How to make a successful Spanish citizenship application

Spanish citizenship immigration lawyers Spain

Spain isn’t just a top destination for expats from across the globe – as of 2024, the country also offers one of the most powerful passports in the world.

Not only does Spanish nationality provide some of the greatest freedom of travel, but it also comes with a range of benefits as a citizen, including access to Spanish education, healthcare, and government services.

To obtain Spanish nationality and get a Spanish passport, there are several application routes to go down, with overlapping requirements to become a Spanish citizen.

This guide explains the different types of applications for Spanish citizenship, how the application process works, and the mistakes you should avoid to ensure you apply for citizenship in Spain successfully.


Types of Spanish citizenship applications

The various ways to claim Spanish citizenship include through marriage to a Spanish national, Spanish family ties, or residency after living in Spain for a certain length of time – or a combination of these factors.


Spanish citizenship by residency

In most cases, foreigners who want to become Spanish citizens must live in Spain for at least 10 years before they can apply – or 5 years, in the case of refugees.

Nationals from Latin American countries or certain countries that are former Spanish colonies, as well as Sephardic Jewish descendants, can apply after living in Spain for 2 years.

If you are the foreign-born or adopted child or grandchild of a Spanish citizen who was born in Spain, then you can apply for citizenship after 1 year of living in Spain.

The period of legal residency starts from the date of issue of your first residence permit, and does not include time spent in Spain on short-stay tourist visas or student visas.

You must comply with local and national laws while living in Spain, and must reside in the country for at least half of each year for it qualify towards your residency requirements.


Spanish citizenship by marriage

If you get married to a Spanish national, or someone who becomes a Spanish citizen, then you can apply for citizenship through marriage after living together in Spain for a minimum of 1 year.

You can live in Spain together after getting work and residency authorisation by applying for a visa as a family member of an EU citizen. You must then reside at the same address in Spain as a married couple for 1 year.

Civil partnerships, divorced couples, and ‘green card’ marriages are not accepted, but widowers may still be able to claim Spanish nationality if they were married to a Spanish citizen at the time of their passing.

If you are married to someone from a former Spanish colony who is granted citizenship after residing in Spain for 2 years, you could then apply for Spanish nationality yourself after 1 year of living in Spain together.


Spanish citizenship by ‘option’

If you have a direct family member who was eligible for Spanish citizenship and claimed this nationality, then you may have the option to also claim it through them.

For example, those who have been under the parental authority of a Spanish citizen or have a parent who was born in Spain and used to be a Spanish national could also be eligible.

Those born in Spain to foreign parents or adopted by a Spanish national also have the option to claim this nationality within 2 years of their 18th birthday or date of adoption.

The recent Grandchildren Law (Ley de Nietos) of 2022 also makes it possible for children or grandchildren of Spanish nationals who lost their citizenship as a result of exile from Spain during the Civil War or subsequent dictatorship to apply for Spanish nationality, but the application window for this policy will close in October 2025.


Spanish citizenship application process

Even if you meet the residency and/or descendancy requirements, you must pass two exams before you can submit an application for Spanish citizenship.

These are the DELE A2 language test and the CCSE general knowledge test, proving that you can speak enough Spanish and know enough about Spain’s constitution and culture to participate successfully in Spanish life.

In addition to passing these exams and providing the certificates, you must submit all other required documents with your completed application form, including:

  • ⦿ Valid passport and birth certificate for the applicant
  • ⦿ Applicant’s marriage certificate and spouse’s birth certificate, if relevant
  • ⦿ Parent’s and/or grandparent’s birth certificates and marriage certificates, if relevant
  • ⦿ NIE (foreigner’s identification number) and current Spanish residency card
  • ⦿ Census records showing the applicant’s registered address in Spain
  • ⦿ Criminal record certificate and documents proving financial status
  • ⦿ Receipt proving full payment of the application fee

All documents must be professionally translated into Spanish and legalised with apostille stamps. You can submit your Spanish citizenship application online or in person at the nearest Civil Registry in Spain.

If your application is approved, you must make a Civil Registry appointment within the next 6 months. This is the final step, where you will swear allegiance to the King of Spain and Spanish constitution, renounce your former nationality, and be entered in the Spanish Civil Register.

Once you receive your DNI (national identity document), you can apply for a Spanish passport.


How long does it take to get Spanish citizenship?

On top of the time taken to meet minimum residency requirements, gather documents, and complete and submit the forms, it can take over a year from the date of application before you can officially become a Spanish citizen.

Spanish bureaucracy is notorious for taking a long time, but the Spanish government legally must respond to your application within 1 year of submission and notify you of its decision.

While you wait for approval, you must continue to uphold the application requirements in the meantime – such as maintaining your residency and not leaving the country for long periods.

In the worst cases, when 10 years of residency are required, it can take up to 12 years to obtain Spanish nationality – but in the fastest cases, when only 1 year of residency is necessary, it can take just over 2 years to gain Spanish citizenship.

