“Dual Citizenship” with USA & Spain

Hi!

I’m new to the site (excited to be here) and have an important question about obtaining Spanish citizenship/renouncing my U.S. citizenship.

My mother is Spanish (her entire family is from and still live in Jerez) and I’ve always felt particularly close to my roots and the culture there (lived there as a small kid/visit almost annually) along with wanting to move and work there. I’ve spent the last few months working with the Spain Consulate in San Francisco, close to where I live now, and had an appointment yesterday to basically finish the process but then they told me I had to renounce my U.S. citizenship — I hadn’t realized nor been told that this was a requirement, as there is no agreement between the two countries. The lady at the consulate didn’t make it seem like a big deal, but I said I had to do more research. I don’t want to lose my U.S. citizenship. The goal is to be both, to be considered a Spanish citizen while in Spain and an American when here in the states.

What happens if I sign (aka renounce)? Does the U.S. government recognize it? It seems like there is a gray area, but I’m just not fully sure what it all means. Especially since I’d be doing it on U.S. soil.

Sorry for such a long post, but any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much!

In most circumstances one cannot have a second nationality if one has Spanish.  If you research on line you will find some

I know that some people just say they have renounced the other nationality without doing so.  They are careful never to carry both when In spain in case they are stopped     

I did look at what would be involved with U.K. Nationality and or is possible to recover U.K. nationality having renounced it

PS. From looking at the internet it would seem that USA do not take any action if their citizens acquire another nationality. But anyone contemplating doing so should check out the situation

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

I picked this up elsewhere on the Internet and kept it for a rainy day (like today):

Dual Citizenship website :

Spanish citizenship is primarily based upon the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood). Spain is a member of the European Union. Accordingly, Spanish citizens can travel and reside freely in any of the countries that are a part of the EU.

For those seeking to acquire Spanish citizenship as their second citizenship, whether or not the person can retain dual citizenship depends on the county in which they hold their original citizenship. For example, if a U.S. citizen acquires Spanish citizenship, Spain requires the person to renounce U.S. citizenship, but this is usually insufficient for the American to lose U.S. citizenship. In this scenario, Spain will view the person as solely a Spanish citizen, whereas the U.S. will still treat the individual as an American citizen. Practically, the individual will hold U.S. and Spanish dual citizenship.

Hope this helps.

Cynic
Expat Team

Thanks! Yea I came across that same page online, along with others that echo a similar statement...but also some that say otherwise. So I'm not entirely sure what it all could mean and other potential outcomes.  Or who I should maybe reach out to to really know.

The Spain side of this seems clear. But how the United States views such a renouncement, I don't know. And that's what I want to find out. In their eyes will I still be a U.S. citizen, as I am now. Hope so.

I've read online that some have said they're going to renounce but don't actually do so and Spain never follows up. But those comments are a couple years old, at least.

Also, the Spain consulate asked me to sign something saying I renounce U.S. citizenship. That seems more official. In the eyes of Spain, which is fine with me. I want them to view me as a Spanish citizen. But how the United States views that is where things get cloudy.

I am a US citizen and I live in Spain.  I can  say that from my dealings with both countries that they do not share information on citizens.. I have family members that have dual citizenship and it is not a problem..    As long as you don’t renounce you US citizenship with a US government official, you should be okay..

It is a very common misconception that you need to give up your US citizenship to gain Spanish citizenship. This is not true.

Basically, Spain requires you to say that you are renouncing your US citizenship and becoming a national of Spain. BUT... that's only in the eyes of the Spanish government. They do not check and do not care if you actually *do* it.

The US government does NOT treat you as though you have renounced your citizenship unless you actually go and take positive action to do so.

The US Consulate official I discussed this with in Valencia said that what will happen is that the next time you go to renew your US passport, they (the State Department) ask on the form if you've taken any other citizenships. If you answer "yes", then a consular official will ask you "did you do this with the INTENT of actually giving up your US citizenship?"

If you say "no, I want to remain a US citizen" then that's it. As far as the US is concerned, you're a US citizen; as far as Spain is concerned, you're a Spanish citizen.

The State Department has information about this on their web site. Links are prohibited here on the forum, but PM me if you want a couple.

Papa you are being nieve

   In the  eyes of spain one must renounce their former nationality.   

Of course one can, as you are saying, lie about it  but that is not legal

Hey I’m actually going through the same thing you are I went to the Spanish consulate in Miami. Here in coral gables and the lady that attended to me told me the same thing and as if it was not a big thing to renouce my US. I’m trying to get my Spanish citizenship to be able to take advantage of working within the EU. If you have any feed back and have taken any actions I would love to hear. I would like to know where you are at with this and if you have been able to go through with it. Thank you

Hello,

How did it go?  I assume no problem?

Hello Jon,

I am assuming you had no problems obtaining your Spanish citizenship, and keeping your U.S.?

I was born in Madrid and so was my mother.  However, my father is American, and my situation is similar to yours: family in Spain etcetera.   

I live in California. 

I will be moving back to Spain within 18 months.  How was the process if you don’t mind sharing.

Thank you for your time,

Dorothy

Negative.  It is not illegal.

morenasix :

Hello Jon,

I am assuming you had no problems obtaining your Spanish citizenship, and keeping your U.S.?

I was born in Madrid and so was my mother.  However, my father is American, and my situation is similar to yours: family in Spain etcetera.

Dorothy, if your mother is Spanish then you are likely considered by Spain to be "Spanish by origin" and you can easily regain your Spanish nationality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_nationality_law

Additionally, even if you tell Spain you are renouncing your US citizenship (and they should not require you to do so, but as Jon's case shows, sometimes they do anyway) it has no practical effect on what the US does and you will not lose your US citizenship unless you tell the US that you want to give it up and meant to do so.

