How to get citizenship in Spain

Foreign tourists who come to Spain often dream of relocating here for good. It's an incredibly welcoming country with a warm and sunny climate, friendly people and delicious food. Its economy is stable and its infrastructure is well-developed. At the same time, the cost of living here is much more affordable than in the USA or other Western European countries. In this article, we'll tell you about the different ways of getting Spanish citizenship and their respective requirements.

Ways of Getting Spain Citizenship

Regardless of how much you would be eager to pay, a foreigner can't buy local citizenship straight away. First, you should become a Spanish resident and only in 10 years, you'll be allowed to apply for citizenship. Below, we'll list the available methods for starting this journey. 

Spain Golden Visa

The target audience of the Golden Visa program is wealthy individuals. If you opt for this route, be ready to invest at least €500,000 in one of the following options:

  • Buy national treasury bonds. It's a safe and conservative investment.

  • Deposit cash in a local bank.

  • Create a business in this country that is beneficial for its economy and society and promotes the progress of science and technology.

  • Invest in an already existing business. If you lack investment expertise, you might prefer to avoid this route.

  • Purchase real estate. This method will be described in detail in a dedicated passage of this text.

The last option is the fastest and the most popular one. It has fewer hidden pitfalls than all the previous ones.


This method suits those people who can stay in Spain legally for a full decade. For instance, you can be a skilled professional and Spain might lack specialists in your qualification. Then, you'll get a work permit here and will be able to apply for citizenship in ten years. This might sound great for foreigners who don't want or can't afford to invest large funds — but there are too many restrictions and obstacles.

Your family members won't be able to apply together with you, even if it's your partner and kids. There is an annual quota for the number of expats who can get naturalized in Spain. After you submit your citizenship application, you might need to wait for several years until it gets approved.

Family Reunification

If your kids or parents have Spanish citizenship, you can apply for it too. Be ready to prove your close relationship with documents. It can be, for instance, a civil partnership agreement or a marriage registration certificate between you and your partner. If you have a Spanish residency, you may take your parents with you if they depend on you financially. To prove that, show the money transfer receipts from you to them from the previous 12 months.


An individual can be considered a Spaniard by descent if they satisfy at least one of these conditions:

  • At least one of their parents was born in Spain

  • At least one of their parents had Spanish citizenship

  • They were adopted by a Spanish citizen

The age of the applicant doesn't matter. They can use this opportunity if they're already adults.

Besides, a few rare cases fall into this category. For instance, if a baby was born in Spain but its parents are unknown, this kid can apply for local citizenship.


If you stay in Spain legally, you can walk down the aisle with a local. In just 12 months after tying the knot, you'll be granted local citizenship. Sometimes, it happens that the Spanish partner passes away before the foreign partner gets their citizenship. In such circumstances, the latter will become a local citizen nevertheless if the couple has lived together for at least one year. During this year, the foreigner is supposed to stay in Spain.


This method is valid for the following groups of people:

  • Kids adopted by Spaniards

  • Individuals whose mother and/or father were Spaniards

  • People whose mother and/or father were born in Spain

They will be allowed to apply for citizenship in two years after the start of guardianship. It's enough for them to spend just one year in Spain.

How to Get Citizenship in Spain by Investment in Property

To become eligible for this method, it's necessary to invest at least €500,000 in a property. It can be a house, an apartment, commercial real estate or a plot of land. After the purchase is finalized, you'll get the right to apply for a residence permit. You'll need to renew it after the first year after receiving it, then, two times with an interval of two years, and finally, every five years (unless you apply for citizenship). As a resident, you'll be asked to spend only one week per year in Spain.

If the chosen property costs more than half a million euros, you can mortgage the remaining part. But it's impossible to get a mortgage for half a million which is the minimum required threshold.

5 years after obtaining your initial residence permit, you'll be able to launch a business or get employed in this country. In 10 years after getting your first residence permit, you can apply for citizenship. Your family members are allowed to apply for residency and citizenship together with you.

In 5 years after buying the property, you'll be allowed to sell it to return your invested funds. However, to become a local citizen, you'll need to prove that you have somewhere to live. The price of the property doesn't matter in this case. You can buy a cheaper apartment or rent one.

Who Is Eligible

To have the right to apply for Spanish residency and then citizenship thanks to investment, it's enough to tick these boxes:

  • Come of age

  • Have sufficient income

  • Be law-obedient

To become a resident, it's not necessary to pass a language test. But you'll need to complete it when applying for citizenship.

