Social Security in Spain, as in the UK, is the means for gaining access to health care, unemployment payments, state pension and other benefits. In the UK your National Insurance Number is used to identify you for both tax and social security. In Spain however you have to get a separate Social Security number, and once you have this you can start paying into the system and accessing state health and welfare benefits.
Who has to pay Social Security in Spain?
Anyone living and working in Spain must register with the Social Security system and make these contributions in order to gain access to benefits. This may be through being employed by a company (so deducted at source from your salary), or by being self-employed (Autónomo) and making their own contributions into a state scheme specifically for the self-employed.
The overall rate for social security in Spain contributions is high in Spain compared to the UK, but the benefits are also more generous. For example, compared to the UK, the Spanish system rewards pensioners who’ve paid in more to a much greater extent. So if you make higher contributions over the years, on retirement you will gain a higher pension, unlike the UK, that has a flat rate.Of course if you are employed,the employer pays the majority of the cost.
What does Social Security in Spain Give Me?
Paying contributions entitles you to healthcare and, after you’ve paid into the scheme for 15 years, a pension. You can pay more than the basic amount to get a higher pension – or choose private pension funds – or make additional contributions to be covered for accidents or sickness at work. This is a different system to the UK, where the state pension is set at a flat rate, whereas in Spain paying more in means you can gain a bigger pension on retirement. If you have paid enough in, you can receive up to EUR 2,458 per month (the amount is capped at this figure).
Social Security in Spain for Employees
Although there are special social security schemes for certain categories (such as military staff and civil servants), most workers fall into the ‘general regime’.If you’re an employee, your employer will register you with the Spanish Social Security authorities Tresorería General de la Seguridad Social or TGSS) and insurance scheme, and share the cost of insurance contributions with you.
Social Security in Spain for Self-employed
If you are self-employed, (Autónomo), you pay social security contributions under a special regime, to access healthcare and other benefits in Spain. The scheme known as the régimen especial trabajadores autónomos. You pay a fixed rate of social security contributions, covering income up to a certain limit, so there is a minimum monthly amount regardless of how much you earn.
Self-employed contributions are generally regarded as being excessively high in Spain, compared to the UK. Many feel this holds back the Spanish economy, discouraging entrepreneurship and small businesses, as the rates front load a business with costs, before it has even got going. Indeed it´s argued that this is one of the issues that encourages the underground cash economy in Spain.
There are now discount schemes available to encourage self-employed workers to register. Women returning after maternity can claim 100 percent discount for 12 months, and If you are starting out self employed for the first time, there are discounts offered in the first 2 years, to ease the burden and help you get started, with the rate gradually rising to the full standard rate.
How to apply as self-employed individual
You will need your passport, NIE and social security number to be register as autonomo with the Spanish tax office, and to register into the Social Security RETA (Régimen Especial de Trabajadores Autónomos) scheme. You register with the Spanish Social Security system using the form TA.0521– you can find your local office here.
You can also register online but you will need to get an activation code from the TGSS and a digital certificate from a Digital Certificate Registration Office.
Read more about being Autonomo in Spain
If you need to get a Social Security Number or register Self Employed we can help