Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Spain - Previous cover in another country also counts

This chapter explains what you need to know when travelling in the European Union and how your movements affect your entitlement to social security.

Social Security and regulations of the European Commission

The legislations on social security matters in EU Member States, EEA countries and Switzerland are coordinated by Community Regulations. They include a series of general principles which guarantee that workers and their families are protected when they move from one Member State to another.

If you are going to work in a European Union (EU) country or another country covered by community regulations, in general, you will cease to belong to the Spanish social security system and will be protected by the laws of the social security system in the country where you are resident.

If you have lived, worked or paid social security contributions in another EU country or another country covered by community regulations, the time you have lived and worked there or the contributions you have paid while you were living in that country will be taken into account with regard to your access to benefits when you return to Spain.

Which benefits can you apply for?

Community regulations guarantee that you retain your entitlement to certain social benefits even though you travel to different countries. Therefore, you should take into account and report your periods of residency and contributions in any country (or countries) of the EU, EEA or Switzerland when you apply for the following benefits in Spain:

  • Sickness benefit in cash.
  • Permanent invalidity benefit.
  • Benefits for accidents at work and occupational diseases.
  • Maternity and paternity.
  • Family benefits.
  • Unemployment benefits.
  • Retirement pension.
  • Survivor benefits.

To determine which benefits you are entitled to (contributory or not) and their amount, periods of employment or residency or contributions paid in any other Member State of the European Union, EEA countries or Switzerland, are taken into account.

You may receive contributory benefits, benefits for accidents at work and occupational diseases and death benefits, regardless of where you reside in the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland. Each country will pay you their own benefits.

If you wish to receive the non-contributory benefits included in the Regulation nº 883/2004 (Annex X), you may only do so in the country where you are resident and depending on the legislation.

What should you do?

If you have been working in a country covered by community regulations and are returning to Spain, you should go to one of the Social Security Information centres (Centros de Atención e Información de la Seguridad Social, CAISS) to apply for the benefit(s) that correspond to you.

You can export benefits from another country both if you are a worker and if you are a pensioner or survivor of the person who received the benefit.

If you have been receiving unemployment benefit in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland, you can also transfer it to Spain by requesting the export to the country that pays it. You may only export it for a three-month period, extendable to six months. To do this, you should register at the unemployment office of your town within seven days and apply for the benefit by submitting the corresponding form.

The CAISS and employment offices will also tell you what documents you should submit. In general, these should contain the name of the country where you worked, the name and address of the company that hired you, the length of your contract abroad and your social security number abroad.

Jargon busters

  • EEA (European Economic Area): Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
  • Contributory benefits: benefits requiring a minimum of contributions, that is, they require you to have paid social security contributions for a certain length of time.
  • Non-contributory benefits: support intended for citizens who are disabled or in circumstances of need and lack sufficient resources to live, even though they have never contributed or failed to contribute for enough time to be able to obtain contributory benefits.

Documents you will need

  • Form A1: certificate proving you pay social security contributions in another EU country.
  • Form S1: certificate of your entitlement to healthcare benefits if you do not live in the country where you are insured.
  • Form S2: authorisation to receive medical treatment arranged in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland.
  • Form S3: certificate proving your entitlement to healthcare benefits in your previous country of employment, if you are a retired cross-border worker.
  • Form U1: statement of contribution periods in the country where you worked which should be included when calculating unemployment benefit. You should submit it to the national employment service of the country where you want to receive unemployment benefit.
  • Form U2: authorisation to continue receiving unemployment benefit while you look for work in another country. You can submit it to the national employment service of the country where you are looking for work.
  • Form U3: circumstances that might affect your entitlement to unemployment benefit. Inform the employment services of the country where you are being paid benefits of any changes to your circumstances which might give rise to a change in your benefits.
  • Form DA1: entitles you to receive medical treatment when needed as the result of an accident at work or occupational disease in another EU country.
  • Form P1: summary of decisions about pensions. Sets out the decisions taken in your case by the different institutions of the EU countries where you have applied for a retirement, survivor or invalidity pension.

Find out about your entitlements

These links will help you to find out about your entitlements in Spain:

Publications and web pages of the European Commission:

Who can you contact?

Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS)
C/ Padre Damián, 4
28036 Madrid
Tel. +34 915688300 
Fax +34 915640484

Social Security information centres (CAISS)

For your unemployment benefit application, you can go to:

Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal
Calle Condesa de Venadito, 9
28027 Madrid
Tel. +34 912722793

Local offices

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