Applying for Spanish Citizenship

Home » Moving to Spain » Immigration Information » Advanced Immigration Procedures » Applying for Spanish Citizenship

The Citylife team has collected the information below via intense research in collaboration with Proyecto Océano, one of Madrid’s most known legal associations. Please keep in mind that we are not directly related to any legal or government departments and the information may be subject to change.

[Pincha aquí para la versión en español]

If you live legally in Spain, and are interested in applying for Spanish citizenship, you have to consider the multiple legal options that allow you to do so. Which could even include renouncing your citizenship of origin.

You can apply for Spanish Citizenship if you:

  1. Are the child of Spanish parents.
  2. Have been living legally and for multiple continuous years in Spain.
  3. Are from a country that has a special agreement with Spain.
  4. Were born in Spain to unknown parents.
  5. Are an elite athlete that has been playing for Spain for many years.
  6. Marry a Spaniard.
  7. Are a Sephardic Jew.
  8. Are from Guatemala and reside in Spain legally.

1. Citizenship by Origin

In Spain, as in many other countries,  a person can acquire citizenship through bloodline. Not through the simple fact of being born in Spain.  That is to say that citizenship depends on the nationality of the parents. Regardless of birth country.  If your parents are Spanish, or at least one was born in Spain. Or you were adopted by a Spaniard when you were less than 18 years old. You are Spanish by origin.

2. Citizenship by Birthplace (Ius Soli)

This applies to children born in Spain to parents from Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guinea Bissau, Morocco (if the parent, stateless or not, requests the nationality for the child) Peru, Sahara (stateless), Switzerland, Sao Tomé  & Prince. As well as children of Venezuelan and Colombian nationals.  In these cases, the children born in Spain can apply for Spanish citizenship via ius soli. It is a fast and simple process. Children born in Spain to unknown parents are also considered Spanish citizens.

3. Citizenship by Choice

There are cases where a person has the right to choose Spanish citizenship or not. Foreigners older than 18 years old, adopted by a Spaniard qualify for Citizenship of choice. Those under custody of a Spaniard, or those born to Spanish parents, and born in Spain.

4. Citizenship via Naturalization

This way to obtain Spanish citizenship is mainly for exceptional circumstances. These extreme circumstances include, for example, victims of terrorism. Other examples are international athletes that are foreign nationals; yet play for a Spanish team.  Or Sephardic Jews of Spanish origin, who can prove their origins with a certificate from the Federación de Comunidades Judías.

5. Citizenship via Residency

Citizenship via residency is the most common, and applies to those who reside legally in Spain for a continuous period of time. However, residency as a student is not valid.  The minimum number of years of residency required to obtain Spanish citizenship is 10 years as a standard, 5 years for refugees, and only 2 years for citizens of Iberian-American countries, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, and Sephardic Jews.

There are also cases where applicants only need one year of legal residency to obtain Spanish citizenship. This applies to those born on Spanish territory without qualifying for Spanish nationality. As well as, those who work as guards, for Spanish institutions or individuals for two consecutive years. It also applies to those who, during their application, married a Spaniard for one year and are not legally separated. Or even those who are widowed by a Spaniard, and were not separated during the time of death. Lastly, it applies to those born outside of Spain, to Spanish parents, or grandparents.

6. The Special Case of Guatemala

If you are from Guatemala, and a legal resident in Spain, you can obtain Spanish citizenship. However, residency as a student is not valid. There is a special agreement between Spain and Guatemala that states that both Spaniards and Guatemalans by birth can acquire Spanish or Guatemalan citizenship, respectively. The only requirement for citizenship is legal residency in either country.  You have to declare before the corresponding authorities your desire to obtain Spanish citizenship. And submit the corresponding documentation.

Are you looking for an expert to support you?

We are here to help! We created a brand called MTS Relocation Spain, a specialized provider in relocation and legal topics offering high quality service at discount to the Citylife community.

To today, together with MTS, we successfully helped many young internationals moving to Madrid to sort out their legal situation. Avoid the hassle and get in touch with MTS now for a free quote!

Please fill out the form below and your query will be sent to us as well as to our friends at Proyecto Océano, one of Madrid’s most known legal associations, who are also here to help you out! Please note: By sending the form below, you automatically agree that we can forward your data to Proyecto Océano as well as MTS Relocation Spain.

Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. She started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth!

5 Comments. Leave new

  • Dennis Martinez
    19/07/2023 02:11

    I am a Guatemalan Citizen living in the US, I have planned to move to Spain next year, do I have to apply for residency before I move or as soon as I get to Spain?

    • Elizabeth Grijalva
      22/12/2023 23:08

      We’re you born in the us if not you have to go to Guatemala and apply from there

  • Grandmother was born in Spain, Melilla. Mother left Spain when she was 3yrs old. Now she’s 70. Would like to get Spanish passport to the grandson to play football.
    I’m in Madrid on Thursday this week and can meet.

  • Lui Kaka
    27/11/2022 01:08

    Dear Sir / Madam
    My name is Lui Kaka from Papua New Guinea, my mother she’s a Spainish. I would like to relocate / move to Spain, however, I’m finding it very hard securing my relocation.

    Please I needed help for a relocation

    Hope to here back from you soon

    Lui Kaka

  • Hello,

    Kindly provide me with more info regarding a child born in Spain to foreign parents, how can he get his Spanish citizenship or nationality ?
    What are the requirements and conditions?
    Please advise
    Awaiting your prompt reply



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Need any help?