The British exit from the EU may lead some British citizens living in Spain to consider making application to become Spanish Citizens.

Blood & Marriage

The are many routes open to apply for Spanish citizenship with special rules and qualifying periods for groups with strong Spanish ties, and for those lacking any nationality.

Special processes and application fast-tracks are in place for people born or adopted in Spain, refugees and their children in Spain, most South American nationalities and various other groups including people who have married Spanish citizens.

However, for most British citizens without campanas de boda on the horizon, the route to citizenship is through the naturalisation process.

This requires permanent residency of a minimum 10 years and jumping through a lot more hoops to boot.

Permanent Residency

To obtain permanent residency status you must be able to prove you have lived in Spain for 5 consecutive years to the point of application.

Note: I have read four different documents and guides in preparing this information, and am still unclear whether the 10 year permanent residency threshold is 10 years from the time permanent residency is confirmed, so a minimum of 15 years, 5 prior to permanent residency and 10 after, or 10 years total, 5 up to the point of applying for permanent residency and 5 after.

Citizenship Test

Again, a lack of clarity and consistency as to the exact process, nor any indication of whether these requirements will be the same after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, but with those caveats this will give you a good idea of what is involved.

Applicants will need the following documentation and materials:

  • A completed application form
  • Original and photocopy of a valid NIE
  • Original and photocopy (every page) of your passport
  • A birth certificate, issued within the last 90 days with a sworn translation attached, and both documents will need to be ‘legalised’
  • A criminal record certificate and background check from your home country (certificado de antecedentes penales / certificado de antecedents), printed within the last 90 days with a sworn translation attached and both documents legalized
  • Spanish record certificate/penales del Registro Central de Penados printed within the 90 days
  • Your marriage certificate, if applicable
  • Government registration certificate/ certificado de empadronamiento, printed within the last 90 days
  • DELE certificate with minimum CEFR A2 in Spanish
  • A CCSE exam certificate orde conocimientos constitucionales y socioculturales, which is a 25-question multiple choice exam testing general knowledge of Spanish culture and laws. The cost is 85€ and is administered by official Instituto Cervantes examination centres about once every month. Expect your exam results in three weeks.
  • Proof of application payment of 100€ via790 código 026. The payment is non-refundable if your application is unsuccessful.

Dual Citizenship

Those familiar with Spanish administration will not be surprised that for the third time in this article I have to concede a lack of certainty.

I have read one document that says dual citizenship is only allowed for those with existing South American citizenship, one that says British nationals will be allowed to retain dual citizenship, and another non-official advisory saying that though you can’t officially retain your British citizenship, Spain does nothing to remove it from you, so you can keep both in effect. Take your pick.

See also

An Englishman, an Irishman, and an Englishman Pretending to be an Irishman, Walked into a Pub …