May 15, 2024
Citizenship by investment programs

How to Get Spanish Citizenship? 6 Most Effective Methods

For many people across the world, attaining Spanish citizenship represents not merely a legal status but a gateway to boundless possibilities, a vibrant community, and promising horizons. Spain is also an international center for innovations, has a thriving economy, and is equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructures. Thus, it’s an alluring destination both for individuals who seek cost-effective living and for investors, as Spain offers interesting business opportunities in high-value-added fields.

So, let’s understand how to get Spanish citizenship, the main methods by which it can be obtained, as well as the main procedures and requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • There are several methods to get Spanish citizenship. Each has its own requirements and regulations. Typically, ten years of effective residency is required for most people, but in some cases, the procedure takes way shorter, or even citizenship is automatically granted.
  • Spain is an attractive country to live in and offers multiple benefits to its citizens. Those benefits include the right to travel across Europe without a visa, live and work in any other European country, access to free medicine and other social programs, the ability to start a business in any European country of one’s preference, and much more.
  • At Mirabello Consultancy, expert guidance is provided to those who seek to get Spanish citizenship.

Six Ways to Get Spanish Citizenship

There are many ways people can pursue to get Spanish citizenship, each with its own set of requirements and conditions. We have separated the following six methods: by investment, by naturalization, by origin or choice, by marriage, by guardianship, and by discretionary conferral. 

Spanish Citizenship Through Investment

This method is for people who have huge incomes, want to live in Spain, and travel in the Schengen area.

The first and foremost condition for non-EU investors to get Spanish citizenship is ten years of continuous residence in Spain. However, the process is not as smooth as it might seem. It begins with applying for a residence permit in exchange for a Spanish golden visa through investment, which is initially granted for three years, and then renewed for periods of five years each. The idea is that the applicant invests money in the country’s economy. After presenting all the necessary documents and complying with the terms and conditions of the program, the investor receives a residence permit. The Spanish government offers several investment options, namely:

  • Buying real estate for residential or commercial purposes worth not less than €500,000
  • Investing €1 mln in Spanish companies, bank deposits
  • Purchasing government bonds worth €2 mln

Investors with residence permits have such advantages as doing business, crossing the border unlimited times, receiving medical and educational services, getting a driver's license, and traveling to the Schengen area without a visa. With a residence permit, investors can live in Spain for as little as seven days and, after five years, sell their property and receive the investment back. 

After five years, a permanent residence permit is issued. The main requirement to obtain it is that the applicant has lived in Spain for five years. In addition to this, the applicant should present some documents, including valid medical insurance, proof of financial independence, and the ownership of real estate in Spain.

Permanent residency status gives investors more rights and privileges. This type of permit is given for life and does not require a renewal every two years. Plus, all the advantages that citizens enjoy are granted to permanent residents as well. Read more details about the Spain Golden Visa privileges here.

So, after five years of permanent residency in Spain, individuals can apply for Spanish citizenship. They need to know the Spanish language and be integrated with the Spanish culture and community. 

However, nationals of certain countries have a shortened path to Spanish citizenship,

requiring only 2 years of effective residence as they used to belong to the ancient Spanish Empire, namely the following:

  • All nationals from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries in Latin America (this includes Brazil, but does not include Belize or Guyana).
  • Nationals of the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea. 
  • Nationals of any country who can prove to be of Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

In recent years, Spain has been debiting about adding US nationals to the first category of

shorter eligibility periods, as most of the current US territory was also part of the ancient

Spanish Empire in America. However, this rule is not in place yet.

Spanish Citizenship by Naturalization

This method is very similar to getting Spanish citizenship by investment. The whole process takes no less than ten years. Firstly, the applicant needs to obtain a residence permit. The next step is to get a permanent residency permit after five years. And eventually, after ten years of continuous living in Spain, individuals can apply for citizenship. The main difference here is that this method has more stringent rules and regulations compared to the prior one. 

