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Spanish Citizenship

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

The concept of citizenship is interesting as it has constantly evolved. This is also the case for the Spanish citizenship. Different issues emerged in constitutional articles back in the 19th century. Since then, different amendments followed in the Constitution and the Spanish Civil Code. This article will explain citizenship and how it differs from nationality. Furthermore, information for requesting a Spanish Citizenship will be given.

Nationality and citizenship in Spain


Nationality is related more to the international law. Based on Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to have a nationality. The Spanish nationality is regulated through the Civil Code which was published in 1889.


On the other hand, citizenship is a bond between a person and a state. The person guarantees allegiance to the state and accepts its protection. Consequently, citizens are assigned civil, political, and social rights. For example, the right to contribute to the political circle of a country belongs only to citizens. The prerequisite for full citizenship is nationality.

Introduction of citizenship

The Maastricht Treaty introduced citizenship in the European Union. Article 17 states that “Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional and not replace national citizenship.” Citizenship is defined by two Latin principles. “Jus sanguinis” means that citizenship is acquired by the nationality of one or both parents. In contrast, “jus soli” is when somebody gets citizenship of the country where they were born.

Spanish national flag

Types of Spanish nationality

Spanish nationality by origin Article 17 of the Spanish Civil Code defines Spanish nationality by origin as birthright. So, people are born in Spain, with at least one parent also being born in Spain. Exceptions are children of foreign diplomatic or consular officers. Additionally, children born to Spanish parents are by origin of Spanish nationality. Also, people born in Spain of undetermined filiation. Lastly, when the first known territory of residence is Spain, it is considered the birthplace. nationals, after they’ve turned eighteen years old. However, they have two years to choose to hold the Spanish nationality.

Citizenship by descent

Children of Spanish parents are easily able to get a Spanish passport. Grandchildren with nationality by origin can also apply for the Spanish nationality. Grandchildren of Spanish women married to non-Spanish people since before the Constitution in 1978 are also included.

Citizenship by residence

Furthermore, if people have lived in Spain for 10 years without interruption, they can become Spanish citizens. But, they need to deny their original nationality. Exceptions are those originated from Andorra, Portugal, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines or from a Latin American country. Those people have have a dual citizenship.

Permanent residency

Despite this, permanent residency does not require renunciation of the original nationality. However, people are not able to live and work in all of the European Union. Furthermore, there is less bureaucracy for Spanish citizens at legal processes. Also citizens hold the right to vote unlike permanent residences

Barcelona, city in Spain


To get a Spanish citizenship some documents need to be prepared and two exams need to be passed. Initially, identification with a passport and NIE is required. Additionally, a current residence permit, a birth certificate, criminal record, and marriage certificate (for citizenship by marriage). Also, the certificate of the exams, DELE A2 and CCSE. Finally, proof of the fee payment of 100 euros and proof of sufficient economic means.


The DELE A2 is a language test that shows if the Spanish language level is sufficient. However, people from Latin American countries do not need to take it. Secondly, the CCSE is a cultural test, but not essential for people who studied in a school in Spain. If a person fails, he has 3 different opportunities to retake it, with a fee of 85 euros.

Application of citizenship

The application with all documentation can be submitted at the Civil Registry or online. Afterward, an appointment for the pledge of allegiance is made. Then, the passport and DNI can be acquired from a police station. The processing time is about two to three years.

Becoming a Spanish citizen

After approval, an oath is given to the King of Spain and the constitution. Then, people get their passports. As part of the European Union, citizens can vote in elections for the European Parliament. In addition, they have the right of free movement and can live and work around the European Union.


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Raffaella Patsalli author of article titled Spanish citizenship
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