Undoubtedly, this is an issue that generates a lot of headaches. Getting Spanish nationality is a very important step for any foreigner who was moved to the country, and it is quite easy to get discouraged when you hear the experience of others who have applied for it.

But in this article we are about to solve all your doubts. We will explore how long the Spanish nationality application by residence takes to be resolved nowadays, understanding what are all the steps in the process and how long each of them exactly takes.

But, in addition, we will analyze the 2 strategies that will allow you to cut down waiting times and get your final resolution faster.

The current situation with citizenship applications


It will probably come as no surprise to you if we tell you that the Spanish administration has been experiencing significant delays in the resolution of citizenship applications for quite some time now.

Large number of new applications are submitted year after year, and the Ministry of Justice cannot keep up with all of them.

So much so that several shock plans have already been put in place to speed up this process, the most recent being the one for the year 2021 (which ends on November 30, 2021).

These shock plans, which are based on the hiring of more public servants to work overtime and thus resolve applications faster, should be the definitive solution to a basic problem that does not seem to get solved over the years.

Even so, there are still many delays in the resolutions, and it is normal to have doubts regarding how long the process will take if you start it right now, or how much longer you will have to wait if you submitted your file in the past and it got stuck.

Below we solve these two doubts.


How long does the process of Spanish nationality by residence take?


We must take into account that it is very difficult to define an exact period, since this is a highly random process. But, in general, the Spanish nationality by residence resolution takes between 1 and 3 years from beginning to end.

There are two main reasons why the total duration of the process is so variable and difficult to predict:

  • Firstly, because between 80,000 and 100,000 new applications for nationality are submitted each year, a high number that makes it difficult to generate predictions.
  • And, on the other hand, the fact that the Ministry of Justice does not follow a chronological order when handling each application. That is to say, we have cases in which applications from 2016 may still be unresolved, while others from 2018 or 2019 have already been favorably resolved.

These are two of the reasons that explain why the process can go from taking as little as one year to extending over 3.

But there is a third factor that also helps us understand how long your file will be delayed: the current phase it is in (something that you can control through the online platform “cómo va lo mío”), and how agile the different tasks and procedures within each of them are.

Then, let’s analyze the different phases that your nationality by residence file will go through from beginning to end and how long each of them takes so that you can have a complete picture of the process.

Duration of each phase


As we explained in our article about the different stages any citizenship application goes through in Spain, the first stage comprises the period from the moment we submit our application until the Ministry of Justice confirms that they have received all the documents (open for processing).

This period can last between 3 months and a year, depending on the number of new applications received by the administration.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Justice will ask different institutions for documentation to verify that you meet all the requirements (a phase called pending reports or “pendiente de informes”), which again can last between 3 months and a year. This is probably the slowest phase of all (something to consider if your file is in this phase) as it depends on many different institutions sending documentation, and not just the efforts of a single one.

Subsequently, once the Ministry receives all the qualified information, it will study those documents in order to issue its verdict in what is known as the qualification phase. This can take between one week and three months.

If your application is not complete and the administration requests more information, this could delay the process even longer (that is why it is so crucial to verify you meet all the requirements and properly prepare all your documents from the very beginning).

Finally, the file would be granted; but that is not all.

Once you receive the favorable resolution, you will still have to go through the pledge of allegiance procedure. The problem with this process is getting an appointment: if you are in a big city like Madrid or Barcelona, you may not be able to find an appointment at the Civil Registry for up to a year.

A tip to avoid further delays here would be to start making your appointment even before you receive the favorable resolution (at the end of the process), or to take advantage of the new initiative that allows you to take the pledge before a notary (avoiding to go to the Civil Registry, which will usually be overloaded with other appointments).


How can I avoid long waits and get a faster resolution?


As you have seen, finally receiving your positive resolution is a slow process that requires a lot of patience.

However, there are different strategies that you can use to reduce waiting times and get your nationality much faster (even though it is important to consider that there are no magic formulas that can radically reduce the current waiting times).

The first one is simple: apply for nationality with the help of a lawyer who is an expert in immigration and citizenship.

This has two main advantages:

  • First, you will make sure that you are not missing any documents and that your file is perfect. This will prevent your file from requiring extra documents in the future (which would lengthen the process even more) or your application gets denied.
  • On the other hand, you will benefit from the application platform that we use as lawyers. We can submit your file through a professional registry, which allows us to receive a nimble resolution thanks to an agreement with the Ministry of Justice.

By itself, these would be enough reasons to explain why seeking expert help in these cases is more than recommended.

But there is an extra one that could radically reduce your waiting times.

As you may know, the Ministry of Justice has one year to issue its resolution. If it takes longer than this period, it is possible to go to court through a contentious-administrative appeal and request the resolution before a judge.

This would allow us to try to speed the process up.

So, if you would like us to help you get your Spanish nationality in record time or have any questions about the process, do not hesitate to contact us:


Book a consultation with one of our lawyers and solve all your doubts


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