How Much You'll Need to Wait

When you apply for a permanent residency, the authorities should normally approve or reject it within 3 months. On rare occasions, they might make you wait for half a year. Then, you'll stick to this timeline:

  • Renew your residence permit in 1 year after obtaining it

  • Renew it once again in 2 years (or 3 years after obtaining it)

  • Renew it once again in 2 years (or 5 years after obtaining it)

  • If you want to sell the property that you purchased for the sake of receiving the residence permit, you'll be able to do so in 5 years after getting the permit

  • Keep updating your permit every 5 years

To become a local citizen, you'll need to spend at least 10 years in this country as a resident. If you tie the knot with a Spaniard, you can become eligible for citizenship in 1 year. After you submit an application for receiving the local passport, you might need to wait for approval for a year or even longer.


For those who're interested in buying property in Spain, the list of papers to prepare typically includes the following documents:

  • Passport

  • Three passport-style portrait photos

  • Proof of address in Spain

  • Proof of the fact that you've always been law-obedient

  • Medical certificate

  • Health insurance

  • Filled-in application form

  • Confirmation of the paid fee

  • Evidence of your previous academic and professional qualifications

To apply for citizenship, be ready to provide:

  • Passport

  • Birth certificate (yours and those of your kids)

  • NIE number

  • Proof of the fact that you spent enough time here as a resident

  • Proof of the fact that you've always been law-obedient

  • Health insurance

  • Marriage or divorce certificates

  • Language certificate

  • Filled-in application form

  • Confirmation of the paid fee

The required set of documents might vary depending on the chosen method of obtaining residency/citizenship and your individual circumstances.

Why Can Your Citizenship Application Get Rejected

Foreigners might fail to get their application approved if they make the following mistakes:

  • Not staying in this country long enough. The exact required duration might vary from 1 year to 10 years, depending on where you're from, why you came to Spain and whether you've tied the knot with a local. If you miscalculate the deadlines and lack just one 1 day, it's a solid reason for declining your application.

  • Counting stay periods as residency ones. The time that you spend here as a tourist or student doesn't qualify.

  • Spending too much time abroad. Depending on the chosen way to obtain the local residence and then citizenship, you might be allowed to spend no more than 3 to 6 months abroad consecutively.

  • Having a police record or a criminal record. It's enough to get a fine for overspeeding just once to decrease your odds of getting your application approved. The good news is that you might be able to cancel your criminal record with the help of a lawyer.

  • Failing to prove a close and long-lasting relationship between you and your better half. Ideally, you should officially register your marriage. If not, you may use an apartment rental contract and household bills to prove that you've been living together for at least 12 months.

  • Making a mistake in the papers. You might forget to translate some documents, make misprints, apostille or legalize the papers incorrectly, submit outdated certificates or make any other errors. This won't necessarily result in rejection. Probably, you'll be asked to correct the mistake and provide the documents once again.

  • Ignoring a request from the Ministry. Let's imagine that the Ministry asks you to correct something in a submitted document and you fail to do it on time. Then, you'll be unlikely to get a second chance and your application will be rejected.

In case of rejection, you may either apply once again from scratch or file an appeal. Before taking any action, it would be wise to consult a legal advisor.

Dual Citizenship

Spain dual citizenship is not permitted under law. After you're granted Spanish citizenship, you'll have to renounce your previous one. You'll be allowed to keep your old passport only if it was issued in:

  • Andorra

  • Portugal

  • Equatorial Guinea

  • The Philippines

  • Selected Latin American countries

If you'd like to keep your old passport, consider becoming a Spanish resident instead of a citizen.

Benefits of Having the Citizenship of Spain

After you become a local resident and then a citizen, you'll be able to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Live in a warm and sunny climate

  • Travel all around the EU and many other countries visa-free

  • Easily relocate to other EU states, get an education and use healthcare services there, get employed, launch businesses and buy or rent accommodation there (your family members will get these privileges simultaneously with you)

  • Use all the opportunities that the local stable and developed economy offers

  • Open an account in a local or European bank, deposit funds and obtain loans at lucrative interest rates

  • Receive high-quality medical services

  • Return your investments after you become a resident or citizen

Please mind that you and your family members will be allowed to get employed or launch a business in Spain only in 5 years after getting your residence cards.

Real Estate Prices

Here are the average real estate prices in different Spanish regions:


Average price of a house

Average price per square meter







Castilla y Leon



La Rioja


















Comunitat Valenciana












Madrid Comunidad






The Balearic Islands generate the highest demand among foreign property buyers. The prices for houses and apartments become prohibitively high for locals. The authorities are about to ban non-residents from investing in real estate here. Maybe, in the future, other popular tourist regions will introduce identical measures. That's why many expats hurry up to close their purchases as promptly as possible.

Here are the prices in different cities:


Average price of a house

Average price per square meter













Las Palmas de Gran Canaria










€ 469,200











Palma de Mallorca









Donostia-San Sebastián



In the next couple of years, the prices are expected to remain at this level. According to pessimistic forecasts, they might drop by 2-3% (this trend might not affect the most coveted tourist locations). Once the global economic crisis is over, the prices will start to rise. Now, it's a perfect time to invest profitably!

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