Spanish citizenship by descent

Citizenship by Descent

Spanish citizenship by Descent or Ancestry is open to a wide range of nationals, even those who do not have actual Spanish blood. This extends to nationals of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, or persons of Sephardic origin. Spain does not accept dual citizenship, but nationals of those countries won’t have to forfeit their citizenship. Americans cannot lose their citizenship via this process, either.

Spanish citizenship is one of the most valuable in the world. It allows visa-free travel to the US and Australia and enables one to live anywhere in the European Union. If you have ancestors from Spain, you could qualify for Spanish citizenship by descent and avoid the high cost of citizenship-by-investment. Golden Capitalist's services provide you with the opportunity to obtain your Spanish Citizenship through Ancestry.

CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT OPTIONS

You can apply under 3 categories for Spanish Citizenship by Descent:

  1. Spanish by birth: if one of your parents is a Spanish citizen born in Spain.
  2. Fast-track naturalization after 1 year: if you have a grandparent who was a Spanish citizen or a Spanish parent born outside of Spain.
  3. Fast-track to naturalization after 2 years: if you are a national of Ibero-American countries and of Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, or persons of Sephardic origin.

If you are in category 1, simply visit the nearest Spanish consulate and get your identification made.

Fast-Track Naturalization To Spanish Citizenship

Naturalization to Spanish citizenship normally requires 10 years of continuous residence and the renunciation of your other citizenships. With the Spanish Citizenship by Ancestry stream, you can apply for naturalization after only 1 or 2 years of residence in Spain. Recently, the Spanish authorities relaxed their physical presence requirements for those applying through the ancestry stream. You are only required to spend no more than 3 months continuously outside of Spain (meaning you can travel back and forth every 3 months and only spend a handful of days in Spain a year, if that’s your desire).

Naturalization after 1 year:

  • For persons born in Spanish territory.
  • The widower or widow of a Spanish national, if, at the time of the death of the spouse, they were not separated in fact or legally.
  • Those born outside Spain to a Spanish father or mother (also born outside Spain), grandfather or grandmother, provided that all were originally Spanish.

Naturalization after 2 years:

For nationals of the countries below or persons of Sephardic origin:

  • 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 (U.S. Commonwealth)
  • Spain
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Residence Options / Resident Permit in Spain

If you qualify for fast-track naturalization, you’ll need to obtain a resident permit to be allowed to legally reside in Spain. To qualify for naturalization, you’ll need to have 1 or 2 years of residence. Residence means you spend less than 3 continuous months outside of Spain.  

You have a few options to gain a resident permit in Spain, but the recommended one is the Spanish Investor Residency program, also known as the Spanish Golden Visa. This is the favored option for HNWI since it offers more flexibility and security. Be aware that once your citizenship application is submitted, it takes 1 year for the Spanish authorities to process your request, meaning it will take 2 to 3 years from the moment you gain residence in Spain to the moment you become a citizen. This is why the Golden Visa is the recommended route, as others require annual renewals or have requirements to fulfill each year. Also, it’s the only way for you to dodge the Spanish Wealth Tax on your worldwide assets.

Capital City

Madrid

Visa free countries

Schengen Area

Total area

505,990 km2

Languages

Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician

Currency

Euro

Population

47,450,795

Time Zone

UTC⁠±0 to +1

globalrcg-map-spain

Freedom of movement within the Schengen zone

Ranked #1 globally for ease of doing business

Ibero-American nationals gain citizenship after two years

Considered one of the best places for retirees given its affordable cost of living

PROCESS

Application Processing Time: 1-4 Years

Stage 1 - month 1

Before being able to apply for fast-track naturalization, you’ll need to gain legal residence in Spain. Choose your favored path and start gathering the relevant documents you need to apply. Application for the Investor visa is pretty fast and can be completed in 1 or 2 months.

Stage 2 - month 2

After you have landed in Spain, register with the municipality in which you will reside. You’ll have to be physically present for half of the year in Spain for it to count towards naturalization.

Stage 3 - Year 2-4

Once you are eligible to apply for naturalization (1 or 2 years of residence), gather your documents and submit your application (preferably online for faster processing). After 1 year, you’ll be notified of the decision. If the decision is positive, you’ll be asked to appear to pledge allegiance. You’ll receive your citizenship certificate shortly after that process is completed.

Spain Citizenship by Descent
Application Requirements

To be eligible for fast-track naturalization, you need to have spent eight months a year in Spain. To be able to legally reside in Spain, you need to first apply for residency. You can obtain a Wealth Visa or a Golden Visa for that purpose. Sephardic Jews are not required to be physically present in Spain during those two years.

Requirements

Other requirements:

CONDITIONS

FAMILY

Week 1
Week 1
Verify eligibility
Week 1
Week 2
Week 2
Start client onboarding process with Global RCG
Week 2
Week 3
Week 3
Global RCG helps you gather the required documents with the help of our genealogist.
Week 3
Week 4
Week 4
Application for residency or citizenship is filed. Depending on your case, you might need to apply for residency first. The process to gain residency can take 1 or 2 months. After the one or two years of residency are met, you can apply for naturalization. The naturalization process can take 2 years.
Week 4

Download Our Factsheet

Do you need more information about the Spain Wealth Visa program? Download the complete factsheet below:

Required & Non-Required Visa Countries

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • 1. Does an American need to forfeit their citizenship to become a Spanish citizen?

    Applicants are required to orally renounce their American citizenship. This is not considered legally binding in the United States. The US government will still consider you a US citizen.

  • 2. Do I need to become a tax resident in Spain?

    Under most resident permits, you are required to stay longer than 6 months of the year in Spain, thus becoming a tax resident. Only the Investor Residency (a.k.a. Golden Visa) has no physical presence requirements attached to it, making it ideal for businesspeople. The Golden Visa is the only way you can escape the wealth tax normally levied on your worldwide assets. Instead, the tax will be limited to your Spanish assets, with a €700,000 asset exemption. If you’re a non-resident who holds higher-value assets, your liability can be reduced to 0% by using a Life Insurance Bond to hold your assets in Spain. 

  • 3. Do I have to choose the Golden Visa to gain residence?

    No. There are other programs, such as the Self-Employed or the No Lucrative Activity options. Getting a Self-Employed permit is always a complicated process, as you need to submit a business plan. The “No Lucrative Activity” is for those that can prove they have a steady stream of income (e.g., a retiree pension). They don’t require as much investment upfront, but might end up costing you more since you’ll have to pay rent for a few years. Furthermore, these permits don’t offer the same security, as they are usually annual permits that must be renewed. More importantly, only the Golden Visa doesn’t require you to become a tax resident. Tax residents are liable to pay the Spanish wealth tax on their worldwide assets. In simple terms, if you are wealthy, the Golden Visa is your only rational path.

  • 4. What can my children do if they are older than 18?

    They can apply for a student visa or the No Lucrative Activity permit. To apply for a student visa, they need to be accepted by a university in Spain. To apply for the No Lucrative Activity permit, you will need to set up a bank account with some funds under his or her name.

  • 5. How long does the whole process take?

    The resident permit process is reasonably quick, usually 1-2 months. After the 1 or 2 years you need to wait to be eligible for naturalisation, you can apply for Spanish citizenship. The application process is legally bound to be closed by a decision before one year elapses.

Taxation

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