Brexit: How to Get Your Spanish Citizenship (EU Passport)

Update 27.6.2016: We are preparing a special article to tackle all questions related to Brexit. Tune back in at the end of the week!

Update 29.6.2016: Worried about how Brexit will affect YOU? How Brexit Might Affect British Expats in Spain – we’ll be answering all Brexit-related questions here!

Thinking of applying for your Spanish citizenship? If you’ve been here long enough on your work residency, there are many reasons to consider becoming Spanish. Citizenship allows you to participate in Spain’s national elections and gives you easy access to the rest of the European Union. So here is some key info on how to get your Spanish citizenship (EU passport).

How long does it take to acquire Spanish citizenship? Brexit

getting Spanish nationality

You need to be 18 years old (mayor de edad) to qualify for citizenship, unless your legal guardians are able to assist you, in which case you can start the procedure at age 14. Then, things will be different depending on your situation:

  • If you are reading this article written in English, you most likely have a passport from a country that does not have Spanish/Portuguese as its official language. In that case, your wait will be 10 years. (Except for the Philippines and Andorra, even though these countries have official languages that are not Spanish/Portuguese: see below.)
  • If you are a refugee in Spain, then your wait will be 5 years.
  • However, you might be from or have the passport from a country whose official language includes Spanish and/or Portuguese (all Ibero-American countries including Brazil [note: countries such as Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and others from the region whose official language is not Spanish/Portuguese are not included in the list], or other former Spanish colonies or territories with historical ties with Spain such as the Philippines (where Spanish is no longer the official language), Puerto Rico (whose residents are technically US citizens with US passports), Andorra (whose official language is Catalan), Portugal, Equatorial Guinea or if you are of Sephardic Jewish descent (of any nationality—be prepared, though, to prove it with your genealogical tree, Iberian surname, Judaeo-Spanish [Ladino] language competency, your parents’ or your own ketubah, etc.—the more the better!). In that case, your wait will be 2 years.
  • If you’ve been married to a Spanish citizen for more than a year, your wait will be 1 year.
  • If you were born in Spain to foreign citizen(s), abroad to Spanish citizen(s), or adopted by Spanish citizens, your wait will be 1 year upon reaching adulthood.
  • Speak Spanish! Yes, it might sound strange and all… but if you want to be Spanish, speak Spanish. Also, integrate yourself into the Spanish society by knowing who the current President or the King is, and other aspects of life in Spain. This may be especially important if you’re eligible for the citizenship after a year or 2 of residency but you’re not from a Spanish-speaking country or background. Also, if you live in an autonomous community with another official language (Catalan, Basque or Galician), be prepared to know some basics as you might be quizzed on these languages as well.
  • Please remember, residencia legal y continuada (legal and continued residency) will be required for you to be eligible, which means you cannot be out of the country for too long (more than 6 months per year). You must also note that estancia por estudios, investigación o formación (prolonged stay as a student, researcher or an intern; legally, it’s not ‘residency’ in Spain, it’s just a long-stay visa) is not considered a proper residencia and your years here as a student or an intern will not be taken into consideration when applying.
  • Also important is that you need all documents in languages other than Spanish (or one of the official languages of the autonomous community) be translated and legalized. You’ll most likely need an Apostille of the Hague (or, if your country does not subscribe to said convention, such as Canada, you need to legalize it through the Spanish consulate in your country) on all your foreign documents, and have a traducción jurada (certified translation) produced in Spain.

Can I have dual/multiple citizenship?

Conseguir la doble nacionalidad

Yes and no.

Yes. The persons eligible would include the passport holders of the following countries/ regions/ circumstances with special agreements with the Spanish government: Latin American countries including Brazil, Sephardic descendants and others from the former Spanish colonies including the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Puerto Rico.

