Second Citizenship

November 29, 2023

Reading Time: 5 min

6 ways of getting Spain citizenship

Spain is included in the list of the top‑5 countries for foreigners according to the HSBC Expat Explorer. Its strong economy, developed infrastructure and warm Mediterranean climate are attractive for foreigners. At the same time, the cost of living is lower than in other countries in Western Europe.

We consider 6 ways of applying for Spain citizenship: by investment, by naturalization, by choice, through marriage, family reunification, and through guardianship.

Igor Buglo
Igor Buglo

explains how to get Spain citizenship

Spanish citizenship: all the ways of getting a Spanish passport

6 ways of getting Spain citizenship

To obtain Spanish citizenship, you will need to live there for 10 years. Naturalization takes place in two stages: first, you receive a (temporary) residence permit and then a permanent residence permit.

There are legally permitted ways to simplify and speed up the procedure. We will show you the fastest and simplest way to get a Spanish passport.

To learn more about the procedures and statuses read our article where we explain in detail on differences between a residence permit, permanent residence, and citizenship.

Method 1

Spanish citizenship after obtaining a residence permit by investment

It is not possible to immediately obtain a passport by investment: the applicant first receives a temporary residence permit and then a permanent residence permit. After ten years, they can apply for a Spanish passport.

This method is suitable for wealthy people who want to move to Spain or travel around the EU without a visa with the whole family.

First stage: residence permit. In Spain, you can get a residence permit in exchange for investment: a golden visa. The applicant invests money in the country’s economy, passes the Due Diligence check and complies with the terms of the program; in returnhey receive a residence permit under a simplified procedure.

The Spanish golden visa program offers several investment options to choose from:

  • buy residential or commercial real estate or land for €500,000;

  • purchase government bonds for €2,000,000;

  • invest €1,000,000 in Spanish companies;

  • place €1,000,000 in a deposit account in a Spanish bank.

Purchasing real estate is the most popular option. Although all options for obtaining a residence permit in Spain allow most of the initial investment to be returned to the investor over time, the option of buying a home remains the most popular option, as it also helps the investor maintain the value of the money they originally invested.

A residence permit is initially issued for a year, then extended twice for 2 years. During this period, the investor needs to spend just 7 days a year in Spain. After 5 years, the property can be sold and the investment returned.

Valid for 1 year

Residence permit

After 1 year

First extension of the residence permit

After 3 years

Second extension of the residence permit

After 5 years

The property can be sold and most of the investment recovered

In order to maintain the residence permit and apply for citizenship, the investor must buy or rent a property. However, there are no requirements regarding the value or rent of this property.

There is no obligation on the investor to obtain Spanish citizenship: they can continue to live in Spain by extending their residence permit if they prefer.

Worth considering the Spain Golden Visa? View the video for answers

Second stage: permanent residence. After 5 years, the investor can obtain a permanent residence permit. This gives almost the same rights as citizenship. The holder can live in Spain without any restrictions: they are allowed to work, do business, and get an education. They can also stay in other EU countries for up to 90 days without registration or obtain a permanent residence permit by using a simplified procedure.

The main requirement for obtaining permanent residence is to have lived permanently in Spain for 5 years before submitting the application. Additionally, the applicant will need a valid medical insurance policy, proof of financial independence through a legal and documented source of income, and documents confirming ownership of real estate or a rental agreement. When issuing a residence permit, the authorities also check that the applicant is law-abiding and is in the process of integrating into Spanish society.

Permanent residence can be maintained for life. It must be renewed every 5 years.

Stage three: citizenship. 5 years after receiving permanent residence, the holder can apply for Spanish citizenship. They will need to have lived continuously in the country for the 10 years preceding the application, be integrated into Spanish society and know Spanish.

All close family members of the investor can be included in the application. Candidates who have continuously complied with the terms and conditions of the application after obtaining a residence permit are granted citizenship by the government department.

Pros of Spanish citizenship by investment

  1. Quick processing of the residence permit: within 2 or 3 months. The right to live in the country indefinitely.

  2. The close family members of the main applicant can also immediately get a residence permit.

  3. The terms and conditions for getting a residence permit are less stringent: applicants do not need to take any exams or tests.

