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How to Obtain Spanish Citizenship

How to Obtain Spanish Citizenship

In this article, we describe how to obtain Spanish citizenship, the available options, and briefly outline the process for application and the needed documents.

Individuals who qualify for becoming citizens can commence the process with the help of our agents who specialize in Spain immigration. For most expats, the purpose of staying in Spain long-term can conclude in their application for obtaining nationality. 

Obtaining and retaining Spanish citizenship is subject to several regulations and individuals should know that the nationality acquired through the residence, for example, can be lost if the process was subject to fraud. You can also count on us if you are interested in a residence permit in Spain first.

 Quick Facts 
  Residency optionsTemporary and permanent residency
Ways to acquire citizenshipBy naturalization, by birth, by marriage, by investment, by possession of status
Citizenship requirements for EU citizens 10 years of permanent residence
Citizenship requirements for non- EU citizens10 years of living in Spain uninterruptedly 
Duration to obtain citizenship by marriageOne year
Citizenship by investment availability (YES/NO)YES, for non-EU citizens.  The minimum amount to be invested is 500,000 EUR
Special citizenship options (YES/NO)YES, for citizens of Ibero-American countries
Citizenship by descent requirementsChildren and grandchildren can apply for citizenship by descent 
Dual citizenship permitted (YES/NO)YES, with one exception: people who obtain citizenship by residency must renounce the former passport 
Benefits of becoming a Spanish citizenAccess to performant healthcare and education systems, visa free travel to EU and Schengen countries, voting rights, EU residency.
Conditions for citizenship by marriage   The foreign spouse must have lived with the Spanish spouse in Spain for one year, proficiency of Spanish language, valid residence permit at the time of the application.

 Fastest way to obtain citizenship 


 Availability for citizenship for refugees (YES/NO)

 Yes, refugees can apply for citizenship after 5 years of living in Spain.

 Possibility to obtain  citizenship as a widower of a Spanish national (YES/NO)  Yes, provided that the foreign citizen was married to the Spanish national at the time of his/her death.
 Possibility to apply for citizenship while abroad (YES/NO)

 No, the resident must be in Spain at the time of the application.

 Best way to apply for citizenship in Spain

 Naturalization which implies permanent residency.

 Authority in charge of citizenship issues

Spanish Ministry of Justice 

 Loss of citizenship conditions (if any)

– criminal offenses;

– fraud and acting against the best interest of the country can lead to loss of Spanish citizenship. 

 Support in applying for Spanish citizenship (YES/NO)

Yes, we can help with application filings for Spanish citizenship. 

 Other immigration services available (if any)

 – verification for meeting citizenship requirements;

– support in reapplying for citizenship in case of refusal;

– support in relocating to other parts of the country.

What are the methods of acquiring nationality in Spain?

Foreign citizens have several options for becoming Spanish citizens:

  1. By origin: applicable to those both to a Spanish parent or those born in Spain to non-Spanish parents when at least one of the parents was born in Spain. 
  2. By option: applicable only in specific cases, for example when a foreign national has been the parental authority for a Spanish national. Family members of a Spanish citizen or a citizen of another Member State of the European Union who reside in Spain are also eligible to apply for residency in Spain. This is a good option if they have continuously resided lawfully in Spain for 5 years, or if they still have the right to reside there as a family member.
  3. By residence: those who have lawfully lived in Spain for ten years prior can apply for citizenship under this category.
  4. By naturalization: it is not subject to the general rules and it is awarded ex gratia; it is granted at the discretion of the Government by special decree.
  5. By possession of status: those who have possessed or used the nationality for ten years in good faith even though they were not in fact of Spanish origin.

Our team of immigration lawyers in Spain can help individuals who are interested in knowing more information about each of these different methods of acquiring nationality. Talking to a specialist can be useful especially for those foreign nationals who are not applying for the residence type of citizenship but who are willing to explore the other options that may require different processes. Special assistance may be required for example in the situation in which one of the parents was not Spanish but was born in Spain (an exemption applies here to the children of diplomats).

You can count on us for obtaining a residence permit in Spain, followed by citizenship.

