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Last checked : 17/04/2018

Transferring unemployment benefits

UK decision to invoke Article 50 of the TEU: More information

For the time being, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU and rights and obligations continue to fully apply in and to the UK:

In general, to receive unemployment benefits you need to stay in the country which pays your benefits. However, under certain conditions, you can go to another EU country to look for work and continue to receive your unemployment benefits from the country where you became unemployed.

Staying abroad for 3 months

You can carry on receiving your unemployment benefit for at least 3 months from the EU country where you were last working - and up to a maximum of 6 months, depending on the institution paying your benefit.

You can only do this if you are:

  • wholly unemployed (not partially or intermittently) and
  • entitled to receive unemployment benefits in the country where you became unemployed.

Before leaving, you must:

  • have been registered as an unemployed jobseeker with the employment services in the country where you became unemployed for at least 4 weeks (exceptions can be made)
  • apply to your national employment services for a U2 form (formerly E 303) - an authorisation to export your unemployment benefits.

This authorisation is valid for one country only. If you wish to export your unemployment benefits to another country, you need to apply for another U2 form. Ask your jobcentre whether you have to go back home to apply for this new authorisation or whether you can do it remotely.

On arrival in the new country, you'll need to:

  • register as a jobseeker with the national employment services within 7 days from the date on which you ceased to be available to the employment services in the country you left
  • submit your U2 form (formerly E 303) when you register
  • agree to any checks made on unemployment benefit claimants in your new country as if you were receiving unemployment benefits there.

You are advised to find out about your rights and duties as a jobseeker in your new country. They may be very different from the country where you became unemployed.

The same amount as before will then be paid directly into your bank account in the country where you became unemployed.

If you want to keep your entitlement to unemployment benefits, be sure to return to the country paying your unemployment benefits before or on the day your entitlement expires.

Please note that if you come from Croatia, there may be rules temporarily restricting your right to work in some other EU countries.

Staying abroad longer than 3 months

If you want to stay abroad for longer than 3 months, you will need to apply for an extension from the national employment service in the country where you became unemployed: they may extend the 3-month period up to 6 months.

Not all countries grant extensions. Ask the public employment service in your home country if, and under what conditions, extensions can be granted.

Most of the countries granting extensions have clear criteria for assessing requests. They could, for instance, ask you for:

  • evidence of any efforts you made to find a job during the first 3 months
  • evidence that you have a better chance of finding a job abroad during the extended period
  • information about job opportunities on your host country's labour market.

Apply for the extension as early as possible. You must apply before the end of the initial 3-month period.

Equal treatment

When looking for work abroad, you have the same rights as nationals of your host country with regard to:

  • access to work
  • support from employment services
  • financial support to help you find work

Your new country might wait until you have established a genuine link with the local employment market before granting some types of financial support to help you find work — such as low-interest loans for unemployed people starting a business. Being in the country and looking for work for a reasonable amount of time may count as a genuine link.

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