  4. The investor and the family members included in the application immediately get the opportunity to travel around the Schengen countries without visas, educate their children in European universities, and open accounts in European banks.

  5. All investment options allow most of the initial investment to be returned. No additional contributions are required.

  6. After 5 years as a permanent residence card holder, you can legally work and do business in Spain.

Cons of Spanish citizenship by investment

  1. The applicant needs to live permanently in the country for 10 years without leaving it for more than 6 months in a year.

  2. Foreigners resident in Spain are not allowed to work there for the first 5 years of residence.

  3. The property must be owned for at least 5 years.

  4. In most cases, you have to renounce the citizenship of your country of origin, as Spain does not allow dual or second citizenship with most countries.
    Only citizens of France, Portugal, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and a number of Latin American countries are allowed to keep their citizenship after getting Spanish citizenship.

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    Will you obtain a Spain Golden Visa?

Method 2

Spanish citizenship by naturalization

Naturalization consists of the same stages as the path for an investor with a golden visa. To obtain citizenship, the applicant first needs to obtain a residence permit followed by a permanent residence permit. The whole process takes at least 10 years. The main difference is that the requirements are stricter; for example, regarding integrating into society.

The naturalization process is more complicated than citizenship by investment:

  • during the entire application period, the applicant needs to constantly confirm the specific purpose of their stay in Spain, for example, work or study;

  • the applicant’s spouse and children will need to obtain separate permits;

  • as there is strong demand for Spanish residence permits, the government limits applications by setting an annual quota. As a result, the process can take much longer than 10 years to complete.


Foreigners can acquire Spanish citizenship through naturalization. Applicants must legally reside in the country for more than 10 years

Option 3

Spanish citizenship for family reunification

The path related to family reunification begins with a Spanish residence permit. This means that family members, for example, the spouse of a Spanish citizen, their parents, and the children that they have in common, can obtain a residence permit by special permission without being restricted by the quota set by the government.

Different documents can be used to confirm kinship. For example, the applicant’s spouse will need a marriage registration certificate or a civil partnership agreement. Elderly parents need to prove their financial dependence on the main applicant: for example, 12 months of money transfer receipts.

The family members included in the application may also apply for citizenship. Usually, after 10 years of continuous life in the country. For the spouse and children of a Spanish citizen, this period is shorter: up to 1 year.

You are also eligible to apply for a passport if you have a close relative who is a Spanish citizen.

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Spain

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Spain

Method 4

Spanish citizenship by origin or choice

The “right of blood” applies in Spain. This means that a child is considered to be of Spanish origin in the following circumstances:

  • at least one of the parents has Spanish citizenship;

  • one of the parents was born in Spain;

  • the child is adopted by a Spanish citizen.

Adult foreigners can also apply for Spanish citizenship if they meet these conditions. This option is called citizenship by choice.

Only in rare cases does the "law of the soil" apply. For example, if a child was born in the country and their parents are unknown.

Method 5

Spanish citizenship through marriage

After marriage, citizenship can be obtained after a couple lives together for a year in Spain. It is important to be in the country legally, based on a valid visa or residence permit.

This rule also applies to widows and widowers if they were living together at the time of death.

Citizenship can be obtained within a year if you live in the country permanently.

Method 6

Spanish citizenship based on guardianship

A person who is under the guardianship of citizens or institutions of Spain is eligible to become a citizen. They need to continuously live in the country for just one year instead of the standard 10 years.

The main requirement is that the guardianship must have started at least 2 years prior to the application for citizenship.

Advantages of Spanish citizenship

All these methods give the same rights and obligations as for any other citizen of Spain. As the country is part of the European Union, a Spanish passport is also a pan-European one. This offers additional benefits for Spanish citizens:

Spanish citizenship by origin

The historic Center of Toledo is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site

The easiest way to get Spanish citizenship

The two main ways of getting Spanish citizenship are through naturalization or by investment. A Spanish passport can be obtained by a person who has permanently lived in the country for 10 years and complies with its laws. Applying for citizenship by investment makes the procedure simpler and significantly reduces the risk of rejection. The rest of the methods depend on specific individual circumstances and are suitable only in certain circumstances.

Immigrant Invest’s lawyers will help you determine if Spanish citizenship is right for you and also discuss alternatives.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the European Union and the Caribbean.