We can also help you with temporary relocation solutions. If you opt to use a Spanish nomad visa as a temporary way of moving here, our attorneys can help if you require assistance obtaining one. We are here to help people relocate to one of Europe’s most stunning nations. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help applying for this visa.

You can also rely on us if you need support in other immigration pathways. For example, if you marry a Spanish citizen, you can become a citizen of Spain after living there for a year. This is the quickest way to get a passport. In order for a foreign spouse to get citizenship in Spain, the marriage must be officially recognized by the local authorities.

We are here for you if you wish to apply for permanent residence in Spain. Naturalization is the safest route, although there are drawn-out waiting periods. If you want to get a residence permit, get in touch with us for individualized guidance and assistance in relocating permanently here either by yourself or with your family.

Types of visas leading to citizenship in Spain in 2024

Citizenship is the main purpose of those who immigrate to Spain for long periods of time and luckily, the types of visas through which permanent residence and then Spanish citizenship can be obtained are various.

When it comes to the visas that can be obtained by foreign nationals, it is important to note that these must be obtained by non-EU and non-EEA citizens followed by the required period of time until citizenship can be applied for.

Another important aspect to be considered by non-EU citizens is that when they are EU residency holders (when they have obtained an EU Blue Card or another type of visa in another member state) it will be easier for them to move to Spain and apply for permanent residence here.

Even if the visa requirement does not apply to EU and EEA citizens, these too must register with the local authorities upon arrival and wait for the citizenship requisites to be met in order to apply for Spanish citizenship.

When it comes to the visas through which one can obtain citizenship in Spain, both short-term and long-term residence visas can be obtained, however, the procedure is lengthier when applying for the first type of permit due to the fact that it must be renewed several times before applying for permanent residency.

Our immigration lawyers in Spain can offer detailed information on how to apply for long-term residency with the purpose of obtaining citizenship.

We could also help you apply for permanent residence in Spain. Our immigration attorneys can help people from all over the world who decide to make Spain their new home. It offers several prospects for success across a variety of industries and is one of the most competitive economies in the EU.

What are some of the specific requirements for obtaining citizenship?

Each of the methods of acquiring citizenship is subject to a set of conditions and applicants are advised to thoroughly understand these before they commence the application procedure.

For the nationality by residence, one of the commonly employed methods for acquiring this status, there can be certain cases in which the ten-year period can be reduced:

  • Five years: when it is granted to those individuals who have obtained the status of refugees.
  • Two years: for those of Sephardic origin, those from Ibero-American countries, the Equatorial Guinea, or the Philippines. 
  • One year: for individuals who were born on Spanish territory or those who have not exercised their right to Spanish nationality.
  • One year for marriage: applies to individuals who, when making the application, have been married for one year to a Spanish national.
  • One year for widowers: the widow of a Spanish national can acquire this status if at the time of death they were not separated.

Individuals should also know that the Spanish nationality can be lost in some cases. For example, those who have acquired nationality according to residency can lose their status as citizens or nationals if they enter the armed services or hold political office voluntarily in a foreign state against the government’s indications. The citizenship can also be annulled when the party is sentenced and is convicted of having falsified the acquisition of Spanish nationality.

Our team of immigration lawyers in Spain can give you more information about the conditions for obtaining citizenship but also the special situations in which it can be withdrawn as a result of the holder’s actions.

The Ministry of Justice in Spain is the one to handle nationality matters, interested individuals can reach out to us for details about the ongoing requirements, and procedures set forth by the authorities.

We invite you to read about the main ways of obtaining Spanish citizenship in the infographic below:

How to Obtain Spanish Citizenship

How to obtain Spanish citizenship by residency

The main way through which foreign citizens apply for citizenship in Spain is after living here based on permanent residence permits. This is also one of the simplest ways of acquiring a passport, as the applicant already knows the culture and language after living for sufficient years in Spain.

Before applying for citizenship, a foreign national must first obtain a temporary or permanent residence permit that will need to be renewed several times before being allowed to apply for citizenship. Also, it is important to note that there are different requirements for obtaining Spanish citizens based on the nationality of the applicant.

In the case of non-EU citizens, these must live for 5 uninterrupted years in Spain before obtaining permanent residency. They must also meet specific requirements, such as having sufficient funds to support themselves and public or private health insurance.

