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What is education like for expatriate children in Spain?

In most cases, immigrants arriving in the country are unaware of the education process for children of expatriates. Do you feel the same way? Do you need advice on how to enroll your child in an educational center? Continue reading this article to discover the step-by-step process to follow!

Right to education for expatriates’ children

Before going into detail with the basic requirements or the different options to educate children in Spanish territory, we want you to know a little about the rights involved in the education of expatriate children.

In Spain, everyone under 16 years of age has the right to access the education system for training purposes. Thus, in the country, education is considered compulsory in two key stages:

  • Primary education; from 6 to 12 years of age

  • Secondary education; from 12 to 16 years of age

As stated in the Spanish Constitution, foreign minors residing in Spain have the right to access a basic education that will allow them to broaden their knowledge, enhance their personal development and enable them to perform a useful activity in the future.

Likewise, there is the possibility of accessing scholarships or financial aid to obtain the corresponding degree under the same conditions as Spaniards.

Now, the Organic Law of July 3, 1985, establishes the following in its first article, in relation to the right of minors to receive a basic education:

  1. All Spaniards have the right to a basic education that will allow them to develop their own personality and to carry out an activity useful to society. This education shall be compulsory and free at the level of basic general education and, where appropriate, at the level of first-degree vocational training, as well as at such other levels as may be established by law.

  2. All, likewise, have the right to access higher levels of education according to their aptitudes and vocation, without in any case the exercise of this right being subject to discrimination due to the economic capacity, social level or place of residence of the student.

  3. Foreigners residing in Spain shall also have the right to receive the education referred to in paragraphs one and two of this article.


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Educational needs for expatriate children

On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that, regardless of the legal status of the parents or relatives, the right to education for children of expatriates must be guaranteed in Spain.

In fact, parents who are in an irregular situation and have children attending Spanish schools cannot be expelled from the country until the end of the school year.

It is understood that all migrants have the right to access educational levels according to their aptitudes, without being discriminated against based on their economic situation, social status or place of residence.

Now, you may ask, what is the school year in Spain like for expatriates? Basically, it happens in the same way as for Spaniards of origin: the initial educational period for children and young people is in September, and they must attend about 6 hours a day from Monday to Friday.

It is estimated that they have one week off per year, without taking into account the August vacation period from June to August.

In relation to the main aspects that should be taken care of in foreign children when starting in a Spanish school, we can mention the following:

Linguistic support

This refers to the presence of language classrooms whose main function is to contribute to the correct development of Spanish language acquisition so that children can function normally in the institution as quickly as possible.

Involvement of families and local communities

In this case, it is nothing more than the presence of the parents with the teaching staff, participating in the parents’ association just like the Spanish parents, learning about the reception plans for the infants, among others.

Teacher professional development

Take into account intercultural education for children and young people and facilitate their adaptation in the corresponding Autonomous Communities.

Addressing segregation

As simple as implementing measures or actions that promote an improvement in the distribution of local and immigrant students.


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Necessary documents

While it is true that children of expatriates are allowed access to Spanish schools, in order for them to enter they must take into account the requirements demanded by one or another community. But, in general terms it is necessary that they comply with certain basic documents:

  • Photocopy of ID card or passport of father and mother

  • Family Book or document that reflects the child’s data: name and surname, date of birth, nationality, among others.

  • Documentation of previously completed studies, i.e., report card, grades, transcripts, etc.

  • Vaccination card

  • Certificate of census registration in the place of residence

Steps to schooling expatriate children in Spain

As we have already mentioned, it is common that, when emigrating and starting to live in another country, in this case Spain, parents have doubts about the process for their children to start school activities.

Therefore, the following is the basic procedure that applies to children between 6 and 16 years of age:

The first step is to go to the town hall offices or to the school itself to receive information about the enrollment process they are handling.

Parents should then select the school they wish their children to attend, taking into account what best suits their circumstances, and depending on the number of places available.

Each Autonomous Community has its own regulations, so it is important that you find out about them, as well as the official languages used in the institution and the subjects that apply in each school year.

Once you have selected the school, you must fill in the application form and take into account the preferences of the children to avoid future inconveniences.

Finally, we remind you that it is always advisable to enroll your child as soon as possible, from the moment you make the decision to reside permanently in Spain.


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Living in a new country as a foreigner can generate multiple doubts and fears, but with the right advice you will not have to worry about your adaptation in Spain. Our experts in foreigners in TAS Consultancy are at your disposal through our website to help you carry out each of the procedures you require.


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