Spanish Citizenship: The Ultimate Guide

Updated: 19 June 2023

The desire to call Spain home is an aspiration shared by many. As a nation steeped in history, art, and warmth, it beckons individuals from across the globe to embrace its distinctive charm and become part of its story. 

This article embarks on an illuminating exploration of the various pathways available to obtain Spanish citizenship. From ancestral connections that transcend time to the enduring commitment of residency, it navigates the terrain of legal frameworks and administrative intricacies.

What Spanish Citizenship Means

Spanish citizenship is a legal status that confers upon individuals the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of belonging to this captivating nation. It opens the door to democratic participation, providing the right to vote and shape the nation’s future.

Being a Spanish citizen signifies a bond with a rich and diverse heritage, from the majestic Alhambra to the medieval streets of Toledo. It entails participating in the democratic process and cherishing the values of freedom and equality. Above all, being a Spanish citizen means embracing the warmth, hospitality, and timeless traditions that make Spain an enchanting place to call home.

As a Spanish citizen, one gains the privileges of being an EU citizen, enjoying the freedom to explore, work, and study across the member states. It means embracing the shared values of democracy, human rights, and solidarity within the European Union, fostering a sense of belonging to a broader community of nations. 

Benefits of Spanish Citizenship

  • Access to the European Union: Spanish citizenship grants you the coveted status of being an EU citizen, opening a gateway to a multitude of benefits and opportunities across the European Union.
  • Freedom of movement: Enjoy unrestricted travel within the Schengen Area, allowing you to explore the enchanting landscapes, historical landmarks, and vibrant cities of Europe without border controls.
  • Enhanced employment prospects: Being an EU citizen through Spanish citizenship eliminates work permit requirements within the EU, broadening your career horizons and facilitating job mobility across member states.
  • Family reunification: Spanish citizenship offers a pathway for family reunification, enabling you to bring your loved ones together and build a strong support network in Spain.
  • Social and legal protections: Benefit from the comprehensive social welfare system and legal protections afforded to EU citizens, ensuring access to healthcare, social security, and legal rights throughout the European Union.
  • Education and research opportunities: As an EU citizen, you have access to prestigious educational institutions and research programs across Europe, fostering intellectual growth and knowledge exchange.
  • Political participation: Exercise your democratic rights not only in Spain but also in European Parliament elections, influencing policies and decisions at the EU level.
  • Consular assistance: Enjoy consular protection and assistance from Spanish embassies and consulates worldwide, as well as from any EU member state’s diplomatic missions when traveling abroad.
  • Cultural exchange and enrichment: Being an EU citizen facilitates cultural exchange, allowing you to engage with diverse European cultures, traditions, and languages, broadening your horizons and fostering intercultural understanding.
  • Sense of belonging and unity: By being a Spanish citizen and an EU citizen, you embrace a sense of belonging to a larger European community, united by shared values, ideals, and aspirations for a prosperous and harmonious future.

How to Get Spanish Citizenship: Main Routes

For individuals aspiring to obtain Spanish citizenship, there exist several pathways to explore. It is crucial to adeptly navigate these routes, as each is adorned with unique requirements that must align with your individual circumstances. Below, we outline the primary avenues to acquiring Spanish citizenship.

Spanish Citizenship by Birth

Spanish citizenship by birth is a cherished right bestowed upon those who are fortunate enough to be born on Spanish soil. Rooted in the principle of jus soli, or “right of the soil,” this pathway offers an inherent connection to the nation. 

Whether born to Spanish parents or born in Spain to foreign parents, individuals gain automatic Spanish citizenship, embracing the identity and privileges it affords. This inclusive approach recognizes the importance of birthplace as a foundation for belonging and fosters a sense of unity among diverse communities. 

Spanish Citizenship by Descent

Spanish citizenship by descent is a pathway that allows individuals with Spanish ancestry to reclaim their familial connection to the nation.

To be eligible for Spanish citizenship by descent, the following criteria and requirements must be met:

  • Direct lineage: The applicant must have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who was a Spanish citizen. The ancestral connection serves as the foundation for the claim to citizenship.
  • Documentation: Detailed documentation proving the lineage and Spanish ancestry, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other relevant records, must be provided to establish the familial link.
  • Language proficiency: Demonstrating proficiency in the Spanish language is typically required, either through a language test or by providing evidence of education in Spanish or proof of living in a Spanish-speaking country.
  • Legal procedures: The application process involves submitting the necessary forms, supporting documents, and paying the associated fees. Each case is evaluated individually, and the decision on citizenship is made by Spanish authorities.

Spanish Citizenship by Naturalization

Spanish citizenship by naturalization provides an avenue for individuals who have resided in Spain for a certain period and wish to become citizens. 

The requirements that applicants must meet to be eligible for Spanish citizenship by naturalization are as follows:

  • Residency period: Typically, a continuous residency period of ten years is required for eligibility. However, this may be reduced to five years for individuals from Latin American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, or individuals of Sephardic Jewish origin.
  • Legal residence: Applicants must have legally resided in Spain throughout their residency period, holding a valid residence permit or visa.
  • Language and cultural knowledge: Proficiency in the Spanish language and knowledge of Spanish culture, history, and society are assessed through the CCSE (Constitutional and Sociocultural Knowledge of Spain) exam and the DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language) exam.
  • Good conduct and integration: Applicants must demonstrate good conduct, respect for the law, and integration into Spanish society. This is evaluated based on factors such as criminal record, participation in civic activities, and integration efforts.
  • Renunciation of previous citizenship: Spain generally requires applicants to renounce their previous citizenship, unless they are citizens of countries that do not permit renunciation or have bilateral agreements with Spain.