Then, Spanish citizenship can be requested after 10 years of living here.

Foreign citizens seeking to obtain residency and then citizenship can rely on our immigration lawyers in Spain for detailed information on how to obtain them.

Acquiring citizenship in Spain by marriage

Just like other European countries, Spain also offers the possibility to foreign citizens who are married to Spanish nationals to obtain citizenship here. This is one of the fastest ways to acquire a Spanish passport, however, there are some requirements to be met. First of all, the foreign citizen must give up their previous citizenship in order to obtain the Spanish one. Then, he or she must have lived in Spain based on a residence permit for at least one year.

Foreign citizens can rely on our immigration lawyer in Spain for guidance in applying for citizenship after getting married to a national of this country.

How to get Spanish citizenship by marriage

The first requirement for a citizen seeking to apply for nationality is to establish residency in Spain. Having married a Spanish citizen will make this possible. After that, you and your spouse must prove that you have lived together continuously for a year on Spanish territory.

You will benefit from being able to reduce the amount of time you must reside in Spain for the legal application from 2 to one year as a result of having registered your marriage (compared to the 2 to 10 years required in the majority of instances, depending on your country of origin). Therefore, it is safe to say that Spanish citizenship by marriage is one of the easiest ways of acquiring a passport for this country.

In respect to the documents to be filed when applying for citizenship by marriage, here they are:

  • pass CCSE and DELE language tests (if you don’t know Spanish);
  • have Spanish residency as a family member of an EU citizen (it is crucial that this card remains active throughout the legal application process);
  • a valid passport;
  • the applicant’s and your spouse’s birth certificates;
  • a clean background criminal check;
  • proof that the marriage has been recorded in the town hall by both parties. This will be the procedure used to monitor the coexistence for a full year;
  • the marriage license. Remember that before starting the legal application process, the marriage must be registered in Spain if it was previously registered elsewhere;
  • proof that you have adequate financial resources (about €800 per month).

Please keep in mind that all documentation from other countries must be valid in Spain. You can rely on our immigration lawyers in Spain if you need guidance in having such papers translated and apostilled.

Citizenship by investment in Spain in 2024

Spain is one of the many countries to have enabled an economic citizenship program. Moreover, it is one of the most successful in Europe. It must be noted, however, that this program is available for high net worth individuals meaning to make a significant contribution to the economy, hence its name.

The conditions for obtaining Spanish citizenship through the Golden Visa Scheme are more stringent are imply among others the following:

  • to invest at least 1 million euros in the form of a bank deposit;
  • to invest at least 1 million euros in the form of company share purchases;
  • to invest at least 500,000 euros in the purchase of a property;
  • to invest at least 2 million euros in Treasury bonds.

It is also possible for the applicant to invest in the opening of a company in Spain.

Apart from these conditions, the applicant must also meet the following requirements:

  • he or she must have a clean criminal record;
  • the applicant must prove the legitimacy of the funds;
  • the investment must be maintained for 5 years.

This program was created for non-EU citizens seeking to move to Spain and the preferred choice of applicants is usually real estate investment. For this, our immigration lawyers in Spain offer various services.

We can also assist with the preparation of the documents required to apply for citizenship by investment in Spain in 2024.

What are the documents needed to apply for citizenship in Spain?

In general, the documents required when applying for citizenship will be those that prove the applicant’s lawful stay in the country for the requested period or the fact that he/she is lawfully married to a Spanish national or other documents, as per the specific situation that applies.

The criminal record, the proof of income, and of residence in Spain, along with other documents as may be required will be gathered into a file that will be submitted with the filled-in application.

Steps to complete in order to obtain citizenship in Spain

No matter the way one immigrated to Spain, the steps to citizenship are the same once all requirements are met. These are:

  • to prepare all the documents attesting to meeting the conditions for citizenship and filing them;
  • take the language test;
  • take the 25-question test on knowledge of the Spanish Constitution and social-cultural customs;
  • pay the application fee.

For foreign nationals whose native language is Spanish, the language test will not be required. For other applicants, a minimum A2 level is required.