No. If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you must renounce your former citizenship to the Spanish authorities (usually not to the authorities of your home country so you won’t really lose your original citizenship—there’s certainly a legal leeway; however, we do not endorse cheating the authorities under any circumstances and we’re not responsible for your actions—, but it’ll really depend on how strict your home country is) and use your newly acquired Spanish nationality actively (entering and leaving the EU with the Spanish passport, voting in elections whether you’re in Spain or abroad, and registering yourself at the Spanish consulate when abroad).

What are the benefits?

moving to europe

  • You can live and work in any part of the EU and the EEA (that would cover most of Western Europe including the UK, Norway, Switzerland and other microstates such as Andorra and Liechtenstein) without any restrictions.
  • You can be outside the country for an indefinite period of time without worrying about not being able to return later.
  • You can vote and participate in Spanish and other European elections.

What are the disadvantages?

  • You may lose your original nationality if your country has no special agreement with Spain. That is fine if you have no intention of returning to your home country to live or work, or if your home country has an easy procedure for you to reclaim your nationality later should you regret your decision.
  • You are not exempt from special duties imposed upon the citizens, such as joining the mesa electoral (electoral council) when chosen (randomly) to be one of the members, or joining the mandatory military service (which was suspended in 2001, but if it ever comes back for some reason, as a citizen you will be expected to participate).

These are just a few pointers that may be subject to change, so make sure to check the Ministerio de Justicia website regularly, or consult a lawyer. If you’re lost or cannot find English speaking lawyers, our friends at SpainGuru can give you legal advice, and if you need traducción jurada (certified translation), our friends at Rodmell House can also help you!

More useful posts on living and moving to Spain:

Don’t forget!

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96 Responses

  1. Lauren says:

    HI, Thanks for the informative article.
    Do you know how long it takes to get Spanish nationality if I do Pareja de hecho as a Chilean? (I have dual citizenship Chile/American) Does PDH count towards nationality? I knew PDH doesn’t count as marriage so assuming the 1 year to get nationality doesn’t apply. Thanks for any info you have!

  2. Brian Skyum says:

    Hi James
    It feels great to have new hopes after reading this. I am a World yravel adventure photographer on from Denmark who marry a filipina this summer. Its almost impossible to travel the world with one of our pasports being filipino. So after I sold my resort in Thailand we would like to buy a house and a yacht in Spain and apply for spanish residency for her, and then after 2 years apply for citizenship. I speak fluent spanish and can teach her. But we read that due to massive numbers of applications the waiting time is years before an approval. What is it right now? And can the fact that I am rich help in any way. I can buy property for 500.000€ but prefer not to. Would greatly appreciate your answer.
    Thank you and best regards

  3. Rose says:

    Hello I’m filipino citizen and filipino passport.i have a danish boyfriend and we plan to buy a house in spain is there possible to apply a recedince and to get a passport there?
    1.I want to know if how long it take to become a recedince?
    2.How long is to get the passport? i need to go out in the country if my visa expired while I’m applying a recedince.
    4.what requirements they need.
    5. Can I apply a recedince in spain with my tourist visa or do i need to go back in Philippines.
    Thank youand looking forward to your advice..

  4. Tony Mathew says:

    Hai, I am an indian and like to get Spain or Italian citizenship so please advise what I have to do and where I can give the application.

  5. Hormidas Calegio says:

    I am a filipina living in uk.My uk visa ran out a while ago so I am technically an overstayer. I wish to relocate to spain. Reading the above it seems that I may enter spain using my philippines pasport. But will I need a visa to enter spain? If so, would the fact that my uk visa has run out be a problem please?

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:


      I believe you can enter Spain without a problem (as long as you have your passport), however, I am not sure what the situation with your visa and citizenship would be. You might want to ask the Philippines embassy in UK. 🙂

      • SpainGuru says:

        Actually she should ask the Spanish embassy/consulate in the UK or wherever she is at the moment. The Philippines embassy would only deal with visas to the Philippines.
        Filipinos DO need a visa for Spain, even for tourism. If you are applying for a new visa to Spain, overstaying your visa in the UK shouldn’t be an issue because it’s not in the Schengen Area. It’s possible you could face a fine or other consequences from the UK upon your departure, though, if they notice that you overstayed.