With so much at stake, you’ll want to make sure that you can apply for Spanish nationality as quickly as possible, but with a watertight, error-free application to give you the highest chances of approval.


Mistakes to avoid when applying for Spanish citizenship

There are many reasons why the Spanish government might reject an application for Spanish citizenship, but some of the most common mistakes that people make when applying for Spanish nationality include:

  • ⦿ Using a passport or identity document that is expired or about to expire
  • ⦿ Failing to provide copies of all passport pages (not just the photo page)
  • ⦿ Submitting incorrect documents – e.g. misspelled, poorly translated, or non-apostilled
  • ⦿ Missing any required documents – e.g. exam, marriage, or census certificates
  • ⦿ Not having a clean criminal record – any minor offences must be cleared
  • ⦿ Applying too early before meeting the minimum residency period requirements
  • ⦿ Leaving Spain for more than 6 months a year, for periods longer than 3 months

Any one or combination of these errors could result in a rejection, and all your hard work amounting to nothing.

So, it’s crucial to get everything right the first time – and there’s no better way to ensure that your Spanish citizenship application is 100% correct than to get help from immigration lawyers in Spain.

Here at Manzanares Abogados, we would be glad to advise you on the best steps to take for your personal circumstances to help you acquire Spanish citizenship as efficiently as possible.

Visit our enquiry page to contact us by phone or email and arrange an initial consultation at a time that suits you.


Leave a comment


Spanish citizenship immigration lawyers Spain

How to make a successful Spanish citizenship application

Spain isn’t just a top destination for expats from across the globe – as of 2024, the country also offers … Read more

Spain immigration lawyers Spanish passport

Spain tops the most desirable passport index for the first time

After being stuck in fourth or third place for most of the 19 years since the annual ranking began, Spain … Read more

student visa working spanish tax rate

Can you work in Spain on a student visa?

People from across the world come to Spain to pursue higher education, but if their course, internship, training, or voluntary … Read more

non resident tax return Spain self employed

Changes to self-employed tax returns in Spain in 2024

The period of annual tax returns in Spain starts in early April, with tax returns for the year 2023–2024 now … Read more

Modelo 720 non resident tax Spain

Modelo 720: Deadline for declaring foreign assets in Spain

The deadline is approaching for Spanish taxpayers to declare any assets they hold abroad to the Spanish tax authority. Both … Read more

English speaking lawyers in Spain

What are your legal obligations as a foreigner in Spain?

When you move to a different country as a foreigner, whether temporarily or to become a long-term resident, there are … Read more

spain immigration lawyers most popular country for uk nationals eu

What is the most popular country for UK nationals living in the EU?

Here at Manzanares Lawyers, we have helped plenty of people from all around the world to become legal residents in … Read more

non resident tax spain remote workers

How much tax do remote workers have to pay in Spain?

Ever since digital nomad visas were announced in Spain to attract remote workers, one of the main proposed incentives was … Read more

non resident tax Spain

The best cities in Spain – and the world – for expats

Moving to a different country is sure to be a big upheaval for anyone, but it can also be incredibly … Read more

Do you have to pay tax in Spain as a non-tax resident if you don't work?

Do you have to pay tax in Spain if you don’t work?

Just like residents in most countries around the world, residents in Spain have to pay taxes to the Spanish government … Read more

non-resident tax Spain IBI surcharge

What is the ‘empty property tax’ in Spain?

With many homes in Spain standing vacant and access to affordable housing being a key social issue, the Spanish government … Read more

ETIAS non-resident Spain

How will the ETIAS affect foreigners who own property in Spain?

The EU is planning to implement new IT systems for better monitoring of travel within the Schengen Area, meaning non-EU … Read more

non resident tax Spain

What is the Special Tax Regime in Spain?

Maybe you have heard of Beckham’s Law before – a special Spanish tax law that was initially created for the … Read more

Spain immigration lawyers - top countries for expats and remote workers

Spain is a Top 2 country for expats and remote workers

Daydreaming about starting a new life somewhere welcoming and sunny? Whether you want to pursue training or education you can’t … Read more

difference between an NIE and TIE

What’s the difference between an NIE and TIE card?

If you’re planning to move to Spain and stay for more than 90 days, you’re going to need to register … Read more

IBI tax Spain

IBI: Who has to pay property tax in Spain?

When buying property or earning income in any country, it’s vital to know about tax liabilities, whether you’re counted as … Read more

How to file 2022 tax returns in Spain

The annual campaign for income tax returns has begun in Spain, with 11th April 2023 marking the start of the … Read more

Spain visa

What happens if you stay in Spain for more than 90 days?

Spain is one of the most popular destinations for visitors from around the world, with over 100 million people visiting … Read more

Spanish wealth tax

Do non-residents have to pay Wealth Tax in Spain?