The procedure does not take long, and our lawyers can offer more information and prepare you for the interviews.

Dual citizenship in Spain

Foreign citizens who have applied for citizenship in Spain must know that they are required to renounce their previous passports unless they have Ibero-American origins. Among the foreign citizens who can retain both citizenships are Argentinians, Bolivians, Brazilians, Chileans, Colombians, Costa Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Mexicans,  Nicaraguans, citizens of Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Uruguay.

The procedures for obtaining citizenship in Spain for the citizens of these countries are the same, even if they decide to keep their former citizenship.

If you want to emigrate to Spain and need guidance on the best way to do that, you can rely on our lawyers who can provide you with details on the procedures related to each type of residence permit available.

The fastest way to obtain citizenship in Spain in 2024

While the Immigration Law in Spain requires a permanent residency of 10 years before applying for citizenship, there a few exceptions to this rule. Refugees can be eligible to apply for citizenship after 5 years of residency here, while citizens of Andorra, Portugal, Equatorial Guinea, and the Philippines can apply for Spanish passports after two years of residency here.

Compared to other European countries, Spain is very friendly to foreign citizens who want to move here on a permanent basis.

Our lawyers are here for those who need information and guidance on the simplest way to obtain citizenship in Spain in 2024.

What is the best way of applying for Spanish citizenship?

Choosing a way to immigrate to Spain is not complicated unless one has Spanish origins, a case in which, this would be a natural choice. Employment and living in Spain under a residence permit can be the best route for those seeking to obtain citizenship by naturalization.

Entrepreneurs can decide on citizenship by investment in Spain by starting a business or by purchasing properties here. Either way, our lawyers can offer the needed assistance for moving to this country permanently.

Those who want to apply for citizenship in Spain in 2024 must meet various requirements, among which speaking Spanish well and knowing the local culture. Their knowledge will be tested during the citizenship interview.

Obtaining Spanish citizenship in 2024 is not complicated, therefore those who are interested in applying for Spanish passports can benefit from the support of our lawyers.

Below, you can watch our video on how to obtain Spanish citizenship:

Procedures to complete after becoming a Spanish citizen

Those who have acquired Spanish citizenship must change their documents after the procedure is completed. They will also obtain full rights as Spanish citizens, such as voting rights and even property purchase rights for those who did not have them before.

For those who have not registered with the national healthcare system and the insurance authorities in this country, the procedure can be completed after obtaining citizenship. As Spanish nationals, persons also have the right to enroll in the national educational system with local universities, while their children can study in local schools.

Obtaining citizenship in Spain also comes with EU residency for those who did not immigrate here based on an EU residence visa.

Our immigration lawyers in Spain can offer detailed information on all the rights attached to becoming a citizen of this country. Also, should you need assistance with registering with the local authorities, we can help.

Contact us for more information about the procedures related to Spain immigration, living in Spain, acquiring the right residence permit, or acquiring citizenship.

At the level of 2024, in order to work remotely from Spain, non-EU nationals can now apply for a new residence visa (for 3 years). The cardholder can benefit from excellent tax advantages (paying only a fixed 24% on their revenue) and a fast-track application in just 20 days thanks to this permission under the Entrepreneurs Law.

Many foreign citizens who decide to move to a foreign country on a long term consider applying for citizenship at some point. This is also the case of those who decide on Spanish immigration and who have various options if they are interested in citizenship.

How to obtain Spanish citizenship by descent in 2024

Citizens who have Spanish origins can also obtain citizenship here. This is called citizenship by option and implies:

  • having a Spanish mother or father;
  • having foreign parents but at least one of them being born in Spain;
  • having foreign parents but being born in Spain;
  • being adopted by Spanish citizens prior to turning 18 years old.

There are also special cases where foreign citizens born outside Spain with Spanish grandparents to obtain a residence permit and after a year apply for citizenship.

The documents to be prepared when applying for Spanish citizenship by descent for 2024 are usually more extensive, given the fact that in some cases, proof of descent must be obtained with the local authorities in Spain.

If you need support in gathering the documents for obtaining Spanish citizenship in 2024, our lawyers can help you. In case you want to obtain citizenship by descent in Canada, our partners can help you.

