Simple step by step guide to unemployment benefits in Germany

If your life in Germany is mostly filled with new and exciting experiences, there are times where it doesn’t turn so much in your favor. One of these times can be to learn one day that you are going to be out of a job soon. In this case, you are faced with different options. Either you saw it coming and you have already secured your next job, or it came out of the blue and you best option will be to claim unemployment benefits in Germany.

Although i do have job again now, i did go through all the steps in order to gain those. I thought i would lay it out clearly for you how it happened. It can be quite challenging, especially if you don’t speak German. However, i have found that it’s relatively simple if you know the way.

Who qualifies for unemployment benefits in Germany?

Before taking an attempt at claiming your Arbeitslosengeld (Unemployment money), you should probably find out if you have any. As a rule, it is any registered person that has worked at least 12 months in the past 2 years. However, self-employed people don’t have this kind of protection and can only claim an allowance (more on that later). Employees who have resigned on their own initiative can also claim those benefits but must first wait 3 months after registration.

How much can I claim?

In terms of support length: the rule is pretty simple here. You contribute twice as long as you can receive. For example as an employee (aged below 55), you need to work 24 months to be able to claim a full-year worth of benefits (ALG 1). You cannot claim more than one year if you are aged under 45. In terms of support amount, you will receive 60% of your net salary, 67% if you have children. Also remember that your health insurance will be covered too during that time.

The difference between Arbeitslosengeld 1 (ALG 1) & Arbeitslosengeld 2 (ALG 2)

If you have made a bit of research or talked to your HR department, you might have seen ALG 1 or ALG 2 already and wondered what it meant. They are different types of unemployment benefits in Germany. Just to be sure:

What is Arbeitslosengeld 1:

Arbeitslosengeld 1 are unemployment benefits you can claim after having worked as an employee in Germany for at least 12 months. It equals to at least 60% of your net salary. You refer to the Arbeitsagentur. This is what we help you to get in this guide.

What is Arbeitslosengeld 2:

Arbeitslosengeld 2 is an allowance (also called Hartz 4) you can claim after your ALG 1 rights have ran out and you still haven’t found a job or alternatively, if you never worked in Germany before. This benefit equals to a much lower amount of money than ALG 2 and comes with further restrictions. You refer to the Job Center. We will not talk about this on this page. You will find more info in English about it here.

ALG I & ALG II: Like pears and apples.

How to apply for unemployment benefits in Germany (ALG 1):

1- Learning the news

This is happening between your employer and you but it’s still an important part of the process. It’s something that defines what’s next or to be more accurate: it defines the timing with which you will register at the Arbeitsagentur. This founding administrative step is really important and when you do it changes depending on your situation.

Situation 1: You are fired without any warning – your contract ends. A notice period applies.

You boss announced the news personally or over email: you’ve been let go and the notice period written in your contract applies (usually 3 months). In this case, since you have now knowledge you will be jobless in the near future, the Arbeitsagentur will ask of you to plan ahead as well and already register yourself. Same if your contract is simply not renewed. You must register as soon as possible, up to 3 months prior the last day of employment.

Situation 2: No notice period applies.

In some cases, it’s not possible to know that the end of the contract is so near. Maybe the contract has a shorter notice period or maybe you have agreed to a voluntary resignation type of deal. In any case, if your employment ends in less than 3 months, you need to register at the latest 3 days after you have had knowledge of that decision.

In both cases, make sure to obtain a termination letter that indicates the reasons of the decision, when you became aware of it and when your last day was (Arbeitsbescheinigung). If you are just quitting your job, please note that you won’t be able to receive unemployment benefits in Germany for a period of 3 months after your registration at the Arbeitsagentur.

What happens if you fail to register in time

The Arbeitsagentur is incentivizing a pro-active approach to doing everything in time by threatening an exclusion of those benefits for a few weeks. In short, if you fail to register in time, be prepared to lose money.

Failure to register in time will result in losing money.

2 – Registering (online or not) as looking for a job

It is recommended to use the online platform to register yourself as soon-to-be out of a job. You can do this very easily by following this link. You will need to first create an account on the platform (scroll down to “Noch nicht registriert“, tick the disclaimer boxes and click “Registrieren als Bewerber“). Once you have confirmed your account, you will be able to complete the rest of the process. If you are unsure about what to do, you can always call the hotline and get help in English if you have any questions about unemployment benefits in Germany. Registering online is only about saving time however, it is still required to book an appointment at your local office to finish this step.

3 – Registering in person as being unemployed

Update 03.04.2020: due to the current Corona virus situation, this step can now be done online or via phone. Please reach your local Arbeitsagentur for more details.

Once you have completed the first step, you will need to free up a few hours of your time to also go on site and register yourself as “properly” unemployed. This is to be done at the very latest on the first day without a job. You will go to your local Arbeitsagentur for that. If unsure where it is; use this form. Make sure to bring all the following documents with you:

  • Passport
  • Meldebescheinigung (Registration certificate)
  • Visa (If applicable)
  • Your Krankenkasse card
  • Termination letter from your employer (and contract)
Do prepare for some queuing (Credits:

You will obtain a number to wait in line and a person working there will process your case and give you more instructions. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, especially if the person talks fast.

So far so good. Well done. But it doesn’t end there.

4 – Filling in the application document

This is what you came for and it’s the last step to take in your quest. Once you are registered as having no job, you will have now have to ask for support from the state during these hard times. To do that, you will fill in the “Antrag auf Arbeitslosengeld” (Application for unemployment money in Germany). This is can be done on a good ol’ fashioned paper form that you can obtain at the Arbeitsagentur directly, or it can be done online on this page. Simply use the account you created on step 2. If you are a bit lost while doing this, you can refer to this guide, which explains in simple German what is expected of you.

