Recognition of diplomas in Spain

Working in Europe | Recognition of diplomas | Spain

Recognition of a higher education qualificationobtained abroad makes it officially valid in Spain, which means it has the same academic and professional worth, once the corresponding recognition credential has been issued, as the Spanish degree or level it is equivalent to.

Researchers can only request recognition of official higher education degrees or equivalent qualifications issued by the competent authority in accordance with the legislation of the State under whose education system the studies were completed. As a result, universities’ own qualifications (which are unofficial), those which have not been fully implemented in at least one Spanish university and those corresponding to degrees which no longer exist in Spain are not eligible for recognition.


Why apply for validation or recognition of foreign university qualifications?

If researchers wish the qualifications obtained in their countries of origin to have the same academic and professional effects as a Spanish qualification or degree, they must apply for recognition as a Spanish bachelor’s degree, diploma, engineering, architecture or medical degree, as applicable. In this case, it is also important to bear in mind the bilateral agreements that Spain has with certain countries.

If researchers only require their qualifications to be recognised exclusively on a professional level in order to practise a specific profession and they obtained their qualifications from a country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, they may apply for professional recognition or free provision of services. In this respect, the European regulation on regulated professions (Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and Council) is to be considered.[1]

[1] A regulated profession is the professional activity or set of activities, the access, practise or practising modes of which are directly or indirectly subject to certain professional qualifications that lead to the authorisation to practise a specific profession in Spain. The list of regulated professions in Spain, pursuant to the applicable European legislation can be found at: {available in English, French and German}


  • If researchers require professional recognition of a speciality in Health Sciences obtained in a non-European Union country, they must have previously validated the qualification that gained them access to that specialty.
  • Finally, students seeking official recognition of studies completed abroad in order to continue their studies in the Spanish education system should apply for partial validation of foreign studies to the university at which they are interested in studying. 
  • Validation implies official recognition for all academic purposes of higher education studies abroad (regardless of whether or not a qualification has been achieved as a result) in regard to partial Spanish university studies. Validation allows students to continue their studies within the Spanish education system, which may culminate, when appropriate, in obtaining the corresponding Spanish university degree.


How to apply for recognition




At present there are two types of recognition (which are not compatible but, can be requested either consecutively or simultaneously):

  • Recognition of a degree from the Catalogue of official university qualifications (recognition as a specific qualification, such as a Bachelor’s Degree in Law or a Diploma in Physiotherapy)[2].
  • Recognition of an academic level (recognition as a general degree holder: Diploma or Bachelor’s, without reference to a specific qualification).
[2] Consult the website below for qualifications a foreign academic degree can be recognised as: {available only in Spanish}


Procedure: What documents to show

The interested party sets the procedure in motion by completing the application form and submitting it together with the following documentation (do not hand over original documents as these will not be returned):

  • Certified copy[3] of the document that proves the identity and nationality of the applicant.
  • Certified copy of the degree the applicant seeks to validate or the corresponding certificate of issue.
  • Certified copy of the academic certification of the studies completed by the applicant to obtain the degree and which includes the official duration of the course in academic years, the course curriculum, subjects and number of hours devoted to each, among other information[4].
  • Proof of payment of the corresponding tax: certified either by machine or by an authorised signature that accredits the payment, deposit or transfer to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.
[3]Applicants must present original documents together with photocopies of them at the Office where they present their application. The office will verify the documents and copies, checking the identity of their content, and will return the original documents to the applicants. After the copies are processed and stamped or certified in accordance with the provisions of article 8.2 of Royal Decree 772/1999, they will be attached to the application form.
[4]The curricula for degrees listed at the following link will not be submitted: {available only in Spanish}


Documents issued abroad must fulfil the following requisites:

  • They must be official documents that have been issued by the authorities responsible for doing so in accordance with the legislation of the country in question.
  • Before being submitted, documents must be authenticated either by the applicant’s embassy or, when applicable, by the Hague Convention Apostille This will not be required for documents issued by authorities in European Union Member States or countries that have signed the European Economic Area Agreement.
  • Documents must be accompanied, where applicable, by an official translation into Spanish[5].
[5]The official translation can be done by a sworn translator (duly authorised or registered in Spain), by any Spanish embassy or consular office abroad, by any embassy or consular office in Spain of the country the applicant is a national of, or when applicable, where the document comes from. As far as possible, when the original document is written in an alphabet other than the Roman alphabet, it is recommended that the translation includes the title of the qualification in the original language transcribed into the western alphabet, instead of a translation of that title.


