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Spanish Citizenship by Descent: The Ultimate Guide

Are you dreaming of living la vida española? Look no further! Spain, with its vibrant culture, relaxed lifestyle, affordable cost of living, exceptional healthcare system, breathtaking landscapes, and numerous job opportunities, has become an irresistible destination for people worldwide.

The allure of Spain is particularly strong for digital nomads looking to work and reside in this magnificent country. If you have Spanish ancestry, obtaining citizenship is simpler than you think. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore how your Spanish roots can unlock the door to a life filled with tapas, flamenco, and sunshine. So grab your sangria, and let’s dive into the process of acquiring Spanish citizenship by descent!

Benefits of Being a Spanish National

The advantages of obtaining Spanish citizenship are not limited to enjoying the culture, lifestyle, and urban or natural beauties of the country. There’s much more to it. 

Find below the primary benefits of becoming a Spanish national:

1. Acquisition of One of the Most Impactful Passports in the World

The Spanish passport allows you to live and work wherever you want in the European Union, in addition to having great mobility around the world.

2. Freedom To Move Around

By holding a Spanish passport as a Spanish citizen, you have access to the visa-free entrance to over 180 countries. 

3. Privilege To Vote in Spain

As a citizen of Spain, you have the right to vote. If you’re considering long-term residency in Spain, becoming a citizen may be a better option so that you can have a say in the governmental or municipal elections. 

4. Easier and Faster Paperwork and Bureaucracy

Becoming a Spanish citizen eases and shortens all the bureaucratic processes you’ll potentially deal with in Spain. 

5. Perpetuity of Privileges

Spain isn’t going to exit the European Union anytime soon. Hence, all the privileges that come with Spanish citizenship will remain safe and secure for a good while. 

Spanish Citizenship by Descent

The most rapid and effortless way to obtain Spanish citizenship is by descent. To be eligible to apply to become a Spanish citizen by descent, you must prove that you have Spanish ancestry. 

In Spain, the right to citizenship doesn’t derive from the birthplace but from the bloodline. If at least one of your parents or grandparents is of Spanish descent, you have the right to apply for citizenship. However, having Spanish ancestry further down the bloodline than grandparents doesn’t grant you any citizenship rights. 

Process of Getting Spanish Citizenship by Descent

Although the application process for Spanish citizenship by descent is the briefest route to becoming a Spanish citizen, you still need to prepare beforehand and make sure you’ve gathered all the necessary documentation.

The said documentation includes any certificate that proves that you have ancestors of Spanish descent, and evidence showing that you’ve passed the CCSE citizenship and DELE A2 Spanish language tests. 

There’s no accurate answer to the question of how long it takes to obtain Spanish citizenship by descent typically takes up to two to three years. However, there’s an option to speed up the process: getting the appointment with the flag’s jury as coincident with the time of the submission of your appeal. With this little trick, the waiting time can be reduced to one and a half years.

Fast-Track Naturalization to Spanish Citizenship

Normally, you need to reside in Spain continuously for at least 10 years to become eligible for naturalization to Spanish citizenship. However, if you’re eligible, you can apply for Spanish citizenship by descent after residing in Spain for only one or two years. 

Recently expedited criteria of physical presence in Spain allows the eligible applicants to obtain citizenship by descent in a much shorter time period. The only thing you need to be careful about is not spending more than three months outside Spain continuously. If you need to stay more than that, you should enter Spain in between and then travel back to the other location. 

1. Naturalization After One Year

  • Those who were born in Spain 
  • Those who were born outside Spain to a Spanish mother or father (born inside/outside Spain) 
  • Those who were born outside Spain to a Spanish grandmother or grandfather (born inside Spain)

2. Naturalization After Two Years

If you’re from one of the Ibero-American countries, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, Portugal, or Andorra, you’re eligible for a fast track to naturalization after two years. Those who are of Sephardic origin are eligible as well. 

How To Get Your Spanish Passport

All Spanish citizens are entitled to hold a Spanish passport, which grants many advantages. You can get a Spanish passport by becoming a Spanish citizen through a few routes:

  • Legally residing in Spain for at least 10 years
  • Marrying a Spanish citizen
  • Having at least one parent or grandparent who is/was a Spanish citizen

If you’ve got your Spanish passport through citizenship by residency, moving abroad within the first three years and not using it may result in the Spanish consulate’s initiation of the withdrawal process, meaning that you’ll lose your Spanish nationality. 