This form is mainly asking of you more details about your personal situation (kids too, if applicable), why you are applying, which resources you have at the moment, where your insurance is and more. All those details are needed to measure whether you really qualify for unemployment benefits in Germany.

5- Receive confirmation at home

Once your application is sent, it will processed by the Arbeitsagentur relatively fast; usually within 2 weeks. You will receive an official confirmation by post which puts together your unemployment benefits in Germany. Among other things; how much you will get (per day, that’s the way it’s done), when it starts and finishes,  where the money goes, etc.

6- Fulfill your duties and prepare the transition

Now that you don’t need to think about how you will pay your rent, you can start to plan again. Soon after having registered at the Arbeitsagentur, you will receive a convocation to meet your counselor there. It is compulsory to attend in order to communicate what your plan is. Make sure to come prepared with an updated CV and already some applications for jobs in the pipe. If you are planning to become a freelancer, show that you have done your research too (which can start here btw 🙂 ) and that you need time to prepare it. It’s important you establish a good relationship with your counselor.

Prepare for a bumpy ride (Source:

You can find on this page here all the steps we just covered on the Arbeitsagentur’s website. It’s well laid-out and explains again the different steps to get unemployment benefits in Germany. I strongly advise you to have a look to get familiar with all the terms. Part of the platform is also available in English.

When you complete the process, you will have access to the portal with your own account as well, where you will be able to most of the document filling online, receive electronic copies of the documents issued by the authorities and adjust communication preferences.


Can i transfer unemployment benefits earned back home to Germany?

Yes. If you have been working long enough in another E.U country, you have the legal right to have your unemployment be transferred to Germany when registering. This involves asking for an authorization before leaving your country and submitting this authorization when you register in Germany. More info on how to transfer unemployment benefits to Germany this way.

After working in Germany, i plan to be abroad before coming back. Can i still apply for ALG 1 then?

In the case you were eligible before leaving Germany, you can still get ALG1 if you do the timing right. You are eligible if you contributed at least 12 months in the past 2 years. Thus, you can still receive benefits if you apply less than 12 months after your departure.

Example: you stay in London 15 months after your time in Germany. You come back to Germany, this time frame rule won’t let you have ALG1 (15 months in the UK + 9 months in Germany before that = 24 months)

Can i calculate in advance how much i will be getting?

Yes. You can get a rough idea with this small calculator provided by the Arbeitsagentur here.

I am in Germany on a Blue card or working visa, can i still get ALG1 benefits?

Yes, but it lies in the hands of the foreigners’ office. When you lose your job, you have to notify the immigration authorities (section 82 subs. 6 of the German Residence Act) and they make a call on whether or not you qualify.

The foreigners’ office can decide to extend your residence permit by 6 months to give you a chance to find a job again, while getting ALG1 too.

What helps in that case:

  • That you have been in Germany under a work visa or blue card long enough (about 2 years).
  • That your visa is non employer-dependent.

Please bare in mind that i am no immigration specialist. Interesting thread on this matter here.

Do unemployment benefits decrease chances to renew or prolong my visa in Germany?

In the case you don’t have permanent residence yet, this might be a question. Trusting this source, it seems that being on ALG1 does satisfy the prerequisites to prove you have enough means to support yourself during your time in Germany. Being on ALG2 does not. However, this means that your new visa’s validity might be limited in time, to the point your benefits run out. Or simply, you might only obtain a Fiktionsbescheinigung for now.

I have a mini-job or freelance opportunity: can i still have a small side gig and ALG1 at the same time?

Yes, this is possible but often times not a very attractive option. Here are the limitations:

  • You are not allowed to work more than 15h a week (since you need time to find a real job again)
  • You can’t earn more than 165€ per month (eg: if you earned 300€ that month,  135€ will be deducted on your ALG1 amount for that month)
  • You must let the Arbeitsagentur know before it starts.

Who pays for my Krankenkasse while the 3 months waiting period applies?

If you are with a public Krankenkasse, there is a month after you quit that is part of normal coverage (=no need to pay yourself), then the Arbeitsamt covers those costs for the rest of the time and also after, while receiving ALG1.

If you are a private Krankenkasse, there is a also a month “free” included after you quit, but then you ought to pay yourself, until you receive ALG1. More info here.

I have been on Kurzarbeit lately, how does that impact calculation?

Shortly put, it doesn’t. Your time spent on Kurzarbeit will be considered normal working time, thus benefits will be calculated as if you were working all hours. That is true for duration of benefits as well. There is no drawback going from Kurzarbeit into unemployment. Welfare state powa!

Please note that this post is aiming at providing an overview of the process and that i made it to the best of my ability based on my experience. I believe it to be accurate but cannot be held accountable for any wrong-doings or wrong decisions you might do on this information. Feel free to correct me or give more details about to best get unemployment benefits in Germany in the comments.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


  • Reply TUTU 08/03/2018 at 17:20

    I am an EU citizen and have worked in Germany for three years. The first two years of emloyment I was paid significantly more than this last 12 months.
    I am becoming unemployed and am wondering if the 60% value is purely based on the last 12 months?

    For me this would only be like 600euro…..

    Please help

    • Reply HolA 31/05/2018 at 17:04

      Hi TUTU,

      Did you find out about it? I also have the same question. How does the 60% based on if you have more than one jobs that pays differently.

    • Reply Jigna Nawani 20/06/2018 at 14:18

      Hi TUTU,

      Did you find out? I have the same question.