Spanish Citizenship by Marriage

Spanish citizenship by marriage offers a pathway for foreign individuals married to Spanish citizens to obtain Spanish citizenship. 

Following criteria and requirements must be met to be eligible for Spanish citizenship by marriage:

  • Duration of marriage: The couple must be legally married and have been married for at least one year before applying for citizenship.
  • Legal residence: The applicant must have legally resided in Spain throughout the marriage period, holding a valid residence permit or visa.
  • Language and cultural knowledge: Proficiency in the Spanish language and knowledge of Spanish culture, history, and society are assessed through the DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language) exam and the CCSE (Constitutional and Sociocultural Knowledge of Spain) exam.
  • Integration into Spanish society: Applicants must demonstrate integration into Spanish society, which can include factors such as participation in civic activities, involvement in community organizations, and knowledge of local customs.
  • Good conduct: Applicants must have a clean criminal record and exhibit good conduct, showing respect for the law and societal norms.

Spanish Citizenship by Investment: Spain Golden Visa

Spanish citizenship by investment, also known as the Golden Visa program, offers a unique pathway for individuals seeking Spanish citizenship through investment. The Golden Visa program allows non-EU citizens to obtain residency permits by making a significant financial contribution to the Spanish economy. Here are the eligibility criteria and requirements for the Golden Visa program:

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Minimum investment: Applicants must make a qualifying investment (at least €500,000) in Spanish real estate, business projects, or government bonds.
  • Financial capacity: Demonstrating sufficient financial means to support themselves and their family during their stay in Spain is required.


  • Investment threshold: The investment amount must meet the minimum threshold set by the Spanish authorities.
  • Legal compliance: Applicants must comply with Spanish laws, regulations, and tax obligations.
  • Background check: A clean criminal record is required for eligibility.
  • Residency requirement: Applicants must spend a minimum amount of time in Spain to maintain their residency permit.

Required documents:

  • Valid passport with a minimum one-year validity
  • Proof of sufficient funds to cover living expenses
  • Valid documentation demonstrating medical insurance coverage
  • Official document from relevant authorities confirming schooling arrangements for children (if applicable)

Benefits of the Golden Visa program include residency rights, freedom of movement within the Schengen Area, access to Spanish healthcare and education systems, and the opportunity to apply for Spanish citizenship after a specific period of residency. 

The Golden Visa program offers a streamlined path to Spanish citizenship for eligible investors, providing them with an array of benefits and opportunities to enjoy the diverse and vibrant Spanish lifestyle.

How to Get Spanish Citizenship

The general step by step application process for obtaining Spanish citizenship is as follows:

Step 1# Determine eligibility: Assess your eligibility for Spanish citizenship based on criteria such as birth, descent, marriage, or naturalization.

Step 2# Gather documentation: Collect all necessary documents, including birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, residence permits, language proficiency certificates, and any other supporting evidence required by the chosen pathway.

Step 3# Submit application: Prepare and submit the citizenship application along with the supporting documents to the relevant Spanish authorities, such as the Ministry of Justice or the Civil Registry.

Step 4# Pay fees: Process the payment of any applicable fees associated with the citizenship application.

Step 5# Language and cultural knowledge: For certain pathways, demonstrate proficiency in the Spanish language and knowledge of Spanish culture, history, and society through exams such as the DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language) and the CCSE (Constitutional and Sociocultural Knowledge of Spain) exams.

Step 6# Attend interviews: Attend any required interviews or appointments as part of the application process.

Step 7# Await decision: Wait for the Spanish authorities to review your application and make a decision on granting citizenship. The processing time may vary depending on the complexity of the case.

Step 8# Take the Oath of Allegiance: Upon approval of the application, attend a ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance to Spain and officially become a Spanish citizen.

How to Get a Spanish Passport

Obtaining a Spanish passport offers individuals a gateway to a world of opportunities and freedom. With its robust international standing, the Spanish passport holds significant power, granting access to numerous countries without the need for visas or with visa-on-arrival privileges. 

To secure a Spanish passport:

  • Obtain Spanish citizenship: Fulfill the eligibility criteria and requirements for Spanish citizenship through pathways such as birth, descent, marriage, or naturalization.
  • Collect required documents: Gather essential documents, including proof of Spanish citizenship, identification, and other supporting papers.
  • Submit application: Complete the passport application and submit it along with the necessary documents to the Spanish authorities.
  • Pay applicable fees: Process the payment of the passport application fees.
  • Attend appointment: Attend any required appointments for biometric data collection.
  • Await issuance: Wait for the passport to be issued, a process that typically takes a few weeks.
  • Enjoy the benefits: Once you have your Spanish passport, relish the freedom to travel visa-free or with simplified visa procedures, embracing the perks and privileges it brings, while representing your Spanish identity with pride.

Spanish Citizenship: Conclusion

In conclusion, Spanish citizenship is a gateway to a vibrant and diverse world of opportunities. Whether obtained by birth, descent, marriage, or naturalization, it offers a profound connection to Spain’s rich cultural heritage and the European Union. Spanish citizenship not only provides the freedom to travel, work, and study across the EU but also grants access to a robust social welfare system and consular support worldwide. 

The benefits of Spanish citizenship extend beyond borders, enabling individuals to participate in shaping the democratic process, pursue educational and career prospects, and leave a lasting legacy. By embarking on the journey to Spanish citizenship, individuals open doors to a future brimming with limitless possibilities and a profound sense of identity.

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