How to Become a Spanish Citizen


Updated on May 26 • 5 minute read

Becoming a Spanish citizen has many benefits, such as obtaining the 3rd most powerful passport in the world which allows visa-free access to 194 countries in the world.

Plus, the slow bureaucracy and paperwork will become much faster and easier once you become a Spanish citizen. You’ll also get to vote in Spanish national and regional elections, ultimately shaping how much you earn or how much tax you pay.

Another perk is that you automatically become an EU citizen by becoming a Spanish citizen. This means you can freely move around and work in any EU country and vote in EU elections.

Because Spanish citizenship is desired by many, you’ve to meet some requirements to become eligible for it. Find out the different paths you can take to becoming a Spanish citizen.

How to get Spanish citizenship

There’re 4 different ways to get Spanish citizenship:

By naturalization: If you’ve lived in Spain for 10 consecutive years on a valid residence permit, for example, on a work visa. Years spent as a student in Spain do not count as that’s a temporary stay.

By descent: If you can prove Spanish ancestry and that your ancestors haven’t renounced their Spanish citizenship, you can apply for citizenship.

By marriage: If you’re marrying a Spanish citizen (including same-sex marriage) you’ll become eligible for Spanish citizenship after residing in Spain for at least a year.

By investment: By making a significant investment in Spain, you can obtain a Golden Visa, which’s a pathway to becoming a Spanish citizen after 10 years.

Is it hard to become a Spain citizen?

Becoming a Spanish citizen is a straightforward process. But, some of the paths of applying for citizenship are more time-consuming than the others.

The most straightforward way to become a citizen is through naturalization. But it also requires more time than the other options. To become eligible for citizenship through naturalization, you must legally reside in Spain for at least 10 years.

Applying for citizenship via marriage or civil union is the fastest way. You just have to live together with your Spanish partner for a year.

Obtaining Spanish citizenship via decency is the fastest way if you can prove your ancestors were Spanish citizens or had the right to Spanish citizenship when you were born.

If you can’t meet the prerequisites required by any of the above options, investment is the only way for you. This way of becoming a Spanish citizen is the most challenging one as it requires you to be a legal resident of Spain for 10 years after you invest a good amount in Spain.

Spanish citizenship requirements

To become a Spanish citizen, you need to meet certain requirements which is based on how you want to become a citizen — via naturalization, descent, marriage, or investing.

Spanish citizenship by naturalization

If you’ve been a legal resident of Spain uninterruptedly for enough time, you can obtain Spanish citizenship by naturalization. Generally, this time frame is 10 years. The time frame decreases to 5 years if you’re a refugee and 2 years if you’re from any Latin American country, from Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, Philippines, or Portugal.

Keep in mind that if you've studied in Spain before, the time frame you lived in Spain on a student visa won't be counted towards the 10 years requirement for becoming a Spanish citizen.

Below you can find the documents to apply for Spanish citizenship by naturalization:

  1. Proof that you’ve legally resided in Spain for 10 years. You can get this proof of residency from the civil registry office
  2. A valid passport and NIE number
  3. Your current resident permit
  4. Certificate of local residence (padrón) from your town hall
  5. Birth certificate
  6. Criminal record
  7. Proof you have sufficient economic means to live in Spain. For example, a work contract or bank guarantee
  8. Proof that you passed the A2 level Spanish exam and the cultural exam, CCSE €104.05 application fee

Documents that aren’t in Spanish have to be translated into Spanish by the official notary.

Spanish citizenship by descent

You’re eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship through descent if you have a Spanish family member:

  • Your mother or father is a Spanish citizen.
  • Both your parents were born in Spain.
  • Residence permit
  • A Spanish citizen adopted you before your 18th birthday.
  • At least one of your grandparents is Spanish.
  • Your grandmother was born and married to non-Spanish citizens before the 1978 Constitution.

Below you can find the documents to apply for Spanish citizenship by descent:

  1. Proof of your Spanish heritage
  2. Proof that you’ve legally resided in Spain for 1 year. You can get this proof of residency from the civil registry office
  3. A valid passport
  4. Birth certificate
  5. Criminal record
  6. €104.05 application fee

Documents that aren’t in Spanish have to be translated into Spanish by the official notary.

Spanish citizenship by marriage

After legally residing in Spain for 1 year together with your Spanish spouse, you can apply for citizenship. This law also applies to LGBTQ+ couples. But you can’t apply for citizenship through civil partnerships in Spain.

Below you can find the documents to apply for Spanish citizenship by marriage:

  1. Your registry certificate (padrón) at the same address as your Spanish spouse
  2. Your and your partner’s NIE number
  3. Identity cards of both of you
  4. Your resident card
  5. Marriage certificate (translated into Spanish by notary)
  6. Criminal records
  7. Proof that you passed the A2 level Spanish exam and the cultural exam, CCSE
  8. €104.05 application fee

Spanish citizenship by investment

You can become a Spanish citizen through Golden Visa if you invest in Spain.

There’re 5 types of investments you can make:

  1. Buy 1 or multiple real estates in Spain overall worth €500,000.
  2. Invest in the Spanish economy to create new job opportunities.
  3. By shares in a Spanish company for at least €1,000,000.
  4. Deposit at least €1,000,000 at a Spanish bank.
  5. Invest in Spanish public debt for at least €2,000,000

After receiving your Golden Visa via investment, you can apply for Spanish citizenship after 10 years. So basically application procedure for this is the same as acquiring citizenship by naturalization.

How long does it take to get a Spanish citizenship?

The table below summarizes how many years you need to live in Spain to before you become eligible for Spanish citizenship:

Ways to apply for citizenshipWhen can you apply for citizenship?
By naturalizationAfter 10 years
By decscentAfter 1 year
By marriageAfter 1 year
By investmentAfter 10 years

Once you gather all the necessary documents, you can submit them online or in-person at Civil Registry. After you submit the documents, it takes the authorities 18 to 36 months from the date of application to decide if you can become a Spanish citizen. Usually, the waiting time for online submissions is faster.

How much does it cost to get a Spanish citizenship?

Here’s how much it can cost to get Spanish citizenship:

  • €104.05 application fee
  • €60 – €100 official translations of documents and notary stamps
  • €30 for issuing a new Spanish passport

In addition to these, you also have to pay for Spanish language courses and exam registration. Spain has many affordable language schools that will help you with your language and cultural exams.

Does Spain allow dual citizenship?

Spain only allows dual citizenship if you’re from Andorra, Portugal, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, and any of the Latin American countries. If you’re not from any of these countries and want to become a Spanish citizen, you must renounce your original citizenship.

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