It’s not just David Cameron, who has just announced his resignation, who has been considering his position this morning. Many living in Tenerife might be doing just the same themselves, and applying for Spanish nationality is an option for anyone who feels that their position might be vulnerable as a non-EU national living within the European Union.
The position for those considering becoming a Spanish citizen is that Spain will require the applicant to renounce their British nationality. The UK, however, does not recognize such a renunciation made to Spain (it would only recognize the renunciation of British citizenship if a formal declaration were made direct to the UK – see HERE) , and so, technically, one would in effect have two nationalities, rather than dual nationality. Spain could require the applicant to hand over their British passport, but the UK will not consider it surrendered as far as it itself is concerned.
Those who wish to apply will have to have been legally and demonstrably resident in Spain for a continuous period of ten years, of good character (i.e. can produce criminal record checks from the UK and Spain), and must show what is called good citizenship and integration, which obviously includes being able to understand and speak Spanish – a diploma from the Cervantes Institute is required showing a pass in both a language and a socio-cultural test. The full procedure is described on the Ministerio de Justicia page HERE.
One particular factor to consider which might weigh quite heavily with British applicants for Spanish nationality is that their testamentary situation would come under Spanish inheritance jurisdiction. These laws restrict the testator’s freedom when drawing up a Will, particularly in respect of “compulsory heirs” (herederos forzosos), with the result that two-thirds of an estate must be left to the deceased’s children – half of that two-thirds in equal parts between all children and the other may be left unequally but must be left to a child or children: a a surviving spouse has a life interest (usufruct) in that second half of the two-thirds. The final third of the estate can be left to whomever the testator desires – and assuming this would be a spouse, would be the only part of the estate that could be directly inherited by a spouse.