The application form can be submitted and printed in two ways:

  • Electronic office Processes and Services[6]
  •  By downloading the corresponding form from the web page of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport:
    • Recognition of a catalogue qualification[7]
    • Recognition of a Spanish academic qualification[8]


All of the above will be presented at an official registry[9]:

  • At the registry offices of any Central Government administrative body or government organisations linked or attached to the Central Government.
  • At post offices, as established by law.
  • At Spanish embassies and consular offices abroad.
  • At the registry offices of Regional Governments.
  • At the registry offices of Local Government organisations, providing they have previously signed the corresponding convention.


The resolutions of applications for the recognition of higher education qualifications are made official by credentials issued by the General Sub Directorate of Qualifications and Recognition of Qualifications under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

A decision on the application must be made and communicated within a maximum of six months from the date the application is registered at any of the offices of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

When applying for recognition as a specific qualification from the catalogue, this may be awarded, rejected or approved on the condition that the applicant fulfils complementary training requisites (specified in the resolution and which may consist of: passing an aptitude test, completing a period of work experience, carrying out a project or work or attending supervised courses[10].

Applications for recognition as a generic academic degree can only been awarded or rejected.

[6]Please consult: {available only in Spanish}
[7]Please consult: {available only in Spanish}
[8]Please consult: {available only in Spanish}
[9]Pursuant to the provisions of Article 38.4 of the Public Administration Legal System and Common Administrative Procedure Act 30/1992, of 26th November, expanded on in Article 2 of Royal Decree 772/1999, of 7th May.
[10]These requisites will be fulfilled through a (state or private) Spanish University or higher education centre the applicant deems fit and which offers all the studies that yield the Spanish academic degree that the application for recognition refers to. This must be completed within four years from the date the resolution is notified or recognition under the condition of fulfilling complementary requisites will no longer be valid



Since March 1st, 2005, Spanish University Chancellors are authorised to validate current academic PhD degrees, and the new official Masters degrees and titles.

Recognition of a Postgraduate qualification will not under any circumstances imply validation or recognition of a foreign Degree or equivalent level of education held by the applicant.

Applications for recognition cannot be made simultaneously at more than one university.

The interested party sets the procedure in motion by submitting an application to the Chancellor of the University. The Chancellor will make a reasoned decision on the basis of a prior report from the competent authority in the field of postgraduate study. The Chancellor may approve or reject the application for recognition. When recognition is approved, the Chancellor will issue credentials as proof.




Professional recognition of the title of specialist obtained in a non-European Union Member State will bestow the same professional rights and obligations as the Spanish title of specialist and will be an indispensable requisite for exercising the corresponding profession in Spain, either as a self-employed worker or for an employer.

Applicants must:

  • Hold the Spanish title or, if applicable, a validated foreign title.
  • Possess an official foreign qualification as a specialist in the country where it was obtained and which authorises them to exercise the specialism professionally.
  • Have specialist professional training from a university centre, a medical teaching hospital or, if applicable, a health centre authorised for this purpose.
  • Provide proof of specialist professional training.
  • Provide proof of sufficient knowledge of Spanish.
  • Be authorised to practise their specialism.

The applicant sets the procedure in motion by submitting an application to the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality[11].

[11]Please consult: {available only in Spanish}



Spain has signed bilateral agreements with these countries for purely academic purposes, which complement the recognition systems (academic and professional purposes or only professional purposes)[12]

[12]Please consult: {available only in Spanish}




The purpose of professional recognition of qualifications is to overcome the obstacles that nationals from a State may encounter when attempting to start work in a given profession and lead to an authorisation to exercise a specific profession in the new State of residence. This is intended to support professionals rather than students. This legislation[13] applies exclusively to nationals of the 27 Member States of the European Union, the non-EU States that have signed the European Economic Area Agreement (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. The authorities responsible for processing recognition applications are the Ministries that supervise the regulated professions related to each one.

It is worth differentiating between the free provision of services on a temporary or occasional basis and recognition to become established in another Member State.