Hi Jon
I recently became a spanish citizen and was never asked by the spanish consulate where I was sworn in to renounce my US cutizenship.
I carry both passports when in Spain.
What you should look into if you havent is Spains prohibitive taxlaws that if you live there
for more than 6 months a year you will be taxed on all your assets even if the bank is in the US. good luck

What anyone does is a matter for them,   but a friend of mine who has Swiss nationality,   when she obtained Spanish nationality was told by an official never to carry both passports at the same time as she would be  liable to find herself  in trouble.   

I also asked at the Extranjería and they too said that with the exception of those who can legally have dual nationality, nationals of former Spanish colonies, under new law of the Sephardim,   etc. one cannot legally have dual nationality.

PS  bocheball, As you later have explained you are an exception as you did it under new law of the Sephardim

PPS   If one makes Spain their centre of economic activity then they become taxable in Spain on their worldwide income and assets, unless that is contracted by any Dual Taxation Agreement.    In those circumstances that could be less than six months.

I was sworn in under a new law of the Sephardim so maybe this is an exception to Spanish law. The Spanish consulate fully understood I was not renouncing my US citizenship and never asked me to. I will send a message to the consulate and ask however.

Thank you very much for your reply.  I was on an Expat FB page and someone posted that in the process, Spain requires you to go to American embassy and actually pay the $3000 fee to renounce U.S. citizenship.  I was hoping that was a rumor.

Yes, there is no agreement between the USA and Canada for “officially recognized” dual citizenship, but the USA nor Canada do not care nor recognize Spain’s request that we “officiall” renounce.  I believe and still hope that the reality still is:  I “renounce” my U.S. citizenship to Spain, the U.S. does not give a rat’s #%% :), and I get to live in the country of my birth and my mother’s birth, spending my American coins in Spain.  It’s a win win :) Since I will eventually receive an American pension, renouncing my U.S citizenship is economically prohibitive.  That would not stop me from moving, but jeez, what a hassle that would be. 

But yes, there is no agreement between the countries.  I could care less.

Hello,

How long did process take you?  I will be in Madrid for the entire summer.  Do you recommend I start the process at that time?

Yes, I spoke to many lawyers about tax issues before becoming a citizen. It is true about making Spain your center of economic activity, like by buying property, or running a business. The 6 months a year requirement tho is important. However, you can't leave for a month and then return, that month you leave still counts. For now I'm sticking to the time requirement. As I have a rent stabilzed apt. in NYC they also have a 6 month residency requirement and losing that would end my existence in NY.
Not about to pay 3G for a 400sf studio.

If you don't file taxes in Spain, or work on the books, not sure how the government can keep track of you or your assets. Lawyers told me that before I inherit any money, to make sure to not be there 6 months that year. In other words, as I told my mom, don't you dare pass in December! :) gallows humor.

If you're asking me about law of Sephardim, it took about a year and a half-2 years.
But half that time was waiting for the Spanish authorities to issue the final ok.
First you have to pass the language exams. if you're fluent it will be easy.

Then you have to send in family documents. mine only went back to my parents, but the key apparently was if your family was from Greece or Egypt, a Spanish authority vetted you. Immigrants to those countries originated from Spain they say. I was shocked how easy it was, as this is the most challenging step and where many people run into a roadblock.

Once you have that approval, you take your documents to a notary in Spain, who assembles all your documents, gives you a copy and sends it off to the Sp. govt. where you then just WAIT.
If youve made it tht far you're in.

the whole process didn't cost me 1G. I had talked to a lawyer about doing it but I figured let me give it a shot and it went seamlessly. Passing the tests were the hardest part.
good luck and feel free to ask me any questions.

We are thinking of moving to Alicante in about a year & a half from the US.  This is all new to us, what steps do we have to take to rent an apartment?  My husband will be retiring.  We’re so confused about how we will be taxed, any information we would be so grateful for.
My husband speaks Spanish, he was born in Puerto Rico, however I understand a little & speak a few words. 
What about citizenship, can we live there with a US Passport?
Thank you for any advice you have for us,
Kathy

“”Retirees or others who have the financial means to support themselves without working can apply for residence in Spain for non-lucrative purposes. ... After your application has been approved, you have one month to collect your entry visa from the consulate and then three months to enter Spain.””

Thank you B...

I won’t be applying via the Sephardim, but I believe it may be a similar timeline.  It looks like I will go the route of citizenship by origin.  And I’m hoping I can start the process when I visit this summer.  All of my mother’s family still Ives in Madrid.  Good to know about the exam, and the language  test should not be a problem since my Mom stopped speaking Spanish a couple years after our move to thevUSA.  Thankfully, I was six or seven, so I retained quite a bit of the language.

I look so forward to my return.  And thank you for illuminating the process.  The FB Expat page has many EU expats who are so negative and mongers of fear.

So thank you again, and I may have a couple more questions after I start the process  :)

Xedo :

We are thinking of moving to Alicante in about a year & a half from the US.  This is all new to us, what steps do we have to take to rent an apartment?  My husband will be retiring.  We’re so confused about how we will be taxed, any information we would be so grateful for.
My husband speaks Spanish, he was born in Puerto Rico, however I understand a little & speak a few words. 
What about citizenship, can we live there with a US Passport?
Thank you for any advice you have for us,
Kathy

You want to google the "non-lucrative" visa.

Your husband should also get the document that shows him to be a citizen of PR. The PR Department of State issues a certificate or something, and when you guys apply, he should apply as a citizen of PR. That way, if he wants to become a Spanish citizen, he can do so after just two years of residency here in Spain.

To start getting an idea about apartments and rent, check out idealista. com or fotocasa. com

New topic