blog shbarcelona català   blog shbarcelona français   blog shbarcelona castellano   blog shbarcelona russian   blog shbarcelona russian   blog shbarcelona   blog shbarcelona   blog shbarcelona

Paper Pushing: Getting your Social Security in Spain

Written by Emily Elwes

When moving to Spain you become wrapped up in the sun, laid back culture and long days. However there is one thing, which is difficult, the endlessly complicated system of bureaucracy and paperwork. Especially as very few of the public servants can or are willing to speak English during the process. However do not panic! There is help at hand and plenty of resources to go to regarding navigating the Spanish system.

Whilst visiting for an extended time it can be useful to be integrated into the system for a number of reasons. The fist and foremost is access to free healthcare, which can be extremely expensive, especially with a family, without cover and even with a European health card or health insurance the excess charges can rack up after a few visits to a clinic. So whilst health insurance may be cheaper if you’re healthy it may not if you have an emergency. However, If your stay in Barcelona is short and spent without working then it is simpler to take out private health insurance.

Getting into the Social Security System.

There are two main routes into the social security system. One is automatic when you are employed by contract, where your employer will pay it for you out of your wages. However you will still have to procure a social security number yourself.

The other is to register as Autonomo, self employed, at which point you will have to pay the bills yourself which are deducted out of your account by direct debit.

This is the process you will have to follow:

1)  Go to the nearest ‘Tesoreria de la Seguridad Social’, this is the local social security office, they are dotted around the city and easy to find on google maps. When you are there ask for a “Solicitud de Afiliacion a la Seguridad Social” form, fill it in and you will get a social security number immediately. You must have your N.I.E (you can find out how to get one here), passport and copies of both.

If you are working on contract the process will end here and all you must do is provide your number to your employer who will pay it for you.

If you are self-employed there are a number of other steps to complete:

2)   After procuring you social security go to the Tax office or Hacienda and register as ‘autonomo’, you must have an NIE, passport, address and social security number. There are a number of different trades and professions listed under the autonomo category and you must choose the correct one.

3)   At this point you must return to the ‘Tesoreria de la Seguridad Social’ with your tax paperwork (and copies of everything), bank details and decide if you want health and sickness cover. Ask for the “solicitud de alta de autonomos”, fill it in and that’s it.

The social security costs them selves are expensive with a flat rate of €250 a month for the self employed, fortunately this is mitigated a little by a discount for the first 3 months to €50/month and subsequently rises thought the registered period. If you decide to cease activity as an autonomo, you must de register in advance of one month by revisiting the social security office. If you do not do this social security payment will continue to be taken out of you account. Taxes must be paid at the end of each financial quarter and information on this process can be found in the links below.

There are a number of resources for English speakers trying to navigate the Spanish system, these are Angloinfo and Expatica.

About the author

Emily Elwes

Emily is a freelance content editor & manager living & working in Barcelona. She's passionate about food, drink, language and collaborative consumption.


  • Hi Emily,
    I am an autonomo teacher in Spain.
    My question: can I de-register online or do I have to visit in person the Office?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Ernst,
      Blog articles are not updated as often as the Spanish system 😉
      So it’s better to contact a gestoria with your question.
      (The gestoria can also do it for you if you don’t have the time and don’t mind spending a small amount.)
      The other option is going back to the offices you went to to register and fill in the paperwork to de-register.
      Good luck!

Leave a Comment