Dual Citizenship Spain: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you navigating the process of securing dual citizenship in Spain? This guide cuts through the complexities, providing a clear path to understanding how to gain Spanish dual citizenship.
April 5, 2024
Dean Fankhauser
April 5, 2024

Are you navigating the process of securing dual citizenship in Spain? This guide cuts through the complexities, providing a clear path to understanding how to gain Spanish dual citizenship, whether you’re benefiting from international agreements or leveraging your Spanish ancestry. Here’s what you’ll need to know about the doors this status opens, the barriers you may face, and the essential steps to achieving dual citizenship in Spain.

Key Takeaways

  • Spain offers dual citizenship with specific nations, granting individuals benefits such as free movement within the EU, which come paired with responsibilities like tax obligations in both countries.
  • Eligibility for Spanish dual citizenship includes legal residency, a clean criminal record, and passing language and cultural knowledge tests, with specific provisions for those with Spanish ancestry or from countries with dual citizenship agreements.
  • With a typical processing time of two to three years, the application process entails language proficiency tests, a lengthy list of documents, and payment of fees. After approval, an oath of allegiance is then required.

Understanding Dual Citizenship in Spain

Illustration of two passports, symbolizing dual citizenship

Dual citizenship, also known as dual nationality, provides a liberty akin to possessing two keycards to different rooms. You are legally linked to two countries, able to access the benefits of both while adhering to the laws of the country where you are currently residing. Just like wearing two hats, you switch depending on the location or activity.

However, the scenario changes significantly when one of these identities is Spanish. Dual citizenship in Spain opens doors to a wealth of opportunities, from free movement within the European Union to an enviable healthcare system. But it’s not without its challenges, including tax obligations in both countries.

The Legal Framework

Spain’s legal framework for dual citizenship allows dual citizenship with the following countries and groups:

  • Iberian nations
  • Spanish-American countries
  • Andorra
  • The Philippines
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Portugal
  • Sephardic Jews and their descendants

Therefore, if your origins lie in any of these countries, you have the option to pursue Spanish citizenship without forsaking your original nationality. It’s like having a free pass to two worlds, each offering unique opportunities for growth, exploration, and connection.

Benefits and Challenges

Possessing Spanish dual citizenship equates to having a VIP pass, granting access to over 150 countries. You get to enjoy visa-free travel for tourism or business, a privilege that isn’t extended to many countries. Additionally, the sweet allure of family unity is even more tangible as you can easily transmit nationality to your children or direct relatives.

However, as with every rose, there are thorns. Double nationality may face the following challenges:

  • Tax obligations exist in both Spain and their country of origin, which calls for careful tax planning
  • Potential for complex allegiances and legal obligations, especially during political unrest or conflict between the two nations
  • Renouncing their original nationality, which might be a significant emotional and legal challenge,.

Eligibility Criteria for Spanish Dual Citizenship

Illustration of a person studying for Spanish language test

What are the obstacles on your path to achieving Spanish citizenship? The eligibility criteria for Spanish dual citizenship is a gatekeeper. From legal residency to sufficient economic resources and a clean criminal record, these are the prerequisites that you need to meet.

For those seeking citizenship through marriage, living legally in Spain for one year and passing the Spanish nationality exam are additional milestones to conquer. However, the path to Spanish citizenship continues. Let’s delve deeper into the specific eligibility criteria based on dual citizenship agreements and Spanish ancestry.

Countries with Dual Citizenship Agreements

As we mentioned earlier, Spain has dual citizenship agreements with several countries, including many Latin American country. These agreements are like bridges, connecting Spain to countries like:

  • Argentina
  • France
  • Uruguay
  • Costa Rica
  • Peru
  • El Salvador
  • Andorra
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Bolivia
  • Ecuador
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Venezuela
  • Chile
  • Colombia

In addition to these, Spain has extended its arms to nationals from:

  • Andorra
  • the Philippines
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Portugal
  • Sephardic Jews and their descendants

These individuals, who are Spanish citizens, can obtain Spanish dual citizenship, maintaining it alongside their home country’s citizenship, making the journey to Spanish citizenship a bit less burdensome.

