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EXPLAINED: How to apply for parental leave in Spain

If you're about to become a parent in Spain, things have got easier with new legislation making men and women equal when it comes to parental leave. But who is eligible and how can you apply? We've put together a step by step guide.

EXPLAINED: How to apply for parental leave in Spain
In 2021, Spain extended paternity leave to 16 weeks making it equal to maternity leave. Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

Who is eligible?

As long as you have correctly paid your social security contributions (for a minimum of 180 working days within the past seven years or 360 in your entire professional life), 100 per cent of your salary will be covered.

The money comes from the Spanish government, not your employer, though employers are liable for certain taxes that pertain to the salary, such as withholding.

Freelance workers or autónomos can also apply for 16 week’s parental leave from the government. The amount they receive is calculated based on how much you regularly pay into the social security system under the autónomo system.

Same-sex couples and adoptive parents

In same-sex couples, both parents are entitled to paid leave. However, one will have to apply for maternity benefits and the other for paternity (or ‘other parent’) benefits.

In order to qualify for paid paternity or maternity leave, each parent must have a legal link with the child. This means that paid leave will only be granted if you are a biological parent, or if you have legally adopted the child. Being married to the biological or adoptive parent of a child is not enough to qualify for paid leave.

In the case of adoptive parents, both parents are elegible for the same 16 weeks if the child is under six years old. If the child is older, both adoptive parents are elegible for the remaining optional 10 weeks that a biological parent would have after the first compulsory six weeks after birth.

How long can can I take for parental leave?

Spain became a world leader when it comes to equality between both parents in Europe last year, with a law increasing paternity leave to 16 weeks – the same amount previously only reserved for new mothers.

Under this new law, which came into effect on 1 January 2021, maternity and paternity are equal and non-transferable. This means that if one parent decides not to take the time off, their partner can’t take those weeks in their place.

The first six weeks must be taken immediately and consecutively after the child’s birth, whereas the other 10 weeks can be taken non-consecutively during the first 12 months of the baby’s life.

Where do I apply?

Since April 2019, maternity and paternity leave have been brought together under an umbrella term known as prestación por nacimiento y cuidado del menor or parental leave.


You can apply for parental leave online through your social security portal, either with your digital certificate or with your username and password with [email protected] (a digital signature system). To help with the process, you can use the social security portal’s virtual assistant, and if you need help with the [email protected] system, read this article.

You can also access it through the social security’s digital platform. Once you’ve logged in, all you have to do is fill in the details and upload the required paperwork. The portal will also allow you to estimate the amount of money you will receive, and the length of the parental leave according to the expected date of birth.

However, if you don’t have login details for [email protected], you can still do your application online through the social security website.

By post

If you would rather send the physical documents in the post, this is still possible. You can download, fill out the application and send it to your the branch of INSS (Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social). You can search for the address and phone number here.

In person

Finally, you can also go to your local Social Security Information and Attention Centre (CAISS) by prior appointment and fill out an application form there.

Which documents do I need to include?

In any case, you will have to provide the necessary paperwork. These include:

  • The application form, which you can find here. Here’s a PDF version.
  • ID of the parents (DNI, passport or NIE)
  • If you’re an employee, a certificate from your employer with the start date of the parental leave. This won’t be necessary if it has already been submitted by your employer.
  • A maternity form from your doctor
  • Your libro de familia: The marriage and baby booklet in which all births are recorded is in the process of going digital, but phasing out this century-old document will take time. For now, the Ministry of Justice has said it will continue issuing paper copies.

Other documents may be necessary depending on the circumstances. In case of adoption, you will need to include the required judicial documents establishing the adoption or granting foster care. If prior travel to the country of origin of the adopted child is necessary, you will also need documentation issued by the competent body of your autonomous community.

Who is eligible for extra leave?

Leave can be extended by one week per child in case of a multiple birth, and an extra week can also be applied for if the baby is born with a disability or health problems.

If the baby is premature or has to be hospitalised for longer than seven days, leave can be extended for up to an additional 13 weeks.

