Minors is Spain

Last update : January 2020

The situation for underaged migrants is very different in terms of access to residency, health care and education.

Declaring yourself underaged: the process for under 18 year olds

The situation for underaged migrants is very different in terms of access to residency, health care and education. The state is automatically responsible for all under 18 year olds, until they come of age. Until your 18thbirthday you will have legal residence and you can’t be deported to another country.

Attention: The situation of underaged migrants is different in Ceuta and Melilla.

A person registered in Ceuta or Melilla as a unaccompanied foreign minor (MENA) has to stay in the city until they turn 18. The conditions in the center, access to education and work, and the possibility of getting permanent documents are a lot worse than in the rest of Spain and other European countries.

Determining your age

When you declare yourself to be underage it is possible that the authorities have doubts about the truth of your age. They can demand an x-ray to determine the age of your bones. The result will count as your official age in the future, even if it’s wrong.

Attention: If you are able to prove your age with documents such as a passport or a birth certificate, you might not have to do the bone test.

Health and welfare services

When a person declares herself to be an unaccompanied minor, or when his/her age is determined by the test, they will be sent to a reception centre for minors. The state has to look after minors until they turn 18, including full health care. After this, it is sometimes possible for people to stay in the centre or special apartments, especially if their behaviour has been exemplary until then, or if they are still in education (academic or professional).


All under 16 year olds in Spain have the right to free education within the state education system.If you or your underage child is not given this possibility, you can legally enforce this right. Young people between 16 and 18 years old have the same right to subsidies and financial assistance for studying as their Spanish peers. At this stages, Spanish social and youth workers can help you to access further education.

Remember: studying in official education system is one of the main reasons along with a work contract to renew your residence permit after your 18th birthday.

Documents for underage people

As an underage person in the Spanish state you have the right to a renewable residence permit of one year. As an unaccompanied minor living in a centre you can apply for Spanish Nationality after 2 years (you need to be 16 or younger when you enter the centre to do this). However, this is not possible in Ceuta and Melilla. Ask the social workers/lawyers around you if this is an option for you.

Attention: The „comunidad autonoma“ where you were hosted in a reception centre for minors, is the one responsible for you. However, if you move to another „comunidad autonoma“and introduce yourself to the authorities there they might takeresponsibility for you. Sometimes they might send you back to the „comunidad autonoma“ you first lived in, but this is unusual.