How to Obtain Spanish Citizenship: Efficiently Step-by-Step Blueprint

Published: 20 May 2024

If you’re exploring how to obtain Spanish citizenship, this guide lays out the straightforward facts. Discover the routes to become a citizen, the paperwork involved, and the residency or investment requirements. We provide the clarity and concise advice you need to embark on the path to citizenship in Spain.

Key Takeaways

  • Spanish citizenship offers benefits such as EU travel, social service access, and voting rights, and requires a ten-year residency, integration into Spanish society, and may allow for dual citizenship from certain countries.
  • Eligibility for Spanish citizenship can be attained through various means such as residency, marriage, descent, and the Spain golden visa program, each with specific criteria and advantages like reduced residency requirements for certain groups and investment opportunities.
  • The Spanish citizenship application process includes an online option, language and cultural exams, administrative fees, and may benefit from legal assistance, especially for navigating complex cases or appealing rejections.

Understanding Spanish Citizenship

Becoming a Spanish citizen offers a range of benefits, including:

  • The right to live, work, and travel within the European Union
  • Access to Spanish social services
  • The ability to vote in Spanish elections
  • Opportunities to pursue a career in the Spanish public sector

These privileges are exclusive to citizens and not available to permanent residents.

The distinction between citizenship and permanent residency is significant. A Spanish passport, emblematic of citizenship, is a golden ticket to unrestricted EU movement, a luxury not afforded to holders of a permanent residence permit. The ease of paperwork and enhanced travel freedoms are just a few aspects that make Spanish citizenship a powerful asset for personal mobility and opportunity.

Spanish nationality law

At the heart of Spanish citizenship lies the Spanish Civil Code, a legal cornerstone that outlines the intricate dance steps one must follow to acquire Spanish nationality. The general rule requires a ten-year period of legal residency, but life’s choreography often presents exceptions. For those from certain nations, or individuals of Sephardic origin, this residency requirement waltzes down to as little as two years.

But it’s not just about time served; it’s about weaving oneself into the fabric of Spanish society. To become a Spanish citizen, you need to demonstrate more than just a presence in the country; you need to show a commitment to its culture, its language, and its values. It’s an invitation to partake in the rich cultural tapestry that is Spain and to contribute your unique thread to its ever-evolving story.

Dual citizenship in Spain

The concept of dual citizenship is like holding keys to two different homes. Spain, with its inclusive heart, allows the retention of one’s original nationality under certain conditions, offering a sense of belonging to two worlds simultaneously. This is especially true for citizens of Latin American countries, as well as:

  • Andorra
  • The Philippines
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Portugal

Who can enjoy the warmth of Spain, an EU country, without relinquishing the comfort of their original homeland, especially those born in Spain?

But what does it truly mean to hold dual citizenship? It’s more than just legal status; it’s an embrace of dual identities, cultures, and opportunities. It’s the ability to navigate across borders with ease while maintaining a connection to your roots. For many, it’s a bridge between the past and the future, a cherished bond that honors both where they’ve come from and where they’re headed.

Eligibility Criteria for Spanish Citizenship

The quest for obtaining Spanish citizenship is a journey with multiple paths, each with its own landscape. Whether through the steady passage of time under the residency route, the uniting bond of marriage, or the ancestral call of descent, the eligibility criteria for becoming a Spanish citizen are as diverse as the stories of those who embark on this quest.

The key to unlocking citizenship lies in meeting the right criteria. Continuous legal residency, adherence to the 10-year rule, or finding an exception through marriage or birth are the signposts along the way. Proving good citizenship is more than a legal checkbox; it’s about integrating into Spanish society, demonstrating financial stability, and ensuring a clean criminal record – it’s about showing Spain that you are ready to be part of its narrative.

Residency requirements

The residency requirement for Spanish citizenship is not a simple countdown; it’s a commitment to Spain’s land and its way of life. Ten years may seem like a significant investment of time, but for the right to call Spain home, it’s a worthy passage. However, the narrative takes an interesting turn for refugees, nationals from specific countries, and individuals of Sephardic origin, who find their waiting time significantly reduced.

And then there’s the golden ticket – the Spain golden visa. This program is a beacon for investors seeking a fast track to residency and, eventually, citizenship. With a substantial investment in Spanish real estate, government bonds, or financial institutions, one can obtain a temporary residence permit and, after five years, permanent residence status. It’s a lucrative pathway that leads not just to a residence but to a life enriched by Spain’s diverse culture and history.

