Spanish Citizenship by Residency is one of the ways of acquiring Spanish citizenship contemplated by the Spanish Civil Code. Here we explain the step-by-step procedure of how to apply for Spanish Citizenship by residency online.
What is Spanish Citizenship by Residency?
Spanish Citizenship by Residency is one of the ways of acquiring Spanish citizenship contemplated by the Spanish Civil Code. Through this procedure, foreigners who have been residing in Spain for a while legally and continuously can apply for and acquire Spanish citizenship. Citizenship by residency is the most common way to obtain Spanish citizenship and the one used by the majority of foreigners residing in Spain, proving a previous legal residence time, good civic behavior, and integration.
Spanish Nationality Law
Spanish citizenship is regulated through one of the most basic documents in the country, the Civil Code, published in 1889. However, the authorities have implemented several modifications (we will study them next) that affect the way in which you can obtain citizenship. These are, for example, those that are specified in the Royal Decree 1004/2005.
Benefits and advantages
There are 5 main benefits that you can enjoy when becoming a Spanish citizen once you have the citizenship:
- Easier procedures and less paperwork
It will be much easier for you to navigate the Spanish bureaucracy when carrying out any type of administrative procedure, whatever it may be. Well, for immigrants, extra steps are always required or the provision of additional documents.
- Obtaining the right to vote
Foreigners who have lived in Spain for the long term can get the option to vote in the country.
- Free movement
As a Spanish citizen, you will have the right to freely enter 183 countries with your visa in hand during arrival.
- EU Passport
You will also be granted the right to live and work anywhere you want within the European Union, without any problems.
- Not Spainexit
It is important to note that the option of Spain leaving the European Union in the years to come is not contemplated. Therefore, these benefits will not change nor expire for the next few years: you will be able to enjoy these advantages indefinitely.
Necessary time of legal residence to acquire Spanish Citizenship by Residency
To acquire Spanish citizenship by residency, the applicant must have resided legally in Spain continuously for at least 10 years before the application.
There are several instances in which the 10-year residency period may be reduced:
- Five years of legal residency: for the granting of Spanish citizenship to those people who have obtained refugee status.
- Two years: for nationals of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, or people of Sephardic origin.
- One year for:
- Individuals who were born in Spanish territory.
- Individuals who did not properly exercise their right to acquire Spanish citizenship by option.
- Individuals who have been legally subject to guardianship (under the supervision of a guardian), tutelage, or foster care (the foster care that allows the reduction of legal residency to one year is that in which there is a resolution of the public entity entrusted in each territory with the protection of minors and the foster care that is judicially recognized) from a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, even if they continue in this situation at the time of the application.
- Individuals who, at the time of the application, have been married to a Spaniard for a year and are not legally or de facto separated.
- The widower/widow of a Spaniard, if at the time of the death of the spouse they were not separated, judicially or de facto.
- Individuals born outside of Spain to a father or mother, (also born outside of Spain), grandfather or grandmother, provided that all of them had originally been Spanish.
Requirements to acquire Spanish Citizenship by Residency
The fundamental requirements to be able to acquire citizenship are:
- Continued residency in Spain immediately prior to the application.
- Good Civic Conduct.
- Lack of a criminal record, both in your country of origin and in Spain.
- Your documentation must be in force.
The procedure of the application for Spanish Citizenship by Residency
CCSE and/or DELE exams
To obtain a Spanish passport and become a citizen of the country, you will need to pass two different citizenship exams:
- The DELE A2, the language exam, basically shows that you have a sufficiently high level of Spanish. If you come from any country in Latin America, you do not need to take this exam.
- The CCSE is a cultural test. If you have studied ESO or high school in Spain, then it is not necessary for you to take this exam. It is a 45-minute exam, which basically asks about the Spanish government, art, television, culture, and geography of the country.
Both exams are organized by Instituto Cervantes.
