In order to get Spanish Citizenship you are required by law to have residence visa first.
To become a permanent resident (long-term resident) you need to have lived in Spain for 5 years.
Only after 10 years can you apply to become a naturalized Spanish citizen and be regarded as being of Spanish nationality and so have the same rights as a born Spaniard.
Spanish citizenship by Naturalization is only conferred by the Spanish Government and at their discretion.
Spanish Citizenship by Naturalization:
You can request to become a Spanish national after a period of continuous legal residence for:
- A period of ten years
- Five years if you are a refugee
- A period of two years if you are a national of an Ibero-American country, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal.
- Naturalised citizens of an Ibero-American country, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal the 10 year residence in Spain requirement still applies.
- One year if you –
- Were born in a Spanish territory
- did not exercise your right to your nationality by ‘Option’ within the given period.
- have been under the legal guardianship of a Spanish citizen of institution for two years.
- have been married for one year to a Spanish national and are not legally separated or de facto separated.
- are a widow/er of a Spanish national and if at the time of death were not legally separated or de facto separated.
- If one of your parents or grandparents were of Spanish origin but you were not born in Spain.
Sephardic Jews are able to obtain Spanish nationality automatically by naturalization without a residency requirement according to a 2012 Government statute. But applicants must provide Certification from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain stating that you are of the Sephardi denomination.
If you are successful in becoming a Spanish citizen you will have to forfeit your original nationality and hold only a Spanish passport, and you will become a Spanish EU citizen with the right to vote in any EU election.
To ensure your Naturalization as a Spanish Citizen you must arrange for the formalities to be carried out at the Civil Registry of the place of residence.
You will be required to:
- Swear allegiance/loyalty to the King of Spain
- Swear to be obedient to the laws of Spain and its constitution
- Declare that you renounce your former nationality (this does not apply if you are a national of any Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal).
Spanish Nationality by Option
Option is a benefit offered to foreigners under Spanish Government legislation.
You are eligible for Opting for Spanish Nationality:
- if you are or have been subject to the parental authority of a Spaniard.
- if your father or mother was Spanish and was born in Spain.
- if your birth in Spain or parentage is determined (determination of parentage means establishing who a person’s parents are) after you turn eighteen years of age. In such a case, the deadline for opting for Spanish nationality is two years after your parentage or birth has been determined.
- if you were adopted by Spaniards and the adoption took place after you turned 18 years of age. In such an instant your right to opt exists for two years after your adoption has been formalized.
Loss and Recovery of Spanish Nationality
If you have acquired nationality in Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal you do not lose Spanish nationality.
You can lose your Spanish Nationality when:
- You are emancipated and live abroad and have voluntarily acquired another nationality. You can avoid such loss if, within 3 years you declare that you wish to remain a Spanish national.
- You are emancipated and are the holder of another nationality, live permanently abroad and have renounced your Spanish nationality.
- You are emancipated, live permanently abroad and for 3 years have used only the nationality you were assigned before emancipation. You can avoid loss of your Spanish nationality if you declare, within the 3 years that you wish to remain a Spanish national.
- You were born outside Spain and have a Spanish parent who was also born abroad. You lose your Spanish nationality if within 3 years of emancipation or reaching your majority you do not declare that you wish to keep Spanish nationality.
- You are a Spanish national through residence and not through origin. You will lose your Spanish nationality if:
- You use the nationality you renounced on gaining Spanish nationality, for 3 years thereafter.
- You voluntarily enter the armed forces or hold public office in a foreign territory despite it being prohibited by the Spanish Government.
- There is a judgement against you that states that you have committed misrepresentation, concealment or fraud in gaining your Spanish nationality.
Any recovery of Spanish nationality must be recorded in the Civil Registry.
In order to recover your Spanish nationality you must:
- be a legal resident in Spain. This does not apply to emigrants or children of emigrants, but this may be waived by the Minister of Justice in exceptional circumstances only.
- declare that it is your wish to recover your Spanish nationality before an Officer in charge of the Civil Registry.
