Remember that knowledge of Spanish is essential for working in Spain. Apart from the EURES network, the main job search systems are:
PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
The Spanish State Employment Service [Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal] (SEPE) and the employment services run by the autonomous communities have a nationwide network of employment offices. To register you must be over 16, have a valid identity card or passport and an address. In order to include personal and professional data, you will be asked to provide documentary evidence (qualifications, contracts, etc.).
The addresses of the employment offices can be found on the SEPE website, with a link to all the public employment services run by the autonomous communities. These websites provide information on job vacancies, training courses and jobseeking guides. ‘Empléate’ [‘Get employed’] is a virtual job agency which can be accessed from the SEPE website.
PLACEMENT AGENCIES, RECRUITMENT AGENCIES AND TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES.
Other labour market intermediaries include non-profit placement agencies authorised by the labour administration, as well as firms specialising in the recruitment of human resources, which often advertise their vacancies in the press and online.
Temporary employment agencies (always identified by the initials ETT) hire workers directly and then assign them to user companies which manage and oversee the work to be carried out. They are especially useful for those seeking temporary work.
All Spanish national, regional and provincial newspapers have a daily section for job vacancies, although most job vacancies are published in the Sunday papers. Television channels and radio stations have specific programmes devoted to employment. One example is the well-known television programme called Aquí hay trabajo, which is broadcast from Monday to Friday at 09:30 on channel 2 (RTVE). There are other employment-related programmes broadcast on regional channels.
INTERNET, APPS AND SOCIAL NETWORKS
Companies are increasingly turning to the internet to advertise their job vacancies. Companies usually advertise their vacancies on their websites under ‘Recursos Humanos’ [Human Resources], ‘Empleo’ [Employment] or under ‘Trabaja para nosotros’ [Work for us].
The world of apps and the various social networks is currently expanding very quickly. Companies are not only seeking to improve the usefulness of their reference websites, they are even sometimes replacing their sites, expanding and improving access for users regardless of where they are.
Personal contacts and networking are very useful when looking for work. If you have friends or family in Spain, it is a good idea to mention that you are looking for work because many job vacancies are filled through such contacts and referrals. It can also be worthwhile participating in professional online forums, since social networks are playing an increasingly important role in active job search strategies in Spain.
If your aim is to work in the public sector, you will need to check the notices for open competitions published in the official state gazettes [Boletín Oficial del Estado] of the autonomous regions and provinces. You can also obtain information on open competitions from the Spanish government website ‘Portal del Ciudadano’ [Citizens’ Portal].
Spanish State Employment Service (SEPE)
Autonomous Communities’ Employment Services
Authorised placement agencies
Temporary employment agencies
Aquí hay Trabajo television programme
‘Portal del Ciudadano’ [citizens’ portal]
A good CV, accompanied by a cover letter, is a very important tool when it comes to applying for a job in a company in your sector (speculative application) or responding to a job advertisement. After the publication of a job offer, the first contact between a business and a candidate is the cover letter and CV. The CV is a document which contains the necessary personal and professional information of the candidate, highlighting all the positive and valuable aspects of his/her experience. The purpose of the CV is to obtain a personal interview. Statistics show that 75 % of candidates are rejected on the basis of their CV before the interview phase. The CV has therefore become an advertising tool for jobseekers and, as such, is a very important document which must be prepared carefully.
While some companies provide an application form, it is common practice to send a CV and a cover letter, whether in reply to a vacancy notice or as a speculative application.
This is not simply a formality; this is how you present yourself to the company and make a first impression. Unless otherwise indicated, both the letter and CV must be drafted in Spanish on a computer and in A4 format. The letter should be concise and use formal language; avoid using standard letters designed for any type of job offer. Both documents must be directly related to the job opening advertised.
Drafting a letter in response to an advertisement
Read the advertisement or job offer carefully.
Analyse the company’s needs. What kind of professional are they looking for?
Tailor your letter accordingly by highlighting those aspects of your CV you think will arouse interest based on the needs of the company that has placed the job offer.
Drafting a letter to be sent on your own initiative (speculative application)
This is for when you send your CV to a business on your own initiative in the hope that it will be taken into account when a vacancy opens up or a new post is created.
Try to obtain as much information as possible about the company and its needs.
Find a reason to show why you are interested in working for them.
Select those aspects of your CV you think will be of particular interest to the company.
There is no single template for a CV. For your CV to be effective, adapt it to each job offer, bearing in mind your training and professional career and the details of the specific opening. You may change the order of the sections or paragraphs if this makes the CV more effective. For example, you could put experience before training when you believe that, for a certain job, your experience is more important than your studies.
Four basic models:
- Ascending chronological order: if you have little experience, order the dates chronologically, thereby showing a positive development.
- Descending chronological order: if you have a lot of experience, or if you want to find work similar to that in which you have recently been involved, order the dates from the most recent to the earliest.
- Functional: sort the data on the CV according to the professional field if you have worked in two or more sectors which appear to be different or that are not clearly linked to one another.
- European: particularly appropriate if you wish to apply for a job in the European Union.
TIPS. Your CV must be drafted on a computer and be well laid out, clear and concise. It is best to limit it to two A4 pages. It is not compulsory to attach a photograph, although this may be useful for some jobs. Photocopies of qualifications and certificates are not normally attached (unless expressly requested) as these are usually brought to the interview. Direct language should be used. It is best to keep sentences simple and avoid using acronyms and abbreviations.
In the Spanish business world, companies often only contact candidates who have passed the recruitment or selection stage.
Template CVs and advice on how to draft your CV are available on most public employment websites in Spain.
The Europass CV is an alternative to conventional CV templates, particularly when you are seeking a job in another European country. It allows candidates to submit their personal details, skills and qualifications in a standard European format and is available in 22 European languages.
In Spain, selection processes are typically based on interviews and occasionally involve psychometric and/or job-related tests.
In view of the importance of this interview, it is advisable to prepare yourself properly by finding out what the company does and thinking about your abilities, attitudes and the contribution you could make to the company if they were to employ you. The interview may be with just one interviewer or several interviewers at the same time, depending on the company and the position.
At this point in the selection process, you should realise that the company needs to analyse the individual differences between the various candidates for a job. A test is simply a way of gathering information about a person. Psychometric tests are standard instruments that measure abilities, aptitudes, personality traits, interests, professional values, etc. Psychometric tests are used in 75 % of companies in Spain in their selection processes. There are two types: aptitude tests and personality tests.
Job-related tests are used to assess one’s knowledge of a specific profession. These may take the form of exams, technical questionnaires, role-playing exercises, etc.
An increasing number of companies are including group exercises in their selection processes. In these exercises, several candidates hold a meeting; the technical staff in charge of the selection process observe to assess how each participant behaves at the meeting. They can sometimes simulate professional situations and others may raise dilemmas or even moral issues
The assessment centre is a selection methodology which is being used increasingly by companies. It lasts for one to two days and is used to assess candidates’ skills in a variety of situations that simulate what it might be like to work at that company. It assesses motivation, the ability to work under pressure, oral and written communication ability, leadership, team work, persuasion, analysis and interpretation of data.
Traineeships are defined as limited periods of time in which practical work experience is acquired (either as an integral part of a syllabus or not) and which also have an educational/training component. They allow formal recognition of practical work experience to be obtained for inclusion in the individual CV or in a syllabus. They also facilitate the transition from the education system or from training to the job market. Their timeframe is usually short to medium term, lasting from a few weeks to 6 months, or in some cases up to 1 or 2 years.
A distinction is made between three types:
- Academic external university traineeships (for training, not for employment): for students.
- They may be external traineeships that are part of the curriculum: they are part of the degree course (Apprenticeships) or
- Extracurricular university [traineeships]: they are not part of the curriculum and are not mandatory, but are included in the Diploma Supplement. They are governed by University-Company Agreements.
- Non-academic, non-remunerated traineeships: for unemployed young people between 18 and 25 years of age, registered with the employment office, with an official university degree, intermediate or higher vocational training or a professional qualification certificate. They should not have been employed or have professional experience of more than 3 months in the same field (excluding academic traineeships).
They are governed by a collaboration agreement between the company and the public employment service (of the 17 autonomous communities or SEPE), e.g. in the Canary Islands this is called Programa Cataliza [Catalyse Programme].
- Employment traineeships: the purpose of the traineeship work contract is to enable employees to obtain adequate professional experience, related to the level of studies completed (university or intermediate or higher-level vocational training or equivalent official qualification). They require registration in the social security system and provide protection for subsequent unemployment.
- Public employment-training programmes. Source: Spanish State Employment Service (SEPE)
- Academic external university traineeships:
- according to the training plan established for the student and agreed on between the company and the university;
- with a tutor in the company and an academic tutor;
- take up no more than 50 % of the academic course when they are extracurricular.
- Non-remunerated traineeships in company or business group workplaces:
- under the direction and supervision of a tutor;
- duration of between 3 and 9 months;
- a company-participant agreement is signed;
- a certificate of completion of the traineeship is issued at the end, which is recorded in the Public Employment Services information system.
- Employment traineeships in companies with a contract:
- ordinary traineeship contract: no later than 5 years after completion of studies or 7 years for people with a disability,
- formalised in writing,
- duration: 6 months to 2 years,
- benefits for the employer: employers providing traineeship contracts may benefit from certain hiring incentives (reduction in company’s social security contributions).
- Public employment-training programmes known as
Vocational schools and trade schools that include job traineeships in a real working environment.
- Objectives: training takes place in vocational schools and trade schools with the objective of improving the employability of young people (aged 16-24), by providing them with training and work experience in a company and offering them the chance to acquire professional skills.
- Duration of training: from 1 to 2 years.
- Scope: national, but implemented locally.
- Level/Source of funding: the Ministry of Employment and the autonomous communities, with the contribution of the European Social Fund (ESF).
- Objectives: training takes place in employment workshops, with the aim of improving the employability of young people (over 25 years), by providing them with training and work experience in a company and offering them the chance to acquire professional skills and competences.
- Duration of training: 6 months to 1 year.
- Scope: national.
- Level/Source of funding: the Ministry of Employment and the autonomous communities, with the contribution of the European Social Fund.
- Academic external traineeships are for university students enrolled at that university or other Spanish or foreign universities who are pursuing those studies as part of an academic mobility programme.
- Non-remunerated traineeships are for unemployed young persons (aged 18-25) registered as jobseekers with the public employment services.
- For traineeship work contracts, the person is required to have the relevant residence and work permit, with no distinction being made between Spanish citizens and EEA or third country nationals.
- Public employment-training programmes involve a training and apprenticeship contract, explained previously.
- Academic external traineeships: Royal Decree 592/2014 of 11 July regulating external academic work placements for university students.
- Non-remunerated traineeships are for young people (aged 18-25) registered as unemployed: Royal Decree 1543/2011 of 31 October regulating non-remunerated traineeships in companies.
- Public employment-training programmes.
Living and working conditions
- External academic work placements: may qualify for scholarships or a study grant (this is not mandatory).
- Non-remunerated traineeships: participants receive a support grant from the company or businesses where they do the traineeship, amounting to at least 80 % of the monthly IPREM [the public income index] currently in force (EUR 579.02).
- Traineeship contract: the worker’s remuneration is set in the collective agreement for traineeship workers; during the first year of the contract it cannot be less than 60 % (during the second year, not less than 75 %) of the salary established in the agreement for workers who perform the same or equivalent job. The salary for a full-time contract will never be less than the minimum guaranteed interprofessional wage (EUR 1000 a month).
- On termination of the contract, the employer must issue the worker with a certificate which states the duration of the traineeship, the job or positions held and the main tasks.
- A traineeship contract cannot be entered into on the basis of a professional qualification certificate obtained as a result of a training contract concluded previously with the same company.
- Public employment-training programmes involve a training and apprenticeship contract, as explained previously.
Where to find opportunities
- http://www.universidad.es/buscador-becasUniversities.Traineeships in Spain
- EURES network in Spain
- At the Public Employment Services of the autonomous communities
- At academic institutions
- At professional associations
Funding and support
Financial assistance to attend interviews, take language courses prior to employment or for relocation, resulting from a traineeship contract of 6 months or more in the EEA:
- Your First EURES Job
- Also for non-remunerated traineeships (Leonardo, Erasmus) http://www.oapee.es/oapee/inicio/informacion/elige-programa.htmlSEPIE.
Where to advertise opportunities
Traineeship contracts are treated the same as any job offer and can be advertised:
- in training centres and universities
- through professional associations
- Using the public employment services of the autonomous communities (non-remunerated traineeships, aged 18-25, and contracts)
- via the EURES Network
- by contacting the Regional Ministries of Employment abroad.
Funding and support
At transnational level: EURES network in Spain
Also for non-remunerated traineeships http://www.oapee.es/oapee/inicio/informacion/elige-programa.htmlSEPIE.
Furthermore, companies that wish to offer a traineeship contract may benefit from hiring incentives (reduction of employer’s share of social security contributions).
An apprenticeship combines education and training in an educational institution or training centre and in the workplace. The work/training schedule may alternate on a weekly, monthly or annual basis.
The participants may be contractually linked to the employer and/or receive remuneration. On completing training, a national qualification/certification is obtained. Source: Cedefop.
Vocational training initiatives that include a practical work experience module are:
- the vocational training cycles offered by the education system have a mandatory practical module (module on workplace training, abbreviated to FCT in Spanish), that must take place in a real production environment;
- vocational training for employment, in order to obtain a professional qualification certificate, a practical module must be completed (practical workplace training).
In both cases, this is a compulsory practical learning experience, not a job, which takes place in a real working environment and may be validated with sufficient working experience.
- Dual vocational training with contracts for education and training.
- External academic university work placements aimed at students following a curriculum.
- Practical training provided by private entities.
Description of schemes
In Spain, the possibilities for those wishing to undertake an apprenticeship and training to obtain a professional qualification are the following:
- Vocational workplace training (FCT). Initial vocational educational training (IVET)
- Basic vocational training: two academic years, targeted at students between 15 and 17 years old. It has a ‘workplace training’ module that lasts around 300 hours.
(Royal Decree 127/2014 on basic vocational training in the education system).
- Intermediate-level vocational training: two academic years with a ‘workplace training’ module that lasts around 400 hours (Royal Decree 1147/2011 on the general structure of vocational training in the education system).
- Vocational training (VT) higher degree: two academic years with a ‘workplace training’ module that lasts around 400 hours (Royal Decree 1147/2011).
- Practical workplace training modules in continuing vocational education and training (CVET)
The aim of professional qualification certificates is to certify the professional competencies in the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications
(Royal Decree 34/2008: regulation of professional qualifications certificates).
There are three levels of professional qualifications certificate (1, 2 and 3), which have their respective practical workplace training.
They are official and valid throughout the whole of Spain and are issued by SEPE and the competent bodies of the autonomous communities.
- Dual vocational training. Training and apprenticeship contract
Governed by Royal Decree 1529/2012 establishing training and apprenticeship contracts and the rules for dual vocational training.
This contract seeks to encourage integration into the job market for workers between 16 and 25 years old, alternating between remunerated work in a company and training.
- Academic external university placements aimed at students following a curriculum: Royal Decree 592/2014 of 11 July regulating external academic work placements for university students.
They are part of a university degree course and are governed by University-Company Agreements.
The learning and training activities are for individuals carrying out such training as part of a mobility programme in EEA countries.
Living and working conditions
- Workplace training in Initial Vocational Education and Training (IVET) centres
Students do not receive remuneration for this training, but is compulsory for obtaining the corresponding vocational training qualification.
- Practical workplace training modules in continuing vocational education and training (CVET)
Students do not receive remuneration for this training, but is compulsory for obtaining the corresponding professional qualification certificate.
- Dual vocational training is a new type of vocational training that is offered both in the education system and the labour market.
It involves alternating between varying lengths of attendance at the training school and the company.
There are two paths:
- through the traineeship and apprenticeship contract
The duration of this contract must be more than 1 year and less than 3 years, although it may be extended in some cases.
During the first year, actual working time may not be more than 75 % (during the second and third year not more than 85 %) of the maximum working hours established in the collective agreement or, in the absence thereof, of the maximum legal working hours.
The worker’s remuneration must be proportional to the actual working time, pursuant to the provisions of the agreement, and never lower than the proportional part of the national minimum wage.
- through the collaboration agreement between the education or training establishment and the company
The training is carried out by the company tutor and the student/apprentice receives a salary in the form of a grant of up to a maximum of EUR 300, while the company receives allowances to go towards training the student.
Where to find opportunities
- Information on workplace training in Initial Vocational Education and Training (IVET) centres
- At the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports www.todofp.es.
- At the regional ministries of education in the autonomous communities.
- At training centres.
- Information on practical workplace training in continuing vocational education and training (CVET). At SEPE.
- Information about the training and apprenticeship contract and dual vocational training:
- Academic external university placements aimed at students following a curriculum:
Funding and support
- On the Ministry of Education website there is information about scholarships and grants for vocational training in the education system.
- On the SEPE website www.sepe.es and the autonomous communities’ regional Ministries of Employment websites, there is information on scholarships and grants related to professional qualifications certificates.
- Financial assistance to attend interviews, take language courses prior to employment or for relocation resulting from a traineeship contract of 6 months or more in the EEA:
Where to advertise opportunities
- Public Employment Service www.sepe.es
- Regional ministries of education in the autonomous communities.
- Public employment services of the autonomous communities.
- Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.
- Ministry of Education and Vocational Training
- Training Centres
Funding and support
The free movement of goods is one of the cornerstones of the European Single Market.
The removal of national barriers to the free movement of goods within the EU is one of the principles enshrined in the EU Treaties. From a traditionally protectionist starting point, the countries of the EU have continuously been lifting restrictions to form a ‘common’ or single market. This commitment to create a European trading area without frontiers has led to the creation of more wealth and new jobs, and has globally established the EU as a world trading player alongside the United States and Japan.
Despite Europe’s commitment to breaking down all internal trade barriers, not all sectors of the economy have been harmonised. The European Union decided to regulate at a European level sectors which might impose a higher risk for Europe’s citizens – such as pharmaceuticals or construction products. The majority of products (considered a ‘lower risk’) are subject to the application of the so-called principle of mutual recognition, which means that essentially every product legally manufactured or marketed in one of the Member States can be freely moved and traded within the EU internal market.
Limits to the free movement of goods
The EU Treaty gives Member States the right to set limits to the free movement of goods when there is a specific common interest such as protection of the environment, citizens’ health, or public policy, to name a few. This means for example that if the import of a product is seen by a Member State’s national authorities as a potential threat to public health, public morality or public policy, it can deny or restrict access to its market. Examples of such products are genetically modified food or certain energy drinks.
Even though there are generally no limitations for the purchase of goods in another Member State, as long as they are for personal use, there is a series of European restrictions for specific categories of products, such as alcohol and tobacco.
Free movement of capital
Another essential condition for the functioning of the internal market is the free movement of capital. It is one of the four basic freedoms guaranteed by EU legislation and represents the basis of the integration of European financial markets. Europeans can now manage and invest their money in any EU Member State.
The liberalisation of capital markets has marked a crucial point in the process of economic and monetary integration in the EU. It was the first step towards the establishment of our European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the common currency, the Euro.
The principle of the free movement of capital not only increases the efficiency of financial markets within the Union, it also brings a series of advantages to EU citizens. Individuals can carry out a broad number of financial operations within the EU without major restrictions. For instance, individuals with few restrictions can
- easily open a bank account,
- buy shares
- invest, or
- purchase real estate
in another Member State. EU Companies can invest in, own and manage other European enterprises.
