Spanish Citizenship by Marriage

Spanish Citizenship by Marriage

So, you’re a non-European marrying a Spanish citizen, can you now apply for Spanish citizenship by marriage? In the general sense, the answer is yes.

But, the biggest detail to remember is that marrying a national does not automatically give you Spanish nationality. There are steps to follow and a process to carry out; which we will explain in this article!

Don’t worry – although obtaining citizenship is not instantaneous, there are benefits to marrying a Spanish national, such as having the fastest procedure time towards citizenship in Spain.

Are you ready to learn about it? Let’s go.

You can get citizenship after marrying someone from Spain, but it does not happen automatically.

While this was possible many years ago, it no longer is.

Today, there is no such thing as instantly attaining Spanish citizenship by marriage. In other words, you don’t get Spanish nationality just by simply marrying a Spanish citizen.

You see, from the 50s to the mid-70s, if you married a Spanish citizen, you could directly acquire the nationality from your partner. However, in 1975, the Spanish civil code (see Article 22) was modified. From then on, the situation changed completely. It became impossible to get nationality directly after marriage.

But don’t panic.

Marriage is one of the steps that will greatly accelerate the attainment of citizenship. It will help you immensely, (which we have already explored in our article about the main advantages of marriages between Spanish nationals and foreigners).

It won’t be as easy as it was in the past, but it is still possible. And in this article, we will show you how.

Let’s study that in more detail.

Benefits of Marrying a Spanish Citizen

Marrying a Spanish citizen definitely has its perks when it comes to bureaucratic processes.

Everything is simpler and quicker.

And this is true both when obtaining citizenship but also in the prior step: obtaining residency (more on that in the next section).

Let’s move to the citizenship part first.

Thanks to having registered your marriage, you will have the advantage of being able to reduce the time that you must live in Spain for the legal application to just a year (compared to the 2 or 10 years required in the rest of the cases, depending on your country of origin).

This is the shortest residency requirement before nationality.

For example, if you opt for a civil union or pareja de hecho instead, then you would probably have to take the normal route of 10 years to citizenship. (As a side note, pareja de hecho is also the path you would take if you were a non-EU citizen married to a non-Spanish EU citizen living in Spain, as marrying a non-Spaniard would not make you eligible for citizenship.)

The only downside is that to obtain the Spanish nationality you would have to renounce your original citizenship. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as citizens from countries that were once Spanish colonies.

On the other hand, once you obtain Spanish citizenship you will be able to:

    • Travel freely to 183 countries using the Spanish passport
    • Live and work anywhere in the European Union
    • Vote in Spain

But before enjoying these benefits, what does the whole process look like?

How to obtain Spanish Nationality via Marriage Step-by-step

The procedure is as follows:

First, the foreign citizen who wants to obtain nationality must register the marriage with the Spanish national, something that is done at the notary.

After the marriage is officially registered, the next step is obtaining residence.

Being married to a Spaniard allows you to obtain citizenship in just 1 year (much less time), but you must still live in the country during those 12 months.

And that requires obtaining residency.

But, again, thanks to having married a Spanish national, the process is easier.

Here you have 2 different options:

    • Obtain residency through the Family Member of an EU citizen card (tarjeta comunitaria)
    • Do it under family arraigo

The main difference of the two is that for tarjeta comunitaria you are in a regular situation, and need to prove sufficient economic means; for Family Arraigo, you are in an irregular situation and do not need to prove sufficient economic means, but need to provide clear criminal records for the last 5 years

Both are great options, as they grant 5-year cards. This means that you will have enough time under both to submit your citizenship application and obtain your positive resolution (which can take 1 or 2 years). Without the need to renew your permit.

After obtaining residency, the foreigner must demonstrate continued coexistence with their spouse for a year in the Spanish territory. Only afterwards will they be eligible to file for Spanish nationality.

It is important to note, however, that the required one year residency time period only begins once you are granted the residence permit, not once you start living with your spouse.

That means that even if you may have been married to a Spanish citizen, and living with them, for a longer period of time before the residency, it doesn’t count. The important thing (that is, the requirement that will be examined) is that you have lived together for at least one year in the Spanish territory, while you had your residence permit.

Thus, we are talking about a nationality by residency procedure. Not nationality by marriage.

To summarize, you must marry a Spanish national, apply for one year residency, then apply for citizenship while demonstrating having lived with your spouse for one year.

In the bigger scheme of things, especially marriage, the one-year requirement is a very short amount of time, and a great advantage. In the next section we will better understand what happens before, during, and after this one year.