  • Reply Ada 04/03/2018 at 22:52

    Hello Bastien!
    This page is very useful thank you very much!!
    I am employed in a Staatstheater as a dancer and from June on I will be unemployed .I m planning to freelance between Holland and Germany ( mostly Holland ) and I wanted to know how long can I be away from Germany ( still keeping my address in Germany) ? I would like to train in Holland and also spend most of the time there… is it gonna be very difficoult? Or it depends on my counselor? I ll be active trying to find jobs and stuff but I would like to be in Holland to do that.
    Thank you very much


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/03/2018 at 17:25

      Hi Ada. If you are freelancing; you won’t be getting ALG1 will you?

  • Reply Aomar 04/03/2018 at 22:18

    Hi Bastien

    Thank you for the article. I was in German jobcenter last and all the information they provided matched exactly what you described above. Thought I still couple question you know the answer.

    I am British citizen and I was working in uk full time for the last 5 years. I am planing to move to Germany with me German wife. They told me in order to get ALG 1 (67%) I need first to work in Germany unless one day in order to be legible for ALG1.
    My question, is there any specific job I need to look for before I raisin? Or I need to be in any specific contract ? Or any job will be fine.

    Do you know how do they calculate the 67% ? Example : if I was earning £2000 a month in uk and when I arrive to Germany I look for job for a week just to meet the requirement and is this job let’s say they pay me £800 a month

    They will calculate ALG1 (67%) base on my earning I’m uk or on that week I worked in Germany?

    And if the employers in Germany employe me just for week do you if they will face any specific charges if they terminate the contract earlier?

    The only reason I wanted to apply for ALG1 is to spend time in learning German language.

    Many thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/03/2018 at 17:24

      Hi Aomar. You should research how the transfer of rights form the UK to Germany work. I think any job would do.

  • Reply Chris 04/03/2018 at 09:39

    Hi Bastien,

    Thanks a lot for the very informative article.

    I am an EU citizen and I am currently working in Germany for almost 8 months (having a contract for 2 years in total). I would like to ask the following:

    a) You mentioned that in order to be eligible to receive the ALG1 you have to be working for at least 12 months and that the period that you can qualify for the benefit is half of your working period. Does that mean the minimum period of ALG1 support is six months?

    b) Does the eligibility of ALG1 depends on factors that play a role for ALG2 such as savings,living with others etc. For example, could I stay with my girlfriend in a different city in Germany (in a different state as well), while I am receiving the ALG1 benefit in order to avoid rent costs?

    Thanks in advance for the clarification!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/03/2018 at 17:18

      Hi Chris. a) There is no minimum support period. It can only be a few weeks if necessary. b) No.

  • Reply Lookingforhelp 03/03/2018 at 10:22

    Hey Bastien,

    I am not European- I do not have European passport.
    I worked in Germany for more than 3 years
    My visa expire in December 2019

    I would like to know if i can leave to work in a different european city and come back after a year – and ask for my unemployment money?
    meaning asking for it while i do not have visa to stay in germany

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/03/2018 at 17:17

      Hi there. Good question, i do not know how the validity of your visa impacts onto your ALG 1 benefits i’m afraid. I suppose you need to have the right to be in Germany to enjoy that.

  • Reply Ana 27/02/2018 at 09:34

    Hi, Bastien, and thanks for the post.

    I have been working in Berlin since 2015. After 1.5 years I was fired and 3 months after that I found another job, where I currently work at. I´ve been working here for 8 months and would like to know what happens if I resign.

    I know about the 3 month period rule for getting benefits if I resign, but would it still be possible to receive benefits since I had this break of 3 months between jobs, as I only work here for 8 months at this job? Or should I work 12 months in a row, without a break between them?

    In any case, what sort of system would I qualify for? Is it still ALG1, or is it ALG2? Please keep in mind I did receive ALG1 benefits during this 3 month period between jobs.

    Thanks a lot for your attention.
    Best regards, Ana.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/02/2018 at 20:00

      Hi Ana. You don’t lose your rights after changing jobs. You don’t start the ALG-1-meter from 0 every time you start a new job. The amount of rights was just reduced because you had this 3 month support.

  • Reply Anna 26/02/2018 at 21:34

    Hi Bastien, I don’t know if you are able to answer my question but here it comes:

    When in step 6 you say that “…you will receive a convocation to meet your counselor there. It is compulsory to attend in order to communicate what your plan is”, in case I quit and I only start to receive the money after the 3 months, during the first 3 months am I also asked to go to the Job centre? Or only from the moment I am covered?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/02/2018 at 09:20

      Hi Anna. Yes, you will need to meet your counselor even before receiving the benefits.

  • Reply Anna 26/02/2018 at 16:24

    Hi Bastien, thank you for the article! I have a question. Do you know what is better Aufhebungsvertrag or Abwicklungsvereinbarung? My employer wants me to leave and offers these two options. Do you know what is preferable in terms of searching for new job and applying for Arbeitlossgeld? As I understood in case of Abwicklungsvereinbarung it shouldn’t be a Sperrzeit for Arbeitlossgeld, but are there any downsides? E.g. harder to find another job? Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/03/2018 at 13:13

      Hi Anna. I am not a legal expert of that matter unfortunately. All the tip i can give you is that you contract should be stopped because of economical reasons (“Betriebsbedingt” is the keyword you want to have somewhere).

  • Reply John 23/02/2018 at 01:12

    I recently married german girl in Denmark. I have some queries.

    1. My wife is living in Munich and me in Berlin, currently i am living in studio apartment 22q. Will the standesamt and burgeremt register me from single to married?.(actually we donot have flat or 2 room wohnung yet to live together).

    2. I finish my master in Germany, and want to start work, but german skills are not enough to get job effectively, so my question will the Jobcentre pay for the language course?

    3.We are both fresh graduates, so for the initial time, the job centre pay allowance for the living flat?
    Best regards

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/02/2018 at 08:44

      Hi John. You need to have your marriage recognized in Germany first. It’s not automatic. If you can prove you need German skills to start working on the German market, then yes, they can subsidize a class for you. As for the ALG 1; you do whatever you want with the support you get.

    • Reply Aomar 04/03/2018 at 21:47

      Hi John

      I was in jobcenter in Germany last week and I asked this question if they can fun the German language course. The answer was yes but you must have already completed A1 and A2. Basically you have to prove them that you completed A2. The only funding B1 course.

  • Reply kumar 20/02/2018 at 13:18

    I have a question. Does Non-EU citizens also eligible to apply for unemployment benefits? I am non-Eu citizen(india) and I paid taxes for 25 months.
    thanks in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/02/2018 at 16:53


  • Reply Anna 12/02/2018 at 10:11

    Thank you so much for thh article.
    I was on AlG1 for 11 months. I have a job now and my probation Zeit is coming to an end. I am considering resigning within my probation time as if I dont – I will have a three month long resignation period and I am not satisfied with my job. I have enough money saved for the 3 month block but do you know how my situation would look? I would land a job within those three months (I assume). The questions are the following:
    What if I dont land a job within those three months and also – will me resigning but being able to support myself for that time prove to be problematic for the Arbitsamt?
    Thank you so much!!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2018 at 21:18

      Hi Anna. If you took the job then it means you were not considered unemployed anymore. so i guess you werent receiving benefits anymore. What you do from that point on is not their business if i am not missing anything.

    • Reply Ester Pamilaga 19/02/2018 at 22:04

      Good evening, i was in unemployment office today, i jusy want ask what i will do as my contract us ending on 30april my boss refer me to this unployement but just in the counter they told me i need to be back with the translator, as i cannot speak any german. Can anybody recommend me for a translator i will just pay is that really the policy the nobody cam speak English? Please help

  • Reply Abercromby 11/02/2018 at 19:16

    Hi, thanks for all the helpful information. Have a specific question around the 12 month required to be working in Germany. I started working at the beginning of May last year, so have now been working in Germany for 9.5 months. If I hand my notice in now (3 month notice period) will I qualify for ALG1? By the time I complete my last day of work I would have been working for over 12 months. However if I have to tell the Arbeitsagentur within a few days of resigning will they still consider me as having worked in Germany for 12 months (e.g. if I could show them an agreed resignation date which takes me over 12 months)? Or do I have to wait till I’ve worked for 12 months before resigning (and then work a 3 month notice period)?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2018 at 21:16

      Hi Abercromby. As far as i can tell, you contract will have last 12 months by then = 12 months you have contributed to the system. I don’t see any conflict there in my opinion. Only an opinion though.

  • Reply Yu-An 08/02/2018 at 16:39

    Hi Bastien,
    Thank you for the comprehensive guide that you posted!
    I am currently thinking about leaving my current job due to some chronic health problems as well as using the time to improve my German so that I would actual work using German, so I don’t want to look for a new job immediately. Would you say that this is a situation that a counselor would understand or would they only want to see someone who wants to look for a new job right away? Or is this something that would depend more on the individual counselor? Would being honest about my intentions result in me not getting the benefits?
    Many thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2018 at 08:32

      Hi Yu-An. Their job is to put you back on the job market as fast as possible. If you can prove you couldn’t do your current job because of health issues and that you want to improve your German to improve your chances on the job market, it’s possible that the counselor will consider that as good effort from your side. Can’t guarantee it though.

  • Reply K N R 08/02/2018 at 13:57

    Hello Bastien,
    My wife is currently working in Finland from last two and half years before that she was working in germany for almost 4 years. I am curretly living in germany and she is planning to shift here and find new job. My question is is she able to get unemployment benefits after coming here in germany? Also as she required time to move here and register which we consider will take around one month how much time we have to apply for unemployment benefits. And is she required any special documents from finland as she paid taxes in finland also?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2018 at 08:29

      Hi KNR. I am not able to reply to Finland-specific questions but you should check if Germany and Finland have an agreement to transfer such rights. It’s possible in many cases.

  • Reply George 05/02/2018 at 15:49

    Hi Bastien,

    Thanks for writing all this very useful information, it is great.

    I have a question for you and would be very happy if you could help me out:

    I have been working in Germany for more than 9 years without any break and also with a normal working contract. However, I am planning now to move to an EU country for a new job and so I will cancel my contract here. My question is, if things will not work out in the EU country I am planning to move, is it possible to come back to Germany and ask for unemployment money?

    Thank you,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/02/2018 at 21:10

      Hi George, i would double check but i believe yes, as long as you don’t come back after the regulatory 4 years, which is the normal expiration date if i’m correct.

      • Reply George 07/02/2018 at 12:07

        Hi Bastien, thank you a lot for your answer…!

  • Reply Frederic Paul 02/02/2018 at 19:50

    Hi Bastien,
    Thank you for the guide.
    I am employed at Venlo in Holland but live at Nettetal, Germany. I am a Dutch national and working with current employer more than 2 years. Due to reorganisation I am going to loose job in a few months.
    Where can I apply for unemployment allowance ? Germany or Holland ?
    Is there any other rules applicable since I work in Holland and live in Germany ?
    Appreciate your help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/02/2018 at 20:22

      Hi Fred. You need to check if you can transfer your rights from Holland to Germany. I believe it is very well possible. A search in your native Dutch language should help you find the right answers.

  • Reply Eoghan 02/02/2018 at 17:30

    Hi BAstien,

    I have a question about taxation and ALG1. Do you have to pay tax on unemployment benefits? In my case I was unemployed for 3 months (on ALG1) and employed full time for 9 months, paying my taxes monthly at source. So if I earned €XXXX while employed and got €YYYY from ALG1 is my total tax owed based on €XXXX only or is it based on €XXXX + €YYYY?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/02/2018 at 20:21

      Hi Eoghan. It is not taxed (no income tax)but you have to report it at the end of the year.

