spanish passport spanish nationals birth certificate spanish language eu countries time frame criminal record criminal records in person period of timeOver the last decade, the Spanish citizenship program through investment has attracted many foreign nationals. But over and above everything else, the primary question is often “How long does it take to get Spanish citizenship?” The answers can vary, but you might be surprised.

European passports are undoubtedly among the most powerful and valuable passports in the world. A Spanish passport is no different and comes with many added benefits.

Therefore, over the last decade, various Spanish citizenship programs have attracted many foreign nationals and global investors to apply for Spanish citizenship and obtain dual nationality. 

However, how long it takes varies greatly on the route you are taking in obtaining Spanish citizenship.

This article explores the varying timelines to acquire Spanish nationality based on individual contexts, backgrounds, and ancestry.

General Requirements to Get Spanish Nationality

As per the Spanish Government’s updated guidelines, applicants don’t have to stay in Spain continuously to obtain Spanish nationality. However, you need to have a residence permit and be in Spain for a minimum of nine months in a year for a period of ten years. So, in that regard, it takes 10 years to obtain Spanish citizenship.

The new rule has opened up the opportunity for multiple exits from Spain, providing that the stay period outside the country is no longer than three months consecutively.

How long it takes for former Spanish colonies

With this said, individuals from former Spanish colonies and territories can obtain Spanish Citizenship within two years if they follow the minimum stay policy of the Spanish government.

This means that Spanish citizenship for Latin Americans will be granted within a two-year period, where applicants from a Latin American country need to travel to Spain every two to three months or eight times in the entire time span of two years.

Countries qualifying for Spanish citizenship within two years

If you are a citizen of any of the below-mentioned countries, you will be eligible to opt for the two-year Spanish Citizenship program:





Costa Rica


Dominical Republic


El Salvador








Puerto Rico


Instead of the standard 10 years of legal residency requirement in Spain, citizens of the aforementioned nations will need to spend just two years in the country. After that, they can directly choose the fast-track application for Spanish citizenship for Latin American citizens and nationals of other former Spanish colonies.

There are some strict requirements to be eligible for this method. You have to stay the minimum required days in Spain during the two years. You can either travel to Spain every two to three months or a total of eight times in 730 days.

How to Obtain Spanish Citizenship: The Main Routes

Spanish Citizenship by descent

Spanish citizenship by option is a way of obtaining Spanish citizenship by descent where individuals become eligible for citizenship through their parents. The most popular path, other than by birth, is citizenship by descent. In either case, the overarching conditions are when:

  • A person over the age of 14 is capable of making a statement that promises fidelity to the King
  • Must have either a Spanish mother or legal Spanish guardian
  • The applicant was born in Spain and has foreign parents, one of whom was also born in Spain
  • The applicant was adopted by Spanish parents before they turned 18. Applicants who are above 18 can apply for this option within the first two years of their adoption.

It also stipulates that an applicant must renounce their previous nationality.

While there is a declining number of cases, it is also possible to become a Spanish citizen through Historical Memory Law. This is as set out in Law 52/2007 of 26 December. It is used in special cases where the descendants of Spanish citizens can apply for citizenship if their parents or grandparents were exiled during the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Spanish citizenship through Sephardic Jews

In recent years, Spain has taken steps to acknowledge and provide avenues for descendants of Sephardic Jews to reconnect with their heritage and obtain Spanish citizenship through programs like the Sephardic Jewish Heritage Program, launched in 2015.

Sephardic JewA Sephardic Jew is a member of the Jewish community whose ancestry can be traced back to the historical Jewish communities of the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal) and, to some extent, the broader Mediterranean region. The term “Sephardic” comes from the Hebrew word “Sefarad,” which refers to the Iberian Peninsula.

To be eligible for Spanish citizenship under the Sephardic Jewish Heritage Program, you must meet certain criteria:

  • Prove Sephardic Ancestry: You must demonstrate that you are a descendant with Sephardic origin. This can be done through genealogical research, historical documentation, or other evidence.
  • Connection to Spain: You are not required to be a resident of Spain. But, you must have a special connection or affection for Spain.

Spanish citizenship by marriage

If you are married to a Spanish national, obtaining citizenship through marriage might be the best option for you. However, there are certain conditions that you must meet to be eligible for citizenship. 

Firstly, you need to obtain a residence permit by reuniting with your family in Spain. After that, you must live in Spain for at least one year before continuing with the citizenship process.

