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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – Unemployment
*Please note, from January 1st 2021 after Brexit, to claim unemployment in Spain you must have a job in Spain first. Contact us for details. Contributions from previous employments will be taken into account for future unemployment benefits.
Calculating your benefits
We try to explain as detailed as possible your right to claim benefits if you have worked in another country within the EU. Please contact us if you need any assistance.
How can I certify periods of employment or insurance completed in another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland?
You can ask the institutions of the countries where you have worked for a U1 document. This form will allow the institution which is dealing with your claim to take into account periods of insurance or employment that you have completed in other countries. If you do not submit this document to the institution dealing with your claim, it will obtain the necessary information from other countries electronically.
As a cross-border worker (or “frontier worker”), how do I claim my unemployment benefits?
If you work in an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland but you live in another one of these countries and return there every day or at least once a week, you are a cross-border worker, or “frontier worker”, as defined in Article 1(f) of Regulation 883/2004.
This means that if you become unemployed, you should register with the employment services and claim unemployment benefits in your country of residence.
The information concerning your last professional activity will be exchanged electronically between institutions. You can also ask the institutions of the country where you worked for a U1 document containing this information. Presenting this document to the employment services of your country of residence may help accelerate the decision on your claim.
European law assumes that you will have greater chances of finding a job in the country where you actually live, this is why it allows unemployed cross-border workers to return to their country of residence and not “commute” to the employment services of another country.
As a cross-border worker (or “frontier worker”), how will my unemployment benefits be calculated?
Although you have not paid any contributions to the institution of your home country during your last working period, you will receive your benefits as if you had been insured there.
If the amount of unemployment benefits depends on your previous professional income, the institution granting the benefit will base its calculation on the income you actually received in the country where you last worked.
As a cross-border worker (or “frontier worker”), can I register with the employment services of the country where I used to work.
As a cross-border worker, the only country that can grant your unemployment benefits is your country of residence. You therefore must register with the employment services there. If you wish to look for a job in the country where you last worked as well, you can — as a supplementary step — register with the employment services there.
You will then have to comply with the control procedures and obligations of both countries. However, as the benefits are always paid by your home country, the obligations and job-seeking activities there have priority.
My home is in another country than the one where I work, but I return there less often than once a week. How do I claim unemployment benefits?
If you live in a different EU country than the one where you work, but you return there less than once a week (i.e. you are not a frontier worker), you have two options: you can either register with employment services and claim unemployment benefits in the country where you last worked or you can return to your home country to look for a job and receive unemployment benefits there.
In any case, the calculation of your unemployment benefits is based on the professional income you received during your last activity in the country where you worked.
You also have the possibility to first register as a jobseeker and claim benefits where you last worked and then return to your country of residence by ” exporting ” your unemployment benefits (see below).
How do I know which country is my country of residence?
Your country of residence is the place where you “habitually reside” in other words, where your “centre of interest” is.
A list of criteria is provided to help social security institutions assess which country is to be considered your place of residence. These include: the duration of your presence on the territory of the countries concerned; your family status and ties; your housing situation and how permanent it is; the place where you pursue professional or non-profit activities; the characteristics of your professional activity; where you reside for taxation purposes; in the case of students, the source of your income.
In any case, the decision on which country is to be considered your place of residence will be made by the social security institutions and not by you.
Looking for a job abroad
Can I look for a job in another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and still receive unemployment benefits?
If you want to look for a job in a different country than the one that pays your unemployment benefits, you may transfer, or “export”, these benefits for a limited period of time.
For how long can I receive my unemployment benefits in another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland?
Under certain conditions (see below), you may receive your unemployment benefits for a period of three months from the date you ceased to be available to the employment services of the country that pays your benefits. The competent service or institution of that country may extend this period to a maximum of six months.
To make sure you don’t lose any unemployment benefits, you should apply for an extension before the first 3 months are up. National authorities are not obliged to grant an extension. They will decide based on an assessment of your circumstances.
What conditions do I have to fulfil to receive my unemployment benefits in another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland?
- You must have made yourself available to the employment services of the country that pays your benefits for at least four weeks after becoming unemployed. Exceptions can be made.
- You have to apply for a U2 form at your employment service. This document will allow you to register with the employment services abroad.
- Within seven days after leaving, you have to register with the employment services of the country where you want to look for a job. You then have to comply with the obligations and the control procedures organised by the employment services there.
- If you are not able to find a job, you have to return before the expiry of the period specified on your U2 form. If you return later, without the explicit permission of the employment services of the country that pays your benefits, you will lose all remaining entitlements.
Can I still receive unemployment benefits when returning to the country that is paying my benefits?
If you return to the country which pays your benefits within the expiry of the period specified by your employment service on your U2 form , you may carry on receiving the unemployment benefits you have been granted. If you return after the expiry of the agreed period, you may lose your entitlement to these benefits.
What happens if I return to the country that is paying my benefits before the end of the period specified by my employment service?
If you return to the country which pays your benefits before the expiry of the period specified by your employment service on your U2 form, you may carry on receiving the unemployment benefits you have been granted.
You can also decide to go a to different country to look for a job there and carry on receiving your unemployment benefits provided that the total period abroad does not exceed the maximum of 3 months (extensible by your institution up to 6 months).
I am unemployed and I come from one of the “new” EU countries. Am I allowed to look for work in another EU country and have my benefits transferred there?
If you return to your home country (country of residence) after having worked abroad, and this country pays your unemployment benefits, it will also be responsible for your other social security rights. Even if you were insured in another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland during your last period of employment, the country that pays your unemployment benefits becomes competent.
What happens if I have an accident while looking for a job abroad? Will my health insurance work?
If you are receiving unemployment benefits from the country where you became unemployed, your health insurance will still work in other EU countries. You and your family will be entitled to treatment – but you will need to show your European health insurance card (EHIC). If you do not have one yet, you can apply for one from your health insurance institution.