Who can obtain Spanish citizenship by descent?

A privileged category of applicants is that of persons who have Spanish ancestors and who can obtain citizenship by descent in Spain.

Moving to Spain and obtaining citizenship by descent implies checking the main eligibility requirements and filing various documents with the immigration authorities here. If you need legal guidance, our immigration lawyers in Spain who are experienced in these matters are at your service.

When it comes to Spanish citizenship and the ways through which it can be obtained the safest option for many foreigners is naturalization which implies first obtaining permanent residency. However, these are also those who can secure a Spanish passport without having to live here for specific periods in order to become citizens of this country.

Here are the main categories of applicants who can be eligible for Spain citizenship by descent:

  • persons who have at least one parent who is a Spanish citizen;
  • persons with both parents born in Spain;
  • foreign citizens who were adopted by at least one Spanish national as a children;
  • foreign citizens who have Spanish grandparents.

It should also be noted that recently there have been certain changes in the regulations applied to foreign citizens who want to apply for Spanish citizenship by descent. Specifically, great-grandchildren of Spanish citizens can also become eligible for citizenship under the new law.

Our immigration lawyers in Spain can offer detailed information on the amended legislation and the requirements for citizenship by descent in Spain.

Conditions for getting Spanish citizenship through ancestry

When it comes to Spanish citizenship by heritage, even if it can be obtained directly, there are certain conditions to be met. The most important is that the Spanish ancestor must never have given up their Spanish citizenship. Secondly, official records like passports, marriage licenses, and birth certificates must be able to demonstrate the descendants’ familial relationship to the Spanish ancestor.

It is also important to keep in mind that obtaining Spanish citizenship by origin can be a difficult process that requires multiple stages, among which:

  • gathering and submitting a number of documents;
  • going through background checks;
  • going through various administrative processes.

To guarantee a successful application for Spanish citizenship through ancestry, it is therefore advised to seek the advice of specialists, such as our immigration lawyers.

Documents to be filed by foreign citizens seeking Spanish citizenship through ancestry

Apart from the papers needed to demonstrate one’s origin for Spanish citizenship purposes, the list of documents must be completed by the following:

  • the applicant’s birth certificate, passport, and, if relevant, proof of Spanish residency;
  • his/her criminal history;
  • a certificate attesting to your success in the Spanish citizenship tests;
  • evidence of payment for the application fee;
  • the historical and current census;
  • evidence of adequate financial resources.

You can rely on our immigration lawyer in Spain for support in gathering the necessary documents for applying for citizenship.

Exams for obtaining Spanish citizenship by heritage

Please keep in mind that passing two citizenship examinations is another requirement for obtaining a Spanish passport by ancestry and becoming a citizen of this country.  The DELE A2 is the language exam that certifies your proficiency in Spanish to a conversational degree. If you are from a Latin American state, this test it is no longer necessary.  Speaking of Latin American citizens who do not need to pass this test, it does apply if you immigrate to Spain from the USA.

The CCSE is a cultural assessment covering geography, art, television, government, and culture in Spain. This test is not necessary if you attended high school in Spain.

When taking the tests in another country, you can do that at the Spanish embassy. If you are in Spain, you can take the test at authorized testing locations.

The examination results should be sent to you in about 3 months after the test is finished.  You will have 3 chances to retake the tests if you do not pass one or both of them.

We remind you that these exams must also be taken and passed by those applying for Spanish citizenship by origin.

The frame for getting Spanish citizenship through ancestry

While you may consider that obtaining a passport through descent is obtained immediately, there are several aspects to take into account.

You can petition for naturalization under the Spanish citizenship through ancestry pathway after a year or two of residency in Spain. You can apply for fast-track naturalization to become a Spanish citizen after one year of residency in Spain if you are an applicant with a Spanish citizen grandparent or a Spanish parent born outside of the country. In the latter situation, you can get your new passport by addressing the nearest Spanish consulate.

After 2 years of residency in Spain, individuals of Sephardic descent, those from Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, and Latin-American also become eligible for naturalization.

We can also assist you in emigrating to Spain by other means. For example, we can help you apply for a digital nomad visa for Spain if you do not want to settle here permanently.