Certain exceptions to this principle apply both within the Member States and with third countries. They are mainly related to taxation, prudential supervision, public policy considerations, money laundering and financial sanctions agreed under the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The European Commission is continuing to work on the completion of the free market for financial services, by implementing new strategies for financial integration in order to make it even easier for citizens and companies to manage their money within the EU.
If you plan on renting a flat during your stay in Spain, the best way to go about it is to check the accommodation sections of all the newspapers. You could also go directly to an estate agent or check the internet or estate agent listings in the Yellow Pages (páginas amarillas).
While you are looking for somewhere to live, you could go to a Tourist Office, where they will be able to give you a list of available temporary accommodation.
Buying a property
Many estate agents in the EEA currently handle the purchase of Spanish properties. In Spain, you can contact a local estate agent. If you want to stay abreast of market prices for new housing, the Sociedad de Tasación [Property Appraisal Company] conducts a comprehensive market survey which analyses new private housing developments in all provincial capitals.
The current 2022-2025 Housing Plan includes assistance for purchasing a home; specific rental assistance will also be made available for young people and those over 65, with special emphasis on renovating dwellings and energy efficiency.
The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda publishes information on this National Housing Plan on its website.
Some autonomous communities, as part of their young people’s services, offer general information on property rental and buying/selling, specialised legal information, press information on rented and shared accommodation, etc.
Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda
Information on the 2022-2025 National Housing Plan
There are three kinds of schools in Spain: public, state-subsidised private, and private, although the majority are either public or state-subsidised private.
These schools are publicly owned and run by the different Autonomous Communities. They are free.
These are private schools that are subsidised by the autonomous communities to provide compulsory education free of charge. Some charge a moderate amount for teaching materials, clothing, or other services.
These are privately-owned establishments. The cost depends on many factors, such as the enrolment fee, academic level and the services included, such as transport, school meals, special classes, sports, facilities, etc. The minimum charge is around EUR 300 per month while the maximum can be over EUR 600 depending on the services offered and the type of school.
The school day may be uninterrupted (no lunch break) or split (with a lunch break) depending on the education level and the particular school. The uninterrupted schedule typically runs from 8.30 to 15.00, leaving the afternoons free. If the day is split, classes run from 9.00 to 12.30, for example, and then resume after lunch from 15.00 to 17.00. Most primary schools split their teaching day, with small time variations, while secondary schools usually run on an uninterrupted schedule.
Schools providing compulsory levels of education start taking admission applications in March or April. There is a special application period in September. However, applications for compulsory education transfers are accepted throughout the school year if there is a good reason for changing schools.
School calendars may vary among the different autonomous communities, but the school year starts in September and ends in June. Holiday periods revolve around Christmas, Easter and the summer.
Foreign schools in Spain
Some schools in Spain provide an education that follows the education systems of other countries. In certain schools it is also possible to study a curriculum that leads to a dual qualification based on the education systems of both countries.
Information on all aspects of the Spanish education system, including a list of educational establishments, can be found on the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport website. Information is also available from the Consulate or Educational Attaché of the Spanish Embassy in your country.
Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. National register of non-university institutions
The implementation of the principle of free movement of people, is one of the cornerstones of our European construction, has meant the introduction a series of practical rules to ensure that citizens can travel freely and easily to any Member State of the European Union. Travelling across the EU with one’s car has become a lot less problematic. The European Commission has set a series of common regulations governing the mutual recognition of driving licences, the validity of car insurance, and the possibility of registering your car in a host country.
Your driving licence in the EU
The EU has introduced a harmonised licence model and further minimum requirements for obtaining a licence. This should help to keep unsafe drivers off Europe's roads - wherever they take their driving test.
Since 19 January 2013, all driving licences issued by EU countries have the same look and feel. The licences are printed on a piece of plastic that has the size and shape of a credit card.
Harmonised administrative validity periods for the driving licence document have been introduced which are between 10 and 15 years for motorcycles and passenger cars. This enables the authorities to regularly update the driving licence document with new security features that will make it harder to forge or tamper - so unqualified or banned drivers will find it harder to fool the authorities, in their own country or elsewhere in the EU.
The new European driving licence is also protecting vulnerable road users by introducing progressive access for motorbikes and other powered two-wheelers. The "progressive access" system means that riders will need experience with a less powerful bike before they go on to bigger machines. Mopeds will also constitute a separate category called AM.
You must apply for a licence in the country where you usually or regularly live. As a general rule, it is the country where you live for at least 185 days each calendar year because of personal or work-related ties.
If you have personal/work-related ties in 2 or more EU countries, your place of usual residence is the place where you have personal ties, as long as you go back regularly. You don't need to meet this last condition if you are living in an EU country to carry out a task for a fixed period of time.
If you move to another EU country to go to college or university, your place of usual residence doesn't change. However, you can apply for a driving licence in your host country if you can prove you have been studying there for at least 6 months.
Registering your car in the host country
If you move permanently to another EU country and take your car with you, you should register your car and pay car-related taxes in your new country.
There are no common EU rules on vehicle registration and related taxes. Some countries have tax-exemption rules for vehicle registration when moving with the car from one country to another permanently.
To benefit from a tax exemption, you must check the applicable deadlines and conditions in the country you wish to move to.
Check the exact rules and deadlines with the national authorities: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/registration/registration-abroad/index_en.htm
EU citizens can insure their car in any EU country, as long as the chosen insurance company is licensed by the host national authority to issue the relevant insurance policies. A company based in another Member State is entitled sell a policy for compulsory civil liability only if certain conditions are met. Insurance will be valid throughout the Union, no matter where the accident takes place.
Value Added Tax or VAT on motor vehicles is ordinarily paid in the country where the car is purchased, although under certain conditions, VAT is paid in the country of destination.
More information on the rules which apply when a vehicle is acquired in one EU Member State and is intended to be registered in another EU Member State is available on this link https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/registration/taxes-abroad/index_en.htm.
As a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you only need to show your valid identity card or passport to enter Spain. You are entitled to remain in the country for 3 months to find a job or set up as self-employed. If you have still not found a job after 3 months, you are entitled to stay for longer provided you continue seeking employment.
If your family members are not citizens of the European Union, the EEA or Switzerland, they must apply for a residence card for relatives of EU citizens if they plan to stay in the country with you for more than 3 months.
After you arrive in Spain you have a period of three months in which to apply at the Oficina de Extranjeros [Foreign Nationals’ Office] or at a police station for registration in the Registro Central de Extranjeros [Central Register of Foreign Nationals]. You will need to present your valid passport or identity card and pay a fee. The Office will give you a registration certificate with a NIE (foreign resident identification number). This procedure has replaced the former Community resident card system.
For identification purposes, any non-national wishing to pursue any economic, professional or social interests in Spain must have a personal, unique and exclusive NIE (foreign resident identification number). This number is provided automatically when a person registers at the Foreign Nationals Register, but it may also be applied for separately.
Persons who are not from Switzerland or an EEA member country require a residence permit to live in Spain. For further information, please contact the Spanish embassy in your country of origin or go to the portal of the Secretariat-General for Immigration and Emigration of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security.
Registration in your local area
This formality for proving your residence in Spain is done at the local Ayuntamiento [city/town council]. For this you will need to show the rental contract for your accommodation, or your electricity or water bill, etc. as proof that you do live there.
If this is the first time you have worked in Spain, you must obtain your own Social Security membership number. You can arrange this yourself or your company can do it on your behalf. You must produce the following at the Social Security office in order to be issued with the card:
- application form (TA-1)
- identity card.
You will then be given a Social Security card, which must be presented at the corresponding health centre so that a doctor can be assigned and you will be given a health card.
Ministry of the Interior
State Secretariat for Migration
Before travelling to Spain to seek employment or attend a job interview, please be aware that you will need the following documents:
- a valid EU/EEA passport or identity card;
- a curriculum vitae in Spanish (take several or have it in electronic format so that it can be updated), cover letters and references from your previous jobs, academic qualifications and courses taken;
- European Health Card issued by the Social Security Department in your country;
- forms U1 to U4 as evidence of time spent as a worker and contributor to the system in your country, where relevant, and/or forms U7 to U10 if you wish to transfer your right to receive unemployment benefits to Spain. The maximum transfer period is 3 months, although it is possible to have this period extended for a further 3 months. For more information, check the link of the Spanish State Employment Service;
- photocopy of your birth certificate and ‘family certificate’ (long birth certificate);
- certified translation of your qualifications, where appropriate;
- any other permits and licences you consider appropriate, e.g. your driving licence.
Before accepting a job, please check that:
- you have a valid EU/EEA passport or identity card;
- you understand the terms and conditions of your work contract. It is essential that you are clear on who is responsible for travel and accommodation expenses – you or your employer;
- you are aware of the wage payment method and frequency;
- you have accommodation in Spain;
- you have appropriate medical cover;
- you have sufficient funds to manage until you receive your first pay cheque or return home, whichever applies.
Before returning to your country, you should:
- Apply for the U1 form from your employment office. This certifies your contributions to the Spanish social security system and will be used to calculate future benefits to which you may be entitled.
- Make sure to keep all the personal documents which attest to your work situation in Spain (employment contract, payslips, etc.).
- Settle your tax situation with the tax agency.
Remember that it is advisable to apply for these documents as soon as possible because they may take some time to process.
Spanish State Employment Service (SEPE)
Quality of work and employment - a vital issue, with a strong economic and humanitarian impact
Good working conditions are important for the well-being of European workers. They
- contribute to the physical and psychological welfare of Europeans, and
- contribute to the economic performance of the EU.
From a humanitarian point of view, the quality of working environment has a strong influence on the overall work and life satisfaction of European workers.