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From Loco to Caca: What kind of baby names are banned in Spain?

Spain's naming laws restrict what parents can call their children, usually to protect the child from potentially offensive names. But what names are actually banned in the country?

From Loco to Caca: What kind of baby names are banned in Spain?

Spain’s laws regarding baby names forbid any name that could offend a person’s dignity or lead to confusion, such as using a last name as a first name, or a name a sibling already has.

The law, which dates back to 1957, means the civil registry can reject names that have negative connotations or affect the child’s dignity. However, each individual province’s Civil Registry offices can outline its own guidelines.

The list of the types of names that are forbidden, though updated on several occasions to adapt to changing times, remains long. Here are the main ones to know:

1. Giving the same name to siblings

To avoid identity confusion, giving the same name to two of your children is not allowed, even if the name is translated into a different languages. For example, the brother of a child called Juan cannot be called John.

2. Names with negative connotations

The Civil Registry (Registro civil) will reject any name that may be interpreted as having negative connotations, or that could affect the child’s dignity. Thanks to this rule, there can be no one called Hitler, Cain, Lucifer, Judas, Stalin or Osama Bin Laden. Similarly, the law protects children from being called things like “Loco” (Crazy) or “Caca” (Poo) since this could make them the object of ridicule or even cause them psychological and physical harm.

However, this criteria has been criticised as it’s usually up to the person at the Civil Registry to decide whether a name is offensive or not. There are plenty of women in Spain with Biblical names that have negative connotations, such as Dolores (meaning “pains”) and Angustias (“anguishes”).

Meanwhile, the national debate was reignited in 2016 when parents in a suburb of Madrid were told that “Lobo” (Wolf) was not an appropriate name for their newborn son. The couple responded by arguing that wolves represent strength and intelligence, and that plenty other common names such as Paloma (Dove) and León (Lion) also come from animals.

3. More than two simple names or one compound name

Parents are not allowed to give their child excessively long names anymore: more than two simple names or one compound name is the maximum. Three or four first names were previously quite common in Spain, but now names like King Felipe VI’s (Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia), are a thing of the past.

4. Surnames

The law also prevents people from having a first name that is also a common surname. Though there isn’t a specific list of these names, if you really like the idea of calling your child García or Pérez these are very likely to be rejected on the grounds that it could cause too much confusion.

5. Diminutives

While shortened names may be allowed, diminutives by adding the affectionate endings -ita or -ito won’t be accepted by the Civil Registry. Even if you want to call your son “Juanito” you will have to put him down officially as “Juan”.

On the other hand, names like Paco (previously a shortened version of Francisco) are now considered names in their own right.

6. Acronyms

While acronyms and blended names are common for companies in Spain, such as Maipe for Maite y Pedro, or Marfranol for María, Francisco y Olga, this will not be considered valid for a person. Similarly, if you want to call your child JC, you will have to put him down as Juan Carlos or another combination of two names with those initials.

7. Fruits, vegetables and other objects

“Pera” and “Pepino” are not considered acceptable names for people. In the same way, “Coche” or “Casa” will also be rejected.

8. Brands, famous people or cities

Though there is no specific list, names like Nike, Spielberg or Barcelona are also likely to be rejected by the Civil Registry. Similarly, even though La Casa de Papel may have given many parents the idea of calling their child “Tokyo” or “Berlin”, calling your child after a city is not likely to work either. However, Shakira and Piqué got away with it when they called their son Milan (without an accent on the a) because it’s a common Slavic name.

READ ALSO: These are Spain’s most popular baby names

This may seem like a lot of rules, but Spanish laws were much more restrictive in the past. During the Franco dictatorship, all children had to be christened with first names from the Bible. Only after Franco’s death in 1975 did the Constitution reestablish the freedom to give non-Christian names.

Also, Spain is not the only country that bans certain names. Iceland has a Naming Committee that must approve names before they are put in the registry, and Portugal also provides a list of 2,600 names that are not allowed. Courts in the US have also ruled names like “Queen”, “Jesus Christ” or “Santa Claus” illegal.