Ministry of Labour and Social EconomyHow unemployment benefit will be affected. Ministry of Labour and Social Economy

How unemployment benefit will be affected

What will happen to your unemployment benefits if the withdrawal agreement is reached?

The Withdrawal Agreement will apply to Spanish citizens who carry out their activity in the United Kingdom, as well as to those British citizens who work in Spain, until the date of withdrawal. For all intents and purposes, with the exception of the United Kingdom’s participation in the European institutions, the existence of a transitional period extends the United Kingdom’s effective exit until 31 December 2020.

From that date, the situation will be conditioned upon the outcome of the negotiations on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

In the case of withdrawal with agreement, the Social Security rights will remain unchanged until the end of the transitional period, established for 31 December 2020.

The United Kingdom and Spain will remain competent to manage their social security benefits on the basis of contributions made in their territories, on equal and non-discriminatory terms.

At present, in the chapter on unemployment benefits, the following instruments remain in effect:

  • Aggregation of periods of work or employment completed in other Member States, as if they had been completed in the State of last employment.

    Requires working last in the State of residence..

  • Export of benefits provided by a Member State to any other Member State for the purpose of seeking employment or improving training, for a period of 3 months, which may be extended for a further 3 months.
  • Recognition of benefits by the Member State of residence for cross-border workers, taking into account periods of work completed in other Member States as if they had been completed in the State of residence.

    It does not require working last in the State of residence.

  • Spanish legislation also provides for another social security protection mechanism for Spanish citizens who return from abroad, according to which, if the person returns after having carried out their activity for a period of 6 months in the United Kingdom, and is not entitled to contributory unemployment protection, and is over 45 years of age, they may apply for an Active Insertion Income of 11 months duration as a returned emigrant (see conditions).

The earlier rights will be maintained until the end of the transitional period and for as long as the worker continuously maintains the status of frontier worker..

WHAT IS YOUR SITUATION?

  • Which Member State should pay me unemployment benefits if I am a Spanish citizen working in the United Kingdom?

    Your benefits will be recognised by the State where you last worked. The Member State where you completed the most recent contribution period will apply the aggregation principle, i.e. it will add up the periods worked in the United Kingdom and Spain. In other words, you will have to apply for unemployment benefits in the country where you last worked and provide the U1 document issued by the country of previous employment.

  • Which Member State should pay me unemployment benefits if I am a frontier worker?

    If you live in one State while working in another State, you will have to claim your benefit in the country in which you maintain your residence. The latter will take into account the contributions you have made in the State of activity as if they had been made in your State of residence.

  • Is it possible to continue to receive unemployment benefits if I am looking for work in another Member State?

    If you want to look for a job in a country other than the one where you receive your unemployment benefits, you can export these benefits for a certain period of time and under certain conditions.

What will happen to your unemployment benefits if the withdrawal agreement is not reached?

If no agreement is reached, the person who has been working in the United Kingdom will be entitled to contributory unemployment benefits through the following access systems:

  • If you return and work last in Spain, you will be able to aggregate periods of unemployment insurance in the other countries of the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland; in addition, periods in the United Kingdom prior to the date of withdrawal will be taken into account.
  • If you return and do not work last in Spain, you may be required to take into account periods of unemployment insurance in Spain in the last six years before going to work in the United Kingdom.
  • If you live in Spain and work in Gibraltar, periods of unemployment insurance in the UK, both before and after the date of withdrawal, will be taken into account.
  • There are also other welfare protection mechanisms in Spanish legislation for Spanish citizens returning from abroad, according to which:
    • If you return after having worked for more than 12 months in the United Kingdom, and you are not entitled to contributory unemployment protection, you may qualify for an 18-month returned emigrant’s benefit, provided you meet the required conditions (see conditions).
    • If you return after having worked for 6 months in the United Kingdom, you are not entitled to the social unemployment protection described above, and you are over 45 years of age, you may apply for an Active Integration Income for 11 months as a returned emigrant (see conditions).

The above apply until the signing of a bilateral or multilateral instrument establishing future relations with the United Kingdom.

WHAT IS YOUR SITUATION?

  • How will the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union affect my social security rights?

    After the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, it is important to stress that all Social Security payments, including unemployment benefits, will continue to be paid normally, both in the United Kingdom and in Spain.

  • Will periods of work in the United Kingdom be taken into account when I return to Spain?

    If you return and work last in Spain, you will be able to aggregate periods of unemployment insurance in the other countries of the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland; in addition, periods in the United Kingdom prior to the date of withdrawal will be taken into account.

  • I work in Gibraltar, will my periods of work be taken into account when I apply for benefit in Spain?

    Workers residing in Spain who carry out their activity in Gibraltar will be taken into account for periods of unemployment insurance in Gibraltar, both before and after the date of withdrawal.

For more information on the characteristics and procedures of unemployment benefits as well as the documentation you must provide, visit:

For more information for emigrants who have returned to Spain, visit: