Obtaining Spanish citizenship - common queries answered and the laws explained

Spain offers an excellent climate, affordable healthcare and low cost of living – Spain is undoubtedly an attractive place to reside. Spanish citizenship provides many more rights in Spain than Spanish residency. If your future is intended to be in Spain and you aim to be a Spanish citizen, being aware of the legal position surrounding obtaining Spanish citizenship and residing in Spain is strongly advised to enable you to achieve a smooth trouble-free application.

Here, we answer some common queries related to obtaining Spanish citizenship and subsequent residence in Spain:

Can you obtain Spanish dual citizenship?

Generally, Spain does not permit dual citizenship with another country other than with Iberian countries. If you obtain Spanish citizenship, you will have to renounce your original nationality. There are exceptions, including Spanish-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal. Sephardic Jews and their descendants are also allowed to obtain dual citizenship with their home country. Read our advice page to find out your options for applying for Spanish citizenship.

Obtaining Spanish citizenship through descent

You are able to apply for Spanish citizenship by descent if you can prove of any of the following:

1. You have at least one parent who is a Spanish national

2. Both your parents were born in Spain

3. You were adopted by Spanish nationals prior to your 18th birthday

4. You have Spanish grandparents

Applications through this route, you will require to be able to show documents that prove your Spanish connections through your Spanish relatives or adoptive by Spanish parents.

If you qualify for Spanish citizenship through descent, you should then take the following steps:

  • Prepare and complete all documents needed to prove you meet the conditions of Spanish citizenship through descent.
  • Pass the two citizenship exams, DELE A2 (a Spanish language test) and CCSE (knowledge of on Spanish social-cultural customs and knowledge of the Spanish Constitution).
  • Pay the application fee and post your documents. Are you obtaining Spanish citizenship through your grandparents? Read our full guide here.

Getting a mortgage in Spain

In Spain, there are three types of mortgages available from mortgage brokers:

  • Residential mortgages – as the name suggests, residential mortgages are for residents of Spain wishing to purchase property in which to live.
  • Commercial mortgages - these are mortgages for the purchase of commercial property as a base for a business.
  • Buy to let mortgages – this type of mortgage is for an investment property which is intended to be rented out either to seasonal holidaymakers or to tenants.

The maximum term for a Spanish mortgage is between 20 and 30 years. Where possible, banks will tend extend the maximum 20 years. Some banks invoke age limits - for example, the upper age limit for someone applying for a mortgage may be limited to between 60 and 75 years.

Read our full guide to getting a mortgage in Spain here.

View of houses in spain

Retiring in Spain as a British citizen – the impact of Brexit

Following Brexit on 01 January 2021, the Legal Regime for Foreigners now applies to British citizens, limiting the number of days they can remain in Spain. To enable residence and retirement to Spain there are two visas, the non-lucrative visa and the Golden Visa, that can be applied for that can enable permanent residence in Spain.

The non-lucrative visa

Spain’s non-lucrative visa allows non-EU citizens to live in Spain provided they are able to support themselves financially. This non-lucrative visa can be requested by third-country nationals who wish to reside in Spain for longer than 90 days but do not intend to work in Spain. This is a good option for individuals who own property in Spain, wish visit Spain for longer periods of time than 90 days, or are planning a retirement in Spain. Unlike the Golden Visa, there is no investment requirement.

The non-lucrative visa provides the following benefits:

  • No investment requirement
  • You can apply for a family or joint visa.
  • The flexibility to progress to a working visa if desired.
  • You can work remotely from Spain for companies outside Spain.
  • Free movement within the Schengen area. Find out more about how to apply for the non-lucrative visa and tips on retiring in Spain here.

The Golden Visa

A Golden Visa is an option that is ideal for investors and entrepreneurs who are interested in making substantial investments in Spain or purchasing real estate. Unlike the non-lucrative visa, an investment in property equal or greater in value than €500,000 must be made to qualify for a Golden Visa. The purchase must be free of any financial encumbrances such as a mortgage. Additionally, you must be able to provide evidence that you can meet the running costs of the property together with general living expenses.

Alternative types of investment to obtain a Golden Visa include:

  • One million euros in company shares or stock of Spanish capital companies with actual business activity
  • One million euros in investment funds, closed-end investment funds or venture capital funds constituted in Spain or One million euros in bank deposits in Spanish financial institutions.

The Golden Visa can be applied for if you already own a house in Spain, meeting the €500,000 threshold of investment, unencumbered by mortgages or any other financial liens. The Golden Visa could be an appropriate option for you if you plan to work in Spain.

Obtaining Spanish citizenship – frequently asked questions

Who qualifies for Spanish citizenship?

There are many ways of applying to become a Spanish citizen, including through descent, naturalisation and marriage. Read our advice page on applying for Spanish citizenship to find out more.

What are the steps for applying for Spanish citizenship through descent?

Read our guide to applying for Spanish citizenship through descent to find out what steps you need to take.

Can you get a Spanish passport if your husband is Spanish?

Yes, you can apply for Spanish citizenship through marriage. Find out more about how to do this here.

What documents do you need to include in your Spanish citizenship application?

Read our guide to applying for Spanish citizenship to find out what documents you need.

How much does it cost to apply for Spanish citizenship?

Spain charges a non-refundable fee to process your citizenship application. There may be price variations, and the cost can range from €60-€100, even if your application is rejected.

What documents do you need to include in your Spanish citizenship application?

Read our full guide to applying for Spanish citizenship to find out what documents you will need.