Many foreigners are unsure about whether or not they have to pay income tax or property tax in Spain, especially … Read more

digital nomad visa tax benefits

What are the tax benefits of Spain’s digital nomad visa?

The Spanish government has teased the introduction of a ‘digital nomad visa’ for over a year as part of the … Read more

spain immigration reform 2022

How did Spanish immigration laws change in 2022?

Obtaining the right permits to live, work, and study in Spain has been a slow and complicated ordeal for many … Read more

popular places foreigner Spanish real estate investment

Popular places for foreigners to invest in Spanish real estate in 2022

More foreigners than ever are buying homes in Spain, fuelling consistent growth in the Spanish housing market. In the first … Read more

Spanish Golden Visas still a top choice for international investors in 2022

Since the programme launched in 2013, the Spanish Golden Visa has remained one of the top choices for residency by … Read more

Ibiza lawyers fines

7 Spanish laws you should know before going to Ibiza

Spanish fines you should know about before going to Ibiza The idyllic island of Ibiza draws millions of tourists, visitors, … Read more

Ibiza Spanish visa

Thinking about living in Ibiza as a digital nomad?

Moving to Ibiza as a digital nomad Working remotely wasn’t an entirely new concept, but when COVID-19 shut everything down … Read more

Spanish residence vs Spanish citizenship

Spanish Residency vs Spanish Citizenship

Spanish residency vs Spanish citizenship: What’s the difference? As you probably know, you don’t have to be a Spanish national … Read more

best places to live in Spain

16 of the best places to live in Spain

If you’ve been dreaming about moving to Spain, or even just buying a second home there to spend holidays in … Read more

Spanish Golden Visa guide

The dos and don’ts of getting a Spanish Golden Visa

For those with sufficient disposable income, the Spanish Golden Visa programme is a great option for gaining legal residency in … Read more

immigrate to Spain

7 reasons to immigrate to Spain

7 reasons to immigrate to Spain Who hasn’t dreamed about spending endless days in the sun, surrounded by beautiful nature … Read more

brexit spanish golden visa

Can Brits still buy holiday homes in Spain after Brexit?

Second homes & Golden Visas: Can Brits buy holiday homes in Spain after Brexit? When Britain officially left the European … Read more

Who inherits the most from Spanish inheritance law

Who inherits the most from Spanish inheritance law?

Of course, the subject of inheritance is one that many want to avoid, as after all, it is centred around … Read more

Why renegotiating your Spanish property might be necessary

Why renegotiating your Spanish property might be necessary

Do you feel like your financial position has changed significantly enough that you cannot keep on top of your current … Read more

How does Spanish inheritance tax differ from the UK

How does Spanish inheritance tax differ from the UK?

Inheritance is never a topic that people want to dwell on. But if you’re spending your retirement years in a … Read more

spanish lawyer that speaks your language

Why is it important to hire a lawyer that speaks your language?

We can imagine that the last thing you will want to encounter is important legal negotiations with someone who doesn’t … Read more

off-plan property in Spain

Buying an off-plan Spanish property: A risk worth taking?

Building your own off plan property in Spain is the dream of many, right? After all, the gorgeous weather, friendly … Read more

spanish housing regulations

What is important to know about Spanish housing regulations?

More and more people are coming to Manzanares Lawyers to learn about the laws on renting out property in Spain. … Read more

All you need to know about Spanish property conveyancing

All you need to know about Spanish property conveyancing

When purchasing a property in Spain for the first time, it is highly likely that you are going to want … Read more

why write a spanish will

Why should you make a Spanish Will?

The subject of making a will is one that many shy away from talking about and for good reason! No … Read more



SOURCE: SPANISH REAL ESTATE MAGAZINE 06/05/2019 Licenses for building new property increased 10.4% in February, when 9.168 licenses were granted … Read more






SOURCE: SPANISH REAL ESTATE MAGAZINE 07/05/2019 Four Seasons lands on the Mediterranean sea in the entrance of Marbella, hand in … Read more

Property prices increase for the first time in six years

Property prices increase for the first time in six years

According to the Second hand property sale price index (IPVVR in Spanish), which is produced by the Land Registry using … Read more

Spain Flag

“Spain is back”

JPMorgan states on its last report: “Spain is back”. The American company increases the 2014 GDP forecast for Spain, encouraging … Read more

Málaga airport hit last august a record in number of visitors

Málaga airport hit last august a record in number of visitors

For Malaga airport, last August was the month with the highest number of users of its history, with 1,680,707 passengers, … Read more

Spanish Golden Visa

Main benefits from recent “Golden Visa” in Spain

After Law 14/2013, dated 27th of September, went into force, a significant number of applications for “visa” or residency in Spain … Read more

European Justice ruled against Spanish Inheritance Tax

European Justice ruled against Spanish Inheritance Tax

In recent declarations raised, European courts declared that Spanish Inheritance and Donation Tax partly breaks European Union regulations. Luxembourg Court ruled on 3rd of September 2014 that this … Read more

Call Now Button