On October 1, 2015 came into force the law, according to which Sephardic Jews and their descendants can obtain Spanish citizenship. The law will be in effect for three years with the possibility of renewal by decision of the Council of Ministers of Spain.
Spanish Citizenship for Descendants of Sephardic Jews
According to this law, Spanish citizenship can be obtained within one year from the date of application to the Directorate General for Registers and Notaries of Spain. The procedure can take up to fifteen months, counting from the moment of submission of documents through the website of the Ministry of Justice.
Sephardic Jews (and their descendants who do not practice Judaism and are not Jews) also have the right to obtain Spanish citizenship. The main condition is to present a proof of Sephardic origin and existence of a “special connection” with Spain.
Sephardic origin can be confirmed on the basis of the following documents:
- A certificate issued by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, which can be obtained by submitting an online application on the Federation’s website. The cost of the certificate is 60.50 euros (payable in case of a positive decision.)
- Any documents which indicate Sephardic origin of ancestors: birth certificates, marriage certificates, various archival documents etc.
- Ketubah with the indication that the marriage took place according to the Castilian traditions.
- A certificate issued by a Jewish community in the country of residence or birth of an applicant. Such certificate must be approved by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain.
- A certificate issued by the competent authorities that the applicant’s surname is of Sephardic origin.
- Any other documents which can prove Sephardic origin of the applicant.
A special link with Spain can be proved on the basis of the following factors, which will be assessed together:
- ownership of a real estate or conducting business activities in Spain
- membership in Spanish clubs or similar organizations
- legal residence in Spain for at list six month
- attendance all sorts of specialized courses
- teaching children at schools with Spanish classes
- officially working in Spain
- conducting charitable or business activity in Spain or abroad on behalf of Spanish organizations
- studying of Spanish history and culture confirmed by the appropriate certificate
- taking park in conferences and other events dedicated to Spanish culture
- any other circumstances and documents which can prove a special link to Spain.
The following document must also be provided:
- birth certificate
- marriage certificate (if applicable)
- police clearance certificate from the country of birth or from the country in which the applicant has been living for the last five years
- passport photocopy or other ID
- Spanish language certificate (level A2) (exception – applicants native to countries where Spanish is official language)
- certificate of knowledge of the constitution and socio-cultural aspects of life in Spain
- fee payment confirmation – €100
All document must be translated to Spanish and legalized. Spanish language certificate and Certificate of knowledge of the constitution and socio-cultural aspects of life in Spain can be obtained at The Cervantes Institute worldwide.
The exact list of documents which could prove Sephardic origin of the applicant does not exist. There is also no an officially recognized list of Sephardic surnames, carriers of which could obtain Spanish citizenship (but a Sephardic surname is, of course, a good start.)
In many cases, in the lack of necessary documents, an applicant might need to conduct an archival research in order to find documents which could prove Sephardic origin of his ancestors.
Should you have any questions regarding obtaining Spanish citizenship through Sephardic origin feel free to contact us anytime.
A lot of useful information about Spain may be found on the official website of the European Union.