How to Obtain Spanish Citizenship

Nationality is defined by the Royal Spanish Academy as the legal bond of a person with a State, which attributes the condition of a citizen of that State.

In Spain, nationality can be acquired in several different ways.

  • Nationality by Option;
  • Nationality by Residence;
  • Nationality by Naturalization Card;
  • Nationality by State Possession;

Nationality by Option is a benefit that the Spanish legislation offers to foreigners under certain conditions so that they acquire Spanish nationality.

An individual can request the acquisition of the Spanish nationality in the following ways:

  • Individuals who are or have been subject to the parental authority of a Spanish citizen.
  • Individuals whose father or mother are Spanish and they were subsequently born in Spain.
  • Individuals determination of filiation (establishing who are the parents of a person) or birth in Spain occurs after they attain 18 years of age. In this case, the term to apply for nationality is two years from the date of filiation or birth.
  • Individuals whose adoption by Spaniard nationals occurred after the age of 18 years. In this case, the right to option exists until the expiration of two years from the date of adoption.

Nationality by Residence, which is one of the most common ways to acquire Spanish nationality, and is obtained through residency in Spanish territory for a period of time, normally the term is ten years, during which time  the person must reside in the Spanish territory legally and continuously for the designated period prior to the request.

In some special cases, shorter periods are permitted:

  • Five years: for people who have refugee status.
  • Two years: for those who have the nationality of Ibero-American countries: Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or people of Sephardic origin.
  • One year for those who:
    • were born in Spanish territory.
    • have not duly exercised their right to acquire Spanish nationality by option.
    • have been legally subject to the guardianship (under the supervision of a guardian), or foster care of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, even if they will continue in this situation at the time of the request
    • have been married for one year to a Spanish citizen, providing they are not legally or de facto separated.
    • are the widow or widower of a Spanish person, if at the time of the death of the spouse they were not separated, de facto or judicially.
    • were born outside the Spanish territory even if their parents were also born outside Spain and grandparents, provided that all of them were originally of Spanish extraction.

In all these cases it is always required that the applicant has always had good civic conduct, and has a sufficient degree of integration into Spanish society.

Nationality by Naturalization Card is acquired in a special way because in this case, the general rules of administrative procedure do not apply. This nationality is granted by the Spanish Government in a discretionary manner and has assessed the concurrence of exceptional circumstances.

 Once you have acquired Spanish nationality by residence, by letter of naturalization or by the option you must:

  • providing you are older of 14 years and able to make the declaration, swear or pledge loyalty to the King and obedience to the Constitution and the laws.
  • declare that you renounce your previous nationality, except if you are a person holding the nationality of an Ibero-American country: Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal.

Nationality by State Possession can be acquired in the case of persons who have had this nationality for ten years continuously, in good faith and based on a registered title in the civil registry. It is necessary that the subject has conducted themselves as if they have the nationality, enjoying the rights and fulfilling their duties to the authorities of the Spanish State.

The team of Spanish lawyers/abogados at Giambrone can advise you should you wish to acquire Spanish nationality.

To receive more information about acquiring Spanish citizenship, do not hesitate to contact us at: 

For further information as to how to obtain Spanish citizenship please fill in the form or email or telephone 020 7183 9482