From an economic point of view, high-quality job conditions are a driving force of economic growth and a foundation for the competitive position of the European Union. A high level of work satisfaction is an important factor for achieving high productivity of the EU economy.
It is therefore a core issue for the European Union to promote the creation and maintenance of a sustainable and pleasant working environment – one that promotes health and well-being of European employees and creates a good balance between work and non-work time.
Improving working conditions in Europe: an important objective for the European Union.
Ensuring favourable working conditions for European citizens is a priority for the EU. The European Union is therefore working together with national governments to ensure a pleasant and secure workplace environment. Support to Member States is provided through:
- the exchange of experience between different countries and common actions
- the establishment of the minimum requirements on working conditions and health and safety at work, to be applied all over the European Union
Criteria for quality of work and employment
In order to achieve sustainable working conditions, it is important to determine the main characteristics of a favourable working environment and thus the criteria for the quality of working conditions.
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) in Dublin, is an EU agency that provides information, advice and expertise on, as the name implies, living and working conditions. This agency has established several criteria for job and employment quality, which include:
- health and well-being at the workplace – this is a vital criteria, since good working conditions suppose the prevention of health problems at the work place, decreasing the exposure to risk and improving work organisation
- reconciliation of working and non-working life – citizens should be given the chance to find a balance between the time spent at work and at leisure
- skills development – a quality job is one that gives possibilities for training, improvement and career opportunities
The work of Eurofound contributes to the planning and design of better living and working conditions in Europe.
Health and safety at work
The European Commission has undertaken a wide scope of activities to promote a healthy working environment in the EU Member States. Amongst others, it developed a Community Strategy for Health and Safety at Work for the period 2021-2027. This strategy was set up with the help of national authorities, social partners and NGOs. It addresses the changing needs in worker’s protection brought by the digital and green transitions, new forms of work and the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the framework will continue to address traditional occupational safety and health risks, such as risks of accidents at work or exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The Community policy on health and safety at work aims at a long-lasting improvement of well-being of EU workers. It takes into account the physical, moral and social dimensions of working conditions, as well as the new challenges brought up by the enlargement of the European Union towards countries from Central and Eastern Europe. The introduction of EU standards for health and safety at the workplace, has contributed a lot to the improvement of the situation of workers in these countries.
Improving working conditions by setting minimum requirements common to all EU countries
Improving living and working conditions in the EU Member States depends largely on the establishment of common labour standards. EU labour laws and regulations have set the minimum requirements for a sustainable working environment and are now applied in all Member States. The improvement of these standards has strengthened workers’ rights and is one of the main achievements of the EU’s social policy.
The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers
The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will not become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.
Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU
As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.
For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.
Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe
The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.
Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU
Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.
In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.
The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.
A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.
The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.
Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents
- a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
- a cover letter editor,
- certificate supplements,
- diploma supplements, and
- a Europass-Mobility document.
The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.
The minimum working age in Spain is 16, with authorisation from parents or guardians needed until the age of 18.
However, persons under the age of 18 may not work night shifts, overtime or in conditions considered unhealthy, strenuous, harmful or dangerous.
In exceptional circumstances, under-16s may take part in public shows as long as such participation does not endanger their health or education.
An employment contract may be in writing or agreed verbally (in certain circumstances). All contracts, with the exception of training contracts, may be agreed on a full-time or a part-time basis.
Types of contract: the most relevant developments for 2022.
- Permanent employment contract.
- Permanent employment contracts in the construction sector.
- Temporary employment contract.
- Disappearance of the work and service contract.
- Contract for circumstances of production.
- Contract for substitution of the employee.
- Discontinuous fixed-term contract.
Permanent employment contract
One of the aspects most directly affected by the new labour reform is the nature of this contract, which is designed to avoid temporary employment: the permanent contract is established without any time limit and there are a number of types of contract, such as contracts for persons with disabilities, senior management contracts or workers in situations of social exclusion by recruitment companies, among others.
The 2022 Labour Reform also introduces significant changes when establishing a permanent employment contract, such as the period established for chaining of contracts and becoming a permanent employee, which is limited to 18 months (in a 24-month period). The previous legislation laid down a much broader limit: 24 months in a 30-month period.
On the other hand, the recent labour reform also introduces relevant developments specific to permanent employment contracts in the construction sector and provides for an increase in the2022 minimum guaranteed interprofessional wage for workers.
Permanent employment contracts in the construction sector
In this case, the contract is entered into for construction-related services or tasks. At the end of the job the employer is bound to offer the worker an opportunity to relocate. This offer must be made in writing within 5 days.
In addition, the following constitute grounds for terminating the contract:
- The worker rejects the relocation offer.
- The worker is insufficiently qualified for construction work in the province.
- There are no construction sites in the province.
Temporary work contract
Three types of temporary contract used to exist prior to this date:
- For a determined task or service.
- Ad hoc (due to circumstances of production).
- And a training contract.
Following the recently adopted labour reform, fixed-term contracts are affected by a number of changes:
Disappearance of the work and service contract
The new forms of fixed-term contracts relate either to circumstances of production or substitution of the worker:
Contract due to circumstances of production
This form of temporary employment contract is established for very specific situations, such as fluctuations in normal activity. The duration may not exceed 6 months, which may be extended to 1 year by an industry agreement.
Contract for employee substitution
This is guided by the same criteria as the training contract. The new labour reform introduces a significant change: the substitute may start providing services up to 15 days before the substituted person goes on leave.
Discontinuous fixed-term employment contract
This form is ideally used for seasonal and temporary work, as well as by temporary employment agencies and for contracts and subcontracts. It is also provided for fixed-term or open-ended periods.
A discontinuous fixed-term contract grants workers the same rights as in the case of permanent employment, including severance pay.
Types of Training Work Contract
There are two types of training contract
- Dual learning contract.
- Traineeship contract.
A number of key points have been identified, which are common to both types of training contract:
Social Security action: these range from contingencies and benefits to unemployment and the Social Guarantee Fund.
Adoption, birth, temporary incapacity or risk during pregnancy: these scenarios cause the duration of the contract to be put on hold.
The sectoral collective agreement at national or autonomous community level: identifies aspects such as activities, levels or professional groups or jobs.
The contract must include an individual training plan, specifying the content of the traineeship or mentoring activities.
A series of bonuses are provided for in the contracts, which are of a specific nature for training and apprenticeships.
Dual learning contract
The purpose of this type of contract is to combine the training process with the paid work activity. The scope covers vocational training, university studies or a catalogue of specialities in the Spanish employment system. The labour reform introduces significant new features to this type of contract. These affect:
The minimum contract duration: 3 months, with a maximum of 2 years.
Actual working time: this may not exceed 65 % of the maximum working day in the first year and 85 % in the second year.
The possibility of compensatory payment: signing this contract does not entitle the worker to compensatory payment, and there is an express ban on additional hours and overtime except under exceptional circumstances.
Contract for professional practice
This is aimed at all workers who hold a university degree, master’s degree, certificate from the vocational training system or intermediate or higher degree. The most significant changes that have been included following the labour reform concern several aspects:
- The contract duration cannot be less than 6 months and cannot be more than one year in the same or a different undertaking.
- The contract may be full-time or part-time.
- Overtime is not possible, but additional hours are possible.
- The remuneration is laid down in the agreement.
For years, the temporary employment rate in Spain has been among the highest of all the OECD countries, with contracts of 6 months or less representing a large proportion of the total number of contracts. According to Eurostat, 28 % of employees aged between 25 and 49 in Spain are temporary workers, compared to 13.1 % in the European Union. In March 2022, the new labour regulation aimed at structurally reforming the labour market entered into force. The new rule will make it possible to establish a labour market within which temporary employment lies, for the first time, within the framework of European standards.
The tourism sector in Spain is very important to the national economy, generating 12.3 % of the GDP in 2018, but activity in this sector is mostly seasonal. In mainland Spain, the season begins at Easter time and ends in September/October, while in the Canary Islands, the season is longer. Due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19, Spain declared a ‘state of emergency’ on 15 March 2020 which stopped all activities in the hospitality sector (HORECA). Business at hotels, restaurants and cafés is gradually returning to normal, maintaining hygiene standards and following social distancing and maximum capacity rules (see Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism guidelines on avoiding infection.)
Those employed in this sector are predominantly temporary workers and are usually hired under ‘casual’ contracts, ‘permanent seasonal’ contracts or contracts for a ‘specific project or service’. Information on the types of contract can be found by clicking on this link:
Agriculture has become more important for the Spanish economy (9.7 % of GDP in 2021), and some autonomous communities have strong agricultural traditions, namely Andalusia, Murcia, Valencia and Extremadura. Temporary workers are usually hired under ‘casual’ employment contracts.
The Spanish government has announced that subsidies will be available for the management of labour migration and migrant workers involved in seasonal agricultural work. Further information is available here:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation has launched a telephone assistance service to help businesses and workers with international travel. Simply by dialling 060 (or +34 911252122 from abroad), users can ask specific questions on the conditions and requirements for entry into various countries, the health measures in place, and what can be done to relax these measures in view of the need to make these trips.
Employment contracts may be in writing or agreed verbally, but verbal agreements are not very common. Verbal agreements are currently only permitted where the term is less than 4 weeks in the category of temporary work due to production circumstances. All other types of contracts must be in writing and employers must provide workers with the following information:
- information identifying the company and the worker;
- address of the company and the workplace. If the worker is mobile or has no fixed place of work, this must be explicitly stated;
- the start date and the expected end date for fixed-term contracts;
- the professional group and description of the job and workers’ duties, with enough detail to know what specific job they will be doing;
- the basic salary, additional salary components and frequency of payment;
- working hours and how they are spread out;
- duration of holiday leave and the reason for which it is pre-assigned in some cases, etc.;
- mutual notice periods for termination of the employment relationship;
- the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Once the contract has been signed by both parties, the employer must inform the public employment services of the content and any extensions to the contract. This can be done electronically using the contrat@ application.
