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The Curmudgeon

The curmudgeon is a miserable sod. He likes to have a moan. He tackles subjects which many foreigners living in Spain agree with but are too polite to say anything.

Why can’t we have dual nationality?  
Monday, May 23, 2022 @ 8:09 AM

As regional elections begin to be held in the 17 autonomous communities that make up Spain, attention is once again focused on the rights of foreigners, including British people, who reside full time in Spain. The Curmudgeon is sick to the back teeth at how he and countless others are disenfranchised. Some time ago he wrote a complaining article about foreigners not having the right to vote in national elections. Here he has a moan about the Spanish government not allowing dual nationality.


There have recently been regional elections in Castilla-León and Galicia. In Andalucía the regional vote has been organised for 29 June.

As a British man, permanently resident in Spain and empadronado (enrolled on the local padrón or census), I am able to vote in local, regional and, until Brexit, European elections, but not national ones.

An absolute disgrace! I have lived here and paid my dues here for more than a dozen years. I want a say in how my adopted country is governed.

Technically I could still vote in UK national elections if I could be bothered, like many, to fiddle it and get on the electoral roll. But I am no longer interested in voting in Warrington South, the constituency where I used to live, nor in exercising my right to vote in a country where I no longer live.

In my article on voting rights I referred to Giles Tremlett, a journalist who has lived in Madrid for donkeys years and is in the same boat as me and many thousands of others. He has been campaigning for years to get the vote in national elections here.

In 2016, in the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum. he switched his focus to another gripe that I have also held since the UK left the European Union. Dual nationality.

I wish to be a citizen of the European Union in my own right, not just because I happen to be married to an EU citizen. I do not like my status as a Third Country National.

I have researched acquiring Spanish nationality but to do so I will have to relinquish my British nationality and give up my British Passport, as Spain only allows dual nationality in a few circumstances, eg if you were born in Andorra (doh!), or come from a Spanish-speaking country in South or Central America.

Giles Tremlett together with fellow journalist William Chislett are calling for the Spanish government to grant dual nationality for British people who have resided in Spain for more than 10 years. To that end six years ago the two journalists organised an online petition, which achieved more than 17,000 signatures prior to being switched off.

Tremlett states: “Our petition is simple. As a result of the dramatic situation in which we find ourselves after Brexit, we urge the Spanish government to be generous to the country’s long-standing British community. Many of us could not vote in the Brexit referendum, so [that misguided decision by the British people] has been imposed on us against our will.”

It is clear that in order to allow dual nationality for those who have lived a long time in Spain it requires a change in Spanish legislation, but it would not be the first time this has happened.

In 2015, for example, the Conservative Partido Popular government of Mariano Rajoy offered double nationality to Sephardic Jews (the descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492).

Spaniards resident in the UK already enjoy the right to joint nationality (unlike their counterparts in Spain) and Germany is considering making a similar offer to Britons who live there.

Tremlett continues: “We estimate there are around 25,000 Brits born in Spain or who have lived and worked here for more than 10 years (generally the required number of years for those seeking Spanish citizenship) might take up the offer.”

From the Spanish point of view, such a move would make a lot of sense in that it will also ensure that the country retains valuable human capital. 

We want to be Spaniards, Europeans and British – a reflection of our true identity, one that Brexit has taken away from us.

Tremlett and Chislett offer a hypothetical example:

Mr and Mrs Smith are British and have lived in Spain for 30 years. They came to the country when it joined the European Union in 1986. They liked it and decided to stay and work in one of its biggest cities, in the knowledge that their condition as EU citizens protected them as far as their rights were concerned and made clear what were their obligations. Between them, they have accumulated 60 years paying taxes and contributing to the Social Security system. Their two daughters were born in Spain, went to a state school and are now studying at British universities. When they graduate their daughters want to return to the country where they were brought up and regard as their home.

Brexit has left them confused and frightened. Will the daughters be able to return to the country of their birth and work? Can their parents collect their Spanish pensions if they have to live for a while in the UK? Would they be able to return to Spain? As regards to the age at which they retire, will the years they have paid into the British system count? And if their children want to continue their studies in Spain or elsewhere in Europe, will they pay EU or (costly) non-EU fees?

For the Smiths, like thousands of other Brits in Spain and thousands of Spaniards in the UK, the future is uncertain and deeply worrying.

The Smiths are friends of the Sánchez, a Spanish family that has lived a long time in the UK. Brexit creates similar problems for them, but they have found a solution to many of the practical problems and to the erosion of identity generated by the referendum result. The Sánchez have just applied for dual nationality.

The Smiths, however, do not have this option under Spanish legislation as they must first renounce their British nationality.

The Smiths and the Sánchez are, of course, fictitious, but they reflect the reality of many Spanish and British families who have based their lives on rules of co-existence that are now being torn up.

The two journalists support those Spaniards in the UK who can resolve the problems created by Brexit by requesting dual nationality (the son of Spanish foreign minister Jose Garcia-Margalio is doing this) and they urge the British government to treat them decently.

