In Spain, registering with the public employment service (Servicio Publico de Empleo Estatal - SEPE) is not mandatory.
However, it is a right that all workers have and that can be useful not only to find work, but also to access unemployment benefits - for example, those who have recently lost their jobs - and some allowances and public services.
The procedure to do what Spaniards call 'apuntarse al paro' and request for the first time to be registered as a job seeker must be done in an office of the Autonomous Employment Service (SAE).
Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, we recommend checking in each case if it is necessary to book an appointment in advance.
During the registration process, an official will open a file with the personal data of the job seeker, professional profile, the level of studies - it is recommended to bring all the academic certifications - and the professional specialty in which the job seeker aspires to work.
The documentation that must be provided to register as a job seeker is the following:
- DNI (if you are a foreign national, then you must go with the Foreigner's Identity Number (NIE), passport and residence and work permits.
- Social Security card.
- Proofs and certificates of the academic qualifications that you have achieved and want to include in the registration.
The official will probably show some interest in your profile and will request some details regarding your personal and work data and experience. In addition, they will ask you about the type of work you are looking for, the areas of the country where you would be willing to work and the availability (full time, part-time...).
Once the registration is done, the system generates the so-called DARDE card (Documento de Alta y Renovación de la Demanda de Empleo - in English 'Document for Registration and Renewal of the Job Application').
The job seeker acquires a series of rights, such as access to training programs, discounts in some transport, museums and theaters.
Another advantage is that potential employers can also enjoy tax discounts for hiring a person who comes from the unemployed lists. Sometimes, this works as an incentive.
In order to receive unemployment benefits, it is an essential requirement to have worked and contributed to the system for at least one year (360 days) within the six years prior to the unemployment situation. The first 180 days of unemployment, the unemployed person will receive 70% of the regulatory base and 50% thereafter.
In Spain, unemployment benefits can be received for a minimum of 120 days (four months) and a maximum of 720 days (two years), depending on the duration of the period in which you have worked and contributed to the system.
But not everything is rights. Being registered as a job seeker also carries some obligations.
The most important is to stamp the job seeker card (in Spanish 'tarjeta del paro'), which means that the unemployment situation continues and the demand for employment is renewed.
Normally this is a procedure that is carried out every three months in the employment service offices, although during the pandemic, when the offices have been closed, it has been done automatically.
Having the unemployment card stamped up to date is a requirement to be able to access some public allowances or subsidies, such as the 'Renta Activa de Inserción' (Active Insertion Income), which require proof that you are a long-term unemployed person.
People who cannot or do not want to go to the offices and queue to stamp the unemployment card have the option of doing so online.
The digital process may vary slightly depending on the autonomous community where you live, but it is very similar.
In order to use this service, you must request it when you register or you can also do it one of the times you visit an office to stamp the card in person.