Which Spanish benefits am I entitled to?

Which Spanish benefits am I entitled to?

(According to the Withdrawal Agreement, Britain’s exit from the EU has not changed the rights of those Britons living in Spain into the future, providing you are registered as resident and have the green-coloured certificate (credit-card-sized or A4 sized) OR the equivalent TIE photo card that shows you were resident in Spain by the end of the transition period (31st December 2020)) 

Even if you are not a Spanish citizen but are a British national resident in Spain instead, you may be entitled to some benefits and support from Spanish statutory authorities.

Most benefits will generally only be available:-

  1. if you have a valid document that shows you have registered as living in Spain (normally issued by the National Police (Policia Nacional) nearest your home, or the national government’s Foreigners’ Office (Oficina Provincial de Extranjería) in the capital of your province). This is the green document (A4 sheet of paper or green card), or the new TIE photo ID card. Both are equally valid.
  2. if you have registered on the census record (padrón) of your local town hall. This entitles you to access a lot of council services and many benefits.

All British residents in Spain are urged to do both the above if they’ll be staying more than three months, as it opens the door to many benefits and services and helps a happy, long life.

For more details on how to do this see here. Your options for future statutory welfare from the Spanish authorities are very limited if you do not do this and you could be at risk if something happens to you while living in Spain.

If you are already registered on the padrón (or even if you are not yet but your live locally and your situation is urgent):-

To find out what benefits you may be entitled to these are the options of who you can talk to:-

  1. Talk to your local council/town hall (‘ ayuntamiento’ )

Local councils generally act as a gateway to most social services in Spain, even if they do not run or fund them all themselves.

Many councils have a foreign residents’ department or representative who can explain in English how to access council services and advice.

If they do not have this department, many other councils have someone available to help with translation or explain processes in English, although you may need to ask for an appointment to access this service.

Typically if you need help, you will be directed to see a social worker (‘trabajador social’) based at your local council who will assess your needs.

Generally a  local council will give you advice if you are registered on their census (empadronado) and you do not need to have the green A4 or card EU citizens’registration certificate (or a TIE photo card). However accessing most non-emergency services afterwards will require you to also have this green registration certificate or TIE card.

Typical common areas of help and guidance available via your local council social workers include:-

  • Emergency food/provisions/local meal centres 
  • Teleassistance/care monitoring service 
  • Processing requests for long-term home care assistance/dependency care and residential care under Spanish dependency legislation (requires a minimum length of time registered in Spain to qualify – typically to have been registered as living in Spain for five years in total  in your life, including at least two continuous years in the period immediately prior to applying).
  • Social housing
  • Limited home help or access to residential care in cases of real need where personal means are very limited and dependency legislation minimum requirements cannot be met
  • Advice on registering as disabled and any occasional subsidies that may be available
  • Advice on the larger-family benefit card (if you have three or more children, or two children in certain circumstances)
  • Non-contributory pensions.  If you are on a very low income and have limited family help plus are registered as resident in Spain,  you may also be entitled to a non-contributory pension as a UK citizen under Spanish law without having paid into the Spanish social security system. Normally you need to 1) be over 65 2) have lived in Spain for ten years of your life since you were 16, including at least two continuous years in the period immediately prior to applying. If you have registered disabled status of 65% and are between 18 and 65, this residency time requirement is reduced from ten to five years. Your total annual income cannot be over 5,538.40 euros a year (2020 data), although your savings and a partner’s income will also be taken into account in making an assessment. (You are allowed a small income from a job if you are disabled). The maximum monthly pension available this way is 395.60 euros per week and the minimum 98.90 euros. This link in Spanish explains more on these non-contributory benefits which are administered by the regional governments. Click here. 

For information on your local council/town hall, search here. (Main town halls only currently covered. Enter the name of your town to narrow results).

If nobody who speaks English is available at your local council and you need someone to help you translate click here to see any organisations in your area that might be able to help, (remember to enter your local town when required to narrow down results).

If you live in the region of Andalucía: Special card for over 65s: Teleassistance/telecare is available in this way if you hold the Junta de Andalucía’s Over 65 card (Tarjeta Sesentaycinco), which is available free of charge to all British residents over 65 resident in Andalucía. Click here for more details. It also offers  subsidies/discounts including on hearing and sight equipment and some bus transport.

If you live in the Canaries, residents are entitled to cheap bus/tram travel schemes on each island.  Discounts vary by island but can reduce expenses if you use public transport regularly. Also 75% reductions are given on advertisied airfares and boat travel between islands and to the Spanish mainland under a well-organised scheme for all registered Canary Island residents (including UK citizens). Your local town hall or a transport provider can provide more details. You must first be registered on your local town hall ‘padrón’.

If you live on the Balearics, residents are entitled to similar benefits as detailed above for the Canaries.

2. Talk to your local health centre 

If you have a medical condition you should ensure that you have enquired from your doctor about the possibility of medical-condition-related benefits.

Typical common areas of help available via your local health centre, besides healthcare and medicines are:-

To find your nearest public health centre click here. In ‘Your Town’ enter where you live to filter results more.

For more information on how register for Spanish public healthcare, click here.

3. Your local Spanish social security office

In addition to talking to your local town hall or health centre (see above), in some circumstances the local social security office can offer additional benefits. Generally, benefits available from the Spanish social security office will apply only if you (or a spouse) has been working in Spain, (and you or your employer has been paying Spanish social security contributions), or if you are receiving a pension from the Spanish authorities. Typical benefits for Spanish pension holders include reduced telephone and electricity bills, help with travel to day care centres or subsidised short-break programmes.

For information on your nearest Spanish social security office (Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social-INSS) click here.

Alternatively a small, very limited part of the national social security information website is in English at http://www.seg-social.es/wps/portal/wss/internet/Inicio

If you have worked with a contract in Spain for at least 360 days in the last six years  before becoming unemployed, you may be entitled to Spanish unemployment benefits  for a certain period of time. For those over 52 who have used up their unemployment benefits entitlement and have continued signing on looking for work, an over-52s unemployment benefit can normally be payable. The social security office (see above) or local employment centres (SEPE) can provide more details (in Spanish) www.sepe.es


If, like most British nationals on a pension living in Spain, you are in receipt of a UK pension and not a Spanish one, click here for more guidance. You may be due more UK benefits that can help pay for services and support, even if you live in Spain.

If you need extra help understanding or more support applying for Spanish benefits or Spanish government services, please see this list of possible contacts who can help you with understanding forms or translating. (Enter the name of your town or village to narrow your search).

Please note that applying for benefits from Spain or the UK is not an immediate process. It is recommended to apply as soon as possible, even if you are unsure about your long-term residency plans in Spain, as other temporary emergency help you receive could be limited to a short period of time. 

(According to the Withdrawal Agreement, Britain’s exit from the EU has not changed the rights of those Britons living in Spain into the future, providing you are registered as resident and have the green-coloured certificate (credit-card-sized or A4 sized)  OR the equivalent TIE photo card  that shows you were resident in Spain by the end of the transition period (31st December 2020)) 



Last Update: August 28, 2020  

September 9, 2017   4096    Benefits & Personal Finance  
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