A Spanish flag, symbol of Spanish citizenship and passport.

Spain citizenship is one of the most desired in the world for good reasons. The Spanish passport offers incredible benefits and opportunities for you and your family. Spanish nationality can be challenging to obtain, and you’ll need to consider your options carefully. We’ll look at how to become a citizen of Spain and how you can make it happen for you and your family.

How can you get Spain Citizenship?

Spanish Citizenship by Descent

Everyone who has a Spanish parent (either mother or father), is a Spanish citizen unless they renounce it.

This status is regardless of where you and your parent was born.

Spanish nationality by the Law of Historical Memory

There were two programs to address past injustice. Both have now expired.

The government introduced a Sephardic ancestry law in 2015, which expired in 2019. This law allowed people with Sephardic Jewish heritage to apply for citizenship in Spain. While the program has expired, the program may be restarted in the future. Portugal’s Sephardic Jewish citizenship program is still active.

From 2008 to 2011, there was a program to address “injustice produced by the exile”. It helped those who lost Spanish nationality due to the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship that followed.

Spanish Citizenship by Marriage

To get Spanish nationality by marriage, you need to live in Spain for more than one year with your spouse. After one year of residence in Spain, you can apply for Spanish citizenship by naturalization. The standard requirements for all new nationals apply (see below for more details.)

Spain recognizes same-sex marriage, but civil partnerships and de facto relationships do not qualify.

Spanish Citizenship by Birth

Spain grants citizenship to those born in Spanish territory to non-Spanish parents in specific circumstances.

  1. One of your parents was also born in Spain.
  2. Neither of your parents has a nationality that you can inherit.
  3. Your parents are unknown.

However, anyone born in Spain can qualify for citizenship by naturalization after one year of residency in Spain (see below for more details).

Spanish Citizenship by Adoption

If your adoptive parents are Spanish and you are under 18 years old, you can apply for Spanish citizenship.

For those adopted after 18, you have two years after the adoption to apply.

Spanish Citizenship by Naturalization

You can become a naturalized citizen through legal and continuous residency in Spain for between 1 -10 years. The residency requirement depends on where you come from and your circumstances. You can have a look at qualifying Spain visa and residency permit options here. Our How to Move to Spain guide will help you plan your move.

The standard requirements for all new nationals apply (see below for more details.)

Naturalization after one year

  • You were born in Spain or a Spanish overseas territory.
  • One of your parents is/was Spanish but gave up their citizenship.
  • One of your grandparents is/was Spanish by origin.
  • Wards of a Spanish person or institution.
  • You are married to a Spanish national.
  • You are the widow(er) of a Spanish national.

Naturalization after two years

Citizens of some countries qualify after just two years.

  • Ibero-American countries (this included most of South America and Central America)
  • Andorra
  • The Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Equatorial Guinea

Naturalization after five years

Anyone with refugee status.

Naturalization after ten years

Ten years is the standard naturalization period and applies to everyone else.

Some times may be excluded.

As you are considered a visitor, the government excludes any time you spent in Spain on a tourist or Spain student visa.

A beautiful Spanish street, a possible home for Spanish citizens.

What are the requirements to become a Spanish citizen?

For all ‘not by origin’ Spanish nationality applications, there are some standard requirements.

  • You’ll have to prove you are a person of good standing. To do this, you’ll need to show you have no serious criminal record.
  • During your qualifying time, you must not have left Spain for long periods. You can show your “empadronamiento” as proof.
  • You’ll need to show integration into Spanish society. At a minimum, this means having a Spanish language certification or passing a language test. The requirement is generally the DELE level 2 A Spanish. This does not apply if Spanish is your native language.
  • There is an exam of your knowledge of Spanish civil society, the CCSE.
  • You must swear loyalty to the King of Spain.
  • You must agree to follow the constitution and laws of the country.

How long does it take to get a Spanish citizenship?

Your successful application will take from one to two years to process. After that, you can apply for your Spanish passport.

The benefits of Spanish nationality

Here are some great things you get with your nationality.

  • The right to live, work and study in Spain, other EU, and EEA countries.
  • Membership of the SCHENGEN region.
  • The powerful Spanish passport.
  • Investment opportunities in the economies of Spain and Europe.
  • You can pass on your nationality to your children.
  • Citizenship of a well regarded, stable European democracy.
  • The right to vote in Spanish and European elections.
  • Access to awesome healthcare in Spain.

How strong is the Spanish passport?

Your Spanish passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world. We look at several factors when assessing passport strength.

  1. Country reputation. Spain is recognized as a good global citizen and is an active member of many internal organizations.
  2. Dual citizenship. Spain does allow this right in some cases.
  3. Heritability. You can pass your new nationality to your children.
  4. Visa-free access to desirable countries. Spain offers exceptional access, including the EU, UK, USA, South America, Canada, and Australia.
  5. Taxation laws. Spain has taxation treaties with most countries, which means you won’t pay double taxation.
  6. Negative requirements. There are no national service or non-standard duties.

Spanish nationality law

Articles 17 – 28, of the Civil Code, in the Constitution, and other regulations define Spanish nationality.

Generally, it follows the principle of ‘Jus Sanguinis’ or the right of blood. ‘Jus Sanguinis’ means that you inherit citizenship from your parents. In limited cases, ‘Jus Soli’ (right of soil) applies. This law means some children born in Spain to non-Spanish parents can get citizenship.

Types of Spanish citizenship

There are two different types of citizenship, depending on how you earn it. The law treats these categories differently in some cases, like dual citizenship.

  • Spanish nationality by origin” (nacionalidad Española de Origen), or a natural-born Spaniard.
  • Spanish nationality not by origin” (nacionalidad Española no de Origen), for all others.

Does Spain allow dual citizenship?

Spain does allow second citizenship in many cases. Availability depends on several factors.

Dual citizenship for Spanish nationals by origin

Spanish nationals by origin can, in many cases, take second citizenship. There is a process to follow, but it is possible.

Dual citizenship for those who acquired Spanish nationality (not by origin)

Spain has reciprocal agreements with 24 countries. If you are from one of these, you can keep your citizenship when you become a Spanish national.

  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

In most other cases, you’ll need to renounce existing citizenships if you want to become a Spanish national. This rule includes UK citizens considering Spanish citizenship after Brexit.

For countries that do not recognize renouncing, you’ll effectively end up as a dual citizen even if Spain does not recognize the status.

Can you buy citizenship in Spain?

The short answer is no; you cannot buy citizenship in Spain. However, Spain does have a Residency by Investment (RBI) program, the Spain Golden Visa. You can use this program to live in Spain for the ten-year qualification for naturalization.

There is no Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program that gives instant citizenship.

How hard is it to get citizenship in Spain?

For those who qualify, there is still another hurdle. A successful application needs everything to be perfect. There are special documentation, certification, and translation requirements.

While you can manage your own application, we strongly suggest using a qualified Spanish immigration lawyer. The right partner will maximize your chances of success and minimize your frustration.

Where Can I Live trusted partners offer exceptional service and value. We have a rigorous selection process and ongoing customer satisfaction reviews. This means that you’ll have the best possible chance for a successful application.

If you’d like a no-obligation consultation to figure out your next steps, please check out the service and our quality guarantee.

There is a citizenship application fee; it does vary, but €60-€100 will be a reasonable budget. The immigration agency will not refund the payment if they reject your application.

Permanent Residency in Spain

Many people take PR before citizenship, as it also gives you the right to stay indefinitely. You can check out a complete guide to permanent residency in Spain in our guide.

Most people qualify after five years of legal residence.

What’s next for you?

Spain citizenship comes with a fantastic range of benefits. For many people, the powerful passport will change their lives and their children’s lives.

The process isn’t easy, but the rewards are worth it for many. Will you join us to help tell the next chapter in Spain’s story with your new Spanish citizenship?


  1. Hi,l am rasha, clinical pharmacist, my husband is supervisor in safety and environmental field,we have 3 children, we rely plan to live abroad especially in Spain,to upgrade our live style,from which we can start?. Thanks

  2. Hello! I wondered whether as a Bolivian citizen who became a naturalized US citizen, would I still be eligible for the 2 year path to Spanish citizenship? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Cynthia. As long as you did not renounce your Bolivian citizenship you will still qualify for the two-year Ibero-American naturalization pathway to Spanish citizenship. If you have renounced your Bolivian nationality then you will no longer qualify, unless you returned to Bolivia and reclaimed your citizenship. The Spanish naturalization period for US citizens is ten years. Regards, Alastair

  3. Interesting question- My wife is a dual American-Philippine citizen, and my kids are American, but they are eligible for Philippine citizenship. If they got their Philippine citizenship, and then applied for Spanish citizenship (under the 2 year residency requirement- and using their Philippine passport), would they then still have to renounce the US citizenship? (since Spain allows dual citizenship from the Philippines)

    I haven’t found an answer to this one yet. Thanks!

    1. Hi Roger. Spanish nationality law dictates that your kids should declare and give up their US citizenship when they take on Spanish citizenship (even if it is using their Philippines nationality to qualify for the two year naturalization pathway). However, the declaration of additional or dual citizenships is something you would be responsible for. All the best, Alastair.

  4. Hello, I was born in Mexico and have not renounced my citizenship and am also a naturalized American citizen. My American husband and I are considering moving to Spain and I would like to become a Spanish citizen. What is the first thing I need to do to start the this process once we arrive in Spain and would my husband have to wait 10 years to become a Spanish citizen?

    1. Hi Monica. You will qualify to apply for Spanish citizenship after two years of legal residence in Spain. Once your citizenship application is approved and granted, you husband can apply for Spanish citizenship as the spouse of a Spanish citizen having lived legally in Spain for one year (1 year as a spouse of a Spanish citizen vs 10 years normally). You first step will be to find an appropriate visa or residency permit to allow you to legally live in Spain. Once in Spain you’ll need to register as a resident to start the naturalization process. You should discuss your case with a qualified Spanish immigration lawyer to ensure you choose the best options for your long-term goals. You can book an no-obligation consultation with the Where Can I Live Spain partner here.

  5. Hello, I was born in New York. My mother was born in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a US territory, however, Puerto Rico is part of the Ibero-American countries. Can I use my Puerto Rican heritage for Spain citizenship after having Spain residency for 2 years?
    Puerto Rico offers a Citizenship Certificate. Can I use that to prove my citizenship from a Ibero-American country? Thank you!

    1. Hi Liana. Yes, you can use the Puerto Rican citizenship certificate to qualify for the reduced Spanish naturalization qualification as an Ibero-American national. Our Spain immigration partner will be happy to assist with your application. All the best, Alastair

  6. Hello, I was born in New York. My mother was born in Puerto Rico. My father was born in the Dominican Republic. I am a US citizen. Can I use my heritage to get Spain citizenship after 2 years of having Spain residency? Since PR is a US territory, would I need provide my mother’s birth certificate or get Puerto Rico’s citizenship of certificate? Thank you!

    1. Hi Liana. As you mother was born in Puerto Rico you can apply for the citizenship certificate immediately. Once you have the certificate you’ll be eligible for the reduced two-year naturalization qualification for Spanish citizenship as an Ibero-American citizen. All the best, Alastair

  7. Hello my mother was born in Spain to Spanish parents. All my Spanish family live in Spain. My mother moved to the UK in her 20’s and married my British father. She is a British citizen. My mother and father retired back to Spain 25 years ago. My father recently died and I would like to relocate to Spain from the UK with my husband to care for my mum who us now 80.
    I speak very little Spanish, could I apply for a Spanish passport and would I still need to sit the Spanish language and culture exam?
    Could we relocate using a different option?

    1. Hi Gail. As your mother was a Spanish citizen by birth you are a Spanish citizen as long as she didn’t renounce her citizenship. And, as your citizenship is by descent you may be exempt from the cultural and language test requirements. IF you opt not to take up your citizenship them there are several Spain visa and resident permit options open to you, depending on your circumstances.

      Given you situation I’d strongly suggest talking to a Spanish Immigration lawyer to find the easiest and fastest way to get over to Spain for you and your husband. If you’d like to use our fabulous Spain lawyer you can book a consultation here. All the best, Alastair

  8. Hi! Thanks for sharing this information! I read several blog posts and gov websites, buy I get confused to whether Im eligible to apply to citizenship through descent. One of my grandparents is spanish but also has a swedish passport since the mid 1970s (he emigrated in the late 50s and returned to spain after 30 years and is now living there. my grandmother is a permanent resident but never applied for citizenship). My dad is born in sweden in the early 1960s and never attempted to apply for citizenship when he turned 18.
    I have been living in spain for about a year now and would like to stay here for the foreseeable future and wonder if I could apply as a grandchild? I don’t understand if it is acceptable if there is only one grandparent, its always written in plural and a man.

    Would be very grateful for some clarity!
    All best!

    1. Hi Denise. If you are living in Spain you are eligible for Spanish citizenship by naturalization after just one year (instead of the normal ten) as a result of your Spanish grandparent. Depending on your father’s citizenship eligibility you may also be eligible for immediate citizenship. Our Spain immigration partner will be able to advise you on the best pathway to citizenship. All the best, Alastair

  9. My grandmother (now deceased) was born in Barcelona in 1911 of an English mother (both certificate was signed by King Alphonso). She was taken back to England in 1922. She married my English grandfather, had 2 daughters and they immigrated to the USA in 1952 and became a US citizens. My mother (her daughter) immigrated to the US from England in 1954 and because a US citizen.

    Can I become a citizen of Spain via the “Grandchildren’s Law”?

    I am 65, born in the US and currently live in Florida. I would like to move to Spain next year to retire. I would come back to the US to visit for 2 months a year.

    Please advise. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Valeria. The Grandchild’s law may be a pathway to you for Spanish citizenship. Alternatively, Spain has excellent retirement visa options depending on your financial circumstances. Check out our Retire to Spain guide for all the details. Either way, our expert Spanish Immigration law partners will be happy to help you find the best way to make your Spanish retirement possible – you can book a consultation here. All the best, Alastair

  10. Hi Alastair, thank you for the helpful information! I am a US citizen hoping to acquire effective dual citizenship with Spain. My question is, what does the renunciation process involve when applying for Spanish citizenship? Does the Spanish government require applicants to formally renounce citizenship with their home country’s embassy (which for USCs is an irrevocable act) or do applicants just declare renunciation to the Spanish government (which I believe has no legal effect on US citizenship)? Thank you! Diana

    1. Hi Diana. The process can vary. In some cases you’ll need to submit a formal certificate of renunciation, in others you swear a solemn oath that you have renounced. In either case, retaining US citizenship is grounds to annul your Spanish citizenship if the Spanish government finds out that you did not follow through. All the best, Alastair

  11. Hello?
    My great grandmother is originally Spanish. Am I eligible for citizenship if i live a year in spain? Or is there any other law that is currently discussed in parliament and not yet approved concerning great grand children? Please advise. Thank you

    1. Hi Abbas. There is a law currently awaiting debate in parliament that will impact the citizenship rights of descendants of Spanish citizens. However, it is not yet passed and we are awaiting a date for the debate. You can see details here: Proposición de Ley. At present you only qualify for the reduced naturalization period is you have a Spanish grandparent by origin, great-grandparent is one generation too far back. All the best, Alastair

  12. Hi Alastair. I am the U.S. born daughter of a Mexican born father and Mexican born maternal grandparents. My DNA shows that I am 80% Spanish and also a (very) small percentage Ashkenazi. Am I eligible for Spanish citizenship based on any of these factors? If I do qualify, what are the rules regarding my husband? We would plan on purchasing a home in Spain but we would, of course, need time to decide where. Also, I know that in the U.S. the recipients of certain awards can apply for citizenship. I have an Oscar and a BAFTA. Does that help me qualify in Spain. Sorry for so many questions and thank you in advance for your help.

    1. Hi Beatrice. Lets take these one at a time.
      1) Mexican citizens qualify for a short naturalization qualification of two years, but I don’t think you have Mexican citizenship (you didn’t mention this.). Unfortunately Mexican heritage doesn’t qualify.
      2) Spain’s law for the descendents of Jewish exiles applied only to Sephardic Jews (those from the Iberian peninsula), not Ashkenazi. Also, unlike Portugal’s Sephardic citizenship program, Spain’s program in currently suspended.
      3) No citizenship program in the world is yet offering nationality based on DNA results (seems crazy accepting paternal documented heritage but not DNA, but that is where we are currently at!)
      4) Buying a home can be an excellent way of qualifying for Spanish Citizenship by naturalization. Check out our guide to Spain’s Golden Visa program.
      5) Spain doesn’t have a Special Achievement process like some other countries.
      6) We’ve got a guide to Spanish visa and residency programs if you want to live in Spain for a while before buying a house.

      I’m sorry we couldn’t help our first Emmy and Oscar winning visitor more. However, our brilliant Spanish Immigration law partners will be happy to discuss all you options with you – the discussion may open up options that we haven’t covered here. All the best, Alastair

  13. I am a US citizen, and I am in the process of obtaining Mexican citizenship via naturalization(residency). Once completed, can I later apply for Spanish citizenship with the 2 year residency requirement? My brother and his wife(native of spain) are living there currently and I would like to join them at some point in the future.

  14. Greetings and thank you for such helpful information. I’m an American with Peruvian citizenship also by virtue of my Peruvian mother. So, I’m a Peruvian born abroad.

    I believe I understand all the options for becoming a Spanish citizen through residency. There are several routes. I’ve even spoken with a Spanish lawyer to inquire about the process.

    However, a couple questions remain.

    First, I believe I understand that I can retain dual citizenship (Peruvian and Spanish) and that I wouldn’t have to renounce my US citizenship since I’d be applying for Spanish citizenship as a Peruvian. I’d therefore have two citizenships but three passports in the Spanish view, correct?

    Second, I believe Spain and Peru have a special immigration or labor agreement, but I can’t find much, if anything on it except for the dual nationality exchange. I was under the impression that a similar special agreement also exists with Chile and a different one with Guatemala. Is there any special advantage for Peruvians?

    Thanks so much!

  15. Hello Alastair,
    First, thanks so much for creating this great resource for those of us who want to follow our dream of living in Spain. My question is simple. As a dual Colombian/American citizen and a resident of the US, can your partner immigration lawyers assist my wife and myself in the visa process, or is this site more geared towards UK citizens?

    Best regards!

    1. Hi Kevin

      Our Spanish Immigration lawyer partner has lots of experience with South American and USA citizens moving to Spain, they’ll be delighted to assist you. All the best, Alastair

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