Path to Spanish Nationality: Your Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become a Citizen of Spain

Aiming to become a Spanish citizen? This article cuts straight to the chase on how to become a citizen of Spain, breaking down the steps, whether through residency or investment. Expect a straightforward guide to each pathway, preparing you for the legal journey ahead, without diversion or overselling.

Key Takeaways

  • Spanish citizenship provides various benefits, including the freedom to live, work, and travel within the EU, participate in elections, and access public services. Dual citizenship is available for certain nationalities under specific agreements.
  • Several routes to Spanish citizenship include citizenship by birth, descent, naturalization, marriage, and investment, each with distinct eligibility criteria and requirements to fulfill.
  • The citizenship application process comprises steps like assessing eligibility, gathering documents, language and cultural proficiency tests, interviews, fee payment, decision waiting, oath of allegiance, and eventually obtaining a Spanish passport.

Understanding Spanish Citizenship

Spanish citizenship brings forth a multitude of benefits and opportunities, making it an attractive option for those seeking permanent legal status in Spain and the European Union (EU). Here are some of the key advantages of becoming a Spanish citizen:

  • Permanent legal status to reside in Spain indefinitely: Spanish citizenship grants individuals the right to reside in Spain indefinitely. This provides long-term stability and security in your chosen country of residence.
  • The right to work and move freely within the EU: As a Spanish citizen, you have the right to work and move freely within all EU member states. This freedom allows you to explore career opportunities and reside in any EU country of your choice.
Spanish flag waving in the wind
  • The ability to participate in Spanish and EU elections: Spanish citizens are eligible to participate in Spanish national and EU elections. This means you can actively engage in the democratic process by voting for your preferred candidates and influencing the political landscape.
  • Access to public education and healthcare systems: Spanish citizens have access to the country’s public education and healthcare systems. This ensures that you and your family can benefit from high-quality healthcare services and education facilities.
  • Retention of Rights: Spanish citizenship allows you to retain certain rights, such as voting, which can be passed down to your descendants. This can have a lasting impact on your family’s future participation in Spanish society.

Becoming a Spanish citizen is more than just getting a new passport. It’s about joining a community, embracing a culture, and enjoying the rights and privileges that come with it.

Acquiring Spanish citizenship entails a considerable commitment, yet it yields significant advantages. For a multitude of people, the charm of the Spanish lifestyle, robust economy, and the opportunity to be integrated into the diverse and inclusive Spanish society outweigh the efforts exerted in securing Spanish citizenship.

The Benefits of Spanish Citizenship

The Benefits of Spanish Citizenship

Spanish citizenship paves the way for a myriad of opportunities. One of the most tangible benefits is the right to travel freely within the EU and Schengen area. This eases travel to and from Spain with a Spanish ID card, making it a breeze to explore the fascinating landscapes and cultures of Europe.

The economic opportunities that come with Spanish citizenship are also significant. Some of the notable benefits of being a Spanish citizen include:

  1. Freedom to Travel within the EU and Schengen Area: One of the most tangible advantages is the right to travel freely within the European Union (EU) and the Schengen Area. With a Spanish ID card, you can easily explore the diverse landscapes, cultures, and historical sites across Europe, making travel more convenient and enjoyable.
  2. Economic Opportunities: Spain’s robust and growing market presents a wealth of job and business prospects. As a Spanish citizen, you can seize these opportunities without the need for separate work permits. This streamlines your access to the job market and opens doors to various industries.
  3. Political Participation: Spanish citizens have the privilege of participating in European and national elections. Your voice can influence the political landscape, and you can vote for your preferred candidates and representatives in both local and EU elections.
  4. Freedom to Move Within the EU: Spanish citizenship provides you with the freedom to live and work in any European country. You can choose to reside and pursue career opportunities in other EU member states, further expanding your horizons.
  5. Permanent Residency in Spain: Spanish citizenship grants you permanent legal status to reside in Spain indefinitely. This offers long-term stability and security in your chosen country of residence, allowing you to build a life in Spain with confidence.

Dual Citizenship and Spain

Although Spain acknowledges dual citizenship, it does not apply this policy universally to all nationalities. Spain has dual citizenship agreements with: Ibero-American countries, Andorra, The Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, France (as of April 1, 2022). This means citizens of these Latin American countries can become Spanish citizens without having to renounce their original nationality.

For individuals from non-treaty countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom, the situation is a bit different. They are required to renounce their original nationality when becoming naturalized as Spanish citizens, unless they belong to a nationality permitted for dual citizenship. This highlights the importance of understanding the specifics of dual citizenship as it relates to your home country before embarking on the journey to Spanish citizenship.