A probationary period may be established in the contract. The maximum duration of this period is 6 months for qualified technicians and 2 months for all other workers.
During the probationary period the employment relationship may be terminated by either of the parties for any reason, without any notice or compensation.
The probationary period is counted for the purposes of length of service, and during this period the worker has the same rights and obligations as the other workers.
While employment terms and conditions may be changed during the term of employment, employers must comply with the requirements and procedures laid down in the labour laws. These changes relate to functional and geographic mobility and significant changes in working conditions.
A worker is entitled to end their contract if they do not agree with this posting, or with a significant change in their working conditions, being entitled to compensation of 20 days per year.
Where any of the above types of changes to the working conditions occur, it is advisable to immediately go to the trade union representatives at the company or directly to the unions.
Under Spanish law, persons under 16 years of age are prohibited from working. A work contract concluded with a minor, under 16 years of age, will be considered null and void. Any breach of the rules governing the employment of minors by the employer is considered a very serious offence.
People over the age of 16 and under 18 who are still dependants must have the consent of their parents or guardians. However, persons under the age of 18 may not work night shifts, overtime or in other conditions declared by the Government to be unhealthy, strenuous, harmful or dangerous.
The participation of persons under 16 years of age in public events will only be authorised in writing in exceptional, specific cases by the employment authorities, providing it does not endanger that person’s physical health or education.
Special cover exists in the case of a risk to the pregnancy, whereby suspension of a contract may be requested when it is not possible to change job or duties.
Persons with disabilities
In order to tackle particular problems facing disabled people seeking work, the government provides a series of incentives and subsidies to companies that hire them. The autonomous communities have also implemented schemes to help people in this situation. Companies hiring a person with a disability are eligible for grants for adapting the workplace or acquiring protective equipment, and they also pay a reduced Social Security contribution on behalf of that worker. These reductions are the highest in comparison with other groups and also take all relevant variables into account: gender, age and the type and degree of disability.
Furthermore, by law at least 2 % of the workforce of public and private firms employing 50 people or more must be employees with a disability.
A person is considered to be disabled if they have a recognised degree of disability equal to or higher than 33. The relevant autonomous community or IMSERSO [Institute for the elderly and social services] is responsible for recognising the degree of disability.
Statute of Workers’ Rights
Spanish Public Employment Service
Employing persons with disabilities
A self-employed worker is someone who works independently, outside the scope of management and organisation of another person, and who may hire other persons to work for them.
A series of formalities must be completed to start work as a self-employed worker:
- Declaración Censal de Inicio de Actividad [Business Start-up Declaration] filed at the local provincial Delegación de Hacienda [Tax Agency].
- Social Security registration under the Régimen Especial de Autónomos [Special Self-Employment Scheme] with the provincial Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social [Social Security General Fund].
- Registration of patents, designs, industrial designs, name, label and trade mark in the intellectual property register, if applicable.
- A municipal licence must be requested for any premises that are opened, and the labour authority of the Autonomous Community must be notified.
There are currently numerous plans and schemes to encourage self-employment and entrepreneurship at national, regional and local level, including advice, training, financial subsidies, technical assistance subsidies, training subsidies, subsidies for opening and establishing businesses as well as for specific groups such as the under-30s, the long-term unemployed, unemployed women, etc.
Since 2010, self-employed workers have been eligible to receive self-employed unemployment benefits. To be able to claim this benefit, workers must have paid into the system for at least 12 months in the last 48 months immediately before ceasing their self-employment.
Spanish State Employment Service (SEPE)
Ministry of Employment, Migration and Social Security
The Government sets the national minimum wage every year. This is the minimum earned by workers in any agricultural, industrial or service job, regardless of their gender, age and whether they are in fixed-term or casual work. It is illegal to hire a worker for a lower wage.
The 2022 interprofessional minimum wage stands at EUR 1 000 gross per month, broken down into 14 payments. Thus, the increase is EUR 35 per month because, since 1 September 2021 and until this increase has taken place, the minimum guaranteed interprofessional wage for 2021 was EUR 965. Thus, the minimum wage in Spain is EUR 33.33 per day, in the case of seasonal workers or casual workers EUR 47.36 gross per day, and for domestic employees EUR 7.82/hour.
The amounts indicated above are increased by the applicable allowances.
These minimum wage amounts are always superseded by collective bargaining agreements or other company agreements.
The salary comprise:
- Basic wage.
- Allowances relating to the particular job: arduousness, toxicity, danger, shift work, night work, situation of the company, production or quality bonuses, profit sharing, etc., length of service, position based on one of Spain’s islands.
- Additional payments: workers are entitled to at least two additional payments each year, the amount of which is determined by the collective bargaining agreement or by agreement between the employer and workers’ representative. These additional payments are usually made at Christmas and in the month of July. The amount may be paid on a monthly pro-rata basis if so agreed.
Wages are generally paid every month and never for longer periods. The employer must provide the employee with a payslip clearly stating the details of the company and the worker, the wage, deductions (including the worker’s social security contributions and IRPF (income tax) deductions).
The employer is responsible for making the contributions and therefore withholds the legally stipulated amount of income tax and Social Security contributions.
The amount withheld for income tax depends on pay and personal and family circumstances (number of children and dependants that the worker has). Workers must inform their employer and provide them with the specific information needed to calculate the corresponding deduction.
The social security contribution rate paid by workers is approximately 6.35 %.
Wage guarantee: an independent body called FOGASA guarantees workers’ pay and any compensation due to them for dismissal or termination of the working relationship.
NORMAL WORKING HOURS AND REST PERIODS
The duration of the working day or week is stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement or in the contract itself. In any case, the maximum normal working hours are 40 hours per week, on average, calculated on a yearly basis.
The normal working hours should be evenly spread out over the days or weeks. However, an agreement may be reached through collective bargaining or by agreement between the employer and workers’ representatives for working hours to be distributed unevenly over the year, provided that the minimum daily and weekly rest periods established by law are complied with.
As a general rule, the working day may not exceed 9 hours (8 hours for workers under the age of 18), which must include a rest period of at least 15 minutes (30 minutes for workers under the age of 18).
There must be at least 12 hours between the end of one working day and the beginning of the next one.
Workers are entitled to a minimum weekly rest period of one and a half uninterrupted days. These days generally include the whole of Sunday and either Saturday afternoon or Monday morning.
The minimum weekly rest period for workers under 18 is two uninterrupted days.
Persons under the age of 18 may not work at night.
The law provides for extensions and reductions of working hours according to the sector and special characteristics of the job and for certain groups.
It also sets out the possibility for workers to be entitled to reduced working hours for family-related reasons, and for a reduced working day for victims of gender-based violence and victims of terrorism.
This means hours of work performed over and above the maximum number of normal working hours. Overtime is voluntary, unless agreed in a collective agreement or individual contract, or where required to prevent or remedy accidents or other extraordinary or urgent damage.
Overtime at night is prohibited, except in duly specified and expressly authorised special activities. It is also prohibited for people under 18 years of age.
Overtime may be remunerated or compensated for with rest time.
Workers may work a maximum of 80 overtime hours per year. If an employee works fewer hours than the company’s standard working hours, the ceiling on overtime is reduced proportionally.
Annual leave is set in collective bargaining agreements or individual contracts and may never be less than 30 calendar days.
It may not be replaced by financial compensation.
Wherever possible, the holiday calendar is fixed in each company by mutual agreement between the parties.
Workers are entitled to paid time off work for the following reasons and periods of time:
- for marriage, 15 calendar days;
- for death, accident or serious illness or hospitalisation of a family member, 2 calendar days, or 4 days if travel is required;
- for moving house, one day;
- for tests and examinations prior to childbirth, and training prior to adoption or fostering, whatever time is needed where this coincides with working hours;
- for premature births involving hospitalisation of the newborn, 1 hour per working day;
- for breastfeeding children under 9 months of age, workers are entitled to 1 hour of absence from work per day, or half an hour if taken at the beginning or end of the working day. This leave may be taken either by the mother or the father, if both work;
- for legal guardianship of a child under 12 or of a person with a disability, reduction of the working day by between one-eighth and one-half;
- to fulfil public and personal obligations (jury duty, appearance in court, etc.), as long as necessary;
- to perform trade union or workers’ representation duties, the time established by law or collective bargaining agreement.
In all cases, in order to exercise the right to be absent, workers must notify the employer in advance and justify their absence.
These are set every year.
There are 14 public holidays per year, two of which are local holidays. The following holidays are always observed as national public holidays: Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, 1 May (Labour Day) and 12 October (Spanish National Day).
If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the day off is moved to the following Monday.
This is time off work without pay that the employee requests and which may be granted at the discretion of the employer, but must always be included in an individual or collective agreement.
Unpaid leave is not regulated by law.
This protects workers temporarily unable to work and in need of medical assistance due to illness or accident. In these cases, workers are paid at least 60 % of their income. The employer normally pays the worker this temporary sick pay, and is then reimbursed by the Social Security Department. Sick leave can last for up to 18 months, after which time the situation will be reviewed.
Maternity and paternity
Maternity leave lasts for an uninterrupted period of 16 weeks (2 additional weeks for each child after the second child in cases of multiple births). This time may be taken as the mother wishes, provided that 6 weeks of it fall immediately subsequent to the birth. Irrespective of these 6 weeks of compulsory postpartum leave for the mother, if both parents work the father may take a given part of the leave period.
Since 2019, for a birth, the other parent will be granted the same period of leave as the biological mother, the first four weeks of which must be taken immediately after the birth.
In the event of adoption or fostering, each parent will be granted leave of 16 weeks.
Leaves of absence
A leave of absence is defined as a situation where the employment contract is suspended at the request of the worker, who will thus neither work nor receive remuneration.
A leave of absence may take one of the three forms set out below.
