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How to Get Spanish Citizenship in 2022?
Everyone who can prove a sufficient motive or connection may live in Spain. Read on to find out how to become a Spanish citizen and get your passport in Spain. Throughout this article, we will answer all your questions about Spanish citizenship. The 4 options you have to acquire, their requirements and documents, as well as the application process will be discussed. You will also learn how to get in by halftime! So, prepare to know how to get Spanish nationality?
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How to Get Spanish Citizenship in 2022 & What Is It?
If you become a Spanish citizen, you can live and work in Spain for the rest of your life; at the same time, you are also entitled to certain rights, like voting rights and the right to move freely within the European Union.
Spain’s citizenship is inherited by birth, the most common way to acquire it. Upon being born in Spain and having Spanish parents, you automatically become a citizen of the Spanish territory.
Despite this, the Civil Code recognizes other ways to become a citizen of Spain if you are a foreigner. It is possible to obtain citizenship by a residency in Spain if one has lived there for ten years.
However, there are other routes, as we will learn in this article: citizenship by marriage, citizenship by descent, and citizenship by option.
You will likely be able to obtain it yourself, so keep reading. You might be able to do so much faster!
Nationality law in Spain
One of the most important documents of the country, the Civil Code, published in 1889, regulates Spanish nationality. Nevertheless, the authorities have made several changes (we will tackle them a bit later) that affect the way you get citizenship. For example, the ones listed on Royal Decree 1004/2005.
The main advantages
As a Spanish citizen, you can enjoy the following benefits:
A simplified paperwork process
Applying for Spanish Citizenship will make it easier for you to navigate Spanish bureaucracy whenever you need to make a legal move. It will save you a lot of time.
Spanish voting rights
Long-term residents of Spain may find it beneficial to be able to vote. They can do so after formalizing the process.
The right to move freely
You will be able to enter 183 countries with your visa on hand if you become a Spanish citizen.
Getting an EU passport
Additionally, you will have the right to live and work anywhere within the European Union.
The Spanish government has no plans to exit the EU in the near future. Therefore, these benefits will not change or expire during the upcoming years.
Citizenship of Spain or permanent residency?
You will undoubtedly question the best option if you have lived in Spain for several years and would like to stay in the long run.
Would it be better to apply for permanent residency or become a citizen (obtaining Spanish citizenship)? You can live in Spain indefinitely if you choose either option. Nevertheless, each of these two paths has its differences, and understanding them is crucial.
Spain’s permanent residency
You can apply for permanent residency in Spain after living in the country for five years continuously.
Non-EU citizens can stay in Spain long-term under this permit type. Your residence card needs to be renewed every five years.
Since you will be living in the country under the same conditions as Spanish citizenship, you might prefer to take this route since it is perhaps the most straightforward.
The main disadvantage of becoming a citizen
After ten years of living in Spain, you can obtain Spanish nationality, thus becoming a Spanish citizen.
The main disadvantage to following this path to obtain long-term residency is that you will need to renounce your original citizenship (to get Spanish citizenship).
That is what you should consider. Keeping your original nationality is possible through permanent residency, which you can renew every five years. Nationality will be your best option if you are not concerned about this.
However, there is an exception to that rule. In the case of Andorra, Portugal, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, or a Latin American country, you can obtain dual nationality; therefore, you need not give up your original citizenship.
The four ways: How to Get Spanish Citizenship?
Having seen the benefits of this process, let’s look at how you can obtain it. The path to becoming a citizen does not follow a single path.
You can obtain Spanish nationality in four main ways:
- Spanish Citizenship By Option: Become a citizen of Spain through your children
- Spanish Citizenship By Residency: After living in Spain for a certain number of years
- Spanish Citizenship By Marriage: When you marry a Spanish national
- Spanish Citizenship By Descent: If you are the descendant or grandchild of a Spanish citizen
There are different requirements for each of them. You must understand these requirements so you can make an informed decision.
How to Get Spanish Citizenship by Option?
Individuals who become Spanish citizens by option (also known as citizenship by origin) obtain their citizenship through their parents.
Suppose, for example, you initiate your citizenship application based on residency. Including your children’s birth certificates in that application will allow them to become Spanish citizens later.
