How to study in Spain as a foreigner?

How to study in Spain as a foreigner?

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For those who wish to study in another country, Spain is characterised by offering an extensive academic programme that combines the highest quality of education with a good quality of life. Due to its extensive cultural life, Spanish cities are considered to be student cities par excellence, welcoming people from all over the world every year.

Once a person settles in Spain to study, he or she can enjoy learning in some of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, combining learning with beautiful landscapes, a very active social and cultural life, among other things. That is why, below, we are going to tell you what you need to do to study in Spain as a foreigner.

Requirements to study at a Spanish University as a foreigner

Currently, Spain has 76 universities distributed throughout the country, 45 of which are public and 31 private. It is worth noting that 5% of all enrolments are reserved specifically for international students. But, in addition, as education is not centralised, people have the possibility of sending applications to as many universities as they wish, in order to be able to find the place they are looking for.

The requirements for admission to a Spanish university depend on the circumstances of each student, including aspects such as previous studies and country of origin. However, the requirements are similar in public and private universities.

Some of the requirements to be admitted to a Spanish university are the following:

  • To have a valid passport.
  • Obtain a student visa.
  • Take a PCE-UNEDassis admission exam (although it is not applicable in all cases).
  • Homologate the degree corresponding to the studies that have been taken so far.

The PCE are Specific Competence Tests for Access to the Spanish University. This is a requirement for students who have completed the baccalaureate in their country of origin and is necessary to gain admission to a Spanish university. This exam includes subjects such as Language and Literature, Spanish History and languages.

However, not all universities make this exam a requirement, so it is important to check with the university in question to find out if you need to take it. This exam is required for international students from the European Union and Latin America from countries that have agreements with Spanish universities.

Necessary documentation or permits

Now that we have seen the general requirements for studying in Spain as a foreigner, we will talk about the documentation or permits that can be requested.

Passport or identity card

In the case of citizens belonging to the European Union and others with whom you have close relations, you may not need a passport, and the identity card of each country will suffice. However, if you come from a non-EU country, you should obtain a passport that will remain valid for the duration of your stay. It is important that the passport is valid for at least three months after the intended date of return to the country of origin.

Student visa

When beginning studies in Spain, you will stay in the country for more than 90 days, depending on the course you are taking. In these cases, it will be necessary to apply for a student visa. There are two types of student visas: short term, which lasts from 91 to 180 days, and long term, which is for more than 6 months.

The requirements to obtain it include not being a citizen of the European Union, having sufficient economic capacity to pay for the stay and not being banned from entering Spain. In addition, it will be necessary to present proof of enrolment in the educational institution.


When submitting your visa application, you will need to include confirmation of the address where you will be staying for the duration of your studies in the country. There are many accommodation options that foreign students can find in Spain, but it is essential that they provide the address information in order to obtain their visa.

Health card or medical insurance

In order to study in Spain, it is essential to have medical insurance or the European Health Insurance Card in the case of EU citizens. If you are unable to obtain this card, it is recommended that you have private medical insurance for the trip.

Parental proof

Parental proof is only required for students travelling as minors. It can be signed by a parent or guardian who has full knowledge of the trip.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

In order to begin studies in Spain, as we have seen above, it is necessary to have the homologation or validation of previously obtained qualifications. In this sense, the homologation of non-university education qualifications involves the declaration of equivalence with respect to the qualifications of the Spanish education system. Validation, on the other hand, involves declaring the equivalence of those qualifications for the purposes of continuing studies in an educational centre in Spain.

The homologation or validation is requested by those who have studied in foreign education systems and wish to enter a Spanish university. The requirements for homologation or validation are as follows:

  • The studies undertaken must be officially valid in the education system of the country of origin.
  • There must be sufficient equivalence with the Spanish reference degree, both at the academic level and in terms of duration and content.
  • The degree must attest to studies that have been passed in accordance with the functioning of the education system of origin.
  • The study centre must be duly authorised by the Spanish educational administration, in the case of foreign centres based in Spain.
  • The person concerned must not have previously held the same qualification in the Spanish education system.


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