  • A valid reason for staying in Spain needs to be confirmed in the whole application process.
  • Family members should apply separately for permits.
  • The applicant should be a law-abiding person. Even a minor violation of the law may result in withholding citizenship.
  • As the demand for Spanish citizenship by naturalization is increasing, it may take way longer than ten years.

Spanish Citizenship by Origin or Choice

Getting Spanish citizenship by origin means the individual acquires the nationality automatically because of the close family bonds with Spanish nationals. The applicant is considered to be of Spanish origin in the following cases:

  • At least one of the parents has a Spanish passport
  • One of the parents was born in Spain
  • Having a Spanish national grandparent who left Spain before having children 

In the case of adoption, the rule is the same as for biological children. If the adoptee is no longer a child, he or she can decide whether to become a citizen or not. This is already called citizenship by option. It is worth mentioning that adopted children after eighteen have only two years to pursue citizenship.

This method has a comparably simple procedure ​​processed through the Civil Registers. The applicant should introduce documentary evidence of the family ties.


In order to get Spanish citizenship by marriage, one should marry a Spanish citizen. The couple should live in Spain for at least a year. After this, the applicant can get a work authorization and apply for citizenship. 

Worthy of note that one year begins from the moment of obtaining a residence card. In the application, it's necessary to include a marriage certificate and ensure that the marriage is officially registered in Spain.

Spanish Citizenship by Guardianship

This method is similar to the above method. If the applicant is under the guardianship of a citizen or Spanish institution can obtain Spanish citizenship after one year of permanent residency in Spain.

The only regulation here is that the guardianship should have started at least 2 years prior to the application.

Discretionary conferral

The Government grants citizenship based on discretionary conferral. 

The applicant should confirm there are special circumstances for granting citizenship. Usually, this is not a very widespread experience, and the decision to pursue citizenship varies from case to case. The reasons are of cultural, sports, and scientific origins.

12 Benefits of getting Spanish citizenship

Obtaining Spanish citizenship provides many benefits. Along with the geographically favorable position for living, Spain puts a lot of effort into enhancing the quality of life in every possible way. Here are the main benefits that Spanish citizens enjoy.

  • Cost-effective and comfortable life in a prosperous European country.
  • Easy travel and work in the EU: With Spanish citizenship, one has the ability to travel without a visa and permanently reside in any European country.
  • Spanish cities are among the most sustainable cities on the planet, making Spain one of the best countries to live in.
  • Access to the Spanish healthcare system, which is known for its high-quality services.
  • Simplified family reunification process: Spanish citizenship gives an opportunity to invite family members to Spain and start their citizenship process by applying for a residence card.
  • Low interest rates for loans and mortgages.
  • Starting a business in any EU country: Spanish citizenship allows one to start any type of business with lots of opportunities for entrepreneurship. 
  • The right to elect and be elected in any government body and participate in political processes.
  • Studying in any European university of one’s choice.
  • Possibility to reduce tax obligations under some circumstances.
  • Deposit funds in any European bank.
  • Purchasing and registering real estate and cars


In conclusion, Spain is a prosperous country that offers many benefits for individuals worldwide. The reason it has become so popular among non-EU citizens is that it does everything possible to ease the lives of its citizens. Through various pathways, including investment, naturalization, marriage, origin, and discretionary conferral, individuals can apply to get their Spanish citizenship, each method offering its own regulations and citizenship requirements. From the ease of travel to European countries to high-quality healthcare and educational services, Spain has more to offer its citizens. 


  • Does Spain allow dual citizenship?

Spain does not allow dual citizenship with another country, except for specific cases. Spain allows dual citizenship only for 25 countries. So, individuals obtaining Spanish citizenship must consider the fact that they have to renounce their original citizenship.

  • How long does it take to get Spanish citizenship?

It usually takes one to two years to get Spanish citizenship. Please, don’t confuse this with effective residency. This time frame is calculated after submitting the application.

  • How long do you have to live in Spain to become a citizen?

The time frame is usually dependent on the method you apply. In the case of investment and naturalization, it takes ten years. Citizenship by origin is automatically given, while citizenship by marriage is granted after a year of effective living in Spain.


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