The new Spanish Citizenship Law

According to the amended law, the following categories of persons can apply for Spain citizenship by descent:

  1. grandchildren of Spanish women married to foreigners before 1978;
  2. children of persons who obtain Spanish citizenship by origin but who were not 18 at the time their parents became citizens;
  3. grandchildren of Spanish citizens who moved out the country and lost their Spanish citizenship;
  4. grandchildren of Spanish persons who could not express their intent of keeping their Spanish citizens as they did not have the legal age to do so.

If you are a Spanish national’s child or grandchild you should note that you could be able to regain your Spanish nationality without having to live in Spain or pass any tests. The Spanish Grandchildren Law (Ley de Memoria Democratica), allows descendants of original Spanish nationals to petition for Spanish nationality based on the Spanish ancestry of their parents. The procedure entails submitting an application to the Spanish Consulate in the applicant’s home country, but only if done before October 21st, 2024, when the regulatory window would close and the applicant’s right to apply will terminate unless the government decides to prolong it. Should you need more information on this matter, please contact our immigration lawyers in Spain.

If you fall under any of the categories presented above and want to apply for Spain citizenship by descent, you can get in touch with our local law firm who can verify your eligibility for a Spanish passport.

Spain citizenship application procedure

The procedure for applying for citizenship by descent in Spain starts with the Spanish embassy or consulate in the country the foreign citizen lives. For this purpose, one needs to book an appointment a few weeks before (our immigration lawyers in Spain can offer guidance in this sense) and prepare various documents.

Among the papers that need to be filed are:

  • an application form (the document depends on who the ancestors are);
  • the applicant’s birth certificate;
  • the birth certificate of the Spanish ancestor.

In respect to the application form – Form I must be filed in the case the applicant has Spanish parents and Form II is required when applying through one’s grandparents.

When it comes to the birth certificate of the Spanish relative, it can be obtained from a local civil registry in Spain. Also, a baptism certificate can also be accepted in the case of grandparents who were born before 1870. Some of the procedures can be completed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A reply to the application should be obtained within 12 months of filing the paperwork.

If you are interested in Spain citizenship by descent, our immigration law firm can offer tailored assistance. We also invite you to watch our video below:

What is the easiest way of obtaining citizenship in Spain?

Spain is one of the European countries that offers several pathways to citizenship. Among these, naturalization, investment, and marriage are the most employed. However, for those with Spanish ancestors, citizenship by descent in Spain is a good option.

When it comes to the timeframe for the different procedures, here is what those interested should know:

  • citizenship by naturalization can be obtained in 2 to 10 years, depending on the nationality of the applicant;
  • citizenship by marriage can be obtained in 1 year provided that certain conditions are met;
  • citizenship by descent can be obtained in 1 year after filing the documents, therefore without any additional waiting period.

Benefits of gaining Spanish citizenship

No matter if you have obtained Spanish citizenship by marriage or by any of the other available procedures, there are several advantages linked to this status.

One of the main advantages is that having Spanish nationality makes it simpler to work and study in this country. Unlike residency, which must be renewed every few years, citizenship does not require this, allowing you to concentrate on creating a life for yourself in Spain without having to deal with bureaucracy.

Once you obtain Spanish citizenship, you have access to the Schengen area. You can travel between various European nations without passing through border control in this region because there are no internal border restrictions. The Schengen region consists of 26 nations, including Sweden, Finland, Italy, Greece, and France. You can also enjoy the advantages of the EU if you become a citizen of Spain even if your country of origin is not one of the EU’s members. This includes having access to free healthcare in every EU member state, being able to work there, and not paying taxes twice—once in your home country and once in the nation where you are now living.

And finally, the reputation of the Spanish passport is quite good. This is due to the fact that having a Spanish nationality makes it simpler for individuals to live and work throughout Europe because it provides entry to so many other nations.

If you need support in applying for Spanish citizenship by marriage, remember that you can rely on our local immigration law firm.

If you are interested in Spain citizenship by descent and need guidance, our lawyers are at your service. You can rely on our immigration lawyer in Spain for tailored support, so do not hesitate to contact us.