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Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Spain

- Updated: 31/01/2014
Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Spain

Global recession has hit small businesses hard, closing stores and causing job layoffs along with lots of restructuring. In one sense, this is good; companies are streamlining, and the recession is forcing businesses to take greater care with their customers. But for those laid off or anyone whose business has been shut down the first of a set of hurdles to getting back into work is finding out how to claim unemployment benefit.

Making a claim

In Spain, you are entitled to receive support (unemployment or temporary or permanent incapacity benefit) if you have been employed and paying your national insurance contributions. However, the amount you receive will depend on the level of contributions you have paid over the time you have been resident in Spain for tax purposes.

To be eligible you must register as a job seeker and sign an Activity Agreement, and you must be legally unemployed i.e. have been made redundant, had your hours of work cut significantly, be a Spanish worker who has returned to Spain after working abroad, or a prisoner released from prison after serving your sentence or being conditionally released. You must be under legal retirement age (65 for men, 63 for women) and have worked a minimum of 360 days in the past six years.

The amount you will receive is calculated as 70 per cent of your base salary for 6 months and then 60 per cent for the remainder of the period that you qualify, although there is an additional calculation if you have dependent children.

If you return to the UK you cannot continue to be eligible for unemployment benefit since it depends on you being able and available for work in Spain.

You will not be entitled to unemployment benefit if you have been self-employed or employed for less than a year.

Self-employed status

If you have been self-employed with ‘autonomo’ status and paying at least 225 Euros of contributions per month regularly, then you will NOW be entitled to unemployment benefit for the first time. In November 2010, a new law came into effect in Spain allowing self-employed workers the voluntary option to claim unemployment benefits providing that they pay an additional 15 Euros per month (1.7 per cent). To receive benefit for up to one year, you will need to have paid into this system for two years previously, so it will have a retro-active effect, giving protection to those who opt into the scheme now but become unemployed from 2012 onwards.

You should also endeavour to apply for unemployment benefit at your nearest unemployment office within 15 days of becoming unemployed. In many cases these offices are still referred to by their old name INEM (Spanish Institute of Employment) or now called SEPE (which stands for El Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal) – available at In Spain, unemployment benefit is referred to as ‘el paro’ and you may hear the phrase ‘desempleo’ for unemployed.

You can visit a local unemployment office in person or make an application online via SEPE if you can present the following documents:

- Your application for benefits (Solicitud de la prestación)

- Identification documents for you and any dependents – valid residence or work permits

- DNI/NIE document

- Family Book (Libro de Familia) if your children were born in Spain

- Certificate of redundancy or letter from your last employer that confirms you have been there for more than 6 months.

- Work Contract

- Payslip or Tax documents

If you find that you do not have sufficient contributions to be eligible for benefits you can also ask for your UK contributions to be taken into account, if you have proof of your last employer in the UK.

Once your paperwork has been accepted, you can even follow the progress of your application online via

Now that you are registered as unemployed and looking for work you will also be required to renew your claim regularly, which can also be completed online. For this you will receive a DARDE certificate and code number along with a date for periodic renewal.

It may be helpful to perceive your unemployment as a stepping stone on the way to a change in career, going back into study or improving your prospects in the job market. Consider all your options and prepare your CV to show to prospective employers, including a translation in Spanish and a recent photo, as this is more commonly expected in Spain that the UK.

Take all the advice and information that you are given at the INEM office or if you are offered the option of employment assistance at a CREAMA office, which is available throughout the Marina Alta region in Spain,, or elsewhere through offices of SERVEF, Although language skills and computer literacy are appreciated everywhere, your experience in previous jobs may be transferrable to a different type of employment, and you may find this leads you to being happier in work than previously. Your period of unemployment in Spain should eventually result in a new job contract whereupon you will need to ‘baja’ your claim and cancel your entitlement to unemployment benefits.

