How to get Spanish citizenship

What do you have to do to get Spanish nationality?
What do you have to do to get Spanish nationality?
2 August 2018, Redaction

If you’ve been living as an ex-pat in Spain for some time now and are thinking of getting Spanish nationality to become a citizen of the country, rather than just a resident, read on to find out the steps to follow. Be warned, though – Spain does not allow dual nationality, and you’ll have to give up your UK citizenship to be a Spanish national.

While your NIE Foreign Identification Number (Número de identificación de extranjero) and your passport from your home country are all very well, you may want to get a full DNI National Identity Document (Documento nacional de identidad) like other Spanish citizens, be it for tax reasons, legal purposes or simply beacuse you’ve fallen in love with the country so much you just want to fit in better.

At the moment, it looks as though this step is not necessary for British nationals resident in Spain for more than 5 years, but the finer details of the Brexit deal in Europe haven’t yet been ironed out and it is still up in the air as to what exactly will be the legal status of Brits living in EU countries.

So here are the steps you need to take to obtain Spanish citizenship:

  1. Birth right: If your parents are Spanish or even just one of them, you are immediately eligible for a Spanish passport. Similarly, if you were born on Spanish territory, even if it was to non-Spanish parents, you are also allowed to be awarded nationality. Additionally, Spain has a special treaty with Sephardi Jews who originally came from the area and then emigrated; anyone who is able to trace their ancestry back to this lineage may also apply for Spanish citizenship. Submit applications for this before 1st October 2018, though, because there is currently a bill going through the Spanish parliament to change this law.
  2. Marriage: Another way of getting Spanish citizenship is to marry a Spaniard, though be aware that marrying only for papers is illegal, and you can be harshly prosecuted if caught doing it. Only get married to a Spanish person if you are in a serious relationship.
  3. Permanent residency: If you have lived in Spain for 10 years, with at least five of those registered as a ‘permanent resident’, you can apply to be a citizen. In reality, this type of permanent residency permit holds all the same benefits as full citizenship, so consider carefully if you really want to get a passport, or just be a resident. All you need is to prove you can support yourself financially, as well as a clean criminal records check, a passport from your own country and health coverage. This supporting documentation must be submitted to the local Civil Registry office (Registro Civil) along with this completed form in Spanish and a fee of between 60 and 100 euro.

Once again, as a Spanish citizen you will have to give up your previous nationality, but as a permanent resident you won’t. As of now, the two amount to pretty much the same thing, but it is uncertain what the future holds thanks to the Brexit situation.

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