  • Reply sompete 30/01/2018 at 08:16

    Hi Bastien.
    I have a quite tricky question. I have been working in Germany from 10.2011 till 12.2013 (a bit more than two years) precisely in Hamburg. With my former employer we reach an agreement to seperate. I then went to study to the UK for a year and afterwards moved o Spain to do a paid PhD from 02.2014-02.2017. Srtraight after the PhD, since I didn’t get a job I was paid unemployement allowance, whose last payment ended this month. I am planning to either move to France or back to Germany. Can I claim any unemployment allowance for the time I have been working in Germany ?
    Thanks for your prompt reply

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/02/2018 at 19:30

      Hi Raul. You could double check this but i think your rights to claim the benefits have now expired.

  • Reply Tina 28/01/2018 at 12:31

    Hi Bastien,

    I have a couple of questions regarding the Arbeitslosengeld I in in case I decide to terminate my contract. I have worked in Germany for more than 2 years and seriously consider leaving my workplace – I know that I would have to wait for 3 months (but after registering as an unemployed or after the last day of my work?) for the benefits.
    When do I need to let the AfA know that I plan to resign – on the day of resignation (1 month notice period applies in my case) or on the last day of work? Also, what if in the meanwhile (during the 3-month unpaid period or when I finally start receiving the benefits) I manage to find a job outside the country and decide to leave for a couple of months (or years), and after this contract expires I will come back to Germany – would I still be entitled to claim my (sort of frozen) unemployment benefits? If so, what are the time restrictions – I read online that one needs to work for 12 months in the last 2 (other sources claim it’s 5) years to be able to receive the benefits. Is this true?

    Many thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2018 at 22:46

      Hi Tina. You have to wait 3 months after the last day of work i believe. Do let them know as soon as possible about it. You have to work at least for 12 months in the last 2 years yes.

  • Reply Ryan 23/01/2018 at 14:20

    Hi Bastien. I’m wondering if you know anything about changing a job status from Freelance to Unemployed? I’m not looking to receive any kind of unemployment benefits (other than possible help with a Bildungsgutschein in the future). Quick background: I’m here from the U.S. on a freelance artist visa, but just recently married an EU citizen. As money hasn’t been great this past year (practically non-existent), once I change my visa to have full working rights I’d like to register as a job seeker (maybe this isn’t necessary if I’m not in need of benefits?). I know there are other benefits to registering as unemployed, including being added to my partner’s insurance (told by Krankenkasse yesterday that this applies if unemployed, but not freelance), which tells me that it would probably be in my best interest to do so. The problem I’m having is that I can’t find any relevant information on the switch. Any ideas? Thanks very much in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/01/2018 at 09:39

      Hi Ryan. Good question, you can apply as unemployed but since you have been freelancing, you won’t be able to receive ALG1. You can however apply for ALG 2 if you wish to do so.

  • Reply Claudia 19/01/2018 at 11:58

    Hi Bastien,
    thank you so much for outlining and condensing all this very useful Information. I have been working for a big tech corporation in Munich for over 2 years but I have been planning for a career shift for a while now and dedicate time to creative writing. After some time i would like to move to a free lance set up and work on my own narrative projects. When meeting your councelor once registered for unemployment , is your plan supposed to be completely shared ? Thanks for your reply. I see you might have gone through a similar path …

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/01/2018 at 09:49

      Hi Claudia. It’s up to you to share your plan with the councelor depending on what you want to achieve. All they want to know is that while you are being supported, you do your best to find a job again.

  • Reply Anita Roy 18/01/2018 at 11:10

    Oops sorry I forgot to add that I will be given affiliation as Guest Researcher by the Max Planck on the basis of which I “should be able” to get a visa (acc to the secretary. Is that possible?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2018 at 19:52

      No idea.

      • Reply Reymond 05/02/2018 at 10:25

        Hi Anita,

        I will soon find myself in the same situation, my visa is attached to my work contract. Hvae you sorted out the visa issues and unemployment benefits? Thanks.

        Goodluck to us.

  • Reply Anita Roy 18/01/2018 at 10:33

    Thanks so much for clarifying this maze of arbeitslosengeld for all of us!
    I am a post-doc scientist working at Max Planck Institute since September 2015. The director has said that I will not be given any more extension of contract after May 2018, when I would have completed 33 months in Germany. My steurberator told me that I am eligible for unemployment benefits since I received a regular salary all these months and made contributions to Social Security. So this part looks ok. But I am an Indian national (Indian passport holder), so what happens to my Visa? I am a little confused about the legal aspect of stay when unemployed. Could I get a temporary visa to stay on in Germany after the termination of my contract in May (and live on arbeitslosengeld till I find a new position/job)? Please help if you have some information.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2018 at 19:50

      Hi Anita. I’m sorry i can’t answer your question. My knowledge is limited on visa related issues, so i don’t want to put you in a bad situation. I’ve read somewhere that you can benefit from ALG 1 until your visa expires but it won’t be renewed if you don’t find a new job, but do your own research.

  • Reply RL 16/01/2018 at 22:25

    Hello! Thank you for the information. If I am unemployed and wish to wait a few months before registering as unemployed (in case I am able to secure work relatively quickly as an employee or freelancer), is this ok? Ie still possible to do. Not expecting state assistance necessarily for the months I waited to register, but for future months. I haven’t been employed in Germany for 12 months yet, am a EU national (UK). Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2018 at 19:44

      Hi RL. Yes, it is not an obligation to register yourself as unemployed, only necessary if you wish assistance.

  • Reply Dennis 15/01/2018 at 10:41

    Hi Bastien,

    Thanks for the article! I actually have a question reverse-way.