[13]This regulation in Spain is part of Royal Decree 1837/2008, of 8th November , which incorporates into Spanish legislation EU Directive 2005/36/EC of 7th September, 2005 and EU Directive 2006/100/EC of 20th November, 2006, referring to the recognition of professional qualifications and also to certain aspects of exercising the profession of lawyer.


Free provision of services:

This is based on the premise that the service provider travels to Spain to temporarily or occasionally exercise a regulated profession. The requirement is to be legally established in another Member State to exercise the same profession and, when the profession is not regulated in the country of residence, to have worked for at least two years out of the ten years prior to providing the service in Spain.

The Member State where the service is provided may require a preliminary staement (accompanied by certain documents), or may decide to conduct a preliminary verification of qualifications (only in the case of professions related to health and security).


Freedom of establishment (authorisation):

Recognition based on the coordination of the minimum training conditions. This refers exclusively to the following professions: General or Specialist Doctor, Nurse responsible for general care, Midwife, Dentist, Veterinarian, Pharmacist and Architect. The Directive establishes the minimum conditions (duration and content) of training authorising the exercise of these professions, and offers a list of qualifications that fulfil those conditions. Recognition based on this list is automatic. The rights acquired for the cases above are recognised.

General recognition scheme. All other regulated professions: a professional qualified in one Member State to exercise a profession must be recognised, on a general basis, by another Member State to exercise the same profession. If there are substantial training differences, the host Member State may impose compensatory measures (practice period or aptitude test). If the profession is not regulated in the State of origin, two years of professional experience or regulated training (designed specifically to exercise a profession) are required.

Recognition of professional experience. This applies to commercial, artisan and trade activities that require general, commercial or professional knowledge and aptitudes. It is an automatic recognition based on the certification of a minimum period of professional experience.

Applicants must present the documentation to different bodies depending on the profession[14].

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, through the General Subdirectorate of Qualifications and Recognition of Qualifications, coordinates the application of this Directive in Spain.

[14]The list of bodies, by branch of professional activity, can be consulted at: {available only in Spanish}


Sede del Centro de Regulación Genómica, CRG. Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa

Headquarters of the Centre for Genomic Regulation, CRG. Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence



Validation is the official recognition of the academic validity of university studies completed abroad (whether or not they led to a degree) as regards partial Spanish university studies. Validation allows students to continue their studies within the Spanish education system, which may culminate, when appropriate, in obtaining the corresponding Spanish university degree.

The resolution of a request to recognise foreign studies as partial Spanish university studies is handed down by the Spanish university where the applicant wishes to further his or her studies.

When studies completed abroad have led to a foreign degree, applicants may either apply for recognition as an official Spanish university qualification or request validation as partial studies, bearing in mind that these two options cannot be applied for simultaneously.


Why apply for recognition or validation of a foreign non-university qualification?

If, for whatever reason, there is a need to have non-university qualifications recognised or validated, the following must be taken into account:

  • Recognition of foreign non-university certificates, diplomas or studies entails declaring an equivalent within the current Spanish education system.
  • Validation of foreign studies as Spanish non-university courses entails declaring the former equivalent to the latter for the purpose of being able to continue studying at a Spanish educational centre.
  • Recognition or validation can be requested by students who have completed studies that are part of a foreign education system at centres located abroad and also those who have completed studies at centres authorised to teach foreign courses in Spain in accordance with the education systems of other countries.
  • Students from foreign education systems who wish to attend any of the courses which in Spain are part of Compulsory Primary or Secondary Education are not required to initiate any validation procedure whatsoever. Nor is validation required to study any course of the Spanish education system – at any level or in any modality – for which access does not require students to have obtained the Secondary Education Certificate.

Summary table_recognition


Information points and centres

In Spain

Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport

Customer Service

TEL.: 91 327 7681

Queries can be made by sending an email from the web page below:  {available only in Spanish}

Regional Departments of Education in Autonomous Regions Government Delegations (High Inspectorate of Education) and Subdelegations

Consejerías de Educación de las CCAA {available only in Spanish}

Subdelegaciones del Gobierno {available only in Spanish}


Information can also be obtained at universities regarding the procedures that involve them.

NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centre) {available in English}


Website on recognition, validation and recognition of foreign qualifications and studies in Spain {available only in Spanish}



Education Offices abroad

See the website below to find out the location of Education Offices abroad and how to contact them {available only in Spanish}

Consular Offices of the Spanish Embassy

For more information, see the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation {available in Spanish, English and French}