How to Obtain Spanish Citizenship: Step by Step Process

by Maria Martin on Friday, December 13, 2019

At today’s blog post, we want to talk about how to apply for Spanish citizenship. At don Quijote, we know that bureaucratic processes can be a maze full of difficulties, something tedious and even frustrating on many occasions, especially under the great pressure and the need to obtain Spanish citizenship. For this reason and to make things a little easier for you, we have decided to dedicate today's blog post to help you carry out these procedures.

Click here to change to the Spanish version.

Steps to apply for Spanish citizenship

1. Meet all the necessary requirements

First of all, and before beginning any type of procedure that entails a waste of money and time that may be unnecessary, you must be sure that you meet all the necessary conditions to obtain citizenship in Spain. These requirements are as follows:

1.1 Prove continued residence:

Except for those who are children of Spanish citizens or have been born in Spain, citizenship is obtained after a period of residence in the country. Therefore, the first thing you should do is to demonstrate that you’ve been a legal resident in Spain for a continuous period of time. The minimum time required depends on the situation of the applicant and their country of origin:

10 years of legal and continued residence for most of the countries of origin.

5 years of legal and continued residence for refugees.

2 years of legal and continued residence for those who come from the following countries: Latin America, Portugal, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Sephardic Jew.

1 year for those married to a Spanish citizen, born in Spanish territory or who, although born outside and their parents too, their grandparents are all Spanish.

But be careful, because there are several factors that are very important to consider. First, the study periods or other visas do not count, you must access the residence card. Second, the residence has to be continued. That is, if you are in an irregular situation, you will have to start counting again when you recover the legal residence since the calculation will be interrupted. Be careful with departures from the country too, there have been some cases in which nationality’s been denied due to departures exceeding 3 months. So, to avoid surprises and future problems, if you’re planning to leave Spanish territory for a longer duration, consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

1.2 Prove good civic behavior:

The second condition to comply is not to have a criminal or police record, so you will have to present such documentation. In addition, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs they ask the CNI (National Intelligence Center) to issue a report to gather information about you and your career in Spain.

In any case, Spanish jurisprudence stipulates (at the official level) that meeting both requirements ensures nothing. Not having criminal records is only an indicator for good behavior, but they do not guarantee anything in any way, that is, you can get citizenship, even if you have criminal records and vice versa. But, in the real practice, the fact of having these records, imply an automatic refusal of the application. Therefore, it is advisable to cancel such records in the case of having them before applying for citizenship by residence.

1.3 Sufficient degree of integration in Spanish society

The last necessary requirement is to prove a sufficient degree of integration in Spanish society. Before, personal interviews were conducted by public officials, however, the questions could be very arbitrary, so the process was modified and now two more objective tests are carried out.

• Those applicants who do not come from Spanish-speaking countries will have to take the DELE exam (official test accrediting the degree of proficiency and mastery of the Spanish language) – A2 minimum level required. If you want to know how to register, visit our entry How to sign up for the DELE exam in 5 easy steps.

All applicants will have to take the CCSE test (Constitutional and Sociocultural Knowledge of Spain). This is a test that contains 25 questions taken from a catalog of 300. The good thing is that every year they are published at the Cervantes Institute website. We recommend you prepare it thoroughly.

2. Documents from the country of origin

You will also have to request the corresponding documentation in your country of origin. It is important that you do it after having the rest of the paperwork (language and culture exams, accreditation of good behavior, etc.) since such documentation may expire and you would have to repeat the procedures. Check with your country's embassy or consulate for more information.

3. Submit the application to the Ministry of Justice

Finally, after all the above requirements and steps, you will have to submit the completed application, as well as the rest of the documentation at the Ministry of Justice.

We wish you the best of luck!


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