Citizenship is the legal bond that unites a person and a state and has two natures, on the one hand, that of being a fundamental right and on the other hand, constituting a legal relationship.

Through this relationship, the individual enjoys rights that they can demand from the country to which they belong and, as a counterpart, said country can impose the fulfilment of a series of obligations and duties.

There are different ways to obtain Spanish citizenship depending on a variety of factors. The most common way is by residence. This generally means that a person has to have resided in Spain continuously and legally for 10 years in order to apply for Spanish citizenship, but there are exceptions that allow shorter residence periods. Furthermore, there are circumstances where a person can opt for Spanish citizenship without having to live here for a certain amount of time.

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A person can apply for Spanish citizenship after having resided in Spain for a certain amount of years.

TEN years of continuous and legal residence are the general rule of what is required.

FIVE years are sufficient for those who have obtained refugee status and

TWO years in case of nationals of origin from Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal, or Sephardic jews (depending on renovation of the corresponding law).

ONE year in the following cases:

  • A person who was born in Spain.
  • In case the person could have opted for Spanish nationality.
  • A person who was the ward of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, even if they continue in this situation at the time of the application.
  • Anyone who at the time of application has been married to a Spanish citizen for one year and is not legally or de facto separated.
  • The widow or widower of a Spaniard, if at the time of the death of the spouse there was no legal or de facto separation.
  • A person born outside Spain to a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who were originally Spanish.

In all cases, the residence must be legal, continuous and immediately prior to the request.


Original Spaniards

The most common way to obtain Spanish citizenship is to be of Spanish origin:

  • Those born to a Spanish father or mother.
  • Those born in Spain when they are the children of foreign parents if, at least one of the parents, was born in Spain (except the children of diplomats).
  1. Citizenship by use

You can also get Spanish citizenship by use. This is the case when a person has used the Spanish nationality for ten years, on a continuous basis, in good faith (without being aware of the actual situation, that is, they are not actually Spanish). Anyone in that situation is entitled to Spanish nationality, based on a title registered in the Civil Registry.

  1. Citizenship by option

To opt for Spanish citizenship means that someone can choose it and it is a benefit offered to foreigners who comply with certain conditions:

  • Those persons who are or have been subject to the parental authority of a Spaniard.
  • Those persons whose father or mother was/is Spanish and was born in Spain.
  • Those whose determination of filiation or birth in Spain occurs after the age of eighteen.

    In this case, they have to apply within two years from the time the filiation or place of birth is determined. If they do not do so within two years, they can go on to reside in Spain for one year and apply for citizenship then.

  • Those whose adoption by Spaniards occurs after their eighteenth birthday. In this case, the

    right to opt for the Spanish nationality exists until two years have passed since the adoption was established. If they do not do so within two years, they can go on to reside in Spain for one year and apply for citizenship then.

There is a lot of movement in this regard and a new law on the rules for descendants of Spaniards is already in the Senate. We will keep you updated!

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