How to get Spanish citizenship

What’s on this page?

  1. Ways to obtain Spanish citizenship
  2. Obtaining citizenship by naturalization
  3. How to apply for Spanish citizenship
  4. Obtaining citizenship by descent
  5. Obtaining citizenship by marriage
  6. Obtaining citizenship by investment
  7. Your rights and obligations after obtaining citizenship

Your dream has come true and you have moved to blessed Spain for permanent residence. You really like everything here - an amazing climate with more than 300 sunny days a year, the most beautiful nature in any region of the country, beautiful cities and towns, excellent roads and transport systems, friendly people, delicious food and wine and reasonable prices for goods and services. But there is one important thing left to take care of and that is how to get Spanish citizenship and whether it is necessary to obtain it.

Beach in Spain

Let us find out how important it is to acquire Spanish citizenship, what benefits will a person who acquires citizenship have, how difficult the acquisition process is, and what requirements must be met in order to become a Spanish citizen. There are a number of advantages that a foreigner who has acquired Spanish citizenship will have. From the moment you receive it, you can do the following:

  • reside in Spain indefinitely;
  • travel within the European Union, as well as work in any of the EU countries;
  • find a job or enter an educational institution more easily;
  • gain access to public health care;
  • take part in elections, which is important for a modern person with an active lifestyle;
  • feel like a real Spaniard, who has the same rights as the natives.

And your children born in Spain will immediately become citizens of the country.

Ways to obtain Spanish citizenship

There are four main ways to obtain Spanish citizenship:

  • by naturalization;
  • by descent;
  • by marriage;
  • through investment.

It is worth dwelling on each of them.

Obtaining citizenship by naturalization

If you came to Spain for the purpose of permanent residence, officially found a job and for five years you have not had any claims regarding the fulfillment of the requirements of Spanish law, then in this case you can apply for a residence permit. After another five years, under the same conditions, you can begin to collect documents for applying for Spanish citizenship.

Spanish citizenship

If for most immigrants the period after which you can apply for citizenship is ten years, then in some cases this period may be different. There are a number of reasons that affect how long to get Spanish citizenship it will take:

Reason Length of stay in Spain
refugee five years
citizen of any of the countries of Latin America, Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, Philippines * two years
married to a Spanish citizen, children/grandchildren of Spanish citizens born in Spain one year
*For citizens of countries mentioned earlier, dual citizenship is possible, i.е. no need to renounce the citizenship of your country when obtaining a Spanish  

To obtain Spanish citizenship by naturalization, the following requirements must be met:

  • you must permanently stay within the specified period in Spain (it is possible to leave for a period not exceeding three months);
  • stay in Spain on a tourist or student visa cannot be added to the total required length of stay;
  • you must be a law-abiding person, since any, even a minor violation of the law, may adversely affect the decision to grant citizenship;
  • your knowledge of Spanish must be at A2 level and above, you must be knowledgeable about the history, geography, political structure, culture of the country because you will need to pass two exams: DELE ̶ a basic language test (it is not required for citizens of Spanish-speaking countries) and CCSE is a test of general knowledge about a country.

In addition, your knowledge of the historical and cultural heritage of Spain will be to your advantage. It will also help you assimilate into the Spanish environment, find a social circle among the natives.

How to apply for Spanish citizenship

The main package of documents required for submission to the relevant authorities includes the following:

  • original passport and alien identification number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero, NIE);
  • a valid residence permit (you need to renew it in a timely manner);
  • birth certificate;
  • a document confirming the absence of significant violations of the law;
  • certificate of passing the DELE and CCSE exams;
  • medical insurance;
  • proof of payment of the fee (about € 100);
  • a document confirming your financial solvency.

After all the necessary documents have been collected, you can submit an application with a package of documents to the relevant authority in person or online. Next, you need to be patient, as the period for reviewing documents and making a decision can be quite long. If a positive decision is made, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony where you will take an oath of allegiance to Spain and receive a certificate of citizenship. You can get a Spanish passport and other documents after receiving a certificate of citizenship.

Obtaining citizenship by descent

In this case, a foreign citizen can acquire Spanish citizenship if:

  • both parents are citizens of Spain or at least one of them;
  • in some cases, if you are a grandson of Spanish citizens or your grandparents were forced to lose their Spanish citizenship, because they were illegally expelled from the country;
  • you are a citizen of a Latin American country and your grandparents were born in Spain.

