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Spanish Citizenship from A to Z

Spanish Citizenship

There is a common misconception that Spanish citizenship can be obtained through various means, like being born in the country, having a child born there, or marrying a Spanish citizen. However, the process is not as straightforward as it might first appear. Furthermore, certain regulations must be adhered to when applying for Spanish nationality. 

So, what is nationality? Well, the concept of nationality is essentially the legal union between a people and their state. It has the dual function of being a fundamental right and constituting the legal status of a person. In this blog, we will explore the ins and outs of Spanish nationality. You will have all the tools and information to navigate your path to citizenship.

(Updated by Lexidy Admin, August 2023)

There are many ways currently available to obtain Spanish citizenship. For example, you could become a citizen through residency in Spain, naturalization, being a Spaniard by origin, through option (we will explain this more below), as well as some additional methods.


Advantages of Spanish Nationality

Gives you peace of mind

One of the main benefits of Spanish nationality no longer having to worry about the longevity of your residency. This means you can say goodbye to waiting to renew your residence permit, having to comply with all the legal requirements to renew your permit, and waiting for the resolution of the application (and praying that it is favourable). 

Before you acquire a nationality, there is always the risk of losing the possibility of residing in Spain, which could mean starting the arduous initial residence procedures again and all that it entails. Therefore, acquiring Spanish nationality gives you peace of mind in your day-to-day life.

You will be able to work and live in any country of the EU

Since Spain is a member of the European Union, you will have the unique benefit of becoming an EU citizen and all that entails. This means that you will be able to work and live in any country in the European Union without any additional hoops to jump through.

You will obtain political rights such as active and passive suffrage.

These political rights allow you to participate in the democratic process. In other words, you will be able to vote in general or regional elections (active suffrage). You will also be able to run for public office yourself (passive suffrage).

So, in addition to enjoying the privileges of Spanish citizenship, you will also have a say in shaping Spain’s future. It’s a powerful and meaningful aspect of becoming a member of Spain’s community.

You will be able to regroup your family members:

Another great benefit of obtaining Spanish nationality is the ability to bring your loved ones to Spain. As an EU citizen, you can regroup your children, your spouse, or their children in a much easier way. You can do this by applying for the Residence Card as a Family Member of an EU Citizen.


Spanish passport

Ways of obtaining citizenship

Citizenship by residence

This method of acquiring nationality requires you to have lived in Spain for a legally determined period before applying. This might sound confusing, but don’t worry we’ll break it down,

Typically, if you’re a foreign resident who already applied for permanent residency and lived in Spain for ten continuous years, you’re on the right track. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, only five years are needed if you have been granted refugee status, only five years are needed. Also, if you’re from certain countries like Latin American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal, or if you are a Sephardic Jew, you only need two years of residency to be eligible.

In some cases, you will need just one year of residence. For example:

      • If the person has not exercised the right to opt for Spanish nationality promptly.

      • A person who has been legal under the guardianship, custody, or foster care of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, even if he/she continues in this situation at the time of the application.

      • A person married to a Spanish citizen or institution for one year once the application is submitted and is not legally or de facto separated.

      • The widow or widower of a Spaniard, if at the time of the spouse’s death, there was no legal or de facto separation.

      • The person born outside Spain of a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who were originally Spanish.

    Citizenship by a letter of naturalization

    Citizenship by a letter of naturalization is a unique and exceptional way of acquiring nationality in Spain. Unlike other administrative procedures, this method operates outside the general rules of administrative procedure.

    This method involves a special process. The government exercises its discretion and authority to grant or deny nationality based on individual cases. In essence, citizenship by a letter of naturalization offers a route to nationality for deserving individuals who have unique and exceptional connections or contributions to Spain.

    Citizenship for native Spaniards

    If you are Spaniards of origin, the good news is that Spain recognizes the significance of heritage and facilitates the acquisition of citizenship for individuals who can demonstrate your lineage.

    You can qualify for citizenship by Spanish origin if you can demonstrate one of the following:

        • You are born to Spanish parents.

        • You are born in Spain to foreign parents and at least one of them was also born in Spain. Children of diplomatic or consular officials accredited in Spain are exempt.

        • You are born in Spain to foreign parents and they both lack nationality or if neither of their home countries can grant you nationality. 

        • You are born in Spain but your parentage is uncertain or unknown. Minors whose first known place of stay is in Spain are considered to have been born on Spanish territory.