Citizenship through marriage

Marriage to a Spanish national is like a dance that can quickly lead down the aisle of citizenship. After just one year of residency in Spain, those married to Spanish citizens can apply for citizenship, bypassing the usual 10-year residency requirement. However, this path comes with a caveat: the Spanish nationality law requires one to renounce their previous citizenship, a testament to the commitment one must make to their new country.

But what if your nuptials took place beyond the Spanish horizon? Fear not, as long as your marriage is registered in Spain, the doors to citizenship through matrimony remain open. It’s a process that not only unites two hearts but also intertwines two nationalities into a single, harmonious identity.

Citizenship by origin or birth

The roots of one’s family tree can often lead back to the soil of Spain, providing a claim to citizenship by origin or birth. Whether you are cradled in the arms of a Spanish citizen at birth or have Spanish ancestry whispering through your veins, the path to citizenship beckons.

For those whose lineage traces back to Spanish soil, residency of just one year opens the gateway to citizenship. And for adults born abroad to Spanish residents, a window between the ages of 18 and 20 offers a chance to reclaim their Spanish heritage and obtain citizenship, forging a link to their ancestral homeland.

Navigating the Application Process

Applying for Spanish citizenship is akin to charting a course through a bureaucratic labyrinth, but with the right map, it need not be daunting. To apply for Spanish citizenship, the application can be submitted online for those with a penchant for efficiency or in person for those who prefer a tangible touch. Either way, the Civil Registry office stands as the beacon where one’s application journey begins.

Careful preparation is the compass for this expedition. Ensuring all documents are impeccably translated into Spanish and free of errors can mean the difference between a streamlined voyage or unforeseen delays. It’s about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, for the prize at the end of this journey – Spanish citizenship – is well worth the meticulous attention to detail.

Preparing your application

The preparation of your Spanish citizenship application is a meticulous task, where the devil truly lies in the details. The foundational documents upon which your application is built include:

  • A completed form
  • Birth certificate
  • Valid passport
  • Criminal record
  • Proof of residence

Ensuring each is a mirror image of accuracy and legality can set the pace for a swift and successful acquisition of Spanish nationality.

For those not fluent in the Spanish language, the translation of documents is a bridge that must be carefully constructed. Professional translators, well-versed in the nuances of Spanish nationality law, can be invaluable allies in crossing this bridge. After all, clarity in communication is the key to unlocking the doors of bureaucracy.

Online vs. in-person application

In today’s digital age, the online application for Spanish citizenship offers a streamlined path to success. The Ministry of Justice’s Electronic Headquarters stands as a virtual gateway to your new life, eliminating geographical barriers and reducing the tape that often binds traditional bureaucratic processes.

Application fees

The financial toll for the journey to Spanish citizenship is marked by a non-refundable administrative fee ranging from 60 to 100 euros. Like a drop in the ocean compared to the priceless benefits of citizenship, this fee is a small investment in the grand scheme of establishing a new life within Spain’s borders.

Spanish Language and Cultural Exams

The DELE A2 exam challenges candidates to demonstrate their proficiency across four areas:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Listening
  4. Speaking

This comprehensive exam ensures that applicants, including Spanish nationals and Spanish parents, can converse with the spirit of Spain in its native tongue, paving the way to obtain Spanish citizenship and get Spanish citizenship, ultimately leading to Spanish citizenship Spain. In addition, understanding the Spanish Constitution is a crucial aspect of this process.

Preparation for this exam is like rehearsing for a grand performance. The Cervantes Institute, akin to a backstage mentor, offers a preparation course replete with real exam questions and a mock oral interview, providing applicants with the confidence to step into the spotlight and showcase their linguistic flair.

Spain Golden Visa Requirements

The Spain Golden Visa Program is a treasure map for foreign investors, with X marks the spot on investments that open up the realm of Spanish residency. The choices are varied – a minimum real estate investment of EUR 500,000, EUR 1 million in financial assets, or a EUR 2 million plunge into government bonds. It’s a direct investment into the Spanish economy, and in return, the gates to residency and potentially citizenship swing open.

