Spanish Citizenship: How to acquire it

Spanish Citizenship

This article is about the process of acquiring Spanish citizenship, obtaining Spanish citizenship, and the benefits of Spanish citizenship are discussed. Anyone interested in Spanish citizenship should read this article. While this article gives an overview of the process to be followed, it is advisable to seek advice from an immigration lawyer.

What is Spanish citizenship?

Spain Citizenship is the general term referring to holding the citizenship of Spain. In other words, it means that you hold Spanish nationality, and you will be upheld to all of the rights and duties associated.

Permanent residence vs Spanish citizenship

It is possible to reside in Spain and preserve your citizenship and your passport through permanent residency. Permanent residents will get most of the same benefits as Spanish citizens. Below important considerations are discussed:

Spanish residency

Spanish permanent residency means that you can acquire certain rights included staying in Spain for an indefinite time, working and living there.

  • Can still live in Spain for as long as you want
  • Can apply for it after 5 years of living in Spain
  • Can move around the EU, with permission
  • Must be able to financially support ourself
  • Can move around the EU for limited periods, and longer with permission
  • They can take away your visa

Spanish citizenship

Spanish citizenship means you acquire Spanish nationality. This means that you are under Spanish jurisdiction.

  • Have the legal rights as Spanish citizens
  • Have to surrender your original passport and nationality unless you qualify for an exemption.
  • Have to pass the exams of Spanish language and culture
  • Able to vote in Spain
  • Can move freely around EU without permission
  • You will have to go through the Spanish citizenship Application
  • They can’t take away your Spanish citizenship

Spanish Residency

How to become a Spanish citizenship

You can become a Spanish citizen in multiple ways. Below we will highlight the most common methods that are used.

Spanish citizenship by birth

This is the most common way to obtain Spanish citizenship. Every child that was born in Spain or any of its territories acquires Spanish citizenship. So if you are born in Spain, you automatically will be a Spanish citizen (unless your parents were foreign nationals, and chose otherwise).

It is possible to acquire Spanish citizenship by birth if you were born outside of Spain to parents that are both Spanish. In general, if one of your parents is Spanish, you won’t be denied attaining Spanish nationality.

It is also possible to get Spanish nationality if you are an adopted child under the age of 18 to a Spanish mother or father.

There is also another way to become a Spanish citizen by birth (or in this case, the descent would be more proper).

Spanish citizenship by descent

Spanish citizenship by descent is one way of acquiring it, through your parents or grandparents. Basically, this type of citizenship recognizes the right to acquire it automatically, without having to request documents or do any kind of procedure.

Cases, where you can get citizenship by descent, are:

  • When you are a child of a Spanish parent who got their nationality through historical memory, you can become a Spanish national.
  • When you are a grandchild of a citizen of Spain, who did not become a Spanish citizen before you were 18, you can become a Spanish National.
  • Spain grants citizenship to children born in Ibero-American countries to Spanish parents who are also citizens of the other country.
  • When you are a grandchild of a Spanish national who left Spain before you were born, you can become a Spanish national
  • When you are a grandchild of a Spanish woman who was born in Spain and married a non-Spanish citizen before the creation of the 1978 consitution, you can become a Spanish national.

As you can read above, there is a lot of ways to get citizenship. The laws around Spanish citizenship also changes with time, and Spain is no exception. That’s why it is a smart idea to contact a Spanish legal advisor or do your own due diligence on Spanish Citizenship.

Spanish citizenship through a visa (residency)

Another way of acquiring Spanish citizenship is through a visa. If you are staying in Spain long enough to acquire residency, you can apply for it.

To be able to stay long in Spain on a visa in general you need enough money to sustain yourself and your family.

There is no exact time you need to stay, but you will for certain be able to ask for Spanish citizenship after residing 10 years in Spain. Factors that can decrease that time are visa type, nationality, circumstances of your arrival, and if you have family in Spain.

Other requirements include a valid residency card, uninterrupted living in Spain, and good conduct.