      Nationality by option

      Nationality by option is a benefit that Spanish legislation offers to foreigners who meet certain conditions to acquire Spanish nationality. This option is typically available to those who have a close connection with Spain. You can acquire Spanish nationality by the following means:

      a) You are a person who is or has been subject to the parental authority of a Spaniard.

      b) Your father or mother was originally Spanish and born in Spain.

      c) You are not automatically a citizen if you are born or have your parentage established in Spain after the age of eighteen. But don’t worry, you still have a chance to acquire Spanish nationality. You have two years, starting from the time your parentage is determined to decide if you want to become a citizen of Spain by origin. 

      d) If you are adopted and over eighteen years old, you may opt for the Spanish nationality of origin. You have two-years to acquire nationality.

      Double nationality with a Spanish passport

      If you’re a foreigner applying for Spanish nationality, it’s essential to be aware of a crucial requirement. Spain requires you to expressly renounce your original nationality of origin to obtain Spanish nationality. This step is a significant part of the process and its often unknown by many applicants.  

      This situation applies to foreign nationals from countries with which Spain does not have a signed dual nationality agreement. If you do not renounce your nationality of origin, you will not be able to obtain Spanish citizenship. However, this applies only to nationals of countries with which Spain has not signed a dual nationality agreement.

      You won´t need to renounce your nationality if you are a citizen of Ibero-American countries. For example, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, or Portugal. When we say, “Ibero-American countries”, we mean countries where Spanish or Portuguese is one of the official languages.

      Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Tobago, and Guyana are not Ibero-American countries. Puerto Rico is an Ibero-American country.

      Spanish Citizenship for Sephardic Jews

      In 2015, the Congress of Deputies approved the Law Project that granted Spanish nationality to the Sephardic descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in the 15th century. This meant that if you were a Sephardic Jew, you didn’t need to reside in Spain and you didn’t have to give up your previous citizenship. 

      This law was initially foreseen for one year and was extended year after year. In 2019 it was no longer extended. The last applications accepted were those completed before 1 October 2019. Unfortunately, as of today, it is no longer possible to apply for Spanish nationality as a Sephardi.

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      Citizenship exam

      Let’s talk about exams. Typically, if you apply for citizenship by residence, then you must pass the exam on constitutional and cultural knowledge of Spain (CCSE test) and obtain the DELE Spanish diploma level A2 or higher, which certifies a basic knowledge of the Spanish language. 

      However, you will be exempt from taking the DELE A2 or higher exams if you are in one of the following situations:

          • you are a national of Spanish-speaking countries or territories,

          • you are under 18 years of age,

          • you have a judicially modified capacity,

          • you already have a DELE A2 diploma (or higher), or

          • you already have a basic (A2), intermediate (B1), or advanced (B2) level certificate from the Official Language Schools.

        On the other hand, if you are a minor, a person with legally modified capacity, a person with learning difficulties, or a person who has been schooled in Spain and has passed Compulsory Secondary Education, you may also be exempted from taking the CCSE exam.

        The validity of the DELE Spanish diplomas is indefinite, while the CCSE certificate is valid for 4 years starting from the date of approval of the qualification certificate.

        The easiest way to obtain Spanish Citizenship

        So, now that you know all of the different ways of obtaining Spanish nationality, you may be wondering which is the quickest and/or easiest way to obtain it. Unfortunately, there is no quick way to obtain Spanish nationality. 

        The administration has one year to resolve your application for nationality by residence, once it is submitted. However, the reality differs from what is the law states, as it is currently taking more than two or even three years to receive a decision on the application. 

        Currently, there is a huge volume of applications for nationality by residence. Unfortunately, this has led to major delays which affect applications for other ways of obtaining Spanish nationality, like nationality by option. For this reason, it is not possible to speak of a realistic timeframe for the resolution of nationality files at present.

        Another important point to remember is that not everyone can apply for Spanish nationality in any way they want. Each method has its specific requirements, and you need to be in a particular situation to be eligible for it. For example, if you were born in Spain, but your parents aren’t Spanish by origin, you can’t apply for Spanish nationality through the option method. Similarly, if you have no family ties to a Spaniard and you’ve never lived in Spain, then both the option and residency methods are a no-go for you.

        So, it’s essential to understand the specific conditions and requirements for each method and see if you fit the bill before going ahead with your application.

        Can Lexidy assist me with my Spanish citizenship application?

        At Lexidy, we specialize in all services required when immigrating to Spain. Our team of experienced immigration lawyers will be able to assist you throughout every step of your journey to Spanish citizenship, ensuring a safe, smooth, and stress-free process.

        We thrive on delivering the satisfaction of a successful immigration process and want to help you achieve our goal of Spanish citizenship, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us through the form below.

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