How can I acquire the Spanish nationality?

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Spanish nationality

How can I acquire the Spanish nationality?

In accordance with Spanish law, the Spanish nationality can be acquired in several situations. Depending on individual circumstances, one can choose to request the Spanish citizenship based on one of those ways. The requirements and the procedures of the application may vary accordingly, which is why it is important to check which way is the most adapted to your personal situation.

In this article, we will present the requirements for acquisition of nationality by residency, as it is by far the most commonly used by foreigner resident in Spain. However, bear in mind that they are four other ways to request such nationality; by origin, by option, by naturalization, and by possession of status. You can check on the Ministerio de Justicia website if you could request it by those means.

The nationality by residence is the most commonly used procedure for acquiring the Spanish nationality for foreigners residing in Spain. If you are also residing in the Spanish territory and are considering requesting the citizenship, you will find below everything you need to know and the requirements you need to meet to that end.


I/ Residency requirement

To request the Spanish nationality by residence it is essential to have resided legally and continuously in Spain for at least 10 years immediately prior the application. However, in some situations, the period of legal and continuous residency is reduced.

Check below if it can be your case:

  • Five years: if you have obtained refugee status in Spain
  • Two years: if you are a national of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or persons of Sephardic origin.
  • One year:
    • If you were born in the Spanish territory.
    • If you have not exercised your right to Spanish nationality by option.
    • If you have been legally subject to the guardianship (in the care of a guardian) or foster care (foster care allowing for the reduction of the legal residency period to one year is that in which there is a resolution issued by the public body responsible for the protection of minors in the relevant territory or judicially recognized foster care) of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, including if you remain in this situation at the time of application.
    • If, at the time of the application, you have been married for one year to a Spanish national and are not legally separated and have not had a common-law separation.
    • If you are widower or widow of a Spanish national, if, at the time of the death of the spouse, you were not separated in fact or legally.
    • If you were born outside Spain to a Spanish father or mother (also born outside Spain), grandfather or grandmother, provided that all were originally Spanish.


Important: Time in Spain as a student (student visa) is not taken it account when determining the years of residency. The 10 years period only includes time in Spain as a legal resident. Additionally, this residence must be continuous, we therefore recommend you not to spend too much time outside of Spain (no more than 3 months), even when the application has already been submitted and is currently under consideration.



Another requirement you will have to meet is to prove that you have a sufficient level of integration in the spanish society. To do so, you need to pass the Constitutional and Sociocultural test of the Cervantes Institute (CCSE). It consists of several questions relating to two big themes:

  • The Spanish form of government, legislation and citizen participation
  • History, culture and Spanish society



If you are not a national of a Spanish speaking country, you will also need to obtain at least the level A2 in Spanish at the DELE exam of the Cervantes Institute.


IV/ Clean criminal record

To acquire the nationality, you need to prove a good civic behaviour. To do so, you are required to ad your criminal record of country of origin to your application. The administration will also check your criminal record in Spain. Therefore, we recommend you to cancel your record before presenting your application, as it can lead to its denial.


V/ Required documents

The following list concerns all the documents that you must provide in your application for nationality by residency, regardless of the grounds you are using to claim it.

  1. Standard application model. If the application is electronic, the form is to be filled online.
  2. Full copy of your passport (if you have renovated your passport recently or during your residency in Spain, we recommend you to also add a full copy of your previous passport)
  3. Copy of your Foreigner Identification Card (Tarjeta de identificación de Extranjeros, TIE)
  4. Your birth certificate
  5. Criminal record of your country of origin
  6. All-time certificate of registration (and familiar certificate of registration if applicable)
  7. Diplomas of the Cervantes Institute (DELE and CCSE mentioned above).
  8. Proof of payment of the fee

Although they are not mandatory, if it applies to you, it can sometimes help to add the following documents to your application:

  1. Your marriage certificate and your nuclear family’s IDs
  2. Work contracts in Spain, proof of work life or economic means…

According to the ground you are using to request the Spanish nationality, you will need to provide additional documents to the ones common to all the applications:


For refugees

Certificate Refugee Office of the Ministry of the interior (valid 6 months)


For those married with a Spanish citizen

  1. Birth certificate of the Spanish spouse
  2. Marriage certificate issued by Spanish civil registry
  3. Coexistence or Voter Registration certificate together with the spouse


For widower of Spanish citizen

  1. Birth certificate of the Spanish spouse
  2. Marriage certificate issued by Spanish civil registry
  3. Certificate of registration or cohabitation set the date of death of the spouse


For those descended from Spanish citizen(s)

  1. Birth certificates of the Spanish father/mother
  2. Birth certificates of Spanish grandfather/grandmother along with the father/mother descended from Spanish birth´s certificate

Important: Bear in mind that documents have an expiration date! All the documents that you provide must be in force at the time of the application. As a general rule, a document has a validity period of 3 months, except for foreign birth certificates (1 year validity) and foreign criminal records (6 months if not provided otherwise by the very document)

Another crucial information is that all foreign documents need to be duly legalized or authenticated according to the agreements in force between Spain and the issuing state. Additionally, if the document is not in Spanish, it will need to be translated by a sworn translator.



If you need any further information or have any doubts about how to aquire the spanish nationality, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our experts team are fully qualified to help and asesorate you.

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