Last updated on 22/04/24

If you are a British national living in Spain and are toying with the idea of acquiring the Spanish nationality through residence, then keep reading. In this short article, I explain the process and the documents you need to do so.

The main thing to bear in mind is that you must have been living in Spain for at least 10 years before you can apply for it. However, if you are married to a Spaniard, you will be able to apply for the Spanish nationality after just 1 year of moving to Spain.

Applying for Spanish nationality through residence: the process

1. Passing exams

The first step is to book, study for and pass (1) the constitutional and socio-cultural knowledge exam (CCSE), and (2) the Spanish as a Second Language (DELE) exam at level A2 or higher.

These two exams are organised by Instituto Cervantes and you can book your exams online.

2. Paying the application fee

You must pay the fee before submitting your application for Spanish nationality by residence. The current cost is €104.05 but it gets updated more or less on an annual basis.

To pay the fee you need to download the ‘modelo 790 código 026’ form from the Spanish Ministry of Justice website. You can pay the fee either by online banking (remember to include your unique code appearing on the form in the corresponding field when making the transfer) or at a Spanish bank, bringing with you both the form and your Foreigners’ Identity Number (NIE).

3. Gathering documents

Documents needed to apply for the Spanish nationality as a resident in all cases:

  1. Application form
  2. Copy of your residence card (TIE)
  3. Copy of your passport
  4. Birth certificate, duly legalised and subsequently translated into Spanish
  5. Criminal record certificate from your country of origin, duly legalised and subsequently translated into Spanish
  6. Fee payment receipt
  7. A current certificate of registration on a municipal residents register (certificado de empadronamiento)
  8. Diplomas from Instituto Cervantes, confirming that you have passed the constitutional and socio-cultural knowledge exam (CCSE) and the Spanish as a Second Language (DELE) exam.

Additional documents you need to send if you are married to a Spaniard:

  • Your spouse’s full birth certificate (certificación literal de nacimiento), issued by a Spanish Civil Registry Office.
  • A full marriage certificate (certificación literal de matrimonio), issued by a Spanish Civil Registry Office.
  • Cohabitation certificate (certificado de convivencia) or a certificate confirming your joint registration on a municipal residents register (certificado de empadronamiento conjunto).

All your documents issued by the UK authorities need to be first legalised and then translated by a Spanish sworn translator.

Useful links:
The legalisation and sworn translation process
Request your Spanish sworn translations

4. Submitting the documents

Once you have paid the fee, gathered the necessary documents and have your UK documents legalised and translated, you can submit all the documents for your application for Spanish nationality by residence either

  • Online via the electronic platform on the Ministry of Justice’s website. You will need a Certificado Digital. This is the quickest and most convenient way to complete the process.
  • In person at your nearest provincial government office (Subdelegación del Gobierno).
  • Via an intermediary authorised to make online Spanish nationality applications such as a solicitor (abogado).

After applying for Spanish nationality through residence: the process

Decision and notification

Once you have submitted your application, all you need to do is wait. The Ministry of Justice will decide whether to grant you Spanish nationality through residence and will notify you in written form about the outcome within a year.

If you have not heard from them in a year, you can apply to the courts to request a formal written decision about your application.

Spanish nationality oath

The last stage of the process involves taking an oath of allegiance within 180 days from acquiring Spanish nationality. You can do that at your nearest Civil Registry Office (Registro Civil) or before a notary (notario). Generally, appointments are easier and quicker to get at a notary’s office.

You will need to take the following documents with you to your appointment:

  1. The Ministry of Justice’s decision granting you Spanish nationality by residence.
  2. Your birth certificate, duly legalised and translated into Spanish.
  3. Criminal record certificate, duly legalised and translated into Spanish.
  4. Valid residency card.
  5. Personal details form.
  6. A current certificado de empadronamiento.

During your appointment, the notary will verify your identity and documents and will proceed to read the oath of allegiance to Spain and to the Spanish Constitution. You will then need to repeat the oath and the notary will issue a notarial certification of nationality oath (acta de jura de nacionalidad). This document is proof of your Spanish national status and may be required in different procedures, so keep it safe yet handy.

Spanish ID and passport

After acquiring Spanish nationality you will need to request your Spanish National Identity Document (Documento Nacional de Identidad), colloquially known as DNI. The DNI number will replace your previous NIE on your residence card (TIE). You can then also apply for a Spanish passport

To obtain your DNI and passport you need to book an appointment at your nearest police station, pay a fee and go to the appointment taking the following documents with you:

  1. Your (Spanish) birth certificate issued by a Spanish Civil Registry Office
  2. A recent photograph
  3. A current certificado de empadronamiento
  4. Your TIE card

Becoming Spanish also involves a change of name, since Spanish nationals must have two surnames. Generally, your mother’s maiden name will become your second surname.

Read more: Spanish naming customs: Explanation, FAQs and thoughts

Certificado de concordancia

The certificado de concordancia is a certificate confirming that your previous foreign citizen details as per your NIE match your new Spanish identity (as per your DNI). It basically certifies that you are still the same person.

Requesting this certificate is very important and you should do it as soon as possible. After becoming Spanish, you will need to notify all institutions (the Treasury, your local town hall, Social Security Office, banks…) of your new DNI details so they can update their records. To do that, you need a certificado de concordancia. You can obtain the certificate at your nearest police station by appointment.

About your new nationality status

Bear in mind that, when acquiring Spanish nationality you are required to renounce your UK citizenship. The UK allows British citizens to have two or more nationalities, but Spain does not. Only people from Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries in Latin America, or from Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal, can keep their previous nationality when acquiring the Spanish one.

As far as the Spanish authorities are concerned, you are now a Spanish citizen and you should only present yourself as a Spanish citizen while in Spanish territory. Remember to only use your Spanish DNI or passport when in Spain, or when entering Spain (e.g. at a Spanish airport passport control).

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The information included in this article is correct at the time of publication/last update. This article is for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. ICR Translations will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from loss of data or profits as a result of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

Irene Corchado Resmella, a Spanish translator based in Edinburgh. English-Spanish sworn translator appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chartered Linguist and member of the CIOL. As a legal translator, I focus on Private Client law, specialising in Wills and Succession across three jurisdictions (England & Wales, Spain, and Scotland). Affiliate member of STEP. ICR Translations is registered with the ICO and has professional indemnity insurance.

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