Ultimate comparison of Golden Visa programs

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Frequently asked questions

  • Why do foreigners choose Spain for immigration?

    The main reasons why foreigners choose to live in Spain are that it has a warm climate, a stable economy, and a high level of income and security, as well as excellent educational institutions and medical systems.

  • How can I get Spanish citizenship?

    Spanish citizenship can be obtained by naturalization, by origin, for family reunification, through marriage, by guardianship, and by the state-registered residence permit by investment program. It is important to take into consideration that Spain does not recognize second citizenship with most countries. Therefore, in order to obtain a Spanish passport, a foreign citizen usually has to renounce citizenship of their country of origin. Naturalization. Any foreigner can apply, but the state does not guarantee granting citizenship. The process takes at least 10 years: first a foreigner receives a D visa, then a residence permit, followed by permanent residence, and only then can they apply for citizenship. At the same time, they must fulfill the requirements for living in the country and pass exams on their knowledge of the Spanish language and history. Family reunification. Citizenship can be obtained by close relatives of those who live in Spain:

    1. Spouse of a Spanish citizen.

    2. Children of a Spanish citizen.

    3. Children of foreign pensioners who have been living in Spain with a residence permit or permanent residence for at least 5 years.

    Origin. Children who were born in Spain can receive citizenship under the following circumstances:

    1. One of their parents was born in the country or has Spanish citizenship.

    2. Their parents have lived for at least 1 year in Spain based on a residence permit.

    Marriage to a Spanish citizen. If the applicant’s spouse has Spanish citizenship, they can apply for a Spanish passport after 1 year of living together. Moreover, during this one year period, the spouse must live in Spain based on a residence permit or a valid visa. Guardianship. If the guardian or adoptive parent of the applicant is a Spanish citizen or a guardian organization, the child can be granted citizenship after 2 years of being in the care of their Spanish guardian. Residence permit by investment. In Spain, there is a state sponsored residence permit by investment program, the golden residence permit program. A foreign applicant invests in the Spanish economy and receives a temporary residence permit. Subject to the conditions of the program, after 5 years they are issued a permanent residence permit, and then after another 5 years they can apply for citizenship. The minimum investment amount is €500,000. Registration takes about 2 months.

  • What are the benefits of Spanish citizenship?

    With Spanish citizenship, you get the same rights as an EU citizen. A Spanish passport offers the opportunity to travel freely around the world and visit more than 159 countries, including the Schengen states. With a Spanish passport, you can live, work and study in any EU country. Citizenship is issued indefinitely. However, your Spanish citizenship can be revoked for providing false information in the application, if you enter military service or apply for a political position in another country, or for any serious crime.

  • How is Spanish citizenship issued for participants of the residence permit by investment program?

    The path to Spanish citizenship begins through the golden residence permit by investment program. The investor can receive a residence permit within two months. First they must choose one of the program’s investment options in Spain. The most popular way to invest is by buying property in Spain for at least €500,000. A residence permit, and eventually, citizenship, can be obtained not only by the investor but also his close family members, who can be included in the same application. The second stage on the path to Spanish citizenship is obtaining a permanent residence permit. You can get permanent residence after 5 years of living in Spain. During this period you cannot leave Spain for more than 183 days in a year. At the same time, you must show an interest in integrating into the local society, learn and improve your Spanish language skills, and pay the taxes you owe. Permanent residence also gives you the right to work in Spain. After another 5 years, or 10 years after the date of issue of your first residence permit card, you can apply for Spanish citizenship, together with any other family members included in your residence application. If all the conditions related to maintaining your residence permits are met, the local authorities will accept your application without any additional requests. However, note that as Spain does not recognize second citizenship with most countries, you will usually have to renounce citizenship of your country of origin on being granted Spanish citizenship.

  • What are the benefits for those who obtain Spanish citizenship through a residence permit by investment?

    The main advantages of obtaining Spanish citizenship by first participating in the residence permit by investment program are that the application is processed quickly and there is a higher probability of approval compared to applying for citizenship through naturalization. The Spanish authorities first issue a residence permit and then citizenship as long as the investor complies with all the conditions of the golden residence permit program. The investor needs to maintain this residence permit for 10 years before they can apply for citizenship.