  6. Wendy says:

    I am worried now the Uk has voted out of the EU! What will happen to the likes of me who have lived and worked in Spain (in my case Lanzarote for 14 years.

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:

      HHey Wendy! We understand the concerns as many of our own employees are British. From what we know, nothing’s been finalised yet as the Brexit “leave” campaign didn’t have an actual plan of action – they’re in the process of doing so now, which is why it’ll take at least 2 years for anything to take place. What I would suggest is to start gathering all necessary documents and as soon as they make a finalised decision, take immediate action (we all know how long it takes to sort out any kind of paperwork in Spain..).

      Let’s hope for the best possible outcome.

    • SpainGuru says:

      As Mandy said, it’s far too early to tell. Spain hasn’t left the EU yet. The people expressed their will, but nothing will happen until a law is passed by Parliament. When/if that law is passed, it’s still unknown whether it will have any impact on the free movement of labour between the UK and the EU. In any case, most likely there will be no serious consequences for people who are already established Spanish residents. There may be an impact on people who want to move from the UK to an EU country in the future, but even that is unknown at this point. Note that, as described in this article, you can apply for Spanish citizenship if you like, since you have lived in Spain for more than 10 years. Becoming a Spanish citizen should not have any impact on your British citizenship if you were born in the UK, so it might be something to consider.

  7. Ok, here’s an obvious one. I’m a native UK citizen. I always assumed that a life in Spain could be taken for granted since both nations are EEA members. This is likely to change following recent events. Any idea if there are any action I need to be going through during the EU/EEA exit process to simplify this process?

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:

      Hey Andrew! Unfortunately as none of the Brexit plans were finalised yet (go figure, right?!), we don’t know. During the 2 years, a lot of new laws will take place and all I could suggest is to wait and see what the finalised decision is and then take immediate action.

  8. Stuart Randall says:

    Have been here years got first residence in 1986,my wife and I are pensioners plus my wife has a serious illness and cannot fly.We are on fixed incomes so private medical could be problem.Yes changes after the exit period will for sure cause problems.Laws may even change rapidly yet I just have faith in the Spanish Government.So as was said no need to panic,be positive.
    We will now apply for Spanish passports not because of the the but just we feel happy secure and fortunate to live here

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:

      Hey Stuart! I wish you the very best of luck. I agree, this wasn’t a smart move on their part and it’ll leave many people anxious until the final verdicts will take place.

  9. Sarah Clark says:

    We live in Spain, my 9 year old son was born here but is British through me, his father recently gained Spanish nationality as he is South American. I believe my son will easily get a Spanish passport through his father but will he still be able to keep his British passport without problems? I am also considering it but need to look into the pros and cons. My main doubt really is the dual nationality issue.

  10. Sarah says:

    I am willing to study in Spain next year ( so I want to get the student visa )
    you said that I have to spend 10 years in spain.
    So I wanted to ask you if the years that I stay there on student visa count or not?
    thanks …

  11. Ann Green says:

    We are pensioners and my husband does not speak Spanish very well but I do. If I applied for Spanish citizenship would that mean that my husband would automatically become Spanish as well.

  12. jp says:

    I am an indian, want to get spain immigration. Kindly info at the earliest. Jp

  13. Tony says:

    I have been married to my Spanish wife for 27 years would I still have to wait the 1 year before getting a passport.

  14. Kind says:

    Your 27yrs marriage to a spanish count only if you have resident in spain. If not move to spain and get resident there for 1yr then you can apply for nationality of spain

  15. Kind says:

    Student visa in spain does not count as a resident that lead to nationality in spain

    • Anatol says:

      Where did you receive this information?