Routes to Acquiring Spanish Citizenship

Acquiring Spanish citizenship does not follow a universal approach. The route you take will depend on your personal circumstances and background. Spain offers several pathways to citizenship, catering to a variety of situations, including the option to acquire Spanish nationality.

The main avenues for obtaining Spanish citizenship include:

  • Citizenship by birth
  • Citizenship by descent
  • Citizenship by naturalization
  • Citizenship by marriage
  • Citizenship by investment
Spanish citizenship

In addition, adults who gained residency in Spain before the age of 18 can apply for citizenship by option between the ages of 18 and 20.

Spain provides refugees the chance to apply for citizenship following five years of lawful residency in the country.

Citizenship by Birth (Jus Soli)

Spain follows the principle of jus soli, or ‘right of the soil’. This means that if a child is born in Spain to foreign parents from a country that does not grant citizenship by birthplace, Spanish citizenship can be acquired by presumption.

Children born in Spain to stateless parents or those who have no nationality can be granted Spanish citizenship upon request and providing proof that the child cannot obtain another nationality. For children born in Spain to non-resident foreigners, Spanish citizenship can be obtained after legally residing in Spain for one year, provided that the parents have a passport from their country of origin and the child has a residence permit for one year.

Citizenship by Descent (Jus Sanguinis)

Possessing Spanish ancestry might qualify you for Spanish citizenship by descent. This pathway is based on the principle of jus sanguinis, or ‘right of blood,’ which guarantees citizenship based on lineage.

Eligibility for Spanish citizenship by descent includes:

  • Having a Spanish mother or father
  • Having both parents born in Spain
  • Being the grandchild of a Spanish citizen
  • Being adopted by a Spanish national before the age of 18

If one parent is Spanish and the other is foreign, their child automatically obtains Spanish citizenship at birth, irrespective of the country of birth. Newborns born to Spanish parents are typically granted Spanish citizenship by birth.

Citizenship by Naturalization

Obtaining Spanish citizenship by residency necessitates ten years of living in Spain with Spanish residence, without prolonged foreign travel. However, exceptions to this rule exist. Nationals from: Ibero-American countries, Andorra, The Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, People of Sephardic Jewish origin. Citizens of a Latin American country can apply for Spanish citizenship after only two years of residency.

To be eligible for Spanish citizenship through naturalization, individuals must not have significant absences from Spain during their residency period and must maintain a clean criminal record, with even minor legal issues potentially affecting the outcome. Refugees may apply for Spanish citizenship after five years of residency, which demonstrates Spain’s commitment to providing security and stable residency to those in vulnerable positions.

Citizenship by Marriage

Marriage to a Spanish citizen provides foreign individuals a route to Spanish citizenship. This provides them with the opportunity to become a Spanish citizen. However, it’s worth mentioning that solely being married to a Spanish citizen does not automatically bestow Spanish citizenship. Automatic citizenship through marriage was phased out after 1975.

To initiate the Spanish citizenship by marriage application process, one must:

  1. Marry a Spanish national and ensure the marriage is registered in Spain.
  2. After marriage, the non-Spanish spouse must apply for Spanish residency which provides a 5-year work and residency permit.
  3. The couple should live together in Spain for at least one year before the non-Spanish spouse becomes eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship.

Meeting specific criteria and following the steps prescribed by Spanish authorities is necessary to successfully apply for citizenship through marriage, which is considered a fast-track route.

Citizenship by Investment: The Spain Golden Visa Program

The Spain Golden Visa Program

The Golden Visa Program presents a unique route to citizenship for those capable of making substantial financial investments in Spain. Introduced in 2013, this initiative offers non-European Union investors the opportunity to obtain Spanish residency by making significant financial investments in Spain’s economy.

To qualify for Golden Visa, applicants must meet several key criteria:

  • Age Requirement: Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Minimum Investment: The primary requirement involves a minimum investment of at least €500,000 in Spanish real estate or alternative substantial investments in the country’s economy. This investment is a crucial aspect of the program, demonstrating the applicant’s commitment to contributing to Spain’s economic growth.
  • Health Insurance and Financial Requirements: Applicants are also required to meet specific health insurance and financial criteria to ensure they can support themselves and their families during their time in Spain.

Spanish Residency by Investment Program: Additional Details

  • Initial Validity: Golden Visa is initially valid for one year, providing a starting point for establishing residency in Spain.
  • Renewability: It can be extended to a two-year renewable residence permit, allowing individuals to maintain their residency status in Spain.
  • Time To Citizenship: 10 Years (2 years for qualifying individuals).
  • Family Inclusion: The program also extends to family members, including the applicant’s spouse, minor children, dependent adult children, and dependent elderly parents. This inclusivity makes it an attractive option for families looking to relocate and enjoy the benefits of Spanish residency.