    I would get my first ALG payment at the beginning of November. Yet, I could find a job as a freelancer and did not need ALG anymore. So, on October 25, 2017, I have informed Arbeitsagentur that I started working as a freelancer (40h a week) since one month and that they should not send me any money. They processed this information very slowly that I got paid mistakenly. Regardless, I sent them the money back properly and the situation is solved.

    However, recently I received a post from them asking me why I did not inform them as soon as I started to work as a freelancer. They want me to fill out a form with the reasoning so that they will come up with a “verdict”.

    I simply thought that it would be okay to inform them before I received the payment. How should I respond to this? What can be the consequences of the worst case?

    Thank you very much in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/01/2018 at 14:44

      Hi Dennis. I’m afraid it’S down to some internal rule how they consider your case. In my opinion, you can prove you warned them before they made the first transfer (insert a copy of that note with the form), so it should be fine. You can also argue that the job required a very short notice start and you were extremely busy.

  • Reply Nina 09/01/2018 at 21:34

    A quick question. If I lose my job (have worked for 15 months), and will start receiving AG 1, could I travel or stay abroad and for how long? Is this only a matter of discretion of the case counselor or does some legislation apply? Could I continue to receive AG 1, if, say after a month, I would move to another EU country and register there at the job centre? I know some other EU countries allow this within specified time limits.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/01/2018 at 22:54

      Hi Nina. Same rules apply here. The Arbeitsagentur only allows a few days off while you receive benefits.

  • Reply Baz 02/01/2018 at 13:45

    Hi Bastien

    Great article thanks for the help. My part-time contract ends at the end of March 2018. I am also doing a Masters at FU. Am I still entitled to Arbeitslosengeld I, or should I not tell arbeit agent? I worked full 2 years and I am an EU citizen.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/01/2018 at 18:26

      Hi Baz. You should be entitled to ALG 1 yes.

      • Reply Baz 04/01/2018 at 19:47

        Great thanks again!

  • Reply N. K. MINOCHA 01/01/2018 at 18:33

    My daughter is doing PhD with employment since last five years. It is expected that PhD will be completed by the end of Jan 2018. Kindly advice me un employment benefits are payable to my daughter. If yes, how she has to proceed further.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/01/2018 at 17:26

      Hi Naresh. If she is employed, then this article also applies to her.

  • Reply Jeremy 22/12/2017 at 13:57

    Hi Bastien!
    Thank you for this very helpful blog. I am working as researcher in Berlin since about 3 years and my contract ends in February 28, 2018. I am eligible for the unemployment benefits and hence already registered at the Job Center. As you mentioned, after being registered as “properly” jobless, we have to fill the “Antrag auf Arbeitslogengeld”. My first question concerns the details that we have to provide, especially the resources we have at this moment. If we have some savings (whatever the amount), is it a risk for not being qualified for these benefits? Another question would concerns the travels. Do you think this is possible to move for a whole month abroad, for job seeking (conference and interviews) and a bit of holidays, while being supported by the Job Center?
    Thank you for your help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/12/2017 at 17:10

      Hi Jeremy. ALG 1 is the government supporting while you search for a job and not taking holidays; They only allows a few days off and you need to let them know in advance. Your savings aren’t relevant for the Arbeitsagentur. They are more thinking about rental investment, stocks, etc…

  • Reply Kyle 19/12/2017 at 09:40

    Thank you for the great tips and advice. Would be great if you could shed some light on my situation.
    I am a UK national working and living in Germany for nearly 3 years. I am on a labor leasing contract where i pay German income tax but pay UK social security(N.I). Unfortunately my contract will be terminated at end of this year.
    I have so far applied for a NIC (national insurance certificate) which i believe is the U1 form. What will i be entitled to receive AVG1 or AVG2 in this case?
    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/12/2017 at 17:01

      Hi Kyle, you need to check if you can transfer your UK rights to German rights.

  • Reply Kumar 18/12/2017 at 19:47

    I have a question. I am working as a researcher at TU Berlin past 24 months. My contract is going to end March 2018 my also my visa. So I have total 27 months of working contract.
    My wife is working in a pharmaceutical company past 12 months and she has an unlimited contract. Till now she has a dependent visa (though she has dependent visa she is allowed to work ) and She is planning to change the visa status.
    My Question is If my visa status changed to dependent visa am I eligible to apply for unemployment benefits?
    does the type of visa (dependent or Job seeker visa) has anything to do with unemployment benefits

    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/12/2017 at 21:37

      Hi Kumar. I’m afraid i can’t help you on visa related issues.

  • Reply AWJ 18/12/2017 at 10:48

    Thank you so much for your clarifications in English on this matter.
    I have a question please and will be grateful if you could assist.
    i need to apply for unemployment benefit in Hamburg.
    I am on guard leave until March 18 and we might relocate to England in July next year.
    For the moment i am entitled to register for unemployment here but my question is as i will be going back to England i don’t want to look for a new job. Am I still entitled to unemployment benefit or do i must look for a job so i still receive my entitlement?
    My second question is: Can i transfer my benefit to England until i find a job there?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/12/2017 at 21:35

      Hi Alex. I don’t know about individual agreements between countries but i strongly suspect there is a way to transfer rights between countries. Unemployment benefit is supporting while you look for a new job, so yes, you must prove you are looking for a job.

  • Reply Francesco 15/12/2017 at 17:00

    Hey Bastien,

    Thanks for this guide. I’m still having some doubts regarding my situation and I’d like to ask for further advice. I’ve been informed just yesterday that I’ll receive a letter of notice on Monday Dec. 18, 4 weeks before January 15th, exactly one week before completing one year of work at my company because of insolvency. I’m wondering why my bosses decided to do so. Would they have to pay taxes for my unemployment and, most importantly, am I still eligible for unemployment benefits?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/12/2017 at 21:31

      Hi Francesco. Yes you are eligible for unemployment benefits. I don’t know why they decided to declare bankruptcy; they already paid taxes on your wage.