But the golden visa is not just about signing a check; it’s about providing documentary evidence and proving that the investment is not a fleeting affair but a long-term commitment. It’s for those who see Spain not just as a place to live but as a land to contribute to and grow with.

Time Frame and Procedures of the Spain Golden Visa

The golden visa application process is a two-act play. In the first act, applicants seek a residence visa from their home country, allowing them a year-long sojourn in Spain. The second act sees them apply for a Spanish residence permit, either following their initial year or directly if they’ve entered on a standard tourist visa. The curtain rises on a new life in Spain typically within 20 days of application submission.

The cast of characters includes not just the main investor but also the supporting roles of spouse or partner and any economically dependent offspring.

There’s no requirement for a minimum stay to maintain the residence status, but a visit to Spain is necessary to obtain the first permit.

It’s a flexible arrangement for those whose lives span multiple stages and locations.

Permanent Residency vs. Spanish Citizenship

Choosing between permanent residency and Spanish citizenship involves weighing different degrees of commitment and integration into Spanish life. Permanent residency allows individuals to live, work, and access social services in Spain, offering limited travel rights within the EU. This status is ideal for those who desire a long-term stay without altering their national allegiance.

On the other hand, Spanish citizenship opens the door to full participation in Spanish society, including unrestricted EU travel and voting rights in national and EU elections. This level of commitment not only allows for a deeper connection to Spanish culture and community but also extends the sense of belonging and identity as a full member of society. For those looking to fully embed themselves into Spanish life, citizenship offers the most comprehensive benefits and opportunities.

Professional Assistance for Spanish Residency and Citizenship Applications

Navigating the complexities of applying for residency or citizenship can be daunting. Engaging a professional firm such as Imperial Citizenship provides crucial guidance and expertise, ensuring that the process is handled efficiently and correctly. These experts act as navigators, steering applicants through the labyrinth of paperwork and regulatory requirements.

Their services are invaluable in managing detailed aspects such as the compilation of necessary documents, meeting specific legal criteria, and adhering to tight submission deadlines. They also provide strategic advice on how to enhance the likelihood of application success, based on a deep understanding of Spanish immigration law and procedures. Moreover, these professionals can help mitigate any potential obstacles, providing timely interventions to ensure a smooth and swift resolution. This professional assistance is especially beneficial for those unfamiliar with the legal and bureaucratic nuances of the Spanish immigration system, making the path to obtaining residency or citizenship clearer and more navigable.

Special Cases: Sephardic Jews and Grandchildren’s Law

For descendants of the Sephardic Jews, the road to Spanish citizenship weaves through the storied history of Spain itself. The country offers a special pathway to citizenship for those who can prove their links to Spain and demonstrate their knowledge of its language and culture. Similarly, the Grandchildren’s Law is a bridge to the past, connecting grandchildren of Spanish citizens to their ancestral roots and offering them a chance to claim their Spanish heritage.

These special cases reflect Spain’s recognition of its historical tapestry and its commitment to restoring the bonds broken by time and circumstance. It’s an invitation to those with Spanish blood coursing through their veins to reclaim a part of their identity that was once lost but can now be found.

Maintaining and Losing Spanish Citizenship

Spanish citizenship, once obtained, is like a precious heirloom that must be cherished and actively maintained. Regular use of the Spanish nationality and expressing the intent to keep it are akin to polishing this treasure to keep it gleaming. For those from countries with dual nationality agreements with Spain, the process is simplified, as no formal declaration of intent to retain Spanish citizenship is needed.

However, the sheen of this status can tarnish if one acquires another nationality and establishes residence abroad, particularly for naturalized citizens. It’s a delicate balance, where even a single misstep could lead to a loss of Spanish citizenship. As such, ensuring to declare the intent to retain it within the stipulated window, or ensuring that the loss does not occur during a period of war, are essential precautions to safeguard this valuable status.


Embarking on the journey to become a Spanish citizen is a venture rich with cultural immersion, legal intricacies, and personal transformation. From understanding the nuances of Spanish nationality law to navigating the application process and embracing the Spanish language and culture, every step brings you closer to the coveted Spanish passport.

With the right preparation, knowledge, and perhaps the guidance of expertise, obtaining Spanish residency and then citizenship can be a smooth and rewarding experience. May the pride and joy that comes with being a Spanish citizen inspire you to take the first step on this exciting path.

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