Want to get Spanish citizenship? If so, then you’re on a worthwhile path.
The Spanish passport is one of the most powerful in the world and most popular citizenships within Europe. With it, you can live, work, study and travel freely within the EU and many other countries. Spanish citizenship has much to offer. You get access to both the EU and the beauty that Spain has to offer.
And what does that beauty include? That’ll be a great history, excellent climate, amazing food, and a vibrant culture to impress. Add to that its beautiful coastal towns, and you have one of the best places for people trying to start a new lifestyle in Europe.
In fact, Spain is currently a popular residency option for businesses, individuals making money online, and expats.
Let’s talk about expats too. USA and British Retirees are a category that especially loves Spain. Not only is the country a part of the EU, but it also offers low prices on food, utilities, and property ownership.
It’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle – while eventually becoming an EU citizen. So if you’re interested, keep reading. We’ll look at what Spain has to offer, and the pathways available for citizenship!
But First – Why Become a Spanish Citizen?
For starters, it allows EU access. Not only that, but you also become a European Union citizen, which comes with a multitude of benefits.
Spanish citizenship allows you to live, work, study, and retire through all 27 of the EU’s countries. It also lets you access one of the world’s biggest trading blocks, the EEA (European Economic Area).
Add to that the passport. A Spanish passport lets you both access and affects the EU to your benefit.
For example, if you’re not an EU citizen, a Spanish passport offers powerful transport that gives easy access to many of the world’s countries. Or, if you’re a UK citizen, a Spanish passport gives you a path back to the EU (which may be difficult to access after Brexit).
Spanish Citizenship – Pathways Available
Many ways are possible to get Spanish citizenship. In this guide, we’ll only look at methods that let you get citizenship that doesn’t involve marriage or ancestry.
Explore each option, and pick what suits you best.
First – Spanish Citizenship Through Residency
This is known as naturalization. Residency citizenship is the most followed route to acquiring Spanish citizenship.
It’s also likely to be your only route, unless you’re married to a Spaniard, or have Spanish parents.
The requirements for this path are as follows:
- Having legally resided in Spain for 10+ years, for example by applying for:
- The Spanish Golden Visa or
- The Spanish Wealth Visa (also called Rentier Visa)
- Passing a check on your criminal record
- Passing 2 exams: The CCSE cultural exam and A2 Spanish language test (DELE)
Second – Spanish Citizenship Through Marriage
This is a contract to residency citizenship. Here, a person can become a Spanish citizen quite fast. In fact, it’s possible to qualify for spousal citizenship in just a single year!
Third – Spanish Citizenship by Choice
This path is available to those who were either born in Spain or have Spanish parents. The path requires no residency length.
Additional Spanish Citizenship Routes
There are several other ways to get Spanish nationality. Some of them don’t require the 10 year residency period.
(A) Grandchildren Law: This allows individuals of Spanish descent to apply for citizenship
(B) Refugees: After 5 years of residency, they can apply for citizenship
(C) Ibero-American Nationals: Those include Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, and Portugal
(D) Those with Sephardic Jewish Roots: While you aren’t required to reside in Spain, you must prove your ancestral background and pass a Spanish language test.
Which Documents Are Required to Apply For Spain Citizenship?
One of the vices of Spain is its meticulous bureaucracy – and its citizenship application isn’t an exception. You’re required to collect the following documents when applying:
- Your complete application form
- Photocopy and original passport – you’ll need one copy for each path
- Photocopy and original foreign identity card (card should be valid) – called the “tarjeta de identidad de extranjero.”
- Birth certificate. Should be printed within 90 days of submitting it. Must attach to it a sworn translation in a non-Spanish language. Both documents must be legalized.
- Marriage certificate (if married).
- A criminal record certificate (Spanish), known as “penales del Registro Central de Penados,” must be printed within 90 days of submission.
- Criminal record certificate from home country (background check may also suffice), known as “certificado de antecedentes penales or certificado de antecedents.” Must be printed within 90 days of submission. Must also attach a sworn translation. All documents must be legalized.
- Government registration certificate (known as “certificado de empadronamiento”). Must be printed within 90 days of submission.
- A certificate of your CCSE exam results (known as “prueba de conocimientos constitucionales y socioculturales”).This exam tests the applicant’s basic knowledge of Spanish laws and culture.
- A certificate of your DELE exam results. This is a language exam. Your certificate must show A2 as a minimum level in the language.
- Proof of paying the application fee (costs EUR 100).
As is obvious, you’re required a ton of documents to apply.
Eligibility for Permanent Residence in Spain
Before applying for Spanish citizenship, an applicant needs to secure permanent residency there.
That’ll occur after 5 years of temporary residency. All 5 years must have been continuous and legal. Time spent studying in Spain is excluded from the total required for permanent residency.
After living there for 5 continuous years, an applicant can sign up. For that, the applicant must prove they have the finances to support themselves and their dependents, in addition to showing proof of active health insurance.
Finances may come from a multitude of sources. This can include online business dividends or even remote work income.
Acquiring a Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa
Next, applicants need to think about how to acquire residency.
EU citizens can easily reside in Spain. Alternatively, non-EU citizens need to demonstrate their reasons for moving to Spain.
The best option for those self-employed or working remotely is a non-lucrative visa. This indicates that the applicant’s income is sourced outside of Spain.
The requirements for a non-lucrative visa are as follows:
- At least EUR 30,000 in income per year
- Income must be sourced from overseas rentals, pensions, limited company’s dividends, or legal investments (stocks for example)
- Proof of health insurance (private), where this visa doesn’t provide public healthcare access.
Basically – Should You Try to Become a Spanish Citizen?
Living in Spain has a multitude of pros, but its process for citizenship is long. It involves a lot of meticulous bureaucracy which many will not endure.
Plus, it takes a long timeline to reach that citizenship level. It takes at least 10 years of residency to become applicable. It may even take more years after that if an applicant misses a critical requirement.
Finally, Spain doesn’t accept dual citizenship. Thus, it’ll be necessary for applicants to renounce their old citizenship before applying for a new one. This might not be convenient if the applicant already is from a country that offers a strong passport (like the US or UK).
But it might be worth it if you’re committed enough. Spain simply seeks for those who value its culture rather than individuals using it as a gateway to EU citizenship.
At GlobalRCG, we help individuals and families achieve a higher quality of life and greater financial security through a second residence, relocation, citizenship, and passport programs. To check your eligibility, submit our assessment form today!