It is this second test that scares applicants the most. But it shouldn’t be like that. Why? Because the Cervantes Institute publishes all the questions online (there are usually a total of 300). Thus, you can easily practice by doing them all beforehand, and his way you will know what to expect on exam day.
Also, if you fail, you can do it again. You have 3 different opportunities until you have to pay again for the registration (€85).
Ways to acquire Spanish Citizenship by Residency
To be able to submit the application for Spanish citizenship by residency you will be able to do it in several ways:
- Through the Civil Registry of your home. This method was only available until June 30, 2017.
- Through Public Registries, including the Common Electronic Register (REC) and the Electronic Register of the Ministry of Justice.
- By post mail.
- Through platforms enabled by Bar Associations, Social Graduates, Prosecutors, etc., and who have signed an enabling Agreement for the electronic submission of the application for Spanish Citizenship by residency.
- Online, through the Electronic Headquarters of the Ministry of Justice. To make your request this way it will be necessary to have a Digital Certificate. If you don’t have it, leave it in our hands, here.
The application for Spanish citizenship by residency may be submitted by:
- An emancipated individual or over eighteen years old of age.
- An individual older than fourteen years assisted by his legal representative.
- The legal representative of the minor under fourteen years of age.
- The legal representative of the person with judicially modified capacity or the person with the judicially modified capacity alone duly assisted, as a result of the incapacitation sentence.
Likewise, the application may be submitted through a volunteer representative such as a lawyer.
Documents and fees to submit the application for Spanish citizenship by residency
The documentation that you must present to proceed with the application for your Spanish citizenship by residency is generic for all applicants in:
- Standardized application form.
- Birth certificate of the country of origin properly legalized and translated, if applicable, in accordance with International Conventions.
- Full copy of the passport, which must be in force and NIE.
- Criminal record certificate from the country of origin duly legalized and translated in accordance with International Conventions.
- Valid Empadronamiento certificate.
- A full copy of your valid residence card (TIE) or copy of the European Union Citizen Registration Certificate (or Green Card), in case you are an EU citizen.
- Additional documentation that you wish to attach to your file such as a copy of your employment contract, health card, additional training, etc.
- Certificate from the CCSE and/or DELE Exams, if applicable.
- If you want to grant your children the possibility of obtaining citizenship by option, include their birth certificate.
- The paid fee. To start the process of applying for Spanish citizenship, it is necessary to pay an administrative fee. In this case it must be the Tax 790 Code 026 and has an amount of € 104.05 (updated amount for the year 2022).
This documentation is necessary for the presentation of the application for Spanish citizenship for all those emancipated individuals or those over eighteen years of age who do not have their capacity judicially modified.
Specific documentation of the application for Spanish Citizenship by Residency
The application for Spanish citizenship by residency has several access routes. We explain what detailed documentation must be provided in each case:
Be born in Spanish territory
In the case that your application for Spanish citizenship is made as someone born in Spain, you must provide:
- Birth certificate of the applicant, issued in the Spanish Civil Registry.
Those who have not exercised their right to opt for Spanish citizenship in a timely manner.
In this case, they must present the documentation that proves that they have been included in one of the assumptions of Article 20.1 of the Civil Code, for this they must provide:
- Birth certificate of the Spanish father/mother Spanish
- Birth certificate of the applicant registered in a Spanish Civil Registry or a judicial resolution stating the adoption by Spanish citizens or the recognition of filiation.
Individuals in guardianship, custody or non-provisional foster care by a natural person or a Spanish institution
In cases of foster care:
- Order of the competent court appointing the person who will exercise guardianship, custody or foster care.
In cases of foster care by a Spanish institution:
- Resolution of the said institution by which the guardianship, custody, or foster care is assumed.
Marriage with a Spanish citizen
In this case, in addition to the generic documentation that we have mentioned, you must provide the following documentation:
- Literal birth certificate of the Spanish spouse, issued by the Spanish Civil Registry.
- Literal marriage certificate issued by the Spanish Civil Registry.
- Certificate of Empadronamiento or joint registration with the spouse.
