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Everything you need to know about getting Spanish citizenship

As Brexit edges closer has more and more British nationals are considering the option of Spanish nationality. Here is how to do it.

Everything you need to know about getting Spanish citizenship
Photo: CoffeTableArtStuff/Flickr

Becoming a Spanish citizen currently requires giving up your nationality and passport unless you are from a nation recognized as a former colony of Spain. (Although if, for example, you are British, the UK authorities allow dual nationality so will still consider you a British subject).

If you are considering Spanish citizenship, here's how to do it.

Nationality via residence 

This form of requiring nationality requires the person concerned to have been a legal resident of Spain for an uninterrupted period of ten years immediately prior to the application.

An application for Spanish citizenship must be made to the Ministry of Justice, who can refuse it on grounds of public order or national interest.

To apply for Spanish nationality you require your birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), a certificate of good conduct from the police in your country of origin, all of which must be officially translated into Spanish.


Once you have been approved, you have to swear your loyalty to the King and promise to obey the Spanish constitution and laws. 

You will also have to present certificates from the Cervantes Institute proving you have passed a language test (DELE) and a cultural knowledge multiple choice exam (CCSE). Of which more later.


Photo: Alagich Katya/Flickr.

One way to drastically shorten the waiting time to gain Spanish nationality is to be married to a Spaniard.

If you have been married to a Spaniard for at least one year, you can apply for Spanish nationality, also via the Ministry of Justice.

You have to still be married to a Spaniard upon application, no separated or divorced people need apply. 

Widows and widowers of Spaniards can also immediately apply for Spanish citizenship. 

Spanish parents 

You can apply for Spanish nationality if one or both of your parents or grandparents is Spanish, even if they were born outside of Spain. 

Conversely you can also apply for citizenship if you were born in Spain to foreign parents. 

Again, you need to apply through the Justice ministry.

Sephardic Jewish?

If you happen to be able to prove that you have Sephardic Jewish ancestry, then you can apply for Spanish citizenship, even if you are not a resident in Spain. The law approved in 2015 is open to Jewish and non-Jewish people of Sephardic origin, provided that they can prove their Sephardic origin and a special connection with Spain. 

More details on how to apply can be found here.

Pass the citizenship test

Since October 2015, those applying for citizenship in Spain are required to pass a test to prove their Spanish language skills and how well they have integrated into Spain – an issue that has caused its fair share of controversy. 

More information on the test can be found here.

Take our test to see if you know enough to gain Spanish citizenship. 

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All official information on applying for Spanish citizenship can be found on Spain's Justice Ministry website.

Dual Nationality

Spain doesn't recognise dual nationality (unless you are from a Spanish-American country, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal, or are of Sephardic Jewish origins).

All others will have to renounce your previous nationality. In practice this means signing a form rather than physically handing over your old passport. 

But you will lose your Spanish citizenship if you reside abroad and take up another nationality (or use your old nationality) for more than three years, unless within that three-year period you declare to the Civil Registry your will to keep Spanish nationality.

How much does it cost? 

Spain charges a non-refundable fee to process your citizenship application, which varies and can range from €60–€100 even if your application is rejected.

Fees may also apply to issue certificates and documents required for your application.

Add to that the cost of the Cervantes test (€125) the citizenship test (€85) and the cost of translating your documents and you are looking at well over €300.

How long will it take?

The process is handled by the Justice Ministry which is notoriously backed up. Recent data showed that there was huge backlog of citizenship applications waiting to be processed, more than 400,000 according to El Pais.

People who applied in 2017 are still waiting…

For more information: 

Are you thinking about becoming a Spanish citizen? We want to hear your views. Send us an email, comment below or join the discussion on our facebook page.

Quiz: Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?



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For members


Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.


Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account