If you don't find work
Affected by Brexit?
The rules and conditions presented on this page still apply in the UK and to UK citizens in the EU.
If you have acquired any social security rights (such as the right to healthcare, unemployment benefits, pensions) before 31 December 2020, the UK Withdrawal Agreement sets out the general rules for the protection of these rights. Read more about your rights.
If you have problems enforcing your rights, contact our assistance services.
Going home earlier than stated in your U2 form
If you return to the country paying your benefits before the end of the period specified on your U2 form, you will continue to receive the unemployment benefits you have been granted. The duration and total amount of the unemployment benefits you are entitled to will remain unchanged.
You are entitled to 8 months unemployment benefits in the country where you became unemployed. You received 2 months' benefits there, then another 2 months' benefits abroad. You are still entitled to 4 months' benefits when you come back.
If you did not find a job in the first country you went to, you can go and look in another country. If you want to keep getting your unemployment benefits while abroad, you need to:
- apply for a U2 form (former E 303 form) - authorisation to export your unemployment benefits - from your national employment services.
Ask your job centre whether you'll have to go back home to apply for this new authorisation or you can do it remotely.
- agree to any checks made on unemployment benefits claimants in the second country, as if you were receiving unemployment benefits there.
The total length of your stay abroad (i.e. in all countries) should not exceed 3 months (with a possible extension up to 6 months only if the authority paying your benefits agrees).
Staying abroad longer than stated in your U2 form
If you stay longer than 3 months in the other country without finding a job and without getting an extension, you will lose your right to all unemployment benefits after the end of the period stated in your U2 form and you will need to re-qualify. This means that you may need to work for some time before you are entitled to unemployment benefits again.
If you feel you cannot come back within 3 months, you should contact the employment services in the country where you became unemployed before the 3 months are up, and ask them for an extension.
Apply for the extension as early as possible. You must apply for the extension before the end of the initial 3-month period.
Be sure to apply for your extension in time
Ramón from Spain went to Hungary, taking a U2 form (former E 303 form) with him so he could keep receiving unemployment benefit for 3 months during his stay abroad. But he stayed a bit longer because of an important job interview. When Ramón went back to Spain, he had lost his entitlement to unemployment benefit.
To avoid this, always apply for an extension from your national employment centre before the end of the 3-month period. They may agree to continue paying your benefits for another 3 months while you look for work abroad. If you haven't received a reply or you are unsure that you will obtain the extension, the best for you is to return before the end of the 3-month period.
If you return to your country or you apply for an extension after the initial 3 months are up, you risk having your benefit stopped, like Ramón.
Even if you are not getting unemployment benefit, you can't be forced to leave your new country as long as you can prove you are still looking for a job and have a good chance of finding one.
Keep copies of your job applications, invitations for interviews and any other replies to your applications.
Claiming unemployment benefits after working abroad
If you lose your job, in general, you should claim unemployment benefits in the country where you last worked.
If during your last period of employment or self-employment you were a cross-border worker (living in a different EU country than the one in which you worked and returning there at least once a week), you should claim unemployment benefits in the country where you live, based on your working periods abroad. You will need to request a U1 form (former E 301 form) in the country where you last worked.
If during your last period of employment or self-employment you were residing in a different EU country than the one in which you worked but you returned there less than once a week, you can claim unemployment benefits either in your country of residence or in the country where you last worked. If you go back to your country of residence, you will need to request a U1 form (former E 301 form) in the country where you last worked.
Even without the form, the authority dealing with your claim can still get the information from other countries directly. But a completed U1 form will probably allow them to process your claim more quickly.
To find out about your entitlement to unemployment benefits, it is advisable to contact the national employment services in the country where you want to apply for benefits.
Forms you will need
- U1 form (former E 301 form): statement of periods to be taken into account for granting unemployment benefits.
You can get this form from the national employment service of the last country (or countries) where you worked. You should submit it to the national employment service of the country where you apply for benefits.
- U2 form (former E 303 form): authorisation to export your unemployment benefits to another country.
You can get this from the national employment service of the country where you became unemployed. You will have to submit it to the national employment service of the country where you are looking for a job to register as a jobseeker there.