Home Working in Spain Employment Law The surprisingly painless Spanish unemployment experience
Last update on April 25, 2019
Written by Michelle Amato

Discover if you’re eligible for unemployment benefits and learn how to register as unemployed as an expat in Spain.

Losing your job is always stressful event, and that’s especially the case if you’re working in a new country.

Fortunately, the Spanish unemployment system allows expats to gain benefits while searching for another job, and applying for unemployment benefit is fairly straightforward compared with some other countries.

Unemployment rates in Spain

Unemployment levels in Spain are falling, with the percentage of people unemployed dropping to 14.8% in October 2018, according to data from Eurostat.

While things are getting better, Spain still lags behind many other countries in the Eurozone, where the average unemployment is just 6.7%.

Who can claim unemployment benefit in Spain?

Whether you’re from the EU, EEA or outside of Europe, you’re entitled to unemployment benefit in Spain as long as you adhere to certain criteria.

To receive unemployment benefit, you’ll need to have made social security contributions for at least a year (defined as 360 days). This contribution period allows you to receive the benefit for four months (120 days).

During this time, you’ll need to give evidence that you’re actively trying to find a job.

You can claim unemployment benefit in the following instances:

  • Your work contract comes to an end and your employer decides not to renew it
  • You get sacked from your position
  • Your employer reduces your hours by more than a third

How to sign up to receive unemployment payments

To claim unemployment benefit, you’ll need to contact the Spanish State Employment Service (Servico Publico de Empleo Estatal) and make an appointment for an interview.

When you sign up for an appointment, you’ll be given a unique reference number, and on the day, you’ll need to take any official paperwork regarding your job status, as well as your NIE number.

A businessman opening a business newspaper

How much unemployment benefit will I receive?

How much you’ll receive in unemployment benefit depends on what you’ve been earning in Spain.

Calculations are based on the average salary from which you’ve been making contributions for the six months before becoming unemployed.

Theoretically, you can receive 70% of that average for 180 days, then 50% thereafter – though limits are in place (as below).

Limits on unemployment benefit

The minimum and maximum limits of unemployment benefit are set by the Multiplier for the Public Income Index (IPREM).

Minimum amount:

  • 80% of the IPREM plus 1/6 (if you have no dependent children)
  • 107% of the IPREM plus 1/6 (if you have one dependent child).

Maximum amount:

  • 175% of the IPREM plus 1/6
  • 200% of the IPREM plus 1/6 (if you have one child)
  • 225% of the IPREM (if you have two or more children).

In 2018, the IPREM is set at the following levels:

  • Daily rate: €17.93
  • Monthly rate: €537.84
  • Annual rate: €6,454.03 a year (12 payments) or €7,519.59 a year (14 payments)

You can find out more about historic rates and the future evolution of the rate on the IPREM website.

How do the payments work?

10 days of your entitlement will be deducted from your first payment and instead given to you with your final payment.

While you’re receiving unemployment benefit, you’ll still need to make social security contributions, which will be deducted from your pay.

Can you lose unemployment benefits?

It’s possible to have your unemployment benefits suspended if you don’t adhere to the rules. Reasons for suspension can include:

  • Rejecting jobs
  • Working or earning money through self-employment
  • Failing to renew your benefit
  • Failing to participate in employment schemes or training