Spanish citizenship through marriage

Another way of acquiring Spanish citizenship is through marriage. If you are married to a Spanish citizen, then you will be able to request Spanish citizenship by the right of your spouse.

Spanish Nationality

Benefits of Spanish nationality

There are many benefits of getting Spanish nationality. These include

  • Live and work in Spain as well as anywhere else in the EU.
  • Able to apply for local jobs in Spain without requiring any work permit. This includes working as a civil servant or for the Spanish army, police or Guardia civil.
  • Able to send your children to Spanish schools.
  • Improved chances of applying to study at Spanish universities.
  • Being able to send your children to Spanish schools without them requiring a visa.
  • Being able to receive medical treatment in Spain with the European Health Insurance.
  • Having the right to vote in all elections that are held in Spain, both national and municipal elections.

Access to European Union

The Spanish passport is good to have. It gives you the right of living and working in any other EU country without requiring a visa or work permit. You will not be subject to any controls at the borders, you can move freely within the countries of the European Union (plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland).

Tax Resident vs tax non-resident

When you are a citizen in Spain, you are not a tax resident automatically. You are a tax resident in Spain when you stay more than 183 days a year. If you don’t, then you are a tax non-resident and you will be taxed at different rates.

Spanish nationality law

There are some laws that will have an impact if you want to acquire Spanish nationality. These laws are as follows:

Dual nationality

You can get your dual citizenship if you are from Andorra, Portugal, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, or a Latin American country. However, in other cases, you will need to renounce your original nationality. Therefore if you want to keep your own nationality, you should instead renew your visa every 5 years.

Spain allows people born in Spain to have two citizenships. You can do this as long as you tell them that you want to keep your Spanish citizenship within three years of getting another citizenship.

Criminal record

If you have a criminal record, then it is likely that the Spanish government will not allow you in becoming a citizen. If you do want to become a Spanish citizen and hold a criminal record, then wait for at least a ten year period. But in general, you will get rejected when you apply for a Spanish passport. Because the Spanish government is pretty strict and does not want people with criminal records to become citizens.

Types of visa’s

If you want to become a Spanish citizen through residency, then you will need to obtain a visa. There are several types of visa’s that you can obtain depending on your situation. These include

Golden visa

The Golden Visa in Spain allows you to get a Spanish residency in exchange for investing at least 700.000 € on real estate. You will get a visa for 1 year, after which you can apply to extend the visa. Extending the visa is not a problem.

Non-lucrative visa

A non-lucrative visa means is a visa for people that have enough money to sustain themselves and do not need to work. It is often used by people that retire in Spain, and therefore called also called a pension visa, or retirement visa. This visa will allow you to stay in Spain for 1 year after which you can apply for an extension

Work visa

A work visa is for people that found a job in Spain. This is an ideal visa if you are looking to stay long term in Spain. This is also called a Blue Card. In general, you will need professional experience or have at least a university degree. Your employer can apply for this visa.

Other visa’s

There are also other visa’s which are not as common. These include students visas, au pair visas, and trainees visas.

How to apply for Spanish citizenship

In this section, we will explain step by step how to apply for Spanish citizenship.

Gather all necessary documents

Required documents include:

  • Residence permit
  • Passport and NIE
  • Birth certificate (and children if applicable)
  • Criminal records
  • Marriage certificate (for citizenship by marriage)
  • Receipt of payment for processing documentation
  • Show of sufficient economic means

Taking the required exams (A2 and CCSE).

If you pass the two required tests, DELE A2 and CCSE, you will receive a certificate that must be included in your application. The DELE A2 is a basic language, while the CCSE is a test that verifies basic knowledge in Spanish history.

Foreign nationals that are not from a Spanish speaking country, should sign up for classes to prepare for these tests. You can take these courses at universities or with recognized Spanish language institutions.

While passing these tests is a great achievement, we recommend keeping practising to make your full integration into Spanish culture. Taking classes may be a fantastic way to learn Spanish, but it can also help you get involved in Spanish culture. Try to speak Spanish everywhere and embrace the Spanish traditions and go to Spanish festivals.

