Many countries have a genuine tradition where they use a common surname that maybe symbolises the family as a unit primarily associated with having children. Most countries in western Europe, UK and the US follow the same pattern; married women enjoy the right to take the husband’s surname upon marriage. Spain has a different tradition though, married women bear two different surnames: the father’s first surname and the mother’s first surname, where the order can be chosen. They must keep in fact their two maiden surnames.
What happens if a UK married woman residing in Spain decides to apply for Spanish citizenship but wishes to keep her husband’s surname?
If the applicant woman took her husband’s surname when she got married and wishes to keep it in nationality process in Spain, that won’t be legally possible. According to Spanish law she must retain her maiden surname; she will have to bear her father’s first surname and her mother’s first surname, no matter whether she has been using her husband’s surname at banks, Social Security, Mercantile and Land Registry or whatever other public records for ages, not to mention using it in her own passport for many years. She will have no right to preserve her current identity and must accept the Spanish rules regarding surnames, where she must retain her birth given surnames. This discourage many women from applying for Spanish citizenship, as changing their identity may involve not only emotional issues for them, but also a lot of work with regards to bureaucracy.
There is no legal chance in Spain to keep her husband’s surname as her first surname upon applying for Spanish citizenship.