Required Documents To Become a Valid Applicant

  • A valid passport
  • Documents proving legal residency (if required)
  • Evidence of Spanish ancestry (birth certificate, certificate of death, etc.)
  • Spanish marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Proof that you’ve passed DELE A2 and CCSE examinations
  • Oath at the Civil Registry
  • Application fee payment receipt

Other Routes To Spain Citizenship

If you want to obtain Spanish citizenship but aren’t of Spanish descent, don’t worry, you have many other options to obtain citizenship.

These options include:

  • Citizenship by marriage to a Spanish citizen
  • Citizenship by naturalization: you can apply for upon continuous legitimate residence in Spain for at least ten years
  • Residency by investment: you can obtain residency in Spain by purchasing real estate that’s worth at least €500,000 through the Golden Visa Program and become eligible to apply for citizenship in five years
  • The exceptional right for claiming Spanish citizenship of Sephardic Jews

Spanish Citizenship: The Wrap-Up

Well, that’s about it… We’ve given you the basic guideline for obtaining Spanish citizenship by descent. Having Spanish ancestors paves the way for you to become an eligible applicant for Spanish citizenship. Plus, as a Spanish citizen, you’re also automatically entitled to be an EU citizen and enjoy the relevant rights and privileges.

If you’re of Spanish descent and take the liberty to abandon your original citizenship to benefit from the perks of Spanish citizenship and freely travel within or live and work in whichever European city you want, act now. Initiate your process of obtaining citizenship by descent. When the process gets finalized successfully, you’ll have well deserved a good glass of sangria!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have dual citizenship in Spain?

Spain does not allow dual citizenship unless you’re from the Philippines, Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, or one of the Latin American countries. 

Is it possible to get a Spanish passport through marriage?

Yes, you become eligible to apply for a Spanish passport after staying married to a Spanish spouse for at least one year.

How long do I have to live in Spain to apply for Spanish citizenship?

If you’re applying for regular citizenship by naturalization, you’re required to have lived in Spain for at least 10 years. If you’re applying for fast-track naturalization by descent, on the other hand, the period is either one or two years.

What is the biggest advantage of being a Spanish citizen?

As a Spanish citizen, you’re entitled to hold a Spanish passport, which grants you visa-free entrance to 183 countries as well as the opportunity to live and work anywhere within the European Union.

Can I obtain Spanish citizenship with Spain Golden Visa?

Yes, you can receive Spanish citizenship with a Spain Golden Visa. The Golden Visa is an expedited visa process that grants you the right to live in Spain for up to five years. This visa also grants you access to the country's many benefits, such as healthcare and education, without needing to acquire permanent residency. In addition, after five years of legal residence in Spain, you can apply for an extension.
While there are many requirements that must be met in order to receive a Golden Visa and eventually obtain Spanish citizenship, the overall process is relatively straightforward. For instance, if you're from outside of the European Union or European Economic Area (EEA), then you'll need to obtain a long-term residency permit prior to applying for the Golden Visa. Applicants must also provide evidence of sufficient financial resources and health insurance coverage as part of their application as well as pass a background check including criminal record checks.
Once approved for a Golden Visa, applicants will be able to enjoy the same rights as any EU citizen living in Spain including access to its public services and social security system. After five years of legal residence (with at least 183 days physically spent in Spain each year), they may then apply for Spanish citizenship through the country’s naturalization program where they must demonstrate their knowledge of language and culture as well as proof of their economic contribution and integration into Spanish society. Once granted, they’ll have all the same rights that come with being a naturalized Spanish national such as voting rights and freedom of movement throughout Europe’s Schengen zone countries.

I'm from a Latin American country. Can I apply for Spain citizenship?