The Application Process for Spanish Citizenship

the application process for Spanish Citizenship

The journey toward obtaining Spanish citizenship involves a series of crucial steps, with each phase contributing to the overall success of your application. Understanding and navigating this process is essential for applicants looking to become Spanish citizens.

  1. Assessing your eligibility: Before beginning the application process, it’s crucial to assess your eligibility for Spanish citizenship. Eligibility criteria may include the length of your residency in Spain, legal and criminal record requirements, and financial stability.
  2. Gathering necessary documentation: The application process requires applicants to compile a comprehensive set of documentation. This typically includes identification documents, proof of residency, and evidence of financial stability. Additionally, you may need to provide certificates of good conduct and other documents to demonstrate your eligibility.
  3. Submitting your application: Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, you will need to submit your application. The application submission process can vary, but it often involves online submission for faster processing.
  4. Paying the required fees: There are specific fees associated with the application process, and it’s essential to ensure that you have paid these fees as part of your application. Failure to do so may lead to delays or complications in the process.
  5. Demonstrating your linguistic and cultural knowledge: Some citizenship applications may require applicants to demonstrate their proficiency in the Spanish language and knowledge of Spanish culture and society. This may involve taking language and culture exams to prove your competence.
  6. Attending interviews: In some cases, applicants may be required to attend interviews as part of the application process. These interviews may be used to assess your knowledge of Spain, your integration into Spanish society, and your commitment to becoming a Spanish citizen.
  7. Awaiting a decision: After submitting your application, there is a waiting period during which authorities will review your documents, conduct background checks, and assess your eligibility. The average waiting period for a decision is typically around one year.
  8. Taking the Oath of Allegiance: If your application is approved, you will be invited to take the Oath of Allegiance, officially becoming a Spanish citizen. This ceremony is a symbolic step in the process, marking your transition to Spanish citizenship.

Despite the process seeming intimidating, bear in mind that each phase is a vital component of your journey towards Spanish citizenship. Applying online is recommended due to a faster processing time, with an average waiting period of just one year. However, it’s essential to pay close attention to detail as mistakes in the application documents can lead to delays or outright rejection of the application.

Assessing Your Eligibility

Prior to embarking on the application process for Spanish citizenship, it’s necessary to evaluate your eligibility. This involves meeting certain financial and residency requirements. Applicants must demonstrate financial solvency by meeting at least 150% of the IPREM to ensure they can support themselves without becoming a burden to the state.

It is also mandatory to hold a valid residence permit at the time of applying for Spanish citizenship. Applications should be made while the permit is still in effect. This is a crucial step and one that should not be overlooked in the application process.

Gathering Necessary Documents

Upon determining your eligibility, the subsequent procedure involves collecting the necessary documents for your application. This includes:

  • A current passport
  • Residency documentation
  • Spanish marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Proof of employment in Spain
  • Criminal background check

All supporting documents must be translated into Spanish, either by a professional translator or by fluent applicants, to prevent errors and ensure accuracy. Certified copies of these documents may be necessary. Preparing all documents accurately from the start is crucial as any request for additional information or corrections can result in delays.

Submitting Your Application and Paying Fees

Proceeding further in the application process involves submitting your application and remitting the fees. The Spanish citizenship application through naturalization can be completed either online through SEDE electronica or in person at the Spanish Civil Registry.

The fees for Spanish citizenship application range from €60 to €100, with possibilities of additional costs for obtaining and translating necessary documents. Once your application is submitted, you can monitor its status at any time using the tool provided by the Spanish Ministry of Justice.

Demonstrating Language and Cultural Knowledge

Apart from the application and documentation, a primary requisite for Spanish citizenship is demonstrating proficiency in the Spanish language and familiarity with its culture. This is evaluated through two exams: the DELE A2 and the CCSE, both organized by the Cervantes Institute.

The DELE A2 is a basic language test focusing on Spanish language, including written and spoken sections. On the other hand, the CCSE exam assesses knowledge of spanish culture, history, society and Spanish Constitution. Passing these exams is a mandatory part of the naturalization process in Spain.

The Interview Process

The application process incorporates an interview segment, where the applicant’s knowledge about the country is evaluated by the authorities. Applicants may be questioned on topics such as key dates in Spanish history, societal values, significant national symbols and governmental structure during the interview.

Adequate preparation for the citizenship interview can help avoid potential delays in the naturalization process. This is your chance to demonstrate your commitment to becoming a Spanish citizen, so it’s important to prepare thoroughly and approach the interview with confidence.

Waiting for a Decision and Taking the Oath of Allegiance

Upon completion of all the preceding steps, the next part involves awaiting a decision. The resolution process for Spanish nationality by residence takes between 1 and 3 years, including initial receipt confirmation, documentation verification, and the final qualification phase. If no resolution is issued within the expected one-year time frame, applicants can appeal through a contentious-administrative appeal to request a resolution from a judge.