- Compulsory: In order to hold a public office or perform trade union duties at provincial or higher level. It is mandatory to grant this leave, and workers are entitled to return to their position afterwards.
- Voluntary: It is necessary to have worked for the company for at least 1 year. Workers are not entitled to retain their position, but have a right to be given preference when there is a vacancy. This leave can last between 4 months and 5 years.
- Leave to care for family members: This can be requested for a maximum period of 3 years, to care for each child. Workers will also be entitled to 2 years’ leave, which may be extended by a collective bargaining agreement, to look after family members who are unable to look after themselves and who are not in paid employment.
Statute of Workers’ Rights
At the conclusion of the employment relationship, employers must give employees a company certificate and contribution documents (which workers will have to submit if they apply for unemployment benefits). They will also be given what is known as a ‘finiquito’, a document listing the outstanding amounts to be paid by the company. The party intending to terminate the employment contract (employer or worker), must provide advance notice to the other party as stipulated in the contract or collective agreement.
The employment contract may be terminated for any of the following reasons:
- agreement between the parties;
- reasons set out in the contract;
- expiry of the time agreed or completion of the task or service;
- resignation of the worker;
- death, serious disability or retirement of the worker or the employer;
- force majeure;
- individual or collective dismissal (redundancy);
- by decision of the worker forced to resign due to being a victim of gender-based violence;
- at the request of the worker, for breach of contract by the employer.
In fixed-term contracts, except for temporary replacement and training contracts, workers will be entitled to compensation of 12 days’ pay per year of service, for fixed-term contracts concluded from January 2015 onwards.
If the employer decides to terminate the employment relationship and the worker does not agree, the worker may bring an action against the company.
Conciliation decision: this decision is required before taking the complaint before the employment tribunal. The worker then has 20 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) from the time of dismissal to request a conciliation process before the competent labour mediation and arbitration office (UMAC). The conciliation decision may result in an agreement to reinstate the worker, pay compensation, or there may be no agreement.
Claim: If no agreement is reached, the worker can file a claim before the employment tribunal, which will then rule on the matter.
Retirement: as a general rule, the retirement age is set at 67, or 65 if the worker has paid into the system for 38 years and 6 months. These retirement ages and the number of years of contributions required have been implemented gradually since January 2013. Retirement age will remain at 65 for those to whom the previous legislation applies.
Notwithstanding the above, in some cases workers under age 65 may be offered early retirement.
In some cases, partial retirement is also an option for people aged over 60.
Workers are entitled to a retirement pension if they have paid into the system for at least 15 years. The retirement pension amount varies depending on the number of years’ contributions paid by the worker, within certain limits.
Ministry of Employment, Migration and Social Security
Ministry of Employment, Migration and Social Security
In Spain, all workers are entitled to join trade unions, except for members of the military and active members of the judiciary. The representation of workers through legally formed unions is recognised. Trade unions negotiate pay and working conditions (working hours, breaks, holiday, leaves of absence, vocational training, health protection, training, etc.) by means of collective bargaining.
Trade union membership is voluntary for salaried workers, self-employed workers and the unemployed.
In Spain, there are trade unions that represent a majority of workers and business sectors in general, but also a growing number of corporate trade unions, which are tending to become more professional and are organised by business sector.
A worker’s right to be a member of a union within a company is essentially coordinated through staff representatives (in workplaces employing 10 to 50 workers) and staff committees (in companies with 50 workers or more).
Professional and business associations represent the rights of firms, self-employed professionals and freelance or independent workers. These collectives are also represented by the chambers of commerce, which in turn offer legal advice, guidance on new jobs and careers, reports on the economy and job markets, labour exchanges and also jobseekers’ services.
The Spanish Constitution recognises the right of workers and employers to take collective industrial action, which is the expression of a labour disagreement between employers and workers and which affects the general interests of workers. Industrial action may be taken by workers’ representatives and trade unions or by employers and their representatives (business associations).
A strike is the collective suspension of work by workers, by mutual agreement, to demand improvements in working conditions or express their dissatisfaction. It is the workers’ most radical form of exerting pressure.
Exercising the right to strike does not terminate the employment relationship. Workers cannot be sanctioned for going on strike and cannot be replaced by other workers.
The freedom to work of those who do not wish to join the strike must be respected. Some workers may be obliged to continue their work if they have to provide the company with security or maintenance services (minimum services).
A lockout is the closure of the workplace by the employer in the event of a strike or any other type of collective workplace disruption, if there is considered to be a risk to people or property, if the workplace has been illegally occupied or where non-attendance or other irregularities at work are impeding the normal production process.
The effects of strikes and lockouts
During a strike or lock-out, contracts are considered to be suspended and workers are not entitled to wages, but remain covered by Social Security under a special regime.
Workers are not entitled to any benefits for short-term incapacity for work starting during the strike, or to unemployment benefits.
The term Vocational Education and Training refers to practical activities and courses related to a specific occupation or vocation, aimed at preparing participants for their future careers. Vocational training is an essential means to achieve professional recognition and improve chances to get a job. It is therefore vital that vocational training systems in Europe respond to the needs of citizens and the labour market in order to facilitate access to employment.
Vocational education and training has been an essential part of EU policy since the very establishment of the European Community. It is also a crucial element of the so-called EU Lisbon Strategy, which aims at transforming Europe into the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based society. In 2002 the European Council reaffirmed this vital role, and established yet another ambitious goal – to make European education and training renowned globally by the year 2010 – by championing a number of world-class initiatives, and in particular by strengthening cooperation in the area of vocational training.
On 24 November 2020, the Council of the European Union adopted a Recommendation on vocational education and training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience.
The Recommendation defines key principles for ensuring that vocational education and training is agile in that it adapts swiftly to labour market needs and provides quality learning opportunities for young people and adults alike.
It places a strong focus on the increased flexibility of vocational education and training, reinforced opportunities for work-based learning, apprenticeships and improved quality assurance.
The Recommendation also replaces the EQAVET – European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training – Recommendation and includes an updated EQAVET Framework with quality indicators and descriptors. It repeals the former ECVET Recommendation.
To promote these reforms, the Commission supports Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) which bring together local partners to develop ‘skills ecosystems'. Skills ecosystems will contribute to regional, economic and social development, innovation and smart specialisation strategies.
Erasmus+ is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe.
It has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion. This is nearly double the funding compared to its predecessor programme (2014-2020).
The 2021-2027 programme places a strong focus on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions, and promoting young people’s participation in democratic life.
It supports priorities and activities set out in the European Education Area, Digital Education Action Plan and the European Skills Agenda. The programme also
- supports the European Pillar of Social Rights
- implements the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027
- develops the European dimension in sport
Who can take part? Find out here.
Adult Education and Lifelong Learning in Europe
Lifelong learning is a process that involves all forms of education – formal, informal and non-formal – and lasts from the pre-school period until after retirement. It is meant to enable people to develop and maintain key competencies throughout their life as well as to empower citizens to move freely between jobs, regions and countries. Lifelong learning is also a core element of the previously mentioned Lisbon Strategy, as it is crucial for self-development and the raising of competitiveness and employability. The EU has adopted several instruments for the promotion of adult education in Europe.
In order to make lifelong learning a reality in Europe, the European Commission has set itself the objective of creating a European Area of Lifelong Learning. In this context, the Commission focuses on identifying the needs of both learners and the labour market in order to make education more accessible and subsequently create partnerships between public administrations, suppliers of educational services and civil society.
This EU initiative is based on the objective of providing basic skills – by strengthening counselling and information services at a European level, and by recognising all forms of learning, including formal education and informal and non-formal training.
EU organisations promoting vocational education in Europe
With the objective of facilitating cooperation and exchange in the field of vocational training, the EU has set up specialised bodies working in the field of VOCATIONAL TRAINING.
The European Centre for Vocational Training (CEDEFOP / Centre Européen pour le Développement de la Formation Professionnelle) was created in 1975 as a specialised EU agency for the promotion and development of vocational education and training in Europe. Based in Thessaloniki, Greece, it carries out research and analysis on vocational training and disseminates its expertise to various European partners, such as related research institutions, universities or training facilities.
The European Training Foundation was established in 1995 and works in close collaboration with CEDEFOP. Its mission is to support partner countries (from outside the EU) to modernise and develop their systems for vocational training.
Quality of life – on top of the EU social policy agenda
Favourable living conditions depend on a wide range of factors, such as quality healthcare services, education and training opportunities or good transport facilities, just to name a few aspects affecting citizens’ everyday life and work. The European Union has set for itself the aim to constantly improve the quality of life in all its Member States, and to take into account the new challenges of contemporary Europe, such as socially exclude people or an aging population.
Employment in Europe
Improving employment opportunities in Europe is a key priority for the European Commission. With the prospect of tackling the problem of unemployment and increasing the mobility between jobs and regions, a wide variety of initiatives at EU level are being developed and implemented to support the European Employment strategy. These include the European Employment Services network (EURES) and the EU Skills Panorama.
Health and healthcare in the European Union
Health is a cherished value, influencing people’s daily lives and therefore an important priority for all Europeans. A healthy environment is crucial for our individual and professional development, and EU citizens are ever more demanding about health and safety at work and the provision of high quality healthcare services. They require quick and easy access to medical treatment when travelling across the European Union. EU health policies are aimed at responding to these needs.
The European Commission has developed a coordinated approach to health policy, putting into practice a series of initiatives that complement the actions of national public authorities. The Union’s common actions and objectives are included in EU health programmes and strategies.
The current EU4Health Programme (2021-2027) is the EU’s ambitious response to COVID-19. The pandemic has a major impact on patients, medical and healthcare staff, and health systems in Europe. The new EU4Health programme will go beyond crisis response to address healthcare systems’ resilience.
EU4Health, established by Regulation (EU) 2021/522, will provide funding to eligible entities, health organisations and NGOs from EU countries, or non-EU countries associated to the programme.