If you are from a Latin American country, you may be eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship. Depending on your individual situation and circumstances, the process of applying for Spanish citizenship can be complicated and time-consuming.
First, you must meet certain criteria in order to even begin the process of acquiring Spanish citizenship. These include living in Spain for a period of time (typically 10 years or more), proving that any necessary documents are valid, passing language proficiency tests, and having sufficient financial resources to support yourself during your stay in Spain. For certain individuals who have family ties to Spain or other particular circumstances, it is also possible to apply for Spanish citizenship without having lived there previously.
When applying for Spanish citizenship, individuals must start by obtaining residence status in the country first. This requires providing evidence of employment or self-employment activities which will allow them to cover their basic needs while living in Spain. Once they have legal residence status and proof of continued documentation over an extended period of time within the country, they can then submit a petition before the Ministry of Justice requesting their application for nationality. It is important to note that if an individual already holds another form of EU residency, such as those granted under Schengen regulations or through family reunification processes with EU citizens, this may influence the merit and success rate when applying for Spanish nationality.
In addition to meeting these requirements and submitting all relevant paperwork required for the application process, applicants will also be expected to attend an interview where they will need to show their knowledge of Spain’s culture and history as well as demonstrate some familiarity with its language. After all necessary documents have been submitted and accepted by authorities, applicants may receive word within six months regarding whether or not they have been successful in their application attempt. Of course, depending on individual circumstances this timeline may vary greatly but typically it takes approximately one year from start to finish when considering all steps involved in filing an official request with authorities until its resolution.

I have a Spanish parent. Can I apply for citizenship?

If you have a Spanish parent, it is possible that you can apply for Spanish citizenship. To do this, you need to meet certain requirements, such as having the option to demonstrate the required relationship between yourself and your parent. This could include providing documentation of birth certificates and/or marriage records. You should also be aware that there are different paths to citizenship with varying eligibility criteria depending on your particular situation.
For instance, if your parent was born in Spain and still holds their original Spanish citizenship then you may be eligible for Spanish citizenship by right of blood or "jure sanguinis." This means that you may gain Spanish nationality automatically either at birth or when your parent registers you with the Spanish authorities. In addition, there are other circumstances where the right of birth can be used as a pathway to gaining Spanish nationality including if your parent was born in Spain and acquired another nationality after but before you were born; or if your parent was born abroad but both their parents were originally from Spain.
Furthermore, if neither of these scenarios applies then applying for residence in Spain is an alternative route to becoming a citizen. The residency process includes proving sufficient financial resources, being registered on the municipal census of the city where residence will take place, and holding valid health insurance. After 5 years of legal residence in Spain, you are able to apply for a nationality certificate which can grant full rights as citizens of Spain including unrestricted access to live and work in any other EU country without requiring a visa.
It is important to note that although many people feel they have automatic rights due to their family ties, all applications must be approved by the Ministry of Justice before granting Spanish citizenship or residence rights in Spain. Therefore it is essential that any applicant thoroughly investigate all potential pathways so that they have a better chance at success when submitting paperwork for review by governmental authorities.

I have Spanish grandparents. Can I apply for citizenship?

If you have Spanish grandparents, then you may be eligible to apply for citizenship in Spain. Depending on the particular circumstances of your family history, you may be able to claim Spanish nationality by origin. This means that if your grandparents were born in Spain and were citizens at the time of your birth, then you could potentially have a claim to Spanish citizenship.
Additionally, if either one of your parents held Spanish citizenship upon your birth or at any point before you turned 18, then you may also be eligible for Spanish nationality. In this situation, it is important to keep in mind that the laws surrounding these claims are quite complex and vary depending on when exactly each ancestor became a citizen of Spain. As such, it is essential to research the specifics of your own family history thoroughly before attempting to apply for citizenship.
In order to make a successful application for Spanish citizenship, you must provide evidence that shows how and when each respective grandparent or parent obtained their Spanish nationality. This typically takes the form of official documentation such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and naturalization documents. It is also possible that some other forms of proof might be required in certain cases depending on where and when each ancestor was born or naturalized as a citizen of Spain. Once all necessary documents have been collected, applicants should complete an application form available from their local registry office before submitting it along with all relevant paperwork for consideration.

Can citizens from Ibero American countries apply for citizenship in Spain?

Yes, Ibero American countries can apply for citizenship in Spain. The process is known as “Ius Hispanitatis” and was introduced in April 2015. This allows nationals of certain countries to apply for Spanish nationality if they have strong emotional ties to Spain, such as ancestors from the Iberian Peninsula or strong family links. To be eligible for citizenship, applicants must have been born in an Ibero-American country, have lived there for at least two years prior to their application, and cannot possess another nationality that prevents them from acquiring Spanish nationality. They must also prove their emotional connection with Spain such as through ancestry documents or family ties with Spaniards. Furthermore, applicants must pass a written test about Spanish culture and language, as well as meet financial requirements including proof of sufficient income or assets that guarantee a decent life in Spain. Once approved, applicants are granted Spanish citizenship which will enable them to move freely within the European Union and enjoy the same rights as any other Spanish national.

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