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Updated : 20/06/2014

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Unemployment abroad

If you lose your job while working in another EU country, which country pays your unemployment benefit depends on your work situation and place of residence - not your nationality.

What to do if - before losing your job - you were:

Living & working abroad

Planning to stay?

If you lose your job and choose to stay on in the EU country where you were employed, you should claim unemployment benefits there.

Register as a jobseeker with the local employment services. You will be treated the same as nationals of that country.

Pay special attention to:

  • periods of work required to qualify for unemployment benefit
  • applicable rates for calculating the benefit
  • duration of the benefit

If you need to certify any previous periods of employment and social security cover abroad, you may need to apply for a U1 form (formerly E 301 form) in the country where you worked before.

Even if you don't submit a U1 form, the claim handlers can get the information directly from the other country's authorities. However, the form could help speed up processing.

Going back home?

If, after losing your job, you choose to go back to your home country, you must contact the national employment service there to find out if you're still entitled to unemployment benefits after your time abroad.

If you are, you'll need to:

  • register directly as a jobseeker in your home country, and
  • apply for a U1 form (formerly E 301 form) in the country where you last worked.

Even if you don't submit a U1 form, the claim handlers can get the information directly from the other country's authorities. However, the form could help speed up processing.

If you're not entitled to benefits in your country of origin, you can apply for an authorisation to transfer your unemployment benefit from the country where you became unemployed either:

  • back to your home country, or
  • to any other country where you wish to look for a job

Benefits are usually transferred for 3 months, but this may be extended to a maximum period of 6 months.

Posted abroad on a short assignment (<2 years)

If you chose to remain covered in the country from which you were posted, your unemployment benefit should be paid there.

In this case, you should register as a jobseeker with the employment services in that country.

A civil servant seconded abroad

If you become wholly unemployed, you can choose to receive unemployment benefits in either the EU country you were posted to or your home country - by registering with the employment services in either country.

  • If you decide to apply for benefits in the country you were posted to, ask the national employment service in your home country for a U1 form (formerly E 301 form).

    This form shows the periods to be considered when calculating unemployment benefits. Send it to the national employment service in the country where you are applying for benefits.

    Even if you don't submit a U1 form, the claim handlers can get the information directly from the other country's authorities. However, the form could help speed up processing.

  • If you decide to apply for benefits in your home country, you will have to go back there.

Your benefits will be calculated in accordance with the rules of the country where you register as a jobseeker, taking account of any periods worked abroad.

Sample story

Think twice where you register as unemployed

Mirko from Germany was working as a German civil servant in Ireland when he lost his job. He could have gone back to Germany and registered as a jobseeker there. However, he chose to stay in Ireland and to apply for unemployment benefits there.

He expected to receive around 67% of his average daily wage, as is usual in Germany. But in Ireland, unemployment benefits are not based on previous earnings. Mirko was very surprised to find he was only entitled to a weekly flat-rate sum of €204.30.

Working in one country, living in another (cross-border commuter)

If you are a cross-border commuter (either employed or self-employed) and lose your job, you can only claim unemployment benefits in the country where you're living.

Exception

If, during your last period of commuting, you went home less than once a week, you can choose where to claim unemployment benefits (country of residence or country where you last worked).

This has been the rule since 1 May 2010, although some job centres still might not be aware of it. If you have problems with payment of your unemployment benefit abroad, contact our assistance services for help.

Amount

Whether you're entitled to unemployment benefit, and how much will depend on the rules in the country where you live and the time you've worked abroad.

Ask the authorities in the country (or countries) you've worked in for a U1 form (formerly E 301 form - showing periods to be considered when calculating unemployment benefits).

Send this form to the national employment services in the country where you wish to apply for benefits, so they can take account of any periods of social security cover or employment in other countries.

Even if you don't complete a U1 form, the claim handlers can get the information directly from the other countries' authorities. However, the form could help speed up processing.

Need help to find work?

If you need help finding a new job in the country where you lost your job, you can register as a jobseeker with the national employment service there. You will then have to comply with requirements in both countries: country of residence (paying your benefit) and country where you last worked (where you are also looking for a job).

Meeting the requirements of the country where you live is most important - if you don't, your benefits could be affected.

Sample story

Check where you can apply for unemployment benefits

Arthur from Germany lost his job in 2008 and moved straight to Hungary to work there. He got a 1-year employment contract in Budapest, but kept his home in Germany and went back there on a regular basis.

When he lost his job again, he could have applied for benefits in Hungary. However, he decided to go back to Germany and had no trouble getting the benefit there.

Different country, different benefits

Each EU country has its own rules on unemployment benefits. This means you might get benefit for 24 months in your home country but just 12 months in another.

It's worth comparing the benefits paid in each country, paying special attention to:

  • periods of work required to qualify for unemployment benefit
  • applicable rates for calculating the benefits
  • duration of the benefit

To avoid potentially serious problems and misunderstandings, find out about social security in your host country.

Moving to another EU country to find a job

Under certain conditions, you can transfer your unemployment benefits to another EU country while looking for a job there. Benefits are usually transferred for 3 months, but may be extended to a maximum period of 6 months.

Help and advice

Help and advice

Get in touch with specialised assistance services

Get advice on your EU rights / Solve problems with a public body

Footnote

In this case, the 28 EU member states + Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland

Retour au texte en cours.

In this case, the 28 EU member states + Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland

Retour au texte en cours.

In this case, the 28 EU member states + Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland

Retour au texte en cours.