Obtaining Spanish citizenship through the residence permit for investment

Many foreign nationals from non-European countries wish to obtain Spanish citizenship for many reasons including, Spain’s potential for tourism; climate; quality of life; strategic geographical location as a gateway to Europe and Africa; cultural proximity to Latin America; excellent infrastructure network; and legal security.

To obtain Spanish citizenship, a foreign national must prove regular and continuous residency in Spain for at least 10 years.

The following circumstances reduce the amount of time a foreign national must prove regular and continuous residency in Spain:

  • Five years: for foreign nationals who first obtained refugee status.
  • Two years: for foreign nationals whose national identities include those of Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Venezuela), Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, or for people of Sephardic origin.
  • One year:
    • Those born in Spanish territory
    • Descendants of Spanish parents
    • Foreign nationals under guardianship or custody in a foster home, either in a family or in a Spanish institution, for two consecutive years
    • Foreign nationals who at the time of the application have been spouses of Spanish citizens for at least one year provided that they are not legally or de facto separated
    • Widows of Spanish citizens
    • Those foreign nationals born outside of Spanish territory who have a mother, father, or grandparents who could have applied for Spanish citizenship.

Obtaining Spanish Residence Permits


The Spanish Government recently passed the Internationalization and Entrepreneur Support Act 14/2013. This Act introduces the new possibility for foreign investors to obtain a Spanish residence permit if they make any of the following investments:

  •  Purchase of Spanish real estate with a value of at least €500,000;
  • Invest in Spanish companies with a value of at least €1,000,000;
  • Develop a business project of general interest or an innovative activity with a special economic interest for Spain.

Because of these new investment options, we expect that a significant number of foreign investors will also wish to obtain Spanish citizenship once they have obtained the residence permit or Spanish Golden Visa.

We will focus on this kind of residence permit or Spanish Golden Visa to give the foreign investor an idea of the permits that would allow him or her to reside legally in Spain and later apply for Spanish citizenship if desired. The following points include a list outlining the available types of residence permits now available to the foreign investor (in stages):

  • Resident Visa with a validity period of a maximum of one year.
  • Resident Permit through Investment with a validity period of two years and renewable for another two years.
  • Long-Term Permit after the expiration of the #(2) Residence Permit’s validity, the foreign investor — provided other requirements are also fulfilled — may request the long-term permit, which would allow the foreign investor to work and reside in Spain under the same conditions as any citizen of Spanish citizenship.

If the foreign investor can prove that he or she has resided on a continuous and permanent basis during the applicable timeframe under the permits’ validity period referred to above, he or she may apply for Spanish citizenship.

Obtaining Spanish citizenship is a considerable advantage because it also grants European citizenship including not only the rights that come with Spanish citizenship but also those that the European legislation has granted to European citizens over the years including the right to move freely without restrictions as well as numerous protections for workers and consumers.

(This article does not intend to simplify the naturalization process in Spain for foreign nationals but rather provides only an informative overview of the right to apply for Spanish citizenship after obtaining certain residence permits available to a foreign investor. For more information on how to apply for and obtain Spanish citizenship, please inquire with our firm.)

Hélène Dagousset

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Please note that this article is not intended to provide legal advice.

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