Spanish Ancestry and Descent

Illustration of a family tree with Spanish flag, depicting Spanish ancestry and descent

If your family tree has Spanish roots, then you’re in luck. Spanish citizenship by descent is available for individuals with a Spanish national parent or grandparent, or those affected by the Grandchildren’s Law. This law serves as a beacon of hope for descendants of Spaniards who left Spain due to historical political unrest.

However, you must provide evidence of Spanish ancestry to support your claim to Spanish citizenship by descent. This can include documentation like birth certificates showing that parents or grandparents were Spanish nationals or formal recognition through genetic testing. On top of this, you need to fulfill additional criteria, such as legal residence in Spain for at least two years and passing Spanish language and culture tests.

Application Process for Spanish Dual Citizenship

Having determined your eligibility and equipped yourself for the journey, you can now commence the application process. Applications for Spanish dual citizenship can be submitted online through the Spanish government’s SEDE electrónica platform or in person at a civil registry.

However, your path doesn’t end at this point. Passing the DELE A2 Spanish language exam and the CCSE test on Spanish social and cultural knowledge are crucial milestones to cross. And along with these, you need to present essential documents like a current passport, birth certificate, proof of legal residence in Spain, and a criminal background check to complete your Spanish language test requirements.

Required Tests and Exams

Illustration of a person taking the DELE A2 Spanish language exam

Securing Spanish dual citizenship isn’t solely about meeting eligibility criteria and providing documentation; it also necessitates knowledge and language proficiency. The DELE A2 and CCSE citizenship tests are mandatory milestones on your journey to Spanish dual citizenship. These tests assess your proficiency in the Spanish language and your knowledge of the Spanish constitution and cultural practices.

Even if you’re over the age of 65, you may have to pass a language skills assessment. So, whether you’re young or old, brushing up on your Spanish language skills and knowledge of Spanish culture is a must.

Necessary Documents

Paperwork is an inevitable part of any application process, and Spanish dual citizenship is no different. Along with your current passport and birth certificate, you’ll need to provide the following documents:

  • Foreigner Identity Number (NIE)
  • Proof of legal residence in Spain
  • Criminal background check
  • Health insurance
  • Certificates of marital status, if applicable.

For U.S citizens, the process can vary, with potential requirements including a birth certificate, passport, and an affidavit of good conduct when born in Spain or after residing there for a specific period. Remember, any incorrect or improperly prepared documentation can lead to your citizenship application being rejected or delayed, so it’s crucial to get it right the first time.

Application Submission

Having compiled all the necessary documents and prepared for the exams, you are now ready to submit your application. This can be done online using the Spanish government’s SEDE electrónica or in person at a civil registry. If you’re in Spain, you can submit your application for Spanish citizenship by descent at the Central Civil Registry.

For those outside of Spain, the Spanish consulate in your country can handle your application. And don’t forget to submit proof of payment for the required tax along with your application to avoid additional requests for payment and potential delays in the process.

Costs and Processing Times

Acquiring Spanish citizenship involves certain costs. The base fee to apply for Spanish citizenship typically ranges from €60 to €100, but this can increase due to costs for certificates and essential documents. Be prepared for these costs and plan your budget accordingly to avoid any surprises.

When it comes to processing times, patience is key. Applications for Spanish citizenship typically take up to twelve months. However, delays can occur due to administrative inaction, known as ‘silencio administrativo’, potentially stretching the process beyond twelve months.

Application Fees

The application fee for Spanish dual citizenship is a non-negotiable part of the process. Depending on your route to citizenship, it typically ranges from €60 to €100. You must pay the application fee upfront and provide proof of this payment when submitting your application documents.

Remember, all application fees for Spanish dual citizenship are non-refundable, regardless of the outcome of the application process. So, cross your t’s and dot your i’s before you hit the submit button.

Processing Timeframes

The journey to becoming a Spanish citizen is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Processing times for Spanish citizenship applications generally range from 2 to 3 years.

Delays can cause applications to be refused due to administrative inaction, known as ‘silencio administrativo’, potentially stretching the process beyond twelve months. However, don’t let this discourage you. Keep your eyes on the prize, and your dream of becoming a Spanish citizen will soon become a reality.

Post-Approval Requirements and Responsibilities

Kudos! Your approval for Spanish citizenship has been granted. But before you start celebrating, there are a few more steps to take. Becoming a Spanish citizen necessitates taking an oath of allegiance as a formal and mandatory act, following approval.

