Guide to Spanish Citizenship based on Residence

Spanish passport is the goal and dream of many foreigners living in Spain.

And I must say that this dream is quite achievable, and in some cases quite quickly.

Spanish law provides for the following ways to obtain citizenship:


  1. Based on residence permit – Residencia
  2. Based on naturalization – Carta de naturaleza
  3. Based on origin – Españoles de origen
  4. Based on a government decision – Posesión de estado
  5. Based on option – Opción

In this article we will consider the most common and most popular option among foreigners for obtaining a Spanish citizen passport on the basis of a residence, but in more detail we will discuss cases in which the required length of stay has been reduced to 1, 2 or 5 years.

The main condition is legal residence in the country on the basis of the obtained residence permit. It is a residence permit – resident cards. And in this regard, we immediately explain – the student “residence” is legally the right to stay, and is not equivalent to a residence permit. Thus, it is not taken into account the years required to obtain citizenship.

What the Student Residence Law says …

In accordance with Section 29.1 of the Aliens Act, “foreigners may be in Spain on the basis of either a residence permit (residencia) or on the basis of a residence stay (estancia)”.

Stay is a stay in Spain for a period of time not exceeding 90 days (visa), and also, in accordance with Article 33, longer than 90 days on the basis of admission to an educational institution to undergo internship or volunteering. Simply put, tourists (whether they need a visa or not) and students have the status of “stay”.

An exhaustive answer is contained in the following judgment of the National Court of Spain:

“In this situation, the problem is to determine whether the applicant’s stay in Spain is considered to be a lawful place of residence during the period when he was covered by the educational process. The answer is negative. In accordance with the immigration rules, “foreign residents are those who have received a temporary or permanent residence permit” that are different from a simple “stay” in general and from a residence permit for study, in particular, since the sole or main purpose getting a student card is to undergo training, practice, conduct research in educational centers in Spain. “

But we add that when modifying a student’s card for a residence permit, and subsequently for permanent residence, the term is still taken into account, although divided by two. That is, three years as a student are equated to one and a half years of ordinary residence.


Expedited Citizenship Based on Residence in Spain

It is not always necessary for a foreigner to live in Spain for 10 years in order to apply for citizenship.

The following are cases where the mandatory residence period is reduced:

… 5 YEARS: 

  • Refugee status.


… 2 years:

  • Citizens of Latin America, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or Jews of Sephardic descent, for whom, until October 2019, a simplified procedure for obtaining without a residence resided, and now the term has been increased to 2 years. 


… 1 year:

  • A person born in Spanish territory;
  • A person who has not duly exercised his right to obtain Spanish citizenship of his choice. So, for example, it can be a person with a Spanish guardian ;
  • A person whose parents are of Spanish descent and were born in Spain.
  • A person adopted or under the guardianship of a Spanish citizen or in a specialized institution for at least 2 years;    
  • A person who at the time of the request is married and has been living together with a Spanish citizen for at least 1 year;
  • The widower or widow of the Spaniard, if at the time of the death of the spouse they were not divorced;
  • A person born outside of Spain but having one of the parents / grandparents of Spanish descent, even if they do not reside in Spain. The Spaniards’s grandchildren born in the USSR from Spanish ancestors who fled from Spain during the civil war fall into this section . There are some in Latin America. Most importantly, the ancestors were of Spanish descent – born of the father or mother of the Spaniards;  
  • A person born in Spain, at least one of whose parents was also born in Spain, with the exception of children of diplomats accredited in Spain;
  • A person born in Spain from parents of non-Spaniards whose countries do not provide citizenship for those born outside their countries. For example, the mother is from Morocco, where citizenship is inherited by the father, and the father of the child from Argentina. In this case, you need to provide a certificate from the consulate. This also applies to Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Chile and others.
  • Juveniles born in Spain who have not received other citizenship.


Mandatory documents required from adult applicants:

  • The application in the standard form in person or online form, if the submission is in electronic format;
  • Residence permit (resident card);
  • Passport of the country of origin;
  • Legalized (Apostille) Sworn translation birth certificate;
  • Legalized Certificate of no criminal record in the country of origin and with a sworn translation.
  • Marriage certificate, if the applicant is a member of it;
  • Proof of payment of duty;
  • Registration at the place of residence (registration);
  • Diploma of the Institute of Cervantes or an institution accredited by IP, confirming the successful passing of the DELE exam. If the Applicant is a native speaker of Spanish and a citizen of a country where Spanish has official status, he is exempted from having to take this exam.

Mandatory documents required of minors or applicants declared legally incompetent on the basis of a court decision 

  • Application in standard form, filled out and signed by legal representative. In the case of an online application, a special form will be offered;
  • Legalized birth certificate with a sworn translation;
  • Passport or identity card of a citizen of a country of a member of the Schengen zone;
  • Proof of payment of duty;
  • Permission of an employee of registry offices at the place of residence of a minor or a legally incompetent person;
  • Identity card of a representative or legal representatives;
  • Residence permit of a foreigner (resident card);
  • Certificate of a training center for education, confirming a sufficient degree of integration required for schoolchildren;
  • Residence registration in Spain.