      As I am thinking of obtaining a master degree in Barcelona and marrying my fiance who is a Spanish Citizenship next year. If I enter Spain using a Student VISA, will I be able to use that time living in Spain as a student to apply for citizenship after living for one year? Or should we get married and then go to school?

      P.S. I am currently applying for a master program in Barcelona.

  16. Hi! My grandmother was Spanish. I was born and have lived in the UK all my life. I would like to obtain a Spanish passport. Is this possible?

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:

      Hi Michael, from my understanding, you would have to go through the same procedure as described above in the article – I’m guessing you don’t have a dual citizenship?

  17. tanvir says:

    hi i am bangladeshi. i want to go spain .
    . how i will get visa? plz anybody help me.

  18. tanvir says:

    hi. i want a visa. plz anybody help me..

  19. Sean says:

    I have read this article and also the posted messages and would like to offer you all the benefit of my knowledge and experience.My wife is Colombian
    and my two children are both British and Irish citizens and we live in Spain.In 2014 I took the British government to the European Court of Justice (case c-202-13)
    for voilation of our rights and won and compelled the UK to change the law.
    First I will deal with all Brits and other EU citizens living in Spain and those who have lived here for many years.If you followed the law and registered as EU citizens
    exercising your free movement rights as per EU Directive 2004/38 you will be in possession of a Spanish issued residence card and any non EU family member
    will have a Spanish issued EU family members residency card( valid for 5 years issued under Article 10 EU38) which is issued after 90 days residence in Spain.After five years residence you will apply for a permanent residence card and you will then be a permanent resident card (issued under Article 20/EU38)and you cannot loose it only if you are found guilty of serious criminal behaviour.Once you have the permanent residency card you do not need private medical insurance and you have all the wrights and privileges the same as Spanish citizens.
    For all EU citizens married to non EU’s better known officially as TCN’s ( this includes James that rich wanderer above) this is your position.You have a right under
    Directive EU 38/2004 to live in Spain and also your wife(partner) but must register and show that you are working or self supporting and have private medical insurance for the first five years.The EU family residency card allows your spouse or partner who is Non EU to travel visa free to any other member state including
    Norway and Switzerland. Anyone who is here illegally because you have failed to register you need to do so and the first step is to go to your local Town Hall and register and they will issue you with a residency certificate. You then have to fill out the EU citizen application form and make an appointment at the appropriate
    police station to submit it and have your finger prints taken.Your non EU family member will have to do the same but will have to make the application to the Regional Immigration Office.It is all very easy and straight forward once you follow the correct steps and the EU citizen will get his/her card immediately from the
    Police and the TCN member will have to wate about three months before the card is issued but no more than 6 months because that is the maximun time allowed under the regulation.As for getting Spanish Nationality goes,this is not as simple as people think as the integration test introduced since early 2016 is extremely hard
    and the questions are what the Judge who interviews you wants to ask you.The two year rules for some applicants simply means you can make your application
    after two years but from start to finish it is a minimum of 4 to 5 years. As far as the UK leaving the EU my advise is to take it all with a pinch of salt as there is no way out of the four principles which includes Free Movement anyone who doubts me please log on to the House of Commons select treasury committee three hour debate and you will have all doubts removed .I hope this post will be of assistance to you all and i wish you all good luck.

  20. Trisha ferrus says:

    Hi, I was born in England, my mother was born in Valencia, Spain and father is English.
    I live in England and have a British passport but I would like to apply for a Spanish passport and for my two daughters as well.
    How does it stand now after Brexit ? Is it possible?

  21. Kristine says:


    I am a Filipino passport holder but married to a Spanish man. I am now living in Spain and have a permanent residency under Reunion Familiar.
    I would like to clarify about the qualifications, would it mean – 1 year of marriage plus 1 year of residency. Did I understand it correctly?
    I have heard thay they have implemented that the applicants will need to take an exam. Is this true? Would this be applicable to me also?

