Spanish citizenship

How to become a Spanish national

Spanish citizenship

Once resident in Spain for a certain time period, you have the right to apply for Spanish citizenship. The general requirement is a legal and continuous residency for 10 years, but can be as low as 1 year in certain circumstances.

You must renounce your original/current nationality unless you're from Latin America, Portugal, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Andorra. Anecdotal evidence points to the fact that countries do not generally exchange this information, so some people retain their old nationality, but there are obvious risks attached to this course of action and you definitely shouldn’t show both passports at entry!

Length of residency required

If you marry a Spanish citizen,were born in Spain to foreign citizens, born abroad to Spanish citizens or adopted by Spanish citizens, the wait period is just one year.

Nationals from Latin American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial, Guinea, Portugal and Jews of Spanish of origin can gain citizenship after 2 years of residency. Political refugees and asylum seekers can do so after 5 years.

When calculating the legal and continued residency, it’s important to remember that in order to be eligible, you can’t be out the country for more than six months a year, and a prolonged stay as a student, researcher or intern is not counted as a part of your ‘residency’.

How to apply

In order to apply for citizenship, you must be 18 years old or older, unless your parents or legal guardians can assist you which enables you to start the process at 14.

The public body in charge of citizenship is the Ministerio de Justicia and the place to apply is the Registro Civil.

In order to apply for Spanish nationality, you need to bring the following documentation:

  • A valid passport
  • Your birth certificate
  • A consular certificate which states your former nationality, your criminal records and your military status in your home country
  • A certificate of Spanish criminal records
  • Proof of your residence in Spain which can be a police certificate stating the time of your residency in Spain or a long term rental contract
  • Your registration at the Spanish town council
  • Proof of guaranteed health assistance during your residency in Spain
  • Marriage or divorce certificates

Make sure to remember if any of your documents in languages other than Spanish, they need to be translated and notarised.

Pros and Cons

The main advantages of Spanish nationality are a Spanish (read EU) passport and the right to vote. You will have the right to work and live in any country part of the European Union or the European Economic Area, plus some minor advantages such as EU citizen rates for museums and other institutions. Spain does not charge a fee for citizenship applications.

Further reading

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