The complete guide to Spain’s social security system


Updated on Jun 30 • 7 minute read

If you move to Spain to work, you must register and contribute to social security (seguridad social) monthly. Although Spain has the highest monthly social security contribution rate in the EU, contributing to the system gives you access to many benefits such as healthcare and maternity leave.

You must obtain a social security number (número de la seguridad social) to participate in the social security system. But Spain doesn’t have the most straightforward bureaucracy, so navigating through it is more complicated than it needs to be.

So in this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need about the social security system — who has to pay for it, how much, how to obtain your social security number, and what the benefits are.

Who must pay social security in Spain

Anyone employed and earning an income in Spain must pay taxes and make a compulsory social security contribution. This includes:

  1. An employee at a company
  2. A self-employed (autónomo) person
  3. A student doing a professional paid internship
  4. A business owner

How much you pay depends on the type of your employment.

How to get the social security number

You can apply for the social security number in-person at the tesorería de la seguridad social (TGSS) office or online. Either way, to obtain your social security number, you’ll need the following documents:

  • Original and copy of ID (EU Citizens) or passport (non-EU citizens)

  • Original and copy of the rental contract (and padrón certificate)

  • NIE number (non-EU citizens)

  • Residence permit if you are a non-EU citizen

  • Filled out form TA.0521 to declare economic activity and appropriate social security contributions

  • Original and copy of employment contract unless you’re self-employed

  • To apply in person: Make an appointment at the TGSS office and bring the above documents during your appointment. Social security offices work between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Keep in mind that there’re always long lines in the offices. So it’s better to make early morning appointments.

  • To apply online: To apply for a social security number online, you’ll need a digital certificate, e-DNI (electronic national ID), or a Cl@ve account. Once you’re on the official website for social security, start filling out the TA1 form. In addition to the NIE number, you’ll also need to fill in your TIE number (The Foreigner Identity Number).

Registering with the social security system as a freelancer

Freelancers must register with the social security system themselves using their social security number. Follow the steps above to obtain your social security number.

Once you become an autónomo registered at the tax office, you’ll have 30 days to apply to social security under RETA (régimen especial para trabajadores autónomos) — the special regime for self-employed workers — using TA.0521 form.

To register, in addition to your social security number, you’ve to gather the below documents:

  • Passport and copy (residence permit, if applicable)
  • NIE number
  • Empadronamiento (address registration)
  • Filled out form TA.0521 to declare economic activity and appropriate social security contributions
  • Tax certificate (IRPF)
  • Bank details to set up a direct debit (optional)

Social security payments as an employee in Spain

If you’re employed, your Spanish employer registers you with the social security system. You just give your social security number to the company, and they’ll take care of the rest.

As of 2023, the social security rate in Spain is 36.85%. The employer pays most of this: the employer pays 30.4% of the employee’s wage, and the employee pays the remaining 6.45%.

The minimum amount to be contributed from your salary changes depending on your salary. But the maximum contribution for 2023 per employee is €4,495.50 per month.

Social security contributions as a self-employed individual

As self-employed, you must contribute to social security if you earn at least the minimum wage. As of 2023, the minimum annual salary is €15,120 in Spain.

Unlike employed individuals, freelancers have to pay the total amount themselves. The amount you contribute monthly is calculated by multiplying 30.6% by the minimum base amount you want to contribute. The social security contribution in 2023 ranges between €230 and €500.

Discount on social security for freelancers

Thanks to the new autónomo law, freelancers receive some discounts. You’ll pay a discounted flat rate: the first year €80, the second year is also €80 only if you're making less than the minimum wage (SMI) of €1,166 per month (in 2023).

In addition, if you’re a freelancer younger than 30, you receive an additional 30% discount for another year.

The table below shows what new monthly social security contributions in Spain from 2023-2025.

Social security benefits in Spain

By contributing to the Spanish social security system, you get certain benefits:

  1. Access to free public healthcare
  2. Sickness or disability benefit
  3. Maternity and paternity care
  4. Pension
  5. Unemployment benefit

If you’re a freelancer, you don’t receive unemployment and work-related illness benefits.

