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Can I claim Spanish unemployment benefits if I'm not in Spain?

The Local Spain
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Can I claim Spanish unemployment benefits if I'm not in Spain?
There is a special regime for Spanish workers who go to a European Union country to look for work. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP)

If you're collecting unemployment benefits in Spain but need to go abroad, there's a few things you should know about how to do it and whether you'll still be eligible.


So let's say you're claiming el paro (unemployment benefit) in Spain and need to go abroad for a while. 

What happens with the benefit, and can you keep collecting it while abroad?

Can I claim Spanish unemployment benefits if I’m not in Spain?

Collecting unemployment abroad is possible as long as you can meet a few different requirements, and you keep the employment office informed of your movements. 

Generally speaking, it is the duration of the trip that determines if you can continue claiming unemployment benefits while abroad or not. 

  • If the trip does not exceed 15 days in the calendar year, whether they are continuous or not, you can continue to claim unemployment benefit without any issues.
  • It is also possible to travel abroad while collecting unemployment if the reason for the trip is one of: a job search (more below), involvement in an international cooperation project, or for professional development, but only for stays of less than a year, and only in certain European countries.
  • If the above reasons are not given and the stay abroad is for a period, continuous or not, greater than 90 calendar days, the unemployment benefit is suspended and can be resumed when you return to Spain. 
  • If the stay is for more than 90 days and the trip is not to look for work, to study, or take on professional development, or for international cooperation actions, the benefit is cancelled.

If you satisfy one of above criteria and are eligible to claim unemployment benefit while abroad, you must go to the employment office on the first business day following your return.

So, how do you got about collecting the benefit while out of Spain?


How, when and where to collect unemployment abroad

As we have seen, there are situations in which you can continue to claim benefits while being abroad, depending on the duration and type of trip.

This is possible as long as you have remained registered or registered as a job seeker for at least four weeks in Spain and move to a country in the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

In this case, you can export this benefit for three months, extendable for another three months, provided that the following requirements are met:

  • You have a travel authorisation from SEPE (more below) LINK
  • Requested the U2 document LINK, providing information sheet on your time abroad.
  • Register as a job seeker in the country you are moving to. You must do so within a maximum period of seven days.


Informing SEPE of your plan to go abroad

In Spain, there two employment offices where you can report your planned travel: the State Public Employment Service (SEPE) or the corresponding Regional Employment Service (Servicio Autonómico de Empleo). To avoid problems, it is recommended you report your departure dates to both offices in order to be safe.

If you are currently receiving unemployment benefit in Spain, you can inform SEPE of your departure by following these steps:

1) Ask for written authorisation at the SEPE office.

This authorisation is granted as long as there are no job placement activities planned during those dates, and is done by submitting this application form

2) With the application form stamped by the SEPE, go to your regional employment service and inform them of the days you will be away in order to avoid job interviews and/or training courses they might arrange for you during those days.

3) When you have returned from your holidays, you must inform the SEPE on the next working day. This is something that many people forget to do and if you fail to notify them of your return, they could think you are still abroad and you could be sanctioned for exceeding the deadline. You should also inform your regional employment office so they can restart your job hunt and training programmes.

Going abroad to look for work

There is a special regime for Spanish workers who go to a European Union country to look for work.

This is called "exporting" the paro, and allows you to collect Spanish unemployment benefit abroad while looking for work for a maximum of 6 months. It can also be done while studying or doing career development projects.

Exporting unemployment is the only system that allows you to collect Spanish unemployment benefits abroad, unless the trip is occasional (less than 15 days), in which case you can also continue to collect unemployment benefits in another country..


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