Seven arrested for impersonating others in Spanish citizenship exams

The Local Spain
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Seven arrested for impersonating others in Spanish citizenship exams
Seven arrested in Spain for cheating on language exams for citizenship. Photo: Billy Albert / Unsplash

Spain's National Police have arrested seven people in the Basque city of Bilbao for sitting citizenship exams with forged IDs or residency documents that weren't theirs with the aim of obtaining Spanish nationality for other interested parties.


The accused were taking the DELE Certification exams - the Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language - a necessary and important part of the Spanish citizenship exam which tests your knowledge of Spanish. 

The exams took place at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, as well as a couple of city hotels, on November 16th and 18th. Police had tip-offs of possible fraud ahead of time, so were thorough in carrying out checks.

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

They discovered five people were using ID documents that did not belong to them or has been forged to add fraudulent information, including social security details or a new photo.

At a second examination site, police also discovered another man who was not the person he claimed to be and was using someone else’s identity. He was arrested after several investigations to discover the true owner of the card.

Foreigners who want to obtain Spanish nationality through residency in most cases have to live legally and continuously in Spain for ten years before being able to sit the citizenship exams.

Spanish National Police reported that all of the detainees were from sub-Saharan Africa and have been released pending trial.

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

The investigation remains open until the real applicants for nationality who gave up their ID cards are located, so more arrests cannot be ruled out in the near future.


Reports such as this are unfortunately not uncommon in Spain. Earlier this year in February 2023, the National Police arrested 41 people for identity theft and falsification during the language tests in the region of Madrid.

Some of the arrested were charging between €500 and €1,500 to take the tests on behalf of the real applications and make sure they passed. 

A further 25 people were arrested in December 2020 for a similar crime during the citizenship tests, in various regions around the country. 


The DELE exam contains sections on reading comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression and interaction, as well as oral expression and interaction.

The only people applying for Spanish citizenship who don't have to take the language exam are those who have gone to high school or university in Spain, those whose native language is Spanish, children, the illiterate and those with disabilities. 

The DELE exams are organised by the Cervantes Institute and the Spanish government, through the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.


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