  • Reply Spring 15/12/2017 at 00:21

    Hi, Thank you so much for this detailed blog. So my last job I got paid for 6months, but my contract terminated at 5.5 months, the current one if I work until the end of the 6months and get paid for those 6months. Does it count as in total 12months paying tax in the last 2 years and qualified for ALG1? Or the contract valid period has to be add up in total 12months?
    When I sign the notice of termination does it mean I have to go to register now or can I do it in between now and the end of the last working day of the valid contract(End of jan. next year)?
    If I register it in Cologne, would I still get the benefit if I move to other cities in Germany later?
    Thank you so much for your help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/12/2017 at 21:29

      Hi Emily. You need to have payed in for a total of 2 years, regardless over how many contracts. You should go register as soon as possible, as mentioned in the post. Yes, you can use your benefits when moving to a new city, you just need to let your Arbeitsagentur know.

      • Reply Jess 19/12/2017 at 11:21

        Hi Bastien,

        I see you mentioned in the article you need to have paid tax and insurance for 12 months in the last two years, however here in your response you say you need to have paid in for 2 years. I’m just a little confused – could you please clarify?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/12/2017 at 17:02

          Hi Jess. I don’t know which comment you are talking about; i was maybe talking about how long you might need for a full year of ALG 1.

  • Reply Sabine 08/12/2017 at 21:34


    I’m freelancer since October 2016, EU citizen, public insured, no unemployement insurance. My contract will be over in January 2018.
    What can I except! Arbeitlosengeld I / II? Or maybe something else? I’m stressing a bit now.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/12/2017 at 11:30

      Hi Sabine, in your situation, you won’t be able to get ALG 1 as you need to willingly pay unemployment insurance on top of everything to get that. ALG 2 is what you can expect.

  • Reply Kira 07/12/2017 at 15:21


    thank you for the detailed article. I am still not clear in my case what I should get: I was employed in Switzerland for 9 years and I am now moving to Germany with the family and I have quit my job (effective Jan 2 2018). My HR contact told me i have to apply to the U1 form in Switzerland and then go to the German unemployment office. Would I then be entitled for ALG1? Or would they give me ALG2?
    thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/12/2017 at 11:19

      Hi Kira. Since you will transfer you well earned-rights from Switzerland, you will be getting ALG 1.

      • Reply Kira 11/12/2017 at 13:51

        Hi Bastien,
        is there a penalty period of 3 months?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/12/2017 at 22:46

          Hi Kira. In that case, I don’t know.

  • Reply Viktoria 04/12/2017 at 20:41

    I worked alreadiy 23 monrh in Berlin. My contract gonna expire on the 2nd February. I ragestered on time in the Arbeitsabentur.
    I would like to ask what happenes if I don’t sign/renew my contract (my company would renew it but I don’t want) just wait till it expires. Can I get Arbeitlosengeld?
    Thanks,in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/12/2017 at 20:41

      Hi Viktoria, if you don’t want to renew your contract, it means you are willingly entering an unemployment siutation. So my opinion is that you will probably have to wait hthe 3 months period until you get ALG 1.

  • Reply Paul 29/11/2017 at 00:05

    thanks for providing all this information! As I understand, after resigning on my own I would most likely have my Arbeitslosengeld 1 payments blocked for three months. Do you know whether the blockage time countdown will continue even if I leave Germany for some time for personal reasons in my first days of unemployment (I would register out of the system for that time as it wouldn’t be possible for me to attend meetings with the Agency)? After I come back and register back in, would the transfer blockage start from the scratch with three months or would it be reduced by the time that would have passed already?
    Thanks a lot in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/11/2017 at 09:15

      Hi Paul. I doubt this would work because if you receive benefits, it is because you need help while you search for a new job in theory. Going away during that time, even in the first months might not look good to the person in charge of your case. It could be considered holidays. Holidays are permitted while you receive benefits but not only for a few days and you need to let the agency know first. So best option might be to wait until you are back and apply for benefits then. Just an opinion though.

  • Reply Dani 16/11/2017 at 22:43

    “You must register three months up to final day of actually working or last day of notice period, last day I got paid??my employment ends on 30 nov but three months notice takes me to end of gen! Can I register on 15 feb?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/11/2017 at 14:48

      Hi Dani, 3 months from 30 Nov takes you to February 30th.

    • Reply Ramie 26/10/2019 at 09:38


      I worked for over 24months in Germany. I quit me job and applied for unemployment benefits. I waited 3months then received 9days of ALG 1. I moved back to my Home EU country then. Less than two years later I have returned to Germany and applied for my alg 1. I was told I cannot get my alg 1 because I was Arbeitlos in my hole country. But I did not receive alg1 there – I only received social help. I am still trying to get my alg1 as I was told I have a restanspruch of over 200days. This ended due to my ‚Umzug‘ but now I am back and want to continue my alg1. I have heard that many Germans for example go on a long holiday for over 2 years and can use the restanspruch within 4years. Why are they withholding my restanspruch?

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/10/2019 at 14:50

        Hey Ramie, Hard to tell without knowing more details.

  • Reply Martin 14/11/2017 at 17:03

    Hi, my contract ended on 26/10, I had one month notice but was promised a new job which fell through. My bad for not registering just in case. Can I still register now? I know I will lose money, is that the only issue, or am I just not qualified for it anymore? I have worked two years in Germany, thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/11/2017 at 10:38

      Hi Martin, you still qualify but you might lose some money, unless you can convince them that the job was promised but didn’t work out. Anything proving that in writing is helpful.