Widow/widower of a Spanish citizen
If you make the application for your Spanish citizenship by residency as a widower/widow of a Spanish citizen you must also provide:
- Literal birth certificate of the spouse issued by the Spanish Civil Registry.
- Updated marriage certificate issued by the Spanish Civil Registry, that is, issued on dates close to the application for your Spanish citizenship.
- Death certificate of the spouse.
- Certificate of joint ownership or Empadronamiento at the spouse’s date of death.
Descendant of a Spanish citizen
As a descendant of a Spanish citizen, that is, if you are a child or grandchild of a Spanish person of origin, you must provide:
- Literal birth certificate of the Spanish father/mother or
- Literal birth certificate of the Spanish grandfather/grandmother. In this case, the birth certificate of the father/mother who is a Spanish descendant must also be provided, regardless of their nationality.
The status of a Sephardi originally from Spain will be accredited through the means that in this regard are included in the Instruction of September 29, 2005, of the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries on the application of Law 12/2005, of June 24, on the granting of Spanish citizenship to Sephardim originally from Spain.
Refugees and stateless people
In the case of refugees and stateless people, the documentation issued by the Ministry of the Interior proving this condition can replace the birth certificate and the certificate of criminal record of the country of origin, and even the passport, in case the person concerned does not have them. It will always be mandatory:
- Standardized application form. In the case of submission at the electronic office, the online form will be replaced.
- Proof of the fee’s payment
- Blue Passport of the Geneva Convention of 1951.
- Certificate or resolution from the Asylum and Refuge Office of the Ministry of the Interior stating: Name and surname, date and place of birth, name of the parents and that the individual still maintains their refugee or stateless status.
All the documentation provided to the Spanish Citizenship by Residency File must be in force at the time of application. To determine the validity in the case of certificates, the validity period stated in the document itself will be taken into account. In the case of criminal record certificates in which we have no type of validity period, it will be understood that these documents are valid for six months.
How is this deadline counted? The six-month period must be counted from the date of issue of the document itself and not from its date of legalization or apostille.
Resolution and Notification of the application for Spanish Citizenship by Residency
Once you have processed your application for Spanish Citizenship by Residency and it has been concluded, you must receive the corresponding resolution from the Ministry of Justice. This resolution must be reasoned and will declare the granting or denial of Spanish citizenship by residency.
The deadline for resolving and notifying the resolution will be one year from the moment the request had entered in the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries, if after this period you have not received an express resolution, the request will be considered dismissed due to negative administrative silence.
In this case, once that one-year period of processing your citizenship file has elapsed, you will be able to go to court to request an express resolution of your application and file the corresponding Administrative Contentious Appeal before the National Court.
The decision will be notified to the applicant or his representative, in the place and in the way that you have indicated at the time of applying for your Spanish citizenship by residency. The resolution of your application will also specify the applicable appeals, as well as the deadline and the body to file them.
Spanish Citizenship Oath of Allegiance
The effectiveness of the decision to grant Spanish citizenship will be subject to the fact that, within a period of 180 days from its notification, the individual takes the Spanish oath of allegiance before the Civil Registry of his address. Before the public official of the Civil Registry the applicant must:
- Present their Oath of Allegiance to the King, obedience to the Constitution and the Laws. In the case of personnel in the service of the Armed Forces, this declaration will not be necessary when the taking of the oath or promise is already recorded in the report sent by the Army Command or Headquarters in accordance with Article 9 of the Regulation approved by Royal Decree 10004/2015, of November 6th.
- In this oath, they declare that they renounce their previous nationality. Nationals of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal, and Sephardim are exempt from this requirement.
- Also, this acquisition must be registered in the Spanish Civil Registry.
Therefore, it is extremely important that once you have your resolution granting Spanish citizenship by residency, you go to the Civil Registry to manage the appointment, so you will be able to make your Oath of Citizenship. For these cases, each Civil Registry has a system or administration enabled for the previous appointment.
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