Prior authorization from the Spanish Government is necessary in the recovery of nationality when you are not of Spanish origin and the following reasons pertain:
- If you have exclusively used the nationality you renounced on gaining Spanish nationality for a period of 3 years.
- If you voluntarily enter the armed forces or hold public office in a foreign territory despite it being prohibited by the Spanish Government.
- If there is a judgement against you that states that you have committed misrepresentation, concealment or fraud in gaining your Spanish nationality.
Citizens of Latin American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Portugal are not required to renounce their Spanish citizenship and dual nationality is bi-laterally recognized.
UK citizens: Even though you are required to renounce your previous citizenship, you may not be permitted to do so by the UK, which means that you do hold two nationalities although not ‘dual nationality’ as there is no bilateral agreement between Spain and the UK.
US citizens: Spain does not recognise US citizenship, and the US does not allow its citizens to become non-US citizens, therefore, although you may renounce your US citizenship in order to gain Spanish nationality, you will still be considered a US citizen by the US. This does not mean that you have ‘dual nationality’.
Citizens of other countries
Citizens of other countries: You will most likely lose your original citizenship on becoming a Spanish national, but if you wish to have dual nationality then you should consult a legal specialist in this area as they will be up-to-date regarding the laws on nationality, pertaining at the time of your enquiry.
Citizens with two passports
Citizens with two passports: Whenever possible you should use the passport of the country you are entering.
- if you are entering Spain – use your Spanish passport;
- if you are entering the country of your original nationality use the passport of that country.
EU permanent residence
If you are a permanent resident of the EU you can reside in Spain and retain you original nationality and passport. However, if you want to continue to reside in Spain indefinitely, you will eventually have to relinquish your original EU residence and apply for a Spanish/EU long-term residence permit from the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de extranjeros)
Non EU Nationals
If you hold a non-EU passport and do not have permanent residence within the EU then you will have to apply for either a long-term EU residence permit or a Spanish residence permit. Spanish residence permits also provide EU residence.
If you wish to apply for permanent residence in Spain you will be required to reside in Spain for no less than 5 years before you apply. Long-term residents of Spain can stay in the country indefinitely and are permitted to work under the same conditions as Spanish citizens.
This is also the first step to becoming a citizen of Spain with permanent residence in Spain. To become a permanent resident and citizen of Spain, you will need to live in Spain for 10 years before you apply.
Non EU Nationals – holding Blue Cards
If you hold an EU Blue Card (EU work permit) you are permitted long-term residence in Spain as long as you have lived in Spain for 2 years.
The Blue Card
The Blue Card work permit is awarded to those who have a work contract with a salary 1.5 times the average gross annual salary paid by a Member State of the EU. Blue Card holders have higher professional qualifications relevant to their work contract.
For more information: immigration-residency
Long-term residence in Spain
To gain long-term residence in Spain you have to show proof that you have sufficient assets and income to provide for yourself and your dependents/family. You will also need to show proof that your employer, or your business, provides you with adequate health insurance that is authorised to operate within Spain. Health insurance can be either public or private.
Once you have long-term residence in Spain you can move within the EU and can spend periods of up to 3 months outside Spain. If you need to stay in another member state for more than 3 months then you have to apply for permission to do so.
Permanent Residence Permit (Long-term)
This permit means that the holder lives and works in Spain with the same rights and obligations as Spaniards.
The period of 5 years of residence in Spain prior to application for permanent residence has to be continuous with no irregular exits from the country.
- Disruption to continuity is not affected by:
- Holidays outside Spain
- Absence from Spain up to 6 months and not exceeding 1 year
- Justified absence for health of family reasons
Applying without the first residence visa
It is possible to apply for a long-term residence permit with previously having held a residence visa only if you are one of the following:
- You are married to a Spanish citizen
- You have dependent Spanish children or minors.
- You lost your Spanish nationality
- You come from an area of war, political or ethnic upheaval/conflicts
- Other specific cases are taken into consideration and may be granted residence