You must ensure that your children are under 18 years of age. However, they may claim citizenship for 2 complete years to obtain citizenship until they are 20 years old. Due to this, if you, as a parent, applied for Spanish nationality when your children were already over 18, the process is invalid.
In that case, who would be able to benefit from citizenship by option?
- Spanish-born children of foreign citizens
- Adults over the age of 18 who were adopted by Spanish nationals
- Persons who are or have been in the custody of a Spaniard
Keep in mind that if you are a foreigner and your children were born in Spain, there is a possibility that they will be considered Spanish by default (through citizenship by presumption).
How to Obtain Spanish Citizenship by Residency?
Most people are familiar with this one. The Spanish residency can be obtained through the naturalization process if you have lived in Spain uninterruptedly for a certain number of years.
It is granted to all foreigners who have lived in the country for a sufficient amount of time. You will need to enter Spain with your residence permit, renew it enough times, and once you have reached the time frame required based on your situation, you will be granted citizenship.
For citizenship, how long do I have to live in Spain?
Depending on your situation, family ties, and country of origin, the length of time may vary:
- The general rule is 10 years.
- If you’re a refugee, you’ll have five years.
- You need 2 years if you are a foreigner from any Latin American country, from Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, or Portugal. As we have already mentioned, you will not be required to give up your former and original citizenship in those cases.
- Children/grandchildren of Spanish citizens born in Spain or those married to a Spanish national have only to wait one year. We will discuss these options in the next section.
However, it’s not as easy as it seems. You must meet the following requirements in addition to living in the Spanish territory for 1, 2, 5, or 10 years:
- The year count begins when your first residence card is valid. Any period during which you became irregular will not be taken into account.
- Also, any time spent in Spain on a tourist or student visa will not be counted (as these are stay periods).
- The required number of years must have been uninterrupted. A long-term stay outside of the country (more than three months can result in denial) or frequent departures are not allowed.
- Demonstrating proper civic behavior is crucial. Any conflicting behavior will be checked in your criminal history and police records. Your residence card can be revoked if you receive speeding tickets or renew it late.
How to Get Spanish Citizenship by Marriage?
Do you want to get Spanish citizenship without having to wait ten years? Citizenship by marriage may be the answer. Foreigners who have lived in Spain for one year and are married to Spanish citizens are eligible for this nationality. Divorced couples or civil partnerships do not qualify.
It is a simple process. The first step is to marry a Spanish citizen. You can then apply for a residence permit and work authorization through a family member with an EU visa.
Once you have lived with your spouse for 12 months (this is very important), you can begin the application process. We have the exact requirements as in the previous section. Remember that the clock starts counting when you get your residence card.
In addition, you must ensure that your marriage is registered in Spain since your marriage certificate will be required. This is an extra step you’ll need to take if you get married abroad.
How to Get Spanish Citizenship by Descent?
A Spanish passport can be obtained immediately and easily by children of Spanish parents. The question is, what about their grandchildren? Will they have the same luck? It wasn’t possible a few years ago. Those cases weren’t covered by nationality law. However, the situation has completely changed with the grandchildren’s law.
As of today, you too can apply for citizenship if you are a grandchild of a Spanish citizen and you belong to any of the following categories:
- The law did not apply to the children of people who acquired their nationality from historical memory but could not acquire it by option when the law came into effect as they were older than 18 years old.
- Grandchildren of Spanish women born in Spain were married to foreigners prior to the 1978 Constitution.
- Grandchildren of Spanish nationals obtained another nation’s nationality after leaving Spain before their children were born (so that their children weren’t Spanish citizens).
- Citizens of Spain could acquire citizenship by option but lost it when they became older than 18 years old.
General requirements and application process
It is straightforward to apply for Spanish citizenship. It consists of the following stages:
- Take the required exams (A2 and CCSE) and prepare all the required documents.
- You must submit your application.
- Obtain an appointment for the pledge of allegiance after you receive a response.
- The document you will receive during step number 4 will enable you to go to your local police station and obtain your passport and DNI.
- Finally, you need to request a concordance certificate so that all public and private institutions that you registered with your NIE will be able to verify your new identification information.
Take a closer look at each one.