Nobody trusts the British government to represent our interests in this matter, however, which is why Tremlett and Chislett are going straight to the Spanish government, via both the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry.

It is fair that the normal filters (knowledge of the Spanish language, the constitution, etc) should also be applied to those who seek dual nationality. According to my research applicants need to take an oral test as well as an examination based on the history, geography, culture, politics, etc of Spain.

I think this is perfectly reasonable.

The organisers of the petition asked Spaniards in the UK and in Spain to sign it, along with the many British people in Spain whose life plans have been so dramatically shattered.

As for me, the Curmudgeon, I’ll probably go ahead anyway and if necessary, give up my British passport.

After the political debacles of recent years, starting with David Cameron’s disastrous handling of the whole EU membership issue; the lies; the catastrophic vote; Theresa May’s short-lived ‘rule’; Boris Johnson’s election to prime minister; the bodged Brexit negotiations; his incompetence over Covid-19 and pretty much everything else; Northern Ireland; the corruption; the parties; the sexual scandals and BoJo’s refusal to resign, I am no longer proud to be British.

So, I’m off – regardless.


Further reading:

Why can't we have the vote?

Like 2


marcbernard said:
Monday, May 23, 2022 @ 10:17 AM

As I understand matters, the UK passport will be passed back to you after it is sent by Spain to the UK authorities

PablodeRonda said:
Monday, May 23, 2022 @ 3:43 PM

With the corner cut off to invalidate it no doubt.

Simon said:
Saturday, May 28, 2022 @ 9:56 AM

The Spanish ban on most dual nationality existed before BREXIT yet reading this misleading article it’s trying to blame BREXIT. What did the EU do to help fix dual nationality, nothing!

The ‘catastrophic vote’ is democracy, something you won’t see much of in the EU.

PablodeRonda said:
Saturday, May 28, 2022 @ 10:35 AM

In defence of The Curmudgeon I don't think this article is misleading at all, nor is it blaming Brexit. He is merely saying that Brexit has caused him to want to adopt Spanish nationality. Dual nationality is clearly not an EU issue, but something between Spain and the rest of the world.

migueldelnorte said:
Saturday, May 28, 2022 @ 11:40 AM

The situation is not irretrievable in the case of having to renounce British nationality to be able to obtain Spanish nationality. Anyone who was born or naturalised in Britain will be able to regain their British citizenship, and there is a form RS1 obtainable online or through the British Embassy for this purpose. Obviously, it is not an easy route and may only be done once, apparently, presumably on wishing to return for good to the UK.

rob_j1 said:
Saturday, May 28, 2022 @ 11:53 AM

Seems like many unintended consequences are rearing its ugly head as time passes. I can only imagine it must be a case of lack of knowledge / information.

aragop said:
Saturday, May 28, 2022 @ 2:17 PM

As a British citizen who's acquired Spanish nationality by residence, I can confirm:
- "renouncing British citizenship" involves signing a piece of paper saying so while at the Registro Civil prior to being given a Spanish birth certificate.  The Spanish authorities do not ask for, let alone take away, your British passport.  You are only required to take a photocopy of the photo page to the Registro Civil.
- the British authorities do not consider signing such a document to be renouncing your British citizenship.  The procedure to do so is shown on the UK government website.
- since dual citizenship is permitted in the UK, the British authorities are perfectly willing to renew the passport of a British citizen who's acquired Spanish nationality.  This fact has to be declared and details of the Spanish passport are shown on the new British passport.
- having acquired Spanish nationality, an existing/renewed British passport cannot of course be used anywhere in the EU.

PablodeRonda said:
Saturday, May 28, 2022 @ 3:13 PM

When I enquired at our local registro civil last year I was told that applications for Spanish nationality can only now be made online. Face-to-face is a thing of the past.

C. Doc said:
Saturday, May 28, 2022 @ 5:21 PM

If Mr and Mrs Smith choose to live permanently in Spain and are happy, and educate their children there, maybe it would be good to commit themselves to Spain, why should they want or need British nationality as well as Spanish the Spanish might be justified in thinking?

Charlietwice said:
Sunday, May 29, 2022 @ 10:42 AM

An interesting article that once again highlights the creeping disaster that is Brexit. How anyone who lives or has a property in Spain can possibly want to be out of the EU is beyond comprehension. Our rights here are severely eroded and even if we adopt Spain as our new home, there's no reason why we can't also keep our links to the UK (where my children have a life), even if it is a sinking ship under the worst government in my lifetime. For the record, we were able to vote in EU elections but we have little or no say now. Democracy?

PablodeRonda said:
Sunday, May 29, 2022 @ 11:08 AM

CHARLIETWICE, I could have written those words myself. Why any British person who is resident in Spain/the EU could support Brexit is beyond me, yet I know of a few around these parts. It's unbelievable and despite all the unintended consequences that make life more difficult, they are still in denial.

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