Spanish seniors

Other family ties cannot be grounds for obtaining citizenship. You should carefully study the question of how to get Spanish citizenship through ancestry in your particular case, so that your subsequent efforts will not be in vain.

The documents required for obtaining citizenship by descent, in addition to the above, also include the following:

  • birth certificates of each Spanish ancestor;
  • marriage certificate (if applicable);
  • death certificate (if applicable).

It is possible that other documents will be required from you, since this method of obtaining citizenship is quite complicated.

Obtaining citizenship by marriage

How to get Spanish citizenship by marriage? If a foreigner married a citizen of Spain at least a year prior, has lived in Spain for a year and has a valid residence permit, then he can apply for a Spanish citizenship.

Spanish wedding

Such a marriage must be contracted in accordance with Spanish law. Therefore, if the marriage registration was carried out in the home country of a foreign citizen, then you must also register in Spain. If you are in a common-law marriage or you are divorced from a Spanish citizen, you cannot apply for Spanish citizenship. To file an application for citizenship by marriage, you need to attach a marriage certificate to the package of documents indicated above.

Obtaining citizenship by investment

If a foreign citizen invests financial resources in real estate or the Spanish economy, then this is not yet grounds for obtaining Spanish citizenship. The investment entitles you to a Golden Visa, a residence permit and the right to permanent residence in Spain. And in the future, after ten years and the fulfillment of a number of requirements, you can apply for citizenship.

Type of investment Investment amount
in real estate at least € 500,000
purchase of shares of companies or a deposit in a Spanish bank at least € 1,000,000
buying Spanish government bonds at least € 2,000,000
into a new promising type of business with the introduction of the latest technologies, the creation of new jobs, etc.

If you choose this way of obtaining Spanish citizenship, then you can apply for a Golden Visa when you decide on the type of investment and open a Spanish bank account. To obtain a Golden Visa, your investment may not yet be completed and you yourself may not be in Spain, but involve an experienced lawyer in the process who, by proxy, will act on your behalf.

Spanish property

The question of how to get Spanish citizenship by investment is mainly about choosing the right type of investment. To do this, you must be aware of the state of the Spanish economy and the real estate market, or you should contact professionals with a high reputation. Thus, WTG Spain can become a real estate investment coordinator. It should be noted that this type of investment has recently been given more and more preference due to the high conjuncture of the Spanish real estate market.

Your rights and obligations after obtaining citizenship

Having moved permanently to Spain, and having clarified all the details regarding how to get a Spanish citizenship in your particular case, it is worth re-evaluating whether you need to become a Spanish citizen or whether it is enough to have a residence permit . After all, the process of obtaining citizenship can become long and tedious, as well as quite costly. In addition, you will most likely lose your existing citizenship. Your new status may also involve new rights and obligations.

The possibility of visa-free travel and employment within the EU countries; easy access to healthcare and education systems, etc.

 If you become a Spanish citizen after you have lived in the country for a long time and have strictly observed Spanish law, then you will not have any additional obligations. The main thing is not to break the law and pay taxes regularly. Citizens of any developed state have the same obligations. In addition, you must adhere to the life principles of the inhabitants of the area where you live, observe their traditions. Respect for the environment is important, especially in Spain, where love for nature is a cult.

So, having studied all the pros and cons of obtaining citizenship, evaluating the different types, you should make the right choice. On the one hand, a lot of new prospects open up before you, on the other hand, you may encounter difficulties of a different nature that may seem insurmountable to you. In any case, you should contact professional lawyers with extensive experience in this kind of cases, a positive reputation and a good knowledge of your native language.

Trust that some additional costs for their services will be offset by the fact that the process of obtaining citizenship will not be as burdensome as it may seem. Moreover, a specialist will expertly explain to you the reasons why you cannot or do not need to be a Spanish citizen. Either way, it is worth considering when the time comes.


How long do I need to live in Spain to become a citizen?

Typically, this period is 10 years of legal residence for most foreigners, but there are certain exceptions.

Can I keep my current citizenship if I become a Spanish citizen?

Dual citizenship under Spanish law is allowed for citizens of any of the countries of Latin America, as well as Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, the Philippines. Citizens of other countries renounce their existing citizenship upon obtaining Spanish.

Is a language test required to get Spanish citizenship?

Yes, you will be taking the DELE exam, the basic language test, and your level of language proficiency must be at least A2.

Can marriage to a Spanish citizen help me acquire Spanish citizenship?

Yes, this is one of the effective ways to get Spanish citizenship. You can apply for citizenship after one year of residence in Spain. However, other criteria must also be met.


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