Do you have doubts? Get personalized advice from one of our immigration lawyers: 

How long is the processing time to get citizenship in Spain by marriage?

After the one-year residency period, the processing time to get citizenship in Spain by marriage takes approximately 1 to 2 years.

It is important to note that the process for obtaining citizenship is legally 1 year, but because of delays or complications, this could be extended up to 2 or even 3 years.

However, as we have seen, the administrative litigation can expedite the process noticeably. Then, you would be able to get a positive response in a few months.

But let’s backtrack a little bit. In terms of your projected timeframe, it will also be important to consider when you get married.

That is because, depending on the region of Spain you live in, it can take months after the marriage registration is submitted for the marriage to be made official. You must go to a notary, and have it officially recognized at the public registry.

Then, you must apply for Spanish residency, which will last for one year, as this is essentially a citizenship by residence procedure.

Requirements and Documents Needed for the Application

Generally speaking, the requirements and documents for this process are exactly the same as those required for the rest of the people who apply for nationality by residence. Without exception.

Thus, the Ministry of Justice will be the institution in charge of evaluating if you meet the necessary requirements to become Spanish and thus obtain your DNI.

However, because this is built on the fact of marriage, of course you will also be required to submit documents that validate your union.

The requirements and necessary documents to apply for citizenship by marriage include:

Remember that all foreign documents must have legal validity in Spain. If you want to know the procedure behind that, here you will find a guide on how to legalize or apostille foreign documents.

Which exams do I have to take to get nationality by marriage?

To get nationality by marriage, you must take and pass the same exams as for any other citizenship application by residency.

You will have to take and pass the CCSE exam, which is a cultural test. Then, if you don’t speak Spanish, you must take and pass the DELE A2, which is a basic language test. Both exams are carried out by the Cervantes Institute.

If you have heard that some situations exempt you from taking these exams, it is true, there are exemptions. For example, if you are from a Latin American country that speaks Spanish, you do not have to take the DELE A2.

Plus, there are three situations that would exempt you from taking both exams. These are: (1) not being able to read or write, (2) having learning disabilities, (3) having been enrolled in and completing compulsory secondary education (ESO) in Spain.

For these three situations, you must request for a waiver (dispensa) from the Ministry of Justice. You can read more about these exemptions here.

Can I still apply for Spanish citizenship if my Spanish spouse is deceased?

Yes, you can still apply for Spanish citizenship if your Spanish spouse is deceased.

You will just have to also submit the death certificate of your deceased spouse and a registered certificate of historical coexistence.

Getting the Spanish Passport by Marriage

As you have seen, falling in love with and marrying a Spanish national doesn’t have to be complicated, and can have a happy ending! Citizenship is the goal for many foreigners, and marriage can be a great path to obtain it.

We hope that this article has helped you understand the whole process of applying for Spanish passport through residency in the context of marriage.

If you still have any more questions or need help with the legal application process to get this citizenship by marriage in the Spanish territory, let our immigration lawyers help you:

Get in touch with our lawyers and let us guide you step by step:

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Spanish Citizenship by marriage

10 Replies to “Spanish Citizenship by Marriage”

  1. sii quiro ayuda porfavor.. para tener nationalidad española ,,estoy casada con español y vivo en españa en 11 años. gracias..

  2. what do u mean by this sentence ?may u give examples?
    That is because, in fact, depending on the region of Spain in which you live, it can take months after the registration is filed after its submission.

  3. IT simply means that once you register marriage, it can take a while until it is fully legally registered, and you should also take that time into account.

  4. Can a divorced person get citizenship of Spain by marrying with a Spanish person ?

  5. I am a British citizen by birth and have been married to a Spanish citizen by birth for 25 years. We live in England but want to buy a property in catalunya with the intention of spending most of the year there. How can l achieve this after Brexit?

  6. About the purchase, please note you need a NIE number in Spain in order to do the transaction.

    Related to your residence permit, it is not clear yet what will happen with Brexit. However, if you want to spend most of the year in Spain the best would be to get a residence permit as EU citizen before the Brexit.

    Please send us your consultation to [email protected] so one of our lawyers can contact you.

  7. I’m a spanish citizen but I don’t have spanish nationality yet. Can i buy a property here without having a job contract so my pakistani spouse could obtain Spain residency? Also if I can buy a property, how much do i need to invest in order for my spouse to be able to obtain Spain’s residency?

  8. I do not understand what you mean with “I’m a spanish citizen but I don’t have spanish nationality yet”. You can only be Spanish citizen if you have the citizenship.
    If you want to invest in Spain in order to get a residence permit the investment must reach the 500.000€.

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