  • Reply keith 10/11/2017 at 13:14

    Hello, I am a British Citizen who was employed in Berlin for a large German Company for 12 months, I was then posted overseas with the same company but have kept paying my unemployment insurance since then. I have a “dormant” German contract I am now going to be made redundant the end of 2017 but my family home in is in the UK. I believe I qualify for the Unemployment benefit but do I need to be living in Germany to receive it? Any help gratefully received.

    Many thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/11/2017 at 14:55

      Hi Keith. I’d ask your company directly what they can do for you. They must be used to this situation. I wouldn’t know how to help you.

  • Reply Kalra 03/11/2017 at 08:52

    I am german citizen. I worked in germany for more than 10 years and then resigned to work outside EU. after 4 years of working in non EU country i want to return to germany and would like to apply for arbeitlisgeld. What is the process. I have family with 2 kids.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/11/2017 at 10:07

      Hi Kalra, you have to first make sure you still have the rights to ALG 1 after all this time, if not you will need to apply for ALG 2 instead.

  • Reply Bart 02/11/2017 at 14:33

    Hi, and thanks for this short but complete info! I read somewhere that it is paid 6 days a week. What does it mean? I should take my previous net salary, divide by 20 to get day salary, and then I will get it times 6 days a week…? Also, no mention of maximum sum to be paid. Is there any? Thanks! Bart.

  • Reply phil 30/10/2017 at 11:44

    Hello. i have just arrived in Berlin from the UK to try and find work and start a fresh. I have been working full time in the uk for the last 7 years. i have been out of work now for 7 weeks. I am currently living with a family member here. I was wondering what sort of benefits i would be able to claim now as i had no choice but to resign from my last job. thanks for our help regarding the matter.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/10/2017 at 09:08

      Hi Phil. You currently have no rights to ALG 1 in Germany but as mentioned in the post, you might have the possibility to transfer your rights from the UK. You can still apply for ALG 2.

  • Reply Moe 19/10/2017 at 11:17

    Hi and thank you for information .
    I have a question here. I have received a letter from Arbeitsagnetur that I will receive 67% of my last salary. But I still have a problem that my apartment rent is expensive and I went to have Wohngeld from Rathaus but have calculated that my earning will be less than Standard, and asked me to go to apply from Jobcenter where they can pay only when it is above the standard they have. The Job center told me once they would apply for me they will inform the Ausländerbehörde and will withdrew the Blue Card, and this would create some problems for me to find a new job and may be my residence.

    What is the real situation ? and What should I do in this case ?
    Thank you .

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/10/2017 at 19:07

      Interesting case here Moe. I’m not expert in visa issues but i think you should trust the Job center’s advice on this. As a visa holder, i guess one of the requisite is that you can sustain yourself for a while. Just an opinion though.

  • Reply lakis 16/10/2017 at 18:00

    hi, what happens in case you have worked for three months in Germany and you cannot find another job?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/10/2017 at 22:11

      In that case, you can still apply for ALG 2.

  • Reply O 08/10/2017 at 08:18

    Hi, thank you for this clarification,
    I have a further question about the end of the ALG1.
    How is Is it possible to quit it without a new work contract?
    Would i than pay the Krankenkasse directly?
    Thank you,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/10/2017 at 10:52

      Hi Orsola. Good question, i suppose it might be possible but in this case yes, you’d need to pay your Krankenkasse yourself.

  • Reply M 07/10/2017 at 22:57

    Hi. I have an issue right now. I got my notice on Friday 29th September now but I haven’t signed it yet. Also I got an offer to don’t bring my company to court cause of them firing me without a valid reason. Can I still go to the Arbeitsagentur and apply without haven’t signed my papers?
    Also I have been very sick for a whole week, I couldn’t leave h0me. Am I gonna have trouble if I make this a week later.
    The other thing is I got to know by a lawyer that if I accept the offer from my company, the Arbeitsagentur wont pay me for 3 months after being unemployed just because of accepting any deal with my company out of the regular basis.

    What should I do?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/10/2017 at 10:55

      Hi M, if you have been sick all week, then it should not be a problem, especially if you bring a note from the doctor. As for the rest, i don’t have enough details to give you a firm answer, best is to follow your lawyer’s advice i guess. If you were fired without a reason, then it seems weird that the company is not ready to take care of the consequences.

  • Reply Sokratis 21/09/2017 at 12:36


    many thanks for setting up this guide. It is very useful!

    Would you happen to know whether it’s possible to freeze the unemployment benefit and receive it at a later stage? My contract ends in April 2019 (by then I will have been in employment for 28 straight months) and I plan to go back to my home country for 9 months to do military service from May 2018 to February 2019. I would then return to Germany in March 2019 and start looking for a new job and I would like my unemployment benefits to run from that time onward as I will not have the chance to do job hunting during conscription. I discovered online that there are some ways to do that but I haven’t discovered cases similar to mine (i.e. military conscription). It is probably important to add that while on conscription there’s no payable salary.

    Many thanks in advance!


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/09/2017 at 10:04

      Hi Sokratis. This is something you need to discuss with the Arbeitsagentur when you do the first step. I think it is a legitimate reason to delay your benefits since you are forced to go back to your country for your service. Remember that you can also be unemployed and not apply for the unemployment benefits as well. Ask them how long you can wait with that. Good luck.

  • Reply Rishi 31/08/2017 at 14:46


    I have a question. If I have been given no notice, does that mean i have 3 days to register in person or 3 days to register online?
    My termination letter says I have to do it in person, but the online process seems to indicate I must go in person only on the first day of unemployment and register online within 3 days.

    Thanks a lot

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/08/2017 at 17:21

      Hi Rishi. In this case, i suppose you will do both steps in person at the Arbeitsagentur directly. You need to go there in person on the first day of unemployment in your case. good luck!

    1 2 3 6

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.