the other citizenship.

Hopefully that will help settle the disagreement about the legality/"law breaking" fear that some people mentioned on this forum.

On a personal note, thanks for opening the discussion! I also am planning on applying for Spanish citizenship once I get the C2 (I know it is more than you need, but I like a challenge) and already declared "apta" for the CCSE requirement they now have. Since I am married to a Spaniard, I only have a resident requirement of a year and we are planning on residing in Spain after May of 2017 so I will let you guys know how it goes in 2018.

Interesting discussion. I am a USA expat living in Spain and I had always heard that I could only be a dual national if I was "offered" citizenship by another country, and that taking an oath of allegiance to another country would void my US citizenship ir reported to the USA, This discussion seems to discount this idea, however, I remain a bit worried about the Spanish question raised above. In particular, the Spanish government at present may turn a blind eye to people coming in with say, an unstamped passport, since they entered the USA with the American passport, but if a future government in Spain decided to clamp down, then one might have to go through an interrogation. So I am still holding off on making a decision.

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