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How to register with Social Security in Spain

There are so many good reasons to register with Social Security in Spain. In this article, we’ll show you how—even if you’re an expat.

7 min read

Being integrated in the Social Security system in Spain is critical for getting all the benefits you need, including healthcare, family benefits, and a public pension. In this guide, we’ll tell you how to register in the Spanish Social Security system—no matter what your status is.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably considering navigating a particular bureaucratic minefield because you have moved to Spain: registering with Social Security. If that’s the case, then we have good news—the process is actually very simple. What’s more, it’s also one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself, considering the benefits. These include:

  • Working legally.
  • Accessing free health care.
  • Being eligible for pensions.
  • Being eligible for family benefits.
  • Benefitting from other social services.

As you’ll see, not being registered with Social Security can leave you on the margins of the system in Spain. Registering is a basic procedure you have to go through, regardless of whether you’re working or not, or were born in Spain or in another country. In this guide, we’ll explain step by step how to register with Social Security in Spain, based on your situation.

How to register with the Spanish Social Security General Scheme

Once they’ve registered with Social Security, every worker in Spain has access to a range of benefits like the ones we already listed above. These benefits are intended to provide support for people in difficult situations (unemployment, sick leave, etc.).

Article 41 of the Spanish Constitution and Royal Legislative Decree 8/2015 are the laws that govern the General Law of Social Security, which establishes that all workers must be registered for Social Security.

The following people are able to register a worker:

  • The workers themselves.
  • The Social Security office.
  • The worker’s employer.

Regardless of who completes the process, you must be registered within the 60 days before your employment starts.

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How to de-register from the Social Security General Scheme

Although it’s not usually good news to be removed from the Social Security register, at least it’s your employer who has to handle the de-registration process. If they don’t request it, you can do it yourself by following the same steps you did to register. You just have to check the box labeled “baja” (de-registration) and list the reason in the TA. 2/S form.

Once you have completed the process, you can confirm that you have been de-registered correctly by checking your employment history online.

How to register with Spanish Social Security as a self-employed worker

Being an entrepreneur is exciting, even if all the bureaucracy can take some of the romance out of it. And you can’t escape Social Security either: If you’re self-employed, you still have to register in the system.

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What do you need to know before you start the procedure?

Before you get started, here’s a short checklist of what you’ll need:

  • You must have already requested registration with the Spanish Tax Agency.
  • You must have all the supporting information ready, including proof of your professional activity, the address of your office, and your contribution scheme.
  • You must complete the procedure online via the Social Security’s electronic office.
  • You must have an identification system (digital certificate or Cl@ve) associated with your DNI.

A step-by-step guide to registering with Social Security in Spain if you’re self-employed

Here’s what you’ll need to do to get started:

  1. Go to the website and choose the identification method you’re going to use to start the registration process.
  2. The system will ask you for the information you provided when registering with the Tax Agency (forms 036 and 037).
  3. Enter the requested information (you can use the User Manual to guide you through the registration process).
  4. Select the type of coverage you want.

Unlike with the general scheme for workers, if you’re self-employed, you can register a maximum of three times per year. In other words, there’s a limit to how often you can de-register and register again.

A step-by-step guide to de-registering with Social Security in Spain if you’re self-employed

Just like the registration process, you have to start by de-registering with the Spanish Tax Agency. Then, once your de-registration there has been confirmed, you can de-register from the Special Scheme for Self-Employed Workers (RETA in Spanish) by following these steps:

  1. Go to the website and identify yourself using your Cl@ve or your digital certificate to start the de-registration process.
  2. The system will ask you for the details of your employment.
  3. Complete all the fields, using the User Manual as a guide.
  4. Once you’ve completed everything correctly, the system will generate a PDF confirming your de-registration from Social Security.

How to register with Social Security as an expat

If you’re an expat living legally in Spain, you can complete the procedure in exactly the same way as any Spaniard. You still have to make sure you have a digital certificate, which in this case would be linked to your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero, or Foreigner Identity Number) instead of your DNI. Otherwise, you can follow the same steps described above for both the registration and the de-registration processes.

Requirements for registering online

If you meet all the requirements described above, you should be able to register without any problems. And we say “should” because if you’re completing the procedure online, there’s just one more key factor: your computer. Even though all the latest devices tend to meet the technical requirements, it’s not a bad idea to double check.

Valid operating systems

  • Windows 7 or higher, 32 / 64 bits.
  • Mac OSX 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.11, 10.12 or later.
  • Linux (versions that support Firefox).

Compatible browsers

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer v.9 or higher.
  • Microsoft Edge.
  • Mozilla Firefox.
  • Google Chrome.
  • Safari.

Java Virtual Machine version 6 or higher

Some electronic signature systems require you to have Java Virtual Machine installed, even though in some cases they aren’t compatible with version 9. That’s why we don’t recommend updating to this version of Java, so you can avoid problems during the registration and de-registration processes.

Identification methods

There are four valid methods for identifying yourself with the Social Security’s electronic office:

  • Digital certificate.
  • User and access password.
  • Cl@ve.
  • A mobile phone (for two-factor authentication via SMS).

In-person registration, and how it’s different from the online system

As you’ve seen by now, completing the whole social security registration and de-registration process online is fairly easy and doesn’t require a range of special tools. However, if you’re more of an analog person, you can always register and de-register in person. In that case, you have to follow slightly different steps.

  1. Go to a Social Security General Scheme office.
  2. Make sure you take your DNI, passport, or NIE—if you’re not Spanish and are married to a Spanish citizen, you’ll also need your family register (Libro de Familia).
  3. Fill in the TA.2/S application form with your personal details and those of the company you’re working for.
  4. Remember to bring your work permit, both the original and a copy.

What are the affiliation number and the social security number in Spain?

There’s some confusion about the different numbers we’re given when registering with Social Security. But, it’s actually quite easy to tell them apart.

Social Security affiliation number

This is a number you have to request from Social Security if you’re going to be employed in any way in Spain. It’s mandatory for people in the system so that they can take advantage of their rights and comply with their contribution obligations. This number, once assigned to you, is permanent, exclusive, and used for all employment regimes. You can request one using the TA.1 form.

Social Security number

This is the number the Social Security office assigns to each person living in the country, for identification purposes. You need it to be eligible for pensions and other social benefits. Therefore, it’s a number you need to have to register for any social security scheme or to access certain benefits. It’s 12 digits long and, like the affiliation number, you can apply for it using the TA.1 form.

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