It’s worth noting that if you have been living in Spain for at least a year and your Spanish spouse passes away, you won’t lose your right to reside in the country. Moreover, if you get divorced or your marriage is annulled, there are specific circumstances where you can still retain your right to residency.

Citizenship by birthright

The usual pathway to naturalization in Spain is through ten years of uninterrupted residency and the relinquishment of other citizenships. However, under the Spanish Citizenship by descent laws, you may be eligible for naturalization after just one or two years of residing in Spain. This stream offers an expedited route to Spanish citizenship based on ancestral ties, allowing for a shorter residency requirement than the standard naturalization process.

Spanish Citizenship by Investment

InvestmentIf you are a foreign investor looking for an opportunity to make a significant investment in Spain, the Spanish Golden Visa program is an excellent option. 

This program was launched in 2013 by the Spanish government to encourage foreign citizens to invest in the country’s economy. To be eligible for this program, you must not be a citizen of any EU country, EEA, or Switzerland.

Under this program, you are required to make a minimum investment of €500,000 in various sectors such as real estate, deposits, bonds, or businesses. In exchange, you and your family can enjoy legal residency in Spain. This residency eventually helps you acquire Spanish citizenship by investment.

After approval of your application, you will receive a one-year visa which you must exchange upon arrival in Spain. This visa is then valid for two years, after which you can continuously renew it for two more periods.

Once you have been a legal resident of Spain for five years, you can apply for citizenship and become a Spanish citizen.

To know more about the Spanish Golden Visa program, check out the article: Golden Visa Spain 2024 – The Ultimate Guide by GCS

How to Apply for Spanish Citizenship

To be eligible for Spanish citizenship by residency, you must have been residing in Spain for a minimum of ten years with a Spanish residence permit. During this period, you should not have traveled abroad for extended periods, which is typically defined as exceeding three months. However, short holidays and work-related trips are permitted. In addition to meeting these basic requirements, there are other conditions that must be met before submitting your application for Spanish citizenship.

  • You have to provide a clean character certificate that can prove that you do not have a serious criminal record.
  • You must not leave Spain for long time periods and should be able to show your registration of residency (empadronamiento) for the same.
  • The applicant must show their commitment to Spanish society. Therefore it is mandatory to qualify for a DELE A2 level Spanish basic language test. If you have studied Spanish in high school and possess native proficiency in the language, you can bypass this criterion.
  • You have to qualify for the Spanish citizenship test (CSS), known as the Constitutional and Sociocultural Aspects of Spain (Conocimientos Constitucionales y Socioculturales de España).

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long it Takes to Get Spanish Citizenship

Are Latin American countries eligible for Spanish citizenship?

Citizens of select Latin American nations can acquire Spanish citizenship after two years of living in Spain. This includes citizens of other former Spanish colonies. These citizens may also be eligible for citizenship by descent through their grandparents. Do note that Sephardic Jews don’t need to be physically present after their two-years residency in Spain to apply for Spanish Citizenship.

Can former Spanish colonies get Spanish citizenship?

Obtaining Spanish citizenship can be challenging, especially for non-Spanish citizens. However, citizens of former colonies of Spain have a unique advantage in the naturalization process. Spain’s citizenship laws offer preferential treatment to nationals of former colonies.

One significant benefit is that individuals from former Spanish colonies are eligible for dual nationality by not having to renounce their original citizenship to acquire Spanish citizenship.

Time required for Spanish citizenship for Mexican citizens?

After ten years of residency in Spain, Mexicans can apply for Spanish Citizenship.

Which countries do Spain allow dual citizenship?

The Spanish civil code permits dual citizenship. Here is a list of countries that Spain allows double citizenship with – Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Ecuador, Philippines, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Uruguay, Venezuela and France.

Can Mexican citizens get Spain citizenship?

Mexicans can apply for Spanish citizenship by naturalization after residing in Spain for two years. Spanish citizenship for individuals from Ibero-American countries is facilitated through special provisions aimed at fostering ties with Spanish-speaking nations. The Spanish government grants preferential treatment to citizens of these countries, allowing for a faster and more streamlined naturalization process.

Spanish citizenship for Puerto Rican citizens?

Citizens of Puerto Rico can hold a dual citizenship with Spain.

How to get Spain Citizenship for Filipinos?

Filipinos need to fulfill their legal residence in Spain requirement of two years to apply for Spanish Citizenship.

How many years to get citizenship in Spain?

How long it takes varies greatly on the route you are taking in obtaining Spanish citizenship. The main requirement for Spanish citizenship by residency is to have been living in Spain for ten years.

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