Healthcare benefits in Spain

Social security contributions fund healthcare in Spain. As a result, anyone paying for social security benefits from free healthcare in Spain.

The benefits include:

  • Free doctor, hospital visits, and emergency care for you and your family: spouses (separated) and children (up to 15 years old)
  • Discounted prescription: 40% to 60% for current employees and 90% for pensioners.

To receive healthcare at hospitals, you must present your national health system user’s card (tarjeta de usuario del Sistema National de Salud).

Sickness or disability benefit

If you’ve been registered with a social security scheme for at least 80 days within the previous 5 years but had to stop working due to an illness or accident, you’re entitled to a sickness cash benefit.

You’ll receive compensation if you take more than 4 days of sick leave. The sickness benefit covers up to 365 days. You’ll receive 60% of your salary first 20 days. When you need more than 20 days, you’ll receive 75% of your salary.

To receive the benefit, you’ve to undergo a medical examination by a physician of the Public Health Services (Servicios Públicos de Salud).

If your injury or sickness is work-related, then there is no minimum contribution period. In this case, it doesn’t also matter if your employer fulfilled insurance obligations. You still receive the benefit.

In work-related injuries, you can be entitled to a special lump-sum payment if you need urgent money. If the injury results in death, then your immediate family members receive the payment.

Maternity and Paternity benefit in Spain

Maternity benefits (permiso de la maternidad) are paid to all registered employers (including freelancers) entitled to maternity leave by giving birth, adopting, or fostering a child.

Maternity benefits are:

  • Medical care, prenatal care, and postnatal care for pregnant women
  • 100% percent of the regulatory base salary for 16 weeks
  • 100% of the average wage if pregnancy is risky due to work conditions
  • 2 paid, half-hour daily breaks for mothers who breastfeed or express milk

To access these benefits, you must participate in the social security scheme for at least 180 days in the past 7 years or have contributed for 360 days during the entire working life.

Social security has the same conditions to be eligible for paternity care. Fathers are entitled to 16 weeks of paid paternity leave with 100% of the base salary.

  1. Low-income families can claim monthly benefits for childcare:
  2. Up to €100 for children under 3 years old
  3. Up to €70 for children between 3 and 6 years old
  4. Up to €50 for children between 6 and 18

Contact your local National Social Security Institute (INSS) to apply and present your national health system user’s card (tarjeta de usuario del Sistema National de Salud).

Retirement and pension benefit in Spain

If you’re 65 years old (minimum retirement age in Spain),

  • And you've contributed to social security for at least 36 years (37 years from 2027), including the 2 years before applying , you’ll receive the full pension rate.
  • And you've contributed to social security for at least 15 years (including the 2 years before applying), you'll receive a minimum state pension rate.

The maximum nationwide state pension is €2,617.53, and the minimum is €642.90. On average, this number is just over €1,100 per month.

To apply for retirement and pension, start your application 3 months before or 3 months after your employment contract ends and visit the INSS office in your city.

Unemployment benefit in Spain

A person residing in Spain is entitled to unemployment benefits if they are:

  • registered with a social security system that covers this risk,
  • legally unemployed, actively looking for a job, and willing to accept suitable employment, or working hours have been reduced by at least 10% (maximum 70%),
  • paid social security contributions for at least 360 days in the 6 years before becoming unemployed
  • older than 16 and under the legal age of retirement.

When you apply for unemployment benefits, social security calculates how much you’re entitled to using your average contribution basis for the last 6 months during which you’ve contributed. You will receive 70% of the calculation basis for the first 180 days and 60% of the calculation basis after that. A person who is entitled to unemployment benefits is also entitled to receive healthcare.

Below you can find how many days you’re entitled to receive the unemployment benefit.

Contribution daysEntitled days
360 to 539120
540 to 719180
720 to 899240
900 to 1,079300
1,080 to 1,259360
1,260 to 1,439420
1,440 to 1,619480
1,620 to 1,799540
1,800 to 1,979600
1,980 to 2,159660

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