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Spanish citizenship For Members

How to avoid sitting the language and culture exams for Spanish citizenship

The Local Spain
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How to avoid sitting the language and culture exams for Spanish citizenship
These people are exempt from taking the Spanish citizenship exams. Photo: ZHONG Liguo / Unsplash

Generally speaking, foreigners who wish to take up Spanish citizenship must sit and pass two exams in order to be successful. However, there are a few groups who are exempt.

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If you have legally lived in Spain for 10 years or more (or two years for certain nationalities such as those from Latin America or the Philippines), you are eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship. 

As part of the process, you will have to take and pass two different exams. These are the DELE A2 language exam and the CCSE sociocultural exam. 

If you are from a country in Southern or Latin America whose official language is Spanish and you’re a native speaker, however, you will not have to sit the language part of the exam.

You will still have to sit the sociocultural CCSE exam though, relating to Spanish history, geography and politics, among other topics.

READ ALSO: Common mistakes when applying for Spanish citizenship and how to avoid them 

Generally, everyone else will have to sit both exams, but there are a few exceptions and certain groups will be exempt. These people will be able to apply for a nationality exam waiver. Those eligible for this waiver include:

Foreigners who studied in Spain

Anyone in Spain who has undergone ESO or Compulsory Secondary Education does not have to take the exams when applying for citizenship, as it is thought that you will have been taught most of the answers during your studies. You must have studied in Spain and have passed all subjects.

Those who have completed any higher education courses including Bachillerato - the Spanish equivalent of A-levels in the UK, taken when students are 16-18 years old will also be exempt. Anyone who has undertaken professional training or a university course in Spain (and in Spanish) will also not have to sit the exams. 

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Spain 

Anyone who has a degree from a Spanish university or professional qualification in the country can simply submit their certificates with their citizenship application, while ESO students can apply for the exam waiver.

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Children

Any children applying for Spanish citizenship, along with their parents, are also exempt from taking these exams, due to the difficulty level and language they contain. This means that anyone under the age of 18 will not have to sit the exams. IDs proving birth dates and ages will suffice when submitting the application. 

READ ALSO - Spanish citizenship test: how to make sure you pass 

People who are illiterate

There are still people in many countries across the world who cannot read or write, especially among older generations. So as not to discriminate against these people who are unable to take the exams, Spain offers an alternative solution.

Those who cannot read or write can apply to the Ministry of Justice for a partial waiver. This means they will be able to take the CCSE test orally, instead of having to read the questions on their own.

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People with learning difficulties or disabilities

Similar to people who are illiterate, those with disabilities and learning difficulties may also be exempt. You must have at least a 65 percent disability level to be totally exempt, but there are partial waivers for this group too.

It’s up to the Ministry of Justice, but you may get the help of an assistant, take the exam orally, or be given extra time to complete it, among other advantages. 

People of Sephardic/Jewish origin over 70 years of age

The last group of people who don’t have to sit the exams are Sephardic Jews over the age of 70. You can prove this by showing your birth certificate. 

Order JUS/1625/2016, of September 30th, confirms: "That those people who do not know how to read and write or have learning difficulties may request the dispensation of these tests from the Ministry of Justice which, in view of the particular circumstances and the evidence provided, will decide within reason. Applicants who have been educated in Spain and have passed compulsory secondary education may also be exempted from said tests.”  

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How to get an exam waiver?  

For some of the cases mentioned above, you will have to apply for an exam waiver or dispensa del examen de nacionalidad. For others, such as being a student, you’ll simply attach your qualification.  

There are various ways you can apply for this, but you must fill out the necessary form. This can either be via the electronic registry set up by the Ministry of Justice, at any public registry office of your local government delegation or subdelegation of government, or by post.

In order to complete the form, you'll need all your personal details, as well as the reason you’re applying for the waiver.  

When you send your application, you must include:

  • A copy of your ID and Spanish residency card such as a TIE
  • A disability certificate or medical report that shows why you cannot take the exam
  • A birth certificate for those over 70 years old
  • A notarial certificate stating that the applicant does not know how to read or write

READ ALSO: Spain has kept 11,000 foreigners waiting for 5 years for their citizenship to be processed

Remember, it’s up to Spain's Ministry of Justice if they grant the waiver and it’s decided on a case-by-case basis.  

It could take from a few months or up to a year for your waiver or partial waiver to be granted, meaning that your citizenship application will be delayed until you get an answer.  

This can add a lot more time on to an already lengthy process.

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