Once a favorable resolution is received, the applicant has 180 days to take the oath of allegiance, which can be done at the Civil Registry, before a notary, or at the Spanish consulate abroad. The oath-taking process requires a valid passport, residency card, certificate of registration, birth certificate used in the application, criminal records, a declaration data sheet, and the resolution granting nationality.

Obtaining a Spanish Passport

Passport Spanish

After securing Spanish citizenship, the final procedure entails obtaining your Spanish passport. This can be done at any police station, and it’s important to ensure you are not in an irregular situation in Spain during the application process. A Spanish passport enables visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to over 150 countries, including but not limited to: Japan, United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Morocco, Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to the impressive global travel freedom it offers, a Spanish passport allows for trouble-free travel across European Union member states and is highly ranked in terms of global travel freedom. The entire application process for a Spanish passport generally takes about 1 year after submission to receive a resolution.

Professional Assistance in Your Citizenship Journey – Imperial Citizenship

Embarking on the path to obtaining Spanish citizenship through a Residency by Investment Program can be complex and challenging. That’s where expert advisory agencies like Imperial Citizenship come into play. We specialize in assisting investors in acquiring a Second Citizenship or Residency through strategic investments. Our goal is to provide clients with a smooth and successful journey toward their citizenship goals.

Imperial Citizenship is a leading advisory company with a wealth of experience in facilitating investor programs for residence and citizenship across multiple nations worldwide. Our dedicated team of experts is well-versed in the intricacies of various citizenship by investment programs, and we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process.

Imperial Citizenship - citizenship of Spain

Our services commence with an initial evaluation to comprehensively understand your unique requirements and assess your eligibility for a second residency or dual citizenship. This crucial first step ensures that we tailor our recommendations to your specific needs.

How Imperial Citizenship can assist you on your journey?

  1. Program Selection: We will suggest several residency and citizenship programs that are most suitable for your individual circumstances. Our team provides detailed information about each program, empowering you to make an informed decision.
  2. Application Preparation: We offer end-to-end support in preparing your application, from gathering the necessary documents to translating and legalizing them as required for your Golden Visa application.
  3. Streamlined Process: Navigating the citizenship application process can be complex, but with our guidance, you can expect a streamlined and efficient journey. We provide you with a clear roadmap tailored to your specific situation, ensuring that you meet all the legal requirements.
  4. Reducing Risk: Professional assistance significantly reduces the risk of application rejection. By meticulously completing paperwork, ensuring accuracy, and avoiding common mistakes, we enhance your chances of a successful outcome.
A girl with a map

At Imperial Citizenship, we understand that your journey toward Spanish citizenship is a significant life decision. Our mission is to make this process as smooth and efficient as possible, providing you with the guidance and support you need every step of the way. With our expertise, you can embark on your path to Spanish citizenship with confidence and peace of mind.

For more information and personalized assistance, please contact Imperial Citizenship, and let us help you achieve your citizenship goals.


The journey to Spanish citizenship requires commitment, preparation, and patience. From assessing your eligibility, gathering necessary documentation, passing language and cultural exams, to waiting for a decision and taking the Oath of Allegiance, each step is an integral part of your path to becoming a Spanish citizen.

However, the rewards of Spanish citizenship – the right to live, work, and travel freely within the EU, the benefits of a Spanish passport, and the privilege of being part of a diverse and vibrant community – make the journey well worth the effort. Remember, professional assistance, like that offered by Imperial Citizenship, can help streamline the process and enhance your chances of success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it hard to get citizenship in Spain?

Yes, it can be challenging to obtain citizenship in Spain as it typically requires ten years of residency in the country without extended periods of travel abroad.

Does Spain allow dual citizenship?

Spain doesn’t normally allow citizens of other countries to hold onto their original nationality while acquiring Spanish citizenship. In simple terms, if you’re looking to gain Spanish citizenship, you’d usually need to let go of your original country’s citizenship. Dual citizenship is permitted for all Spaniards by origin, as long as they declare their will to retain Spanish nationality within three years of the acquisition of another nationality.

After what period can I become a citizen of Spain?

For individuals from Ibero-American countries, the process typically takes between 1 and 3 years to transition from residency to citizenship. This expedited timeline reflects the special relationship Spain shares with these nations, facilitating a faster pathway to citizenship.

Conversely, applicants from non-Ibero-American countries face a longer residency requirement of 10 years before becoming eligible for Spanish citizenship.

What tests do I need to pass to become a Spanish citizen?

To become a Spanish citizen, you need to pass the DELE A2 and CCSE exams, which demonstrate language and cultural knowledge. These exams are organized by the Cervantes Institute.

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