Citizen Remote logo

How to Become a Citizen in Spain

Pathways to Citizenship in Spain: A Detailed Guide

Spain, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and scenic landscapes, attracts many who seek not just to visit but to make it their home. Obtaining Spanish citizenship can be a complex process, influenced by various factors including your background, residency status, and ties to the country. In this detailed guide, we will explore the primary pathways to Spanish citizenship, including residency, descent, marriage, and exceptional circumstances. We will also explain how Citizen Remote can assist you throughout this process.

Spain Immigration Laywer

Need help applying?

Book a consultation

Citizenship through Residency

Requirements: The most common route to obtaining Spanish citizenship is through residency. Generally, this requires legal residence in Spain for ten consecutive years. However, there are reduced residency requirements for certain categories of applicants:

  • Five years: Refugees.

  • Two years: Nationals from Latin American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, or individuals of Sephardic origin.

  • One year: Those born in Spanish territory, those who did not exercise their right to nationality by option, those legally subject to the guardianship of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, those married to a Spaniard for one year and not separated, and those widowed from a Spaniard if they were not separated at the time of death.

Procedure: The process starts by applying at the Civil Registry where you reside. The application must include a completed application form, a valid passport or identity card, a birth certificate, a certificate of marital status, and all documents pertaining to the applicant's residence in Spain (such as the residency card). Additionally, candidates must pass tests administered by the Instituto Cervantes, covering the Spanish language (DELE A2 or higher) and knowledge of Spanish society, culture, and legal system (CCSE test).

Visa Pathways Leading to Residency

Before applying for citizenship, one must first secure residency in Spain. There are several visa options available:

Non-Lucrative Residence Visa

This visa is suitable for individuals who can financially support themselves without working in Spain. Applicants must demonstrate significant financial resources or a steady passive income.

Golden Visa

This investment-based residency program is available to non-EU nationals who make significant investments in real estate, public debt, or share capital of Spanish companies. It offers a fast track to residency, providing a pathway to citizenship after ten years.

Entrepreneur Visa

Aimed at individuals planning to start or relocate an innovative business in Spain, this visa facilitates residency and includes support from the government to help set up the business.

Student Visa

Full-time students in Spain can extend their stay through a post-study work visa, which can eventually lead to residency and citizenship if they find employment related to their field of study in Spain.

Spain Flag steps

Citizenship through Descent

Citizenship by Origin: If you were born to a Spanish parent, you are a Spanish national by birth. This applies even if the Spanish parent was born outside Spain, provided they themselves were born to a Spanish parent (provided the parent maintained their Spanish nationality at the time of their child's birth).

Citizenship by Possession of Status: This unique pathway applies to those who have always considered themselves Spanish and have been recognized as such by the actions of the State, such as being issued a Spanish passport or national identity card.

Procedure: Applications for citizenship by descent are submitted either in Spain or at Spanish consular offices abroad. The applicant must provide a birth certificate, proof of the parent's Spanish nationality (like a Spanish passport or identity card), and potentially a family registry document.

Citizenship through Marriage

Requirements: Being married to a Spanish citizen does not automatically grant citizenship, but it does facilitate a shorter residency requirement of one year.

Procedure: After residing legally for one year in Spain, the spouse of a Spanish citizen can apply for citizenship. This involves submitting a marriage certificate, proof of the Spanish spouse’s nationality, and evidence of the couple’s continuous residence in Spain.

Citizenship through Option

This pathway allows certain individuals to "opt" for Spanish nationality. Eligible individuals include those who are or were subject to the parental authority of a Spaniard, and those whose father or mother was originally Spanish and born in Spain.

Citizenship through Naturalization

This is a discretionary route that the Spanish government can offer to individuals of exceptional character, such as those who have made significant contributions to Spanish culture or society.

Dual Nationality

Spain generally requires new citizens to renounce their previous nationality, except for nationals from countries with which Spain has an agreement to allow dual nationality.

Spain Immigration Laywer

Need help applying?

Book a consultation

Living in Spain: What to Expect

Cultural Integration

Living in Spain can be a delightful experience, enriched by the country’s deep-rooted traditions, diverse landscapes, and culinary delights. Each region offers a distinct experience—from the flamenco dancing of Andalusia to the modernist architecture of Catalonia. However, cultural integration also involves understanding local customs and societal norms, which can vary significantly from one region to another.

Economic Considerations

Spain’s economy offers opportunities particularly in sectors like services, IT, and tourism. However, it's important to be aware of the economic disparities between different regions and the high unemployment rates in some areas. Future citizens should consider economic stability as part of their long-term planning.

Healthcare and Education

Spain boasts one of the world's leading healthcare systems, characterized by both public and private facilities. Access to healthcare is a significant benefit for residents and citizens alike. The education system in Spain also offers high standards, with various public, private, and international schools providing diverse options for children.

Real Estate and Living Arrangements

The real estate market in Spain varies widely. Urban areas like Madrid and Barcelona offer vibrant lifestyles but at higher living costs, while rural areas provide tranquility and are more cost-effective. Understanding the nuances of property buying—like legal requirements and taxes—is crucial for those planning to settle permanently.

How Citizen Remote Can Help

Navigating the pathways to Spanish citizenship requires a thorough understanding of legal requirements and meticulous preparation of documentation. Each pathway has specific criteria and procedures, making the process potentially daunting for applicants.

Whether you are considering applying for citizenship through residency, descent, marriage, or other exceptional categories, navigating the complexities of legal and bureaucratic processes in Spain can be challenging. Citizen Remote offers expert guidance and personalized assistance throughout the citizenship application process. From understanding the specific requirements applicable to your situation, to preparing and submitting all necessary documentation, Citizen Remote ensures that your journey towards Spanish citizenship is as smooth and efficient as possible.

For more detailed, tailored advice and assistance, visit Citizen Remote and learn how our expertise can benefit your unique case and help you achieve your goal of becoming a Spanish citizen inside our app.


Tim Marting is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Citizen Remote a site for remote workers and digital nomads. Although from the US, Tim currently lives in Spain, and has been a world citizen for the last 5 years, living in 3 different countries. He had other long-term stops in Australia, Italy, Indonesia, Thailand and the UK. His life goal is “to enable border-less travel and border-less relations for the rest of this beautiful world.