Documents needed for obtaining nationality, as well as preparation
Preparation of the following documents is the first step. Some of them may differ depending on which citizenship you intend to obtain:
- Identification: a valid passport and NIE
- You must have a current residence permit. It means you can’t be in a position of irregularity when our application is being considered.
- Certificate of birth
- Records of criminal activity: Although you can get a positive resolution if you have a minor and isolated issue, you should not register any background records.
- Certificate of marriage (in case you are becoming a citizen by marriage)
- The current census and history
- Upon passing the two required exams, DELE A2 and CCSE, you will receive a certificate that must be attached to the application.
- Your children can obtain citizenship by option if you include their birth certificates.
- Please provide proof that you have paid the corresponding fee, around 100 Euros.
- Possession of sufficient economic resources
DELE A2 and CCSE are the two Spanish citizenship tests
You must pass two different citizenship exams to become a citizen of Spain and obtain a passport:
The DELE A2 is the standard language test for demonstrating that you have a good level of Spanish. There is no need to take this test if you are from a Latin American country.
The CCSE is a cultural test. You do not need to take this test if you studied school or high school in Spain. The test consists of 45 minutes of multiple-choice questions about the Spanish government, art, television, culture, and geography.
The Cervantes Institute organizes both exams.
This second test is the most intimidating for applicants. However, it shouldn’t be like that. Why? It is published online by the Cervantes Institute (usually, 300 questions are available). Hence, you can easily practice completing them beforehand to know what to expect.
In addition, if you fail, you can retake it. You have 3 chances to retake it before you have to pay again (85€).
How to submit your application?
The paperwork must be sent to the authorities once you have met all the requirements.
You have two options in that sense:
- At the Civil Registry, you can submit your file in person.
- You can do it online by clicking here.
What do we recommend? You can do it online. This will save you a lot of time (you don’t have to make an appointment), and your problem will be resolved much faster.
What is the processing time for nationalities?
Answering the question of how long does it take to become a Spanish citizen is quite complicated. Generally, the process takes between two and three years.
Nevertheless, you can use a handy tip to speed the process up radically. The Spanish government has one year from submitting your application to legally respond (which you can check here through the “cómo va lo mío” platform).
Your file will pass through several stages of status during that time. After that period, you will be able to start making things faster. But why? After 12 months, if you didn’t hear back, it simply means that you were rejected due to administrative silence.
However, since there is no reason for that denial, you are entitled to an appeal. A response should arrive within three to four months. You can obtain Spanish citizenship in just one and a half years if you apply for the flag jury at the same time as you submit your appeal.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that you can make an appointment for the oath not just at the Civil Registry but also before a notary, something that could speed up the process enormously if you live in a city where the Civil Registry is incredibly crowded. It would take months to get an appointment.
Preservation and loss
As a final note, it is important to mention that nationality may be lost by residence once it has been obtained.
The Spanish consulate will initiate the withdrawal process if you move abroad and do not use it within 3 years.
Therefore, once you receive it, it will be essential to use it, and if it is not possible, make a declaration in the same consulate that you want to keep it.
Obtain legal assistance when applying for nationality
Our team of specialized immigration lawyers in Spain is here to help you if you find this information overwhelming.
We can handle the whole application process, from determining which path is right for you to asking for the specific documentation and information you will need to fill out and sending everything on your behalf.
We can also reduce waiting time by speeding up the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Spain allow dual citizenship?
Dual citizenship is allowed by the Spanish Civil Code, but only under certain circumstances. You generally must renounce your prior citizenship when applying for and becoming a Spanish citizen by residency.
Is it possible to get residency in Spain if I buy a house?
The golden visa scheme allows you to become a Spanish resident after purchasing a home in Spain. Those who purchase a property in Spain with a property investment of at least € 500.000 can obtain a two-year residence permit (which may be renewed).
My grandmother is Spanish, so can I get a Spanish passport?
It is possible to obtain Spanish citizenship through descent if your family heritage is Spanish or if your parents or grandparents were Spanish. If either your mother or your father are Spanish citizens, you can become a Spanish citizen by descent. It is likely that both your parents were born in Spain.
Is getting Spanish residency a long process?
It can sometimes take from 3 to 6 months for the regular application process to take place. After the first year, you will have to renew, which requires extra paperwork. You may not be allowed to work in the country depending on the residency you have obtained.