  22. Sachin hotkar says:

    Hi am an Indian and I am getting married to Spanish citizens and we are planing to work in u k .. I just want to know that I can work in uk with her .. And how long it will take to work there and what kind of visa i have to apply. Pls help me Warm regards. Sachin

  23. tony says:

    I’m non EU citizen and want to get married to Spanish citizen. What requirements do I need to apply for Spanish citizenship and how long will it take me to get the passport?

  24. Joy says:

    Hi how long does nationality take to come out because I have apply for my since 1year and 8 months now Africa living in Spain married to Spanish for 7year thanks

  25. Don Pelayo says:

    My father was born in Spain, but is not longer a citizen. He is just a citizen of the United States at this point. My mother is a dual citizen of Chile and the United States.
    All 4 of my grandparents were born in Spain, and the two still alive are dual citizens of Spain and the United States.

    How would I go about becoming a dual citizen? Would it be easier for my father to get his citizenship back, and then apply after or could I apply now?

  26. Lisa says:

    Iam9 years Living in Spain with my larga duration . Can i Apple For My cetizenship

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:

      Hi Lisa, technically you need to spend 10 years in Spain before you can apply for your citizenship, but I would suggest consulting with your embassy since the situation might be different for each individual.

  27. Fazil Malik says:


    If a person wants to marry a Spanish girl, what would be the criteria to acquire Spanish passport or citizenship

  28. Glycel Gonzaga says:

    Hello I am from Philippines will you advice me on how to be a citizen in spain?

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:

      Hi Glycel, please follow the article – I’d also suggest you consult with your embassy for more information for your specific case – paperwork in Spain can be sometimes tricky to deal with and it’s never the same for everyone (unfortunately :()

  29. Orville says:

    I have married to a Spanish citizen for near 2 year now. and I’m living in Spain for one year and I’m thinking about applying for the Spanish nationality now do think it The right time to apply for the nationality or I need to wait some more time? I’m all so working for 3 month now do you think it good idea to apply now?

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:

      Hi Orville! Technically, you could get your citizenship now after 1 year in Spain since you’re married to a Spanish citizen. It’s completely up to you if you want to apply or not.

  30. Victor says:

    What are the minimum requirements to receive a Spanish passport within a 2 year time period for my case: Chilean born/citizen (but also Australian), currently living in UK (but willing to spend time in Spain)?

    • Mandy Lutman Mandy Lutman says:

      Hi Victor,

      you’d have to follow the same procedure as anyone else unless one of your parents is Spanish. My advice would be to move to Spain for a significant period of time to get together all necessary paperwork and then ask at your embassy.

  31. Archie Burner says:

    Podría decir me como puedo tener Español pasaporte en cambio de mi Norwegian Pasaporte. Soy casado y jubilado. Tengo un casa sin hipoteca comprado en 2002. Espero por su conteste pronto . Gracias
    Un Saludo

  32. Shaniel says:

    I am a US citizen, but I have a family background of Puerto Rican and Dominican. Si, yo nabla en espanol tambien. My wife happened to have Spain and Mexico passport because she is a citizen of both before she became permanent residence of US through me. Am I eligible to have dual citizenship or permanent residency in Spain?

  33. Bee says:

    Hi Mandi, Please can you advise on the following: I am a Non EEA national my husband is a Spanish national we have been married for 17yrs. I am currently staying in UK but wish to renew my Spanish Resident Card.
    Can this be renewed on my behalf as I am not able to travel to Spain.
    Awaiting your response. Thanks

  34. Rosario says:

    Hola, buenas noches!

    Hi I am a naturalized US citizen, born in the Philippines and applying for to teach English through an auxiliary program. My question is regarding the visa that I will obtain if I am selected for the auxiliary program, from my understanding, is a student visa. If I were selected and was successful working in the program for 2 years, do those years of residency count towards permanent residency or citizenship?

  35. Khalid says:

    Great informations, thanks Bro.

  36. wessam says:

    if i understood well, it means that i can be a citizen if i was marry for one year, so i’ll get the nationality after one year

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