Spanish citizenship has become a hot topic in recent years, especially in the light of recent events in the UK, which have focused the minds of UK citizens on their place in the EU.
There are many reasons for people from all countries to live in Spain, from the food and climate to the easy lifestyle and relentless schedule of fiestas. But these are available to everyone on the hierarchy of visitors, official residents and ‘proper’ Spanish Nationals, so why do people become citizens?
There are definite benefits of taking this step and opting for ‘full immersion’:
It can make your life easier
It’s no secret that Spanish bureaucracy can be complicated and time-consuming, even though improvements have definitely been made.
As a Spanish citizen you will have a handy, durable, credit card-sized Spanish ID card with microchip, which will work as a magical one-stop identifier guaranteed to smooth the wheels of your social security, traffic and tax affairs. This will mean upgrade of your NIE Foreign Identification Number to a full DNI National Identity Document.
Your ID card is an easier way to travel, but you can also apply for a Spanish passport.
It’s important to remember that dual nationality is only an option for certain countries and you may be expected to give up your current citizenship when you ‘become Spanish’.
It makes you a bona fide EU citizen
As a Spanish citizen you will also full freedom to move and work anywhere in the 28 member states of the EU. Unlike Spanish foreign residents, you will also be able to vote in national and EU elections as well as the local ones.
It makes you a bona fide Spanish citizen
Many of the benefits may be less tangible. For example, some people will feel a much stronger sense of belonging as a citizen and feel good about making that final show of commitment to their fellow Spanish nationals.
Of course, a certain degree of integration will have to be proved before citizenship is granted. Since 2015, applicants have had to take a language test from the Cervantes Institute and a multiple-choice exam to ensure their cultural knowledge is up to scratch.
You will also need to swear your loyalty to the King and promise to abide by the constitution and laws of the land.
It’s not too difficult (or too expensive)
As a rule, you can become a permanent resident after 5 years in Spain, then apply for citizenship after 10 years by a process of ‘naturalisation.’
Some people can apply sooner than this for various reasons such as having a Spanish parent or parents or having been adopted by them.
In any case, you will have to prepare to deal with paperwork. Apart from your language and culture tests, required documents will include your current passport, proof of residence, medical certificate, home criminal record certificate and proof of your married status.
Also, aside from the cost of those exams (€200 – €250), you will need to pay a fee of around €100 or more. And be prepared to wait for a while. The recent surge in demand has put the Justice Ministry under some pressure and there are reports of delays.