This oath includes a commitment to respect the Spanish constitution, the king, and the legal system, which are all integral parts of the Spanish government. And remember, you must fulfill this oath of allegiance within 180 days from receiving notification of your nationality approval. Failure to do so could result in your file being archived and the loss of the opportunity to become a Spanish citizen.

Oath of Allegiance

Illustration of a person taking an oath, symbolizing the oath of allegiance

The oath of allegiance is more than just a formality. It’s your commitment to Spain and its values. Once your application for Spanish dual citizenship is accepted, you have a six-month window to swear this oath of allegiance to the King of Spain and officially register your new status in the Spanish Civil Register.

Whether you choose a religiously-affirmed sworn oath or a secular promise, both hold the same legal standing. The oath of allegiance is conducted at the Civil Registry of your registration, but it can also be administered before a notary or at a Spanish consulate if you’re outside Spain.

Dual Citizenship Maintenance

Becoming a Spanish citizen is not just a one-time achievement; it’s a lifelong commitment. To acquire Spanish nationality and maintain dual citizenship, one must make use of their Spanish citizenship within three years. Obtaining Spanish citizenship is a process that requires dedication and persistence.

Continuous use of Spanish nationality can be demonstrated by holding a Spanish passport and using it for international travel. If you’re a Spanish citizen living abroad, remember to register with the nearest Spanish consulate to keep your connection with the Spanish state active.

Potential Issues and Solutions

Like any significant life decision, the pursuit of Spanish dual citizenship brings its own challenges. From legal consultation costs to thorough due diligence and varying processing times, these issues can add complexity to the application process.

However, with the right guidance and preparation, these issues can be overcome. Seeking legal advice, ensuring accurate documentation, and understanding the process can help you navigate these potential challenges with ease.

Application Rejections

Despite your diligent endeavors, there might be instances where your application for Spanish citizenship gets rejected. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including criminal records, failure to respond to requests for additional information, or administrative inaction.

But don’t lose heart. If your application is rejected, you can file an administrative appeal with the issuing body within one month from the date of the rejection decision. You can make these appeals directly to the Ministry of Justice or the Spanish consulate closest to you.

And always remember, it’s advisable to seek legal advice when dealing with the Spanish nationality appeal process, as it may involve understanding specific aspects of the Spanish Civil Code.

Renouncing Previous Nationality

Securing Spanish dual citizenship might necessitate difficult decisions, such as forgoing your previous nationality. This is typically required for countries outside of Iberian and Spanish-American agreements, and it can pose both emotional and legal challenges.

Renouncing citizenship can lead to the loss of certain rights, such as the right to live and work in your country of origin, and it may affect your eligibility for government programs. Some countries may even mandate the renunciation of other citizenships, complicating the maintenance of your dual or multiple citizenship status. While this can indeed be a significant hurdle, it’s essential to weigh the benefits and challenges before making a decision.


In conclusion, acquiring Spanish dual citizenship is a journey filled with various steps and procedures, from understanding the concept of dual citizenship to navigating the application process and maintaining your new status. While the journey can be challenging, the rewards of Spanish citizenship are truly worth the effort. So, arm yourself with the right information, prepare yourself for the journey, and soon, you’ll be able to call Spain your second home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a U.S. citizen get dual citizenship in Spain?

Yes, a U.S. citizen can obtain dual citizenship in Spain after being a resident of Spain for at least two years and applying for it.

Which EU countries allow dual citizenship?

Several EU countries allow dual citizenship, including Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Latvia, and Lithuania, only in exceptional cases. If you are considering obtaining dual citizenship, you may explore the options available in these countries.

What is the new law in Spain for citizenship?

The new law in Spain, known as the Grandchildren's Law, allows the children or grandchildren of emigrants with Spanish nationality to apply for Spanish citizenship. This law has been in effect since October 2022.

How do I get Spanish citizenship?

The easiest way to obtain Spanish citizenship is through naturalization, which requires at least 10 years of legal residence in Spain, while marriage or civil union provides a faster alternative.

What tests and exams are required for the application process?

To apply for citizenship, you will need to pass the DELE A2 Spanish language exam and the CCSE test on Spanish social and cultural knowledge.

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