Guide to Spanish Citizenship

After you have lived in Spain for 5 years, you can apply for permanent residence. After 10 years, you can appeal to Spanish citizenship or nationality. Some exemptions exist that allow certain people to apply sooner. For example, you can apply if you are married to a Spaniard or the child of a Spanish parent. Both Spanish citizenship and permanent residency allow you to stay living in Spain, but some differences exist between the two. In this article, we will cover the following topics:

Different Ways to Obtain Spanish Citizenship

Different Ways to Acquire Spanish Citizenship

When applying for Spanish nationality as a foreigner, you can follow different paths. Each of them presents different opportunities, and has its different requirements. Let’s see them: 

Spanish Citizenship by Option

The Citizenship by Option is the most common path to obtain citizenship in Spain. Opting for Spanish nationality is a benefit that Spanish legislation offers to foreigners that accomplish certain conditions. The following people may have the right to apply to Spanish Citizenship by Option

  • People who are or have been subject to the parental authority of a Spanish national.
  • In case one of your parents was Spanish or born in Spain. 
  • Those adopted by Spanish nationals after reaching eighteen years of age. If that’s the case you will have 2 years after the adoption to apply for your nationality. 

Spanish Citizenship By Residence. 

This is the most common method of application for Spanish Citizenship amongst holders of a residency permit. This method of acquisition of nationality requieres that the subject has his legal residence in Spain for ten years, prior to his residency application. Nevertheless, this period may be reduced in the following cases. 

  • Five years: for the granting of Spanish nationality to those persons who have obtained refugee status.
  • Two years: for nationals of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or persons of Sephardic origin.
  • One year:
    • Those born in Spanish territory.
    • Those who did not properly exercise their right to acquire Spanish nationality by option.
    • Whoever has been legally subject to the guardianship (under the supervision of a tutor), guardianship or fostering (the fostering that allows the reduction of legal residence to one year is that in which there is a resolution of the public entity that has in each territory entrusted with the protection of minors and the fostering that is judicially recognized) of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, even if it continues in this situation at the time of the application.
    • Anyone who, at the time of application, has been married to a Spaniard for one year and is not legally or de facto separated.
    • The Spanish or Spanish widow or widower, if at the time of the death of the spouse they were not separated, de facto or judicially.
    • A person born outside Spain to a father or mother (also born outside Spain), grandfather or grandmother, provided that all of them were originally Spanish.

Spanish Citizenship By Naturalisation. 

In case you are unable to obtain citizenship using the mentioned methods, there’s still hope. Thanks to naturalization, you will be able to take advantage of naturalization in case you have resided legally on a permanent visa in Spain for 10 or more years, or in case you are married to a Spanish Citizen.

Spanish Citizenship By Descent. 

Thanks to the new regulation introduced by the Spanish Government, those who did not qualify for Spanish Citizenship by descend, will now be able to apply for nationality. This basically means that grand children and great-grandchildren of Spanish citizens will be also able to obtain the Spanish Nationality, under some conditions.

Spanish Citizenship By Marriage

Marriage with a Spanish National does not grant you citizenship automatically, but of course it helps in the process of obtaining the nationality. Before or after signing the marriage papers, you will be granted a residence permit. At this time, the clock starts ticking, and after one year of demonstrated and continued coexistence  within the Spanish Territory you will be elegible to file your Spanish Nationality application. 

Permanent Residence or Spanish Citizenship?

If you have been living in Spain for several years and would like to stay in the country for the long term, you may be wondering which is the best option to achieve this goal.

Should you apply for Permanent Residence or Spanish Citizenship?

Well, the reality is that both options will give you the possibility of living in Spain for an indefinite period. However, there are some differences between these two options, and understanding them is fundamental.If you have lived in the country for 5 uninterrupted years, you can apply for permanent residence in Spain. This type of permit gives non-EU citizens the possibility of staying in Spain long term. The conditions under which you will live in the country are the same as those of Spanish citizenship or nationality; so it may be your preferred option, as it is perhaps the easiest.

difference between Permanent Residence and Spanish nationality

After 10 years of living in Spain, you can obtain Spanish citizenship or nationality, thus becoming a Spanish citizen.
The main disadvantage of this option is that you will have to give up your original nationality to obtain Spanish nationality.
There is, however, one exception to that rule. If you are a citizen from Andorra, Portugal, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines or a Latin American country, you can obtain dual nationality; therefore, there will be no need to give up your original citizenship.

Advantages of Spanish Citizenship over Permanent Residence

Having the Spanish Citizenship status will grant you the right to live and work anywhere you want inside the EU, thanks to the acquisition of a Spanish passport. You’ll also save a ton of time sorting the Spanish bureaucracy, as you won’t be considered a foreigner anymore. In addition to that, you will obtain the right to vote in the country.

Applying for Spanish Nationality

To apply for Spanish citizenship, there are some documents and requirements that you must fulfill to be able to obtain it effectively:

  • Full Passport
  • Residence permit
  • Birth certificate
  • Criminal record
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Current census + historical census
  • DELE A2 certificate (if applicable)
  • CCSE Certificate
  • Proof of integration into the Spanish community (such as a gym membership card, a library, etc.).

How can I apply for Spanish CITIZENSHIP?

Once you complete all the required documents, you will need to send them online.
In that sense, you have two different options:

  • You can submit your file in person, at the Civil Registry.
  • You can do it online, via the Spanish Justice System Website.
    We advise you to go for the second option, as it will save you a lot of time and you will receive your resolution much faster.

How much time does it take to process the Citizenship Application?

Usually, the whole application process takes between 2 to 3 years, due to the slowness of the Spanish bureaucracy. Nevertheless if after a legal period of 1 year you haven’t received a response, the application is considered as rejected due to administrative silence. What you can do then is an appeal to claim a review over your request. After that, you will receive an answer within the next 4 months, so if you get an appointment for the flag’s jury at the same time you submit your appeal, you can get your Spanish Citizenship in 1 year and a half!

Once approved, you must swear an oath to the King of Spain and the Constitution, and later you will receive your passport (the physical document).
If you think this is too much information and would like to simplify your life, don’t worry, our team of immigration lawyers in Spain is here to help you.
We can manage the entire application process for you: determine the best way forward, ask you for the specific documentation and information you will need for your application to be approved, as well as complete and send all the papers to us – all you have to do is sign! What are you waiting for to obtain your Spanish nationality?

How can I get Spanish citizenship?

After 10 years of residency in Spain, you may apply for Spanish nationality (Citizenship by Residence). You could also acquire Spanish Citizenship by option, marriage, descent and even naturalisation.

How long does it take to become a citizen in Spain?

You can comfortably apply for the Spanish citizenship by nationality after 2,5 or 10 years of residing in Spain with your residency permit. If your parents were Spanish immigrants, you may also get citizenship for yourself.

Does Spain allow dual citizenship?

Dual citizenship shall be granted for all Spaniards by origin, provided that they announce 
their intention to maintain Spanish nationality within three years of the acquisition of another nationality

How can I see the status of my application?

In order to be able to see the status of your application for Spanish nationality, the Ministry of Justice has made available to citizens the website “cómo va lo mio”, which will allow you to see the status of your file at all times

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