With EU4Health, the EU will invest €5.3 billion in current prices in actions with an EU added value, complementing EU countries’ policies and pursuing one or several of EU4Health´s objectives:
- To improve and foster health in the Union
- disease prevention & health promotion
- international health initiatives & cooperation
- To tackle cross-border health threats
- prevention, preparedness & response to cross-border health threats
- complementing national stockpiling of essential crisis-relevant products
- establishing a reserve of medical, healthcare & support staff
- To improve medicinal products, medical devices and crisis-relevant products
- making medicinal products, medical devices and crisis-relevant products available and affordable
- To strengthen health systems, their resilience and resource efficiency
- strengthening health data, digital tools & services, digital transformation of healthcare
- improving access to healthcare
- developing and implementing EU health legislation and evidence-based decision making
- integrated work among national health systems
Education in the EU
Education in Europe has both deep roots and great diversity. Already in 1976, education ministers decided to set up an information network to better understand educational policies and systems in the then nine-nation European Community. This reflected the principle that the particular character of an educational system in any one Member State ought to be fully respected, while coordinated interaction between education, training and employment systems should be improved. Eurydice, the information network on education in Europe, was formally launched in 1980.
In 1986, attention turned from information exchanges to student exchanges with the launch of the Erasmus programme, now grown into the Erasmus+programme, often cited as one of the most successful initiatives of the EU.
Transport in the EU
Transport was one of the first common policies of the then European Community. Since 1958, when the Treaty of Rome entered into force, the EU’s transport policy has focused on removing border obstacles between Member States, thereby enabling people and goods to move quickly, efficiently and cheaply.
This principle is closely connected to the EU’s central goal of a dynamic economy and cohesive society. The transport sector generates 10% of EU wealth measured by gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to about one trillion Euros a year. It also provides more than ten million jobs.
The Schengen area
The Schengen Convention, in effect since March 1995, abolished border controls within the area of the signatory States and created a single external frontier, where checks have to be carried out in accordance with a common set of rules.
Today, the Schengen Area encompasses most EU countries, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. However, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Area and already applying the Schengen acquis to a large extent. Additionally, also the non-EU States Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have joined the Schengen Area.
The creation of a single European market in air transport has meant lower fares and a wider choice of carriers and services for passengers. The EU has also created a set of rights to ensure air passengers are treated fairly.
As an air passenger, you have certain rights when it comes to information about flights and reservations, damage to baggage, delays and cancellations, denied boarding, compensation in the case of accident or difficulties with package holidays. These rights apply to scheduled and chartered flights, both domestic and international, from an EU airport or to an EU airport from one outside the EU, when operated by an EU airline.
Over the last 25 years the Commission has been very active in proposing restructuring the European rail transport market and in order to strengthen the position of railways vis-à-vis other transport modes. The Commission's efforts have concentrated on three major areas which are all crucial for developing a strong and competitive rail transport industry:
- opening the rail transport market to competition,
- improving the interoperability and safety of national networks and
- developing rail transport infrastructure.
Spain is a parliamentary monarchy in which the King is the Head of State, but the Government (the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers) sets domestic and foreign policy in accordance with the constitution and the law.
The Spanish Parliament (Cortes Generales) represents the Spanish people and comprises two chambers, the Congress of Deputies (lower house) and the Senate (upper house). The Spanish Parliament holds the legislative power of the State, approves the budget, scrutinises the actions of the government and exercises other powers granted to it by the constitution. Elections to the Spanish Parliament are held every 4 years, or sooner in the case of early elections. In general elections, all Spanish citizens over the age of 18 can vote, whether they live in Spain or abroad.
Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Each autonomous community has its own regional government and parliament and wide-ranging powers. Laws are promulgated by the Spanish Parliament and by the parliaments of the autonomous communities, whose elections follow the same procedures as general elections.
Everyone in Spain is subject to Spanish law. Spanish law, like that of France or Germany for example, is based on Roman law and is therefore different from the Anglo-American system.
Courts and tribunals with different jurisdictions are responsible for the administration of justice, which covers civil, criminal, social and administrative matters. Lawyers are responsible for defending their clients, while legal representatives deal with legal formalities. People on low incomes are entitled to free legal aid.
Labour and social security legislation is unique and common to the whole of the State, and the autonomous communities are only allowed to implement it.
The national employment system is the set of structures, measures and actions required to promote and develop employment policy. Policy implementation is decentralised and adapted to the different regional situations. Its basic pillars are the state public employment service (SEPE) and the public employment services of the various autonomous communities. However, the national employment system is coordinated by all its stakeholders.
SEPE is responsible for managing unemployment benefits and for developing, organising and monitoring employment policy programmes and measures and coordinating the regional network. The autonomous community employment services are competent to manage support for unemployed or employed persons and undertakings. The network is complemented by a wide range of institutions and entities working together in the delivery of active labour market policies.
Every worker receives a periodic remuneration in the form of a salary, normally paid monthly.
The employer is empowered to deduct tax and social security contributions that are legally due on the monthly pay of workers. Below are examples of gross and net pay, i.e. before and after the corresponding deductions have been made.
These represent average wages calculated for a worker aged under 65, working a 40-hour week and without taking into account extra payment, allowances or other bonuses. Social security deductions are 6.35 % and in this case the income tax withheld is 10 %. The amount of income tax withheld depends on the worker’s family situation, the duration and type of the work contract. If workers do not have their tax residence in Spain, the income tax rate is 19 % for residents of EU countries and 24 % for residents of non-EU countries. The tax withheld for agricultural work is 2 %.
Monthly gross pay
Monthly net pay
Administrative staff member
Interprofessional minimum wage
- DIRECT TAXES
- Personal income tax [IRPF]: this is charged on all income obtained from work, professional or business activities, investments and wealth.
The amount of this tax is determined by the income level reached during the financial year, which coincides with the calendar year, and it is a progressive tax (the higher the income, the higher the percentage of tax, starting from a minimum that is exempt). The obligation to declare starts from EUR 22 000 per year from a single income source (employer).
This tax return must be completed in May and June of the year following the tax year in question, and failure to declare or declaring after the deadline will lead to a fine being imposed.
In general, if you live in Spain for 183 or more days during a given tax year, you will have to declare all your income there, regardless of where you earned it. In determining one's ‘tax residence’, however, other considerations may be taken into account, such as close personal and economic ties, residence of family members, the place where most of the work is performed, etc. You are therefore advised to seek further advice if you are unsure.
If you have worked in Spain for fewer than 183 days and are then going to move to another EEA country, you can request a rebate of a proportion of the deductions made from your salary. To do so, you need to submit form 215 to the Tax Agency, a certificate of residency from the country to which you are moving and a certificate of the deductions made. The deadline for applying for a rebate is 4 years.
- Corporation tax: is very similar to personal income tax (IRPF) but it applies to legal entities. The rate of taxation currently stands at 30 % for large businesses and 25 % for smaller businesses (SMEs), but there are also other special rates.
- Inheritance and gift tax: This is levied on goods and services inherited by a successor or gifted between the living.
- Personal income tax [IRPF]: this is charged on all income obtained from work, professional or business activities, investments and wealth.
- INDIRECT TAXES
- Value added tax (VAT) This is levied on the supply of goods and services by employers and professionals and on imports. The tax rates are 4 %, 10 % and 21 % depending on the type of goods, and without prejudice to statutory exemptions.
- Tax on capital transfers and documented legal acts: levied on legal and commercial documents and particular transactions, such as the purchase of fixed assets and the establishment of mortgages.
Other EXCISE DUTIES are also levied on the consumption of particular goods, including alcohol, tobacco and fuel.
In addition to these national taxes or taxes ceded totally or partially to the autonomous communities, otherLOCAL TAXES are levied by municipalities, such as taxes on property or vehicle road tax.
Overall, the standard of living in Spain is acceptable, although the series of crises in recent years have had an impact on the economy and on some public services. The population benefits from services such as health and education, which are either universal and free of charge or available at a relatively low cost.
To give you an idea of the general cost of living in Spain, we have selected the following prices of some everyday items, which will naturally vary from shop to shop, from region to region and from city to city:
- Loaf of bread: EUR 1-1.30
- Milk (one litre): EUR 0.80 to EUR 1.30
- A dozen eggs: EUR 2.00 to EUR 2.40
- Kilogram of apples: EUR 1.80
- Kilogram of tomatoes: EUR 2-3.50.
- Bottle of shampoo: EUR 3.00
- Deodorant: EUR 2.00
- Skirt or trousers: EUR 60.00
- National or regional newspaper: EUR 1.20 (EUR 2.20 on Sundays)
- Aspirin: EUR 3.20
- Cinema ticket: between EUR 7.00 and EUR 9.00
- Cup of coffee: between EUR 1.30 and EUR 1.80
- Beer: EUR 2 to EUR 2.50.
- Burger: EUR 2.95
- Set lunch menu: from EUR 11.00
Bus/metro transport cost: Single ticket: from EUR 1.50. A 10-trip ticket for metro and bus costs EUR 12.20 in Madrid. You can buy a pass that allows unrestricted travel for one month on the metro, city buses and commuter trains (RENFE), starting at EUR 54.60 (Madrid).
Fuel prices have risen sharply over the last year, with continual variations: Unleaded petrol 95: EUR 1.746/litre, Unleaded petrol 98: EUR 1.907/litre, Diesel fuel A: EUR 1.841/litre.
Over the past year, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 7.3 % on average, mainly due to the continued rise in the prices of food, supplies and fuel.
To rent accommodation, a lease agreement will need to be drawn up with the owner. Although it is valid and legal to conclude a verbal contract, it is advisable to do it in writing. In this case, the agreement must show the names of the owner and the tenant, a description of the accommodation, the length of the agreement, the rent and other clauses you wish to include.
