Posted by Julie Day on January 21, 2015
Guide to Claiming Unemployment Benefit in Spain

Claiming unemployment or 'el paro' in Spain is not like it is in the UK and some other countries. You cannot rock up to your nearest dole office saying that you haven’t got a job and expect to be paid for the rest of your life, or even until you find another job, that’s if you had one in the first place. In Spain, you will have had to have put in to be able to take out.

In other words, you must have been previously working for a determined amount of time – with a contract –to be able to then apply to receive the ‘prestación por desempleo’ or unemployment benefit.

The benefit for people that find themselves out of work in Spain has basically been designed to economically help those who have involuntarily lost their job until they find a new one. The amount that claimants will receive will depend on how long they have worked, their earnings during that time and how much they have contributed to the social security system.

There are other small benefits that can be claimed if you don’t qualify for the main unemployment benefit. These will be detailed later on in this guide.

Curriculum Vitae

Do you qualify for unemployment benefit?

As already mentioned, not everyone is entitled to receive el paro in Spain. You must comply with the following requisites first.

  • Must have a social security number (número de seguridad social)
  • Must have worked for a minimum of 360 days on contract
  • Must have lost your job involuntarily

Social security number

Most people will have received a little paper card from the Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales which has your name, social security number and DNI or NIE typed onto it.

If you don’t have one of these, or have lost it, your social security number will appear on your work contract and on each payslip.

Employed for 360 days

To be able to claim unemployment benefit, you must have worked on contract for a minimum of 360 days (días cotizados) over the last six years. This means that the 360 days does not have to be continual and you do not even have had to have worked for the same employer during this time. You could have worked three months a year for various employers over four years, for example. When you are employed by a company, it is their obligation to pay your social security contributions on top of your wages. This is how you are then entitled to claim at a later date if necessary.

Involuntary loss of work

You can only claim 'el paro' in Spain if your work contract comes to an end and your employer decides not to continue it, if you are sacked from your position or if your hours are reduced by more than a third. If you decide to leave, then you can’t make a claim.

How to apply and when

The most important factor to take into account is that you only have 15 working days from when your contract ends in which to present yourself and all the necessary paperwork at your nearest SEPE (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal) office. This office was formerly known as the INEM office.

It is absolutely vital that you register for an allotted appointment time with SEPE, as you will not be seen without one. This can be done by calling and the automated system with guide you through the process to make an appointment. This is not a free number, however. Alternatively you can make the appointment online: or

To register for an appointment online, you will need to key in your NIE or DNI number and your postal code and you will be given the address of your nearest SEPE office plus the date and time of your appointment.

If you know that your employment contract is about to end, make sure you apply for an appointment even while you are still employed just in case they can’t offer you one for a while. But bear in mind that the date of your SEPE appointment must be after the last working date specified on your contract.

If you have never applied for unemployment benefit before, you will have to go to the SEPE office twice. The first time, you will be handed a form to fill out plus be told exactly what to bring back and hand in at the second visit.

If you have received el paro before, you will only need to apply for a cita previa: Solicitud de prestación contributiva – Reanudación. This is just to update the details they already have and apply for a new payment.

Registered as looking for work

It is also vital to register with the SEPE office as a demandante de empleo, or as looking for work. While you are unemployed and receiving benefit, you must also be seen to be actively searching for your next job in order for payments to continue.

What you will need to take to the SEPE office


After you have completed your last day’s work on contract, your employer will seal the termination of your position by handing you some important paperwork that you will need to take to the dole office along with other documents and information that are all listed below:

  • Certificado de empresa (document to state the end of your position and how many days in total you have worked at the company)
  • Your two most recent payslips or nóminas
  • The Tarjeta de Paro (handed to you at first appointment)
  • Two copies of the solicitud de prestación and the original
  • Your NIE original and a copy (or DNI)
  • Your passport and a copy
  • Your bank account details
  • Your Libro de familia and a copy if you have children under your care

How long can you claim for?

The length of time during which an applicant is eligible to claim unemployment benefit depends on how many días cotizados or working days have been clocked up over the previous six years.

The main rule of thumb is that for every year worked, you can claim a total of four months unemployment benefit. The applicant cannot claim el paro for any longer than two years maximum.

For self-employed workers it is slightly less. They can claim two months of benefit for every year worked.

How much will I get?

There are several factors that will determine how much unemployment benefit you will be paid each month. For example, the government takes into consideration whether you have children, whether you have claimed before in the past and how much you were earning each month when you were employed, taking the figure from the last six months.

As a general rule, you will claim 70% of the gross amount of your monthly wage for the first six months. After this, the percentage drops down to 50% of your monthly wage amount.

There are, of course, minimum and maximum levels that you can claim, which in 2015 are as follows:

  • Minimum without children:                   497,01 euro
  • Minimum with children:                         664,75 euro
  • Maximum without children:                   1.087,20 euro
  • Maximum with one child:                       1.242,52 euro
  • Maximum with two or more children:     1.397,84 euro

Unemployment subsidy

Unemployment Spain

A small subsidy is available for some people even though they may not have worked a full year, or if their unemployment benefit period has run out and they are still out of work. It is best to check to see whether you are eligible. This is a fixed amount of 426 euro per month.

There are other similar subsidies for those in certain cases like the following:

  • Worked less than 360 days
  • Have family responsibilities
  • Over the age of 45
  • Over the age of 55
  • Immigrants returning to Spain
  • Ex-convicts
  • Have had a disability benefit withdrawn
  • Land workers in Andalucía and Extremadura

For more information about unemployment benefit in Spain, please visit: or (both in Spanish).



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