Wednesday. 24.04.2024

If you have lost your job in Spain, you may be entitled to receive unemployment benefits related to your contributions and the length of your employment.

It is also possible that you are entitled to other types of subsidies or extraordinary support (RAI or SED) if you are over a certain age and lack income, for example.

In this article we are going to review what you need and how to apply for unemployment benefits once your work period has ended of if you have been dismissed.

You will learn who is entitled in Spain to collect unemployment benefits related to your previous contributions to Social Security, how to request the payment, its amount and its duration.

The information provided here is valid as of today, 4 November 2021.

Contributory unemployment benefit

As a general rule, if you have worked for more than a year in the last six years you will be entitled to receive a contributive unemployment benefit (prestacion por desempleo contributiva) from the state employment service (SEPE).

The requirements that you must meet to receive SEPE benefits are:

  • Have worked and contributed to Social Security for at least 360 days within the six years prior to the unemployment situation.
  • Not having abandoned your work voluntarily. Leaving your job leads to the loss of the right to contributory unemployment benefits. The SEPE will admit your case only if you are unemployed for having suffered a dismissal, for having terminated the contract or for having experienced a reduction in working hours of more than a third of the initial duration.
  • Be registered with your region's public employment service as a job seeker.
  • You must request this benefit within 15 days after the end of the contract.
  • While you are receiving the unemployment benefit, do not breach any of the conditions, otherwise you could lose it.

You can download the official application form for contributory unemployment benefit HERE

Documents needed

The procedure is very simple, since you only have to bring the following documents to your nearest SEPE office:

  • Company certificate (provided by your previous employer) to prove your unemployment status. Sometimes these certificates are sent directly by the company to SEPE via the internet.
  • DNI or NIE.
  • The Spanish 'Family book' (Libro de Familia), if you have one, with the ID of all the members of the family unit.
  • The application form that will be provided with the data of the Tax Agency.

Once the documentation has been reviewed, the employment office will inform you of the schedule of the benefit and the amount you are going to receive, as well as the requirements not to lose it.

How much is the unemployment benefit?

It depends on how much the worker has contributed to social security during the period of employment.

As a general rule, the daily average of the contribution bases that the worker has had during the last six months of contributions (base reguladora) is calculated and then a percentage is applied.

During the first six months of unemployment, applicants will receive a daily unemployment benefit equal to 70% of their regulatory base. As of the seventh month (day 181), the amount of the benefit is reduced and they only receive 50% of that base.

The Spanish law sets annually the maximum and minimum amounts that can be received as unemployment benefit. For this reason, it must be taken into account that if the calculation rule described above results in a higher amount, the benefit will never exceed the maximum set by law.

The same applies in the case of the minimum amount, if it is not reached, it will be supplemented until it is reached.

Maximum limits for 2021

  • Recipients without children: 1,153.33 euros.
  • With a child: 1,318.10 euros.
  • With two or more children: 1,482.86 euros.

Minimum limits for 2021

  • Recipients without children: 527.24 euros.
  • With one or more children: 705.18 euros.

The maximum and minimum limits described above apply as long as the recipient of the benefit has been working full time. In the case of part-time work, the limits must be calculated proportionally.

For how long can unemployment benefits be collected?

As a general rule, the beneficiaries of this contributory unemployment benefit can receive one month of payment for every three months of contributions. But they must have worked at least one year.

Hence, the contributory unemployment benefit in Spain is received for at least 4 months. From there, the more days of accrued Social Security contributions, the longer the benefit can be received, until the legal maximum is reached.

The maximum period allowed by Spanish law to receive contributory unemployment benefit is 2 years, regardless of how many years you have worked. 

It is important to know that during the collection period of a contributory benefit, the recipient continues to contribute to Social Security.

    Days of Contribution     Days of Benefit
    From 360 to 539 120
    From 540 to 719 180
    From 720 to 899 240
    From 900 to 1,079 300
    From 1,080 to 1,259 360
    From 1,260 to 1,439 420
    From 1,440 to 1,619 480
    From 1,620 to 1,799 540
    From 1,800 to 1,979 600
    From 1,980 to 2,159 660
    From 2,160 -  720

Rules for receiving unemployment benefits in Spain and how to apply