The length of the tenancy agreement must be freely agreed by the parties according to their needs. If the length of the tenancy agreement is not stated, it will be understood to be 1 year. If the period initially agreed is less than 5 years (where the lessee is a natural person) or 7 years (if the lessee is a legal person), the tenancy agreement will be automatically and compulsorily renewed every year until the period of 5 or 7 years, respectively, is reached.
It will not be renewed if the lessee (tenant) notifies the lessor of his or her intention not to renew the agreement at least 30 days before the end of the agreed period or any of the yearly renewal dates.
It is advisable to state in the agreement when the rental period begins, whether it is from the day the agreement is dated (signed), or from the date the dwelling is occupied if that is later than the date the agreement is signed.
At the time the agreement is drawn up, the tenant is obliged to give the owner a deposit payment which is generally equal to 1 month’s rent. The rent, i.e. the amount that the tenant pays to the landlord to rent the accommodation, is freely agreed by both parties. Payment is monthly and is updated in line with the Consumer Price Index. It is important to specify which expenses are included in the rent, and which are not.
The cost of renting accommodation in Spain varies from one city to the other and it is difficult to generalise. As a general rule, however, rents are most expensive in the main cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastián. Living in the centre of any of these major cities will always be more expensive than in the outskirts or surrounding towns, which are normally well connected by trains or buses that will take you to the city centre in under 30 minutes.
Outside a city, the rental price for a one-bedroom flat is between EUR 400 and EUR 900. The cost of a two-bedroom flat may be estimated at between EUR 500 and EUR 1000. In the centre of a city, these prices will rise by 25 %. Renting a single room may cost between EUR 200 and EUR 300 per month, without counting expenses paid on a proportional basis. These typically include electricity, water, gas and telephone which are usually paid every two months.
If you are going to buy a property, the legal transaction must be drawn up before a notary. Any ordinary or savings bank will provide information on the cost of mortgages and the respective formalities.
House prices in Spain are relatively high, and there are significant differences between the country’s different regions. You can request information from the property appraisal company which publishes a half-yearly bulletin that shows average property prices, statistics on price trends and forecasts.
In Spain, healthcare services are provided through public hospitals (which are part of the Social Security system) and private hospitals, as well as (local) primary care health centres. The quality of healthcare in Spain is relatively good.
the Spanish government covers the health and pharmaceutical needs of all its citizens through its National Health System, which is financed through Social Security contributions and managed by the regional health ministries and health services of the autonomous communities. More than 90 % of the population use this system for their medical needs.
All employed and self-employed persons must join the Social Security system and pay monthly Social Security contributions. They are given a Social Security card, which must be applied for in the health centre corresponding to their address. This card entitles holders to obtain medical, pharmaceutical and hospital care.
The system allows citizens to choose their own GP from the primary care team at the health centre located near their home. To consult a specialist, patients must be referred by their GP, except in urgent cases. While primary care is usually provided within a day or a few days after requesting an appointment, waiting lists for visiting specialists or for non-urgent surgery are often long.
In an emergency, the best thing to do is to go to the nearest accident and emergency department and, if necessary, you can call an ambulance by phoning 112.
Drugs are always prescribed by a doctor using an official prescription, and the patient pays part of the price. Medicines usually cost less than in other countries, due to price capping by the government.
Chemists open on a rotating basis to offer an out-of-hours service (night and public holidays) so that there is always an on-duty chemist open. You can find out which chemist is on duty by looking in the newspaper or in the window of any chemist shop, where a list will usually be on display.
EU citizens who are not in the Social Security system may obtain healthcare during temporary trips to Spain, provided they have obtained the European Health Card in their own country.
In recent years, the percentage of the population with private health insurance, as a supplement or as an alternative to public healthcare, has been increasing, reaching 24 % in 2022. Many private companies offer such services in Spain. These companies have their own clinics, surgeries and laboratories. Prices vary depending on the age and gender of the beneficiary. As a general rule, insurance for a person of around 40 years of age would cost between EUR 30 and EUR 55 per month.
The education system in Spain is divided into the following levels: Pre-school and nursery school, primary education, compulsory secondary education, baccalaureate (bachillerato), vocational training and university education.
Pre-school and nursery school: 0 to 6 years, organised in two stages of 3 years each. This is voluntary, with the free second stage for children aged 3 to 6 years being widely taken up.
Primary education from age 6 to 12 is compulsory and free of charge in public (state) and state-subsidised private schools.
Compulsory secondary education (ESO): ages 12 to 16. This is taught in secondary schools, and is free of charge. Pupils who successfully complete ESO leave school with a secondary education qualification.
After obtaining the compulsory secondary education qualification, students who want to continue their studies may choose between intermediate-level vocational training or the baccalaureate. These studies are provided free of charge in public establishments.
The baccalaureate lasts 2 years, normally from age 16 to 18, and upon completion successful students are awarded a baccalaureate qualification. Obtaining the baccalaureate entitles students to enter higher-level vocational training or, provided they have passed the relevant admission exam, university studies.
A broad range of intermediate or higher-level vocational training courses are available, organised on a modular basis and of variable duration, which prepare students to work in a variety of jobs. Special routes exist, generally via exams, for admission to university education or higher vocational courses. On successful completion of intermediate-level vocational training, students are awarded the technical diploma, while higher-level vocational training leads to the higher technical diploma.
University studies are divided into three cycles, traditionally known as a university diploma, a degree and doctoral studies. These three cycles correspond to the three levels of university qualifications currently in place: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and PhD (as in the European Higher Education Area).
Universities are independent bodies able to design their own courses. They may be public or private. The qualifications awarded by private universities must be officially recognised by the Ministry of Education to be considered valid.
Most of the cost of studies at public universities in Spain is borne by the State, with the student bearing approximately 25 % of the total expenditure. This varies from one autonomous community to another, since the regional governments set prices in their own areas. A maximum loan price applicable throughout the State has also recently been established.
However, private university fees are not publicly regulated and are therefore much higher than public ones, with students often bearing 100 % of the cost of their education. Price differences between universities may also be even more pronounced.
Special training courses are also available, e.g. artistic courses (music, dance, visual arts and design and dramatic art) and foreign languages.
In some autonomous communities, such as Galicia, Catalonia or the Basque Country, classes may be taught in the language of that region.
Social life in Spain is very important. Although significant changes have taken place in recent years, the family is still at the heart of personal relations and it is also essential to maintain ties with friends.
Spaniards normally act and speak in an informal and spontaneous manner during social interactions and physical contact is frequent, with greetings, kisses and embraces that may take those who are visiting Spain for the first time by surprise. Similarly, the Spanish habit of interrupting one another is not considered bad manners in Spain but part of spontaneous communication.
The normal time for lunch is 13.30 to 15.30 and the normal time for dinner is 21.00 to 23.00, quite a lot later than is normal in the rest of Europe. It is common to go out to dinner with friends, especially at weekends.
Spanish nightlife is legendary and one of Spain’s greatest attractions. Some bars and nightclubs stay open throughout the night. The hospitality sector is one of the most dynamic sectors of the Spanish economy.
There is a wide range of popular festivals, some internationally renowned, which are typically linked to religious traditions.
Shopping is another very popular activity. Shops are usually open from 10.00 in the morning to 20.00 in the evening. The opening hours are usually longer in shopping centres.
The Spanish birth rate has fallen in recent years. According to the National Institute of Statistics, the current fertility rate is 1.18 children per woman of childbearing age. A birth is a family event involving visits, gifts, etc.
Life expectancy in Spain is one of the highest in Europe, with 81.1 years for men and 84.7 years for women. Based on its data, the National Statistics Institute forecasts a progressive increase in life expectancy and a somewhat smaller gap between men and women.
The average age of a first marriage is increasing, currently standing at 33.8 years for women and 35.9 years for men. Although traditionally most weddings were religious (predominantly Catholic), in recent years the number of civil weddings has increased so that it now far exceeds the number of religious weddings. Same-sex couples have been able to marry and adopt children since 2005. Municipalities usually have registers of unmarried couples (stable and public union between two persons living together without marriage). This category is not regulated by the State but according to the legislation of each autonomous community.
Separation and divorce rates have both declined slightly in recent years. In 2021, divorce accounted for 95.9 % of the total number of marriage breakups, and separation for 4.1 %. The disparity between the large number of divorces and the number of separations can be largely explained by the entry into force of Law 15/2005 of 8 July, which permits divorce without the need for prior separation.
National Statistics Institute (INE)
All towns and villages can be reached by the national road network, however tiny the village or difficult the route. The road network is organised in a very hierarchical way. The fastest roads are the motorways (with tolls) and main roads (free); these have the highest speed limits (120 km/h) and connect the main Spanish cities to one another. National roads have lower speed limits (maximum 90 km/h). These roads have one or two lanes in each direction, but no central barrier. The next level are the secondary roads, which have much lower speed limits. These roads are narrower and do not have a hard shoulder.
Nearly one third of international visitors to Spain arrive by plane. More than 50 million passengers per year pass through Spain’s airports. All the major cities have an airport. The biggest is Adolfo Suárez-Barajas airport in Madrid, followed by Barcelona airport; these are joined by an air shuttle service that transports over 2.5 million passengers per year. Flights to the Balearic and Canary Islands are also very significant because of the volume of traffic.
The most important cities have very efficient underground transport networks (metro) which normally operate from 6.00 in the morning until 1.30 at night. In Madrid, the price of a single ticket is approximately EUR 1.50, but you need to buy a prepaid card first. It is more economical to buy one of the different travel passes. For example, a 10-trip combined metro-bus ticket costs around EUR 12.20. Any town or city of a certain size also offers a good city bus service. The taxi service is the most convenient means of transport, but also the most expensive. Apart from intercity buses, trains are also widely used in Spain, offering a range of services and covering the entire country. In addition to the local commuter train network, a great many destinations can be reached by regional trains. There is also a high-speed line (AVE).