The social security system or Seguridad Social is an integral part of the labor economy in Spain. Residents working in the country who pay into social security are eligible to collect several important worker benefits, but the first step is getting a social security number in Spain.
What is a social security number in Spain for?
Workers in Spain who have social security deducted from their pay (the employer also pays a portion) are entitled to several benefits. The most well-known of these is the Spanish public healthcare system, but Seguridad Social also addresses things like maternity/paternity leave, temporary inability to work due to illness or accident, permanent disability, and pension/retirement benefits.
Generally, all employees making a minimum income will pay into the system. Business owners and employers have a responsibility to pay a portion of social security and to make sure their employees are registered. Self-employed professionals or autónomos have their own scheme in which they are responsible for both the employee and employer portions.
Getting a social security number in Spain
There are a few steps that must be completed prior to getting a social security number in Spain. If you are already a resident working in the country, you have probably already done most or all of them. But for prospective expats who have not yet made the move have a fair amount of paperwork to face, which can often be expedited by going through a lawyer specializing in expatriation assistance.
First, you will need to arrange for visas and, for some non-EU citizens, work permits. The next step is getting your NIE, which is a national identity number and document for foreigners. You will also need to officially register your residence at a particular address by filing for Empadronamiento if you plan on using the Spanish public healthcare system.
After that, the process of how to get a social security number in Spain is fairly straightforward. It involves filling out a form (Modelo TA.1), paying the required fee, and going to your local Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social along with supporting documentation. This will include your NIE card, passport, employment contract and possibly lease contract or empadronamiento, originals plus photocopies of each document. No appointment is required, but lines can get long very fast, so it is a good idea to get there early in the morning.
If you plan on using the public healthcare system, you will need to apply separately for a tarjeta sanitaria or healthcare card.
How to get your social security number in Spain for business owners
Non-Spanish companies that will start operating in Spain—and hiring workers who are living in Spain—will need to register their business with the social security office so that the appropriate employer and employee deductions are made. This process of how to get a social security number in Spain for an employer or business is much more complicated than as an employee, and is best handled by a legal professional.
Your company documents will need to be verified with an Apostille certificate and translated into Spanish before applying for a business tax ID number. There are also papers that need to be filed with the relevant tax authorities, and depending on the legal form of the company, additional procedures to set up the business in Spain will likely be necessary. Granting power of attorney to an experienced professional will ensure that this all moves as smoothly and quickly as possible so that all you have to worry about is running your business.