Life in Spain tends to have broad appeal to expats for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s widely regarded as having the best year-round climate among European countries. The Southern Blanca region has an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, and low recorded rainfall.
Regardless of whether you’re moving to start a business, find or job or just enjoy all that Spain has to offer, this guide will walk you through the most important points and steps for becoming a Spanish citizen.
If you want to live in Spain long-term or even permanently, you will need to apply for becoming a Spanish citizen. After you have lived in Spain for five years you can apply for permanent residence and after 10 years you can apply for Spanish nationality
If you become a Spanish citizen, you will need to give up your original nationality and passport, unless you qualify for an exemption. You will enjoy all the same rights as other Spanish citizens, as well as become a citizen of the EU with freedom of movement throughout the EU. You can also vote in European elections.
Brexit: British expats in Spain
It is unclear how the UK’s vote to leave the EU will affect British expats living in Spain or wishing to relocate to Spain. British expats who already live in Spain might consider applying for Spanish citizenship if they meet the necessary criteria to main EU access. However, this also means surrendering their British citizenship. British expats may also be asked in future to apply for a Blue Card, an approved EU-wide work permit that allows high-skilled, non-EU citizens to work and live in Spain and other EU countries.
How to get Spanish citizenship
You can apply for Spanish nationality after 10 years of residence in Spain. You can also acquire Spanish nationality through marriage or birth, even if you or your Spanish parents were born outside of Spain.
You will also be required to prove you are a ‘good citizen’ – financially stable with no criminal record – and be deemed by the authorities to have a ‘sufficient’ degree of integration into Spanish society, for example, being able to speak Spanish and taking part in social activities that are part of the Spanish way of life.
You have to apply at the Civil Registry where you live in Spain. You will need to take along the required supporting documents for your Spanish citizenship application plus a completed Spanish citizenship application form.
You can apply for Spanish citizenship if you are 18 or older, 14 or older with legal assistance, or the legal guardian of a person under 14.
How can I apply for citizenship?
Those applying for Spanish Citizenship through residency will fill out this application form and submit it at the Spanish Civil Registry (*Registro Civil*) closest to their home. If an applicant resides outside of Spain, they may apply at their nearest Spanish consulate.
Applicants will need the following documentation and materials:
- A completed application form
- An original and photocopy of a valid TIE (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero)
- An original and photocopy of their passport – a copy of each and every page is required
- Their birth certificate, printed within the last 90 days with a sworn translation attached, if issued in a language that isn’t Spanish. Both documents will need to be legalized
- A criminal record certificate or background check from your home country - certificado de antecedentes penales / certificado de antecedentes, printed within the last 90 days with a sworn translation attached and both documents legalized
- Spanish criminal record certificate/ penales del Registro Central de Penados in Spain, printed within the last 90 days
- Your marriage certificate, if applicable
- Government registration certificate/ certificado de empadronamiento, printed within the last 90 days
- A DELE certificate showing a minimum CEFR A2 in Spanish (not a requirement for applicants whose native language is Spanish). These exams cost between €100 and €200 depending on the level you wish to examine for
- A CCSE exam certificate or prueba de conocimientos constitucionales y socioculturales, which is a 25-question multiple choice exam testing general knowledge of Spanish culture and laws. The cost is 85€ and is administered by official Instituto Cervantes examination centres about once every month. Expect your exam results in three weeks.
- Proof of application payment of 100€ via modelo 790 código 026
The fee to process a citizenship application can range from EUR 60-100. If your application is rejected for whatever reason, the fee is non-refundable.
Credits: transferwise.com, expatica.com