Mandatory documents required by persons over 14 years of age, but not of legal age, with the assistance of their legal representative

  • Application in a standard form, filled out and signed by both the interested person and his legal representative. For electronic submission, a digital signature of one of them will suffice, but it is necessary to attach a scanned paper application form signed by all parties;
  • Birth certificate with apostille and translation;
  • Passport or identity document in the case of citizens of Schengen countries;
  • Proof of payment of duty;
  • Certificate of the training center, confirming a sufficient degree of integration. This certificate will be compulsory for applicants younger than school age and provided that a minor or a person with a disability registered in court is enrolled in one of these centers;
  • Identity card of a foreigner (resident card);
  • Registration at the place of residence.


Required documents ,  required for refugees: 

  • Card of a resident with the indicated refugee status;
  • Blue Passport of the 1951 Geneva Convention (if available);
  • Help from  Oficina de Asilo  y  Refugio del Ministerio del Interior indicating: the following data:      
  • Name and Surname;
  • Date and place of birth; 
  • Names of parents;
  • Confirmation of the relevance of refugee status .  
  • This certificate is valid for 6 months from the date of receipt.


Mandatory documents required by persons born in Spain:

  • Certificate, birth certificate, registered at the place of residence in the Spanish State Register.


Mandatory documents required by persons whose parents are citizens of Spain:

  • Birth certificate of father or mother;
  • Certificate, birth certificate of an interested person registered at the place of residence in the Spanish State Register.


Mandatory documents required by Individuals under guardianship or living in shelters:

In cases of guardianship:

  • Order of the competent court appointing a guardian or foster family.
  • In cases of guardianship of the shelter, Permission of the specified Institution, involving guardianship or guardianship.


Mandatory documents required for spouse of a Spanish citizen

  • Birth certificate of a citizen of Spain;
  • Marriage certificate;
  • Registration at the place of residence.


Mandatory documents required for a widow (widower) of a Spanish citizen:

  • Birth certificate of a citizen of Spain;
  • Marriage certificate;
  • Death certificate of spouse;
  • Registration at the place of joint residence at the time of the death of the spouse.


Mandatory documents required for a person whose parents or grandparents were Spaniards:

  • Birth certificate of one of the parents;
  • Birth certificate of grandparents, if one of them or both have Spanish roots, in which case the birth certificate of their parents, regardless of whether they were Spanish citizens or not.


Binding Documents Required by Sephardic Jews

  • Birth certificate (with apostille and sworn translation);
  • Passport;
  • Certificate of no criminal record with apostille and translation;
  • Accreditation of the DELE exam on basic knowledge of the Spanish language at the level of A2 or higher;
  • Accreditation of the exam for knowledge of the Constitution of Spain, the social and cultural life of Spain;

Documents of Sephardic descent:

  • Certificate from the Sephardic community;
  • A copy of the original Charter of a foreign religious association, signed by the legal representatives of the organization;
  • Certificate confirming that the foreign legal entity (community) is officially recognized in their country;
  • Certificate confirming that the rabbi who signed the document is currently fulfilling his duties in accordance with the requirements listed in the Charter;
  • Accreditation of use as a family language – Ladino or “haketía”. To verify the use of Ladino or “haketía” as a family language, a certificate issued by a competent certification authority must be submitted. In Israel: Salti Ladino Research Center, Bar-Ilan University or In Turkey: Sephardic Center – Sefarad Kültürü, Istanbul, Turkey;
  • Birth certificate or “ketubah” or marriage certificate indicating its celebration according to the tradition of Castile;
  • A motivated report issued by the center of a sufficient level of competency certifying that the applicant’s name belongs to the list of Sephardic people of Spanish origin;

We strongly recommend consulting with experts or academic institutions with extensive experience in this field. For example, there are companies and individual researchers who deal with these issues in different countries. Additionally, information can be requested from the genealogy department at universities or research institutions in the country of origin or residence.

Also, documents confirming a special relationship with Spain will be useful: certificates of study of Spanish history and culture issued by state or private institutions with official recognition. Or, for example, to be married / married to a Spaniard, have ancestors or descendants of Spanish nationality in a straight line, hold shares of a Spanish company, own a house or other property in Spain, undergo training under an exchange program in a Spanish city, conclude work contract in Spain, donate now or in the past to charitable organizations in Spain, sponsor or be a sponsor of Spanish government institutions in the past, live now or reside in Spain for at least STI months, take courses of various kinds, carried out in Spain, have children,


Upon receipt of a Spanish passport, a new citizen signs a paper on renunciation of previous citizenship. But in the case of the Russian Federation, this statement is not recognized. According to Russian laws, a person cannot be automatically deprived of citizenship, only on the basis of an official petition explaining the reasons personally filed at the Consulate of the Russian Federation.

In accordance with Article 10 of the Regulation governing the procedure for obtaining Spanish citizenship on the basis of a residence approved by Royal Decree No. 1004/2015 of November 6, if the application or submitted documents do not meet the Requirements for obtaining Spanish citizenship at the place of residence, the interested party or his representative will have to correct the error or provide, in electronic or physical form, the required documents within three months. If the person concerned does not take advantage of the indicated period, the application will be considered withdrawn.

And at the end of this material, we add that the staff of PRO SPAIN CONSULTING are members of the Bar of Malaga, which has agreements with the Spanish Ministry of Justice, and thanks to a special decree, citizenship applications for clients of the College are processed according to an accelerated procedure.

You can find out comprehensive information about these and other methods of obtaining Spanish citizenship during a consultation with our lawyers. We will provide the necessary list of documents and an action plan, and if necessary, we will take all the bureaucratic efforts upon ourselves and we will accompany the process from A to the passport in your hands!

Contact us now!


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