Comment on this Article

I have worked on a part time contract for 4 years. I had a heart attack and was paid sickness benefit for 18 months. Now that is now stopped and I can work but only light work!!. Where do I go.? No one seems to know whether I sign on, where I do this. Been paid zero now since end Nov so struggling. Any help please.
Alan Foster - Sat 12th Jan 2019
I have lived in Mallorca for 38 years. Now as I over 60 inem have asked for a certificate from the UK to say that I do not recieve any form of pension from UK. I have tried several different sites but still cannot get any information about. Also I never worked in the UK so I have no social security number. Any help would be greatfully appreciated.
Joyce Sanchez - Mon 28th Nov 2016
Hi I've lived in Spain 3 years and payed into the system for 3 years now am unemployed am I entailed to claim to help me
Rhonda Gates - Tue 26th Jan 2016
Hi I've lived and worked in Spain for 15 years with my two children. I have claimed "paro" twice, but as a single person because they won't count my children as I don't have a piece of paper stating that I have full custody of my children. For ten years now they will not give me the subsidio until I show this paper! I went to the court in England and there is nothing as custody was not contested in the divorce proceedings. After 6 years applying I was eventually given child benefit for my disabled son, because one kind civil servant told me he would send all my papers to the central office and see what they said. They accepted the documents! The tax office also accepted the paperwork, but there is no way around the INEM. Any solutions please.
Tessa Green - Wed 24th Dec 2014
I live in Spain and work in Gib. I've been here for nearly ten years and have successfully claimed El Paro previously. I'm potentially in a redundancy situation now but I seem to remember hearing that over a certain age there is extra benefit. Is this correct. In almost 58 and its pretty certain that if I do leave it will be my last job and force retirement.
Rob - Thu 23rd Oct 2014
I have paid my taxes - I had to go back to England because of family troubles, by time I will get to the office it will be 28 days I worked 6 months last year and 6 this year April till October , a friend said I might lose 1 months money wot do u think guys ?
Bobby - Wed 22th Oct 2014
@Bobby - You may have missed the boat in being able to claim anything. You must sign on within 15 days of your employment ending. Don't waste anytime, get yourself to the employment office and sign on immediately. If you plead your case you were unaware of the 15 day rule, they may be able to help, but I cannot guarantee anything. It all depends if the person you speak to is willing to go the extra mile. Regardless, sign on anyway, immediately and without fail. There are may other ways they can help you, but you must be signed on.
Ed Bishop - Wed 22th Oct 2014
@Heather - Theoretically yes, however there are many factors which dictate whether you will receive anything or not. Generally speaking, if you are autonomo you are not likely to receive much if anything at all, however it all depends on the contributions you've made to your social security. I do know the previous Govt. in Spain changed the rules to give some financial relief to autonomos, however I am uncertain if this still remains the case. You should, in the first instance speak to your local employment office who will clarify things further.
Ed Bishop - Wed 22th Oct 2014
@Daryl - Yes, calculations are based on the average contributions of your last 6 payslips (nominas), even if there is a break. The type of contract you are on is very naughty because for it to end in June and start again in September means your employer is saving money over the summer period. Usually, you should be autonomo for this type of contract. Are you a teacher of some sort?
Ed Bishop - Wed 22th Oct 2014
I have 12 months worth of contract, but i havent claim yet as i was looking for work its been about 20 days since my contract ended , they say you must claim within 15 days ... my question is can i go claim any help guys thanks
Bobby - Tue 21st Oct 2014
I've being paying into the system here for the last 9 years and have been self employed for the last year but unfortunately the buisness didn't work out am I entitled to paro
Heather Nelson - Wed 15th Oct 2014
HI re the unemployment benefit Spain - you do not mention how long you will have had to work in Spain - to claim - my contract finished in June and renewed in Sept - and this is the 2nd year with this sort of contract - have I therefore worked enough? thank you
Daryl Enever - Thu 10th Apr 2014
Monica : these are questions you should really be asking of Gibraltar, given that this is where you pay your taxes and make your social security contributions (I assume). As far as Spain is concerned you have never worked or made contributions, so why should you be entitled to anything ?
Mr Grumpy - Wed 5th Mar 2014
@Mr Grumpy Thanks for your answer. I do not quite understand this situation. So you are saying that in case of a redundancy I would get an unemployment benefit, however if I decide to quit my job I would get 'nada'? (Please note: work in Gibraltar, resident in Spain) Seems a bit unfair to me, but obviously I accept the reality :)
Monica - Wed 5th Mar 2014

Monica : The Short Answer is "No".

The slightly longer answer is that claiming benefits in Spain is based exclusively on the sopcial contributions you have made to them and not on your residential status.

Mr Grumpy - Tue 4th Mar 2014
Hello! I live in Spain and have been working in Gibraltar for almost 2 years (full-time contract). Will I be entitled to any Spanish unemployment benefits in case I quit my job? Thanks!
Monica - Tue 4th Mar 2014
@Jonthan - I've not heard of this before, but be very very careful! If you are claiming unemployment benefit (paro) but working you are breaking the law and if caught the penalties are huge! There is a scheme whereby you can extend your paro, but you have to jump through loads of hoops, such as making a minimum number of job applications, being available for community work and even attending courses to add extra weight to your CV. Just remember, being autonomo means you will not receive very many benefits should the work end plus you must make the minimum monthly social security payments even though you may not actually be earning anything! Consider creating a UK or Gibraltar based company instead and being employed by that company. Your new company would invoice your employer in Barcelona.
Ed Bishop - Wed 8th Jan 2014
just a quick question. I worked for 2 years before leaving my job and was given 6 months paro. I would like to be self employed in barcelona(the only jobs im finding at the moment require me to be so)- I heard that there maybe an opportunity to extend paro by 2 months if I register and contribute as self employed, is this true? thanks, the site is very helpful
Jonthan Phoenix - Tue 7th Jan 2014
My teaching contract ended in June, so I signed on and was told I was entitled to el paro for 6 months at a rate of 12.30 euros per day. However my boss offered me a couple of hours each week he said it would not effect the money as you are allowed to work a few hours each week without it affecting the money. He drew up a new contract for four hours each week and to my horror the paro stopped and I have received no money. Is this correct?
Clare - Tue 3rd Sep 2013
I have been made retired from my place of work but do not intend to claim for a Spanish pension yet as I intend to carry on working part time.I am entitled to claim unemployment benefit until my new job starts in September. I am 67 and receive a pension in the UK.
Rita - Sat 29th Jun 2013
This site has been very helpful as I have been unemployed since march of this year I am traveling looking for work ,and need to sign again by june I am a student in spanish so don't really know how to do this on line I have the paper work but were do I sign and how ? Can you help please .
John - Mon 20th May 2013