Spanish citizenship For Members

How good does my Spanish language level have to be to get citizenship?

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How good does my Spanish language level have to be to get citizenship?
You need to be able to say a lot more than just 'hola' to pass your language exam for Spanish citizenship. Photo: Jon Tyson/Unsplash

If you’re a non-native Spanish speaker who wants to obtain Spanish nationality after ten years of residency, you will have to sit a Spanish language exam if you want to obtain citizenship. Is your Spanish good enough?


Every year, thousands of foreigners who want to become Spanish nationals have to prove their integration into Spanish society by putting their Spanish language skills and general knowledge about Spain to the test with two exams.

Spain’s Cervantes Institute, which is also responsible for the CCSE culture exam you have to sit, handles the Spanish language exam.

It’s called DELE, (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera), Spanish Diplomas as a Second Language.


 The DELE diploma you have to obtain in order to get Spanish citizenship is the A2. 

A2 is the equivalent of an upper beginner, on a scale that goes from A1 (lower beginner) to a C2 (upper advanced).

Therefore, you don’t have to be fluent in Spanish in order to be eligible for Spanish nationality through residency, but you do have to have a decent grasp of Spanish. 

How good does my Spanish have to be to get citizenship?

So what should an A2 level Spanish learner be able to understand, write and say?

An A2 Spanish diploma certifies that the language learner understands sentences and expressions that are commonly used in everyday life. For example, the Spanish used at a bank, at the supermarket, at work or at a restaurant.

You also need to be able to talk in simple terms about yourself-  who you are, what your background is, who your family is. 

Additionally, you must also be capable of communicating in relatively basic terms about routine tasks or familiar matters that require exchanging information, as well as being able to describe in simple terms experiences or issues to do with your immediate environment.


In terms of grammar, you need to be able to use the two ‘to be’ verbs correctly (ser and estar), know how to form the past perfect tense (ej. have done, haber hecho), the present continuous (I’m going, estoy yendo), impersonal verbs (hacer frío, to be cold).

You’ll need to prove you can use interrogatives (what, who, when etc) to form questions, have your ordinal numbers in order(first, second, third etc), show that you have a considerable arsenal of adjectives under your belt (including possessive adjectives - my, your, his etc) and adverbs like never, sometimes, always.

Here’s an example of the reading comprehension part of the A2 DELE exam if you want to put your Spanish to the test.

Furthermore, if you want to get an idea of how good your spoken Spanish has to be, the following video by the Cervantes Institute illustrates what an A2 spoken level is. 

What does the Spanish citizenship language exam involve?

Keep in mind that even if you have an intermediate or high level of Spanish that’s technically above an A2 level, you still need to prepare for the exam in order to ensure that you pass and work on possible weaknesses in your castellano

The DELE A2 exam is made up of different tests which are organised into two groups:

Group 1 (reading and writing skills): Reading comprehension (60 minutes, 5 tasks) and written expression and interaction (50 minutes, 2 tasks).

Group 2 (oral expression): listening comprehension (35 minutes, 5 tasks) and oral expression and interaction (15 minutes).

A "pass" grade is required for each test taken during the same exam session.

A minimum score of 30 out of 100 is needed in each group to receive an overall "pass" grade.


Is there a way for me to not have to sit the language exam to get Spanish citizenship?

There are a few groups who are exempt from having to sit the language and culture exams for Spanish nationality:.

Foreigners who have studied in Spain, children and people who are illiterate or who have learning difficulties or a disability are eligible for an exam waiver. READ MORE

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


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