Any foreigner working or studying in Spain is entitled to a Spanish Social Security number, necessary for tax purposes as well as contracting and all procedures related to labor and work. Petitions are made at the Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social, which also handles pensions, disability, motherhood and fatherhood, death and survival and public health care.
The Spanish Social Security system benefits all workers who are active within it. Each calendar day cotizado, that a worker has been employed, counts towards your Spanish pension and unemployment benefits, so be sure to check that your place of work has given you the activation, called an alta.
Why do I need it?
Every person who works for a registered company in Spain is required to have a Social Security Number, called a número de afiliación de la Seguridad Social. Social Security is generally paid for by an employer. This number also helps track pensions, unemployment and sick days, as well as maternity or paternity leave.
A new law, passed in late February 2014, has drastically cut fees for employers who wish to register new employees in social security to help promote growth and job creation. Fees range from 50€ to 100€, but are only available to those who are not already registered.
The vast majority of workers fall under the regimen general, or general scheme, which includes employees who work under another person, working partners of capitalist companies, civil servants and military personnel and foreign-born residents who work in Spain. Once a citizen is made active in the system, they are covered for life and their number will not change.
For members of the European Union states, and spouses or family of Spanish citizens, affiliation with the Social Security system is as simple as presenting a valid ID. However, North Americans will need to present a valid work permit in order to gain access to their number.
The system also covers self-employed workers, called autónomos, who pay their own social security and are not eligible for unemployment, as well as students from foreign countries.
Where do I get a social security card? What do I need to bring?
Each capital city and the larger provincial towns have Social Security offices, typically open Monday through Friday from 9 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. To find your local office, use the office locater tool from the Social Security’s website. You can search by autonomous region, or zip code.
Some offices require appointments while others do not.
You will need the following documentation:
- Passport or Foreign Resident Card
- A copy of Passport or Foreign Resident Card
- Form TA-1
The TA-1 is not available in English, though it is available in the co-languages of Basque, Gallego, Valencian and Catalan. You can download it, fill it out and print it here.
Help! How do I fill out the form?
Here’s the important information you’ll have to fill out:
Section 1: Personal data
1.1 : First Surname / Second Surname (if applicable) / First name
1.2 : Gender (M for mujer or female, V for varón or male)
1.3 : Type of ID (mark with an X): Spanish DNI number / Foreigner’s Card / Passport
1.4 : Number on your identification document
1.5 : Social Security number (if applicable)
Date of birth / father’s full name / mother’s full name
Place of birth / province of birth / country of birth
1.6 Disability (if applicable) / nationality /maiden name (if applicable)
1.8 Street Address
1.9 Email address /option to have information sent by text message / Mobile phone number
Section 2: Relevant Social Security Data
Mark with an X: Activation of Social Security / Number Assignment for Social Security / Change in data
2.1: Cause for data change (if marked X)
2.2 Listing of any accompanying documentation
Section 3: Option to have data sent to a second address added for communication purposes
At the bottom left, the solicitor and his or her employer must, write the place and date, then sign in this format:
En Sevilla, el 5 de marzo de 2014
By filling out a form and presenting your original and a photocopy of a passport or another form of ID, you will be given a número de afiliación de la seguridad social. Keep in mind that you won’t be given an actual card like you might have in your home country, so be sure to keep the official form with your number for tax purposes.
While this number is active for health care immediately, you will not start earning days towards unemployment or your pension until you are employed and a lawyer has activated your work contract. This number is recognized throughout Spain and its autonomous cities in Africa.
What’s covered under Social Security?
Health care is one of the biggest assets of being in the social security system, and your employer covers the necessary fee for your basic care. In most regions, general doctor visits and emergency care are free at public clinics and hospitals.
Prescriptions and surgeries are not covered under the social security umbrella and must be paid for after care has been administered, though often at a reduced cost. Note that dental care is not part of the social security system and must therefore be paid out of pocket. For more information, contact a social security office in your region.
Every autonomous region has its own regulations for the administration and compensation, as well as rules related to the type of contract you possess, so visit your nearest office or ask a lawyer.
Have any questions about social security benefits, becoming alta in social security, or just need some advice? Please contact us!