Submitting your application

After you have completed all the paperwork and exams, submit your application to get the Spanish nationality. This can be done online or you can visit them in person.

Waiting for the response

Waiting for a response from the Spanish government can take up to 6 months. They will inform you via email when your application is approved and what the next steps are. Which is pledging allegiance to the Spanish government and renouncing your current nationality. This is something you can do before a Spanish notary, at the Spanish consulate or at the Civil Registry.

After which you will receive a document and you can go to the local police station and get your passport and Spanish identification number (DNI). The final stage is to obtain a concordance certificate so that any public and private bodies know your new ID information.

Costs for getting citizenship

Applying for Spanish nationality by residence costs € 103.20. You can pay this fee online or at the police station. The fee is a tax that goes to the government. The CCSE and DELE exams cost around 85 euros.

The cost of obtaining Spanish citizenship are non-refundable, even if your application gets declined.

Obtaining Spanish Citizenship

Frequently asked questions

Below we discuss some frequently asked questions about Spanish citizenship.

Is becoming a Spanish citizen worth it?

Becoming a Spanish citizen is definitely a personal choice. While obtaining Spanish nationality can have many perks, it also has some downsides. We recommend taking into consideration your personal pros and cons before applying for Spanish nationality.

Is the DELE 2 and CCSE difficult?

It really depends on your level of language skills, and your interests in Spanish culture. But in general, the DELE 2 is a complex test while the CCSE can be quite simple. The government has set up study centres that offer classes for learning these exams. We also recommend practising online. It is a good idea to practice for the exams, because of the costs to take them.

Do I need to take a course for the exams?

You are not required to take a course. But if you want the best results, it is recommended to take classes for both exams.

Do I need an immigration lawyer to get become a Spanish national?

No, you don’t need an immigration lawyer to help you with the process. You can do everything yourself. However, if you want to make the process as easy and error-free as possible, we recommend hiring an immigration lawyer. It is well worth your money if your time is limited.

Can I still apply for Spanish citizenship after my visa has expired?

Not necessarily, if you want to acquire Spanish nationality through residency, you need to have a visa. Of course, you can obtain Spanish nationality without a visa through birth, marriage and descent.

Can I get a Spanish passport?

When you obtain Spanish nationality, you will receive a passport. You can also opt-in for the ID card, which is easier to carry around. The ID card can be used across Europe, however, you need a passport to travel outside of the European Union.

Is it possible to be a citizen of both the United States and Spain?

If you are from the united states, it is not possible to be a citizen of both countries. Spain does not allow dual citizenship.

How long will it take to get Spanish Nationality?

It takes around 6 months to get Spanish nationality. But it can take up to a year, and in some cases, they request further documents. The time is greatly dependent on the Spanish Government and your local authority.

Can you buy Spanish citizenship?

It is not possible to buy Spanish citizenship specifically. However, you can get a golden visa by buying property in Spain. This will get you a Spanish residency permit, which eventually can lead to obtaining Spanish citizenship.

Do new Spanish citizens need to take an oath?

When you want to obtain Spanish citizenship, you will need to take an oath in front of a notary, the Spanish consulate or at the civil registry. During the ceremony, you will be required to sign the Spanish constitution. The process is quick and straightforward, there are no surprises. It is just a fun and simple ceremony, often done with friends and family.


Spain is a beautiful country with rich culture and history. The Spanish government has made it easier to become a citizen of Spain by streamlining the process for those that are already residents in the country or have bought property there.

There are many perks of obtaining Spanish nationality, but you can also obtain a permanent residency. When you want to apply for Spanish citizenship, it can be beneficial to hire a lawyer. They know the process, and they can make sure you do not forget anything important. We can take care of your Spanish residency for a fixed fee. It is well worth your money if you want to save time.

We also have other legal services such as buying property, setting up a company, and tax advice. Have a look at our website for more information.

We will be more than happy to answer your questions about legal and financial situations in Spain.