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. Here are the conditions to meet:

  • Current registered residence in Germany.
  • Worked at least 12 months in the past 30 months in a job (or several jobs) that pays into social welfare (versicherungspflichtig). This excludes mini jobs paid under 450€/month.
  • You are registered at the Arbeitsagentur.
  • You are available and proactively looking for new employment.

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. In terms of support amount, you will receive 60% of your net salary, 67% if you have children. In terms of support duration, 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.

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, please refer to this detailed guide about ALG 2 benefits in Germany instead.

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 30 months. Thus, you can still receive benefits if you apply less than 18 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.

A strong indicator there might be negative consequences is the following sentence on your current residence permit:

Nebenbestimmungen: […] erlischt beim Bezug von Leistungen nach dem SGB II / XII

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 Gigi 03/10/2018 at 12:44

    Hi Bastien!
    I have been unemployed for awhile now and did a German course before which I had to stop for family reasons. However I did not mention it to the Arbeitsamt that I was doing a course, because I was told by others that in that case I would not receive the benefits I am otherwise entitled to after having to worked for 2 years previously in Berlin already.
    I have been looking for jobs again in the past months but no success yet. On my last appointment with the office I was told I have to learn German of course and do an Integration course? Now I really just want to concentrate on studying the language first rather then looking for a job.
    However since I’m an EU citizen, I do not need any type of Visa to be here and I find it unnecessary to the Integration course. I also have doubt on other peoples opinion on: if I enter a language course which would be 12h/week, I would not receive benefits anymore….
    So my question is, do you know if I can enter to a course myself which would be 12h/week, tell the Arbeitsamt I’m doing a language course and still get the benefit?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/10/2018 at 10:12

      Hey Gigi. In my opinion, this course can be seen as an attempt to improve your chances on the job market, so i don’t see why it would make you not eligible anymore. You need support while your improve your profile.

  • Reply Adrian 29/09/2018 at 20:13


    I have a simple question. I am PhD student and had a 50% contract for 4 years and 6 months 25%. Now I would like to apply for ALG I. I am writing my thesis and i will submit my thesis in 2 months. So, i am available for the job market. but during the ALG form filling, They ask if i am a student or not? And at least i have to fill the working hours per week should be 2-digit (for example at least 10 h/week). what can i do with this option? because theoretically i am not working in university and just writing my thesis. even i am thinking do not introduce me as a student!
    Thank you for your help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/09/2018 at 19:49

      Hey Adrian. Well you are enrolled as a student, and you happen to work on the side too. I’d say that you qualify for the definition yes.

  • Reply Haris 29/09/2018 at 07:04

    Hello Bastien,

    I also require some advice on my case. I had been working with an IT firm in MUNICH for over 14 months with an unlimited contract. Everything was well in place and i had booked my tickets for vacation to visit my family in home country – leaving this Sunday (30th September). Today the CEO informed me over phone that my contract will be terminated with a notice period of 1 month because of financial reasons. The month of October is the notice period and i will be unemployed from November. This came out of no where. No one was expecting it and i had no clue about it. I was happily looking forward to my vacations and then coming back and getting re-started with my work. It is a shock to me. It is clear i have to appear at the Arbeitsagentur within 3 days now after receiving the terminal letter for unemployment benefits. So i have postponed my trip till next week to get myself registered. What i want to ask is about my VISA. I have a BLUE CARD which was of course tied to the firm i am/was working at. What now? i can only stay till January 2019 (3 months – unemployment starting from November)??? If i cant find a job within 3 months, i will be kicked out of Germany? This timeline is so strict right now considering that companies usually take 1 month to process an application and then there are Christmas holidays in between as well. I just dont know what to do. Is it a hard rule that of 3 months? There is no flexibility?

    Hope to get a healthy response


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/09/2018 at 19:42

      Hey Haris. If you need more time to sort things out than just 3 months, you could apply for a job seeker visa, which you could give you 6 additional months, more info here. However, you work in IT, which is in high-demand all over the country, i wouldn’t worry too much. Good luck!

  • Reply Sam 25/09/2018 at 23:48

    Hello Bastien!
    This page is very useful thank you very much!!
    I have come to Germany with dependent blue card. I am a University Graduate having PhD degree. I have been trying for jobs for last 6 months but, so far, nothing worked out. I have never worked here in Germany. Can I seek unemployment benefit? My partner (original blue card holder) has decent income so livelihood is not an issue.
    Thanks Much.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/09/2018 at 19:35

      Hey Sam. You don’t qualify for ALG1 but have a look at ALG 2 (Hartz 4)

  • Reply Clayton 21/09/2018 at 17:11

    Hi Everyone.
    I worked part-time for a company for about 3 years. Then I worked full-time for 10 months,during which period I paid into unemployment. I’ve been let go due to reasons out of my control and have already applied for unemployment, and received a decision for unemployment money for 6 months. However, the notice also came with a letter expressing this is subject to change after an investigation into the amount of time I’ve been working with the company.

    Obviously I don’t qualify in that I only paid 10 months of contributions. Why then did they award me 6 months in the first place, if they’re investigating it? And why was my employer not taking out unemployment contributions while I was part time?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/09/2018 at 22:18

      Hey Clayton. I’m afraid i don’t have the answers to you questions. Better ask the Arbeitsagentur and your former company directly. Good luck !

  • Reply George Paris 21/09/2018 at 14:43

    Hi Bastien,
    I am married to a German Expat and we are returning to Germany. I have never worked in the EU. Do you know if I am entitled to collect any benefits while I look for a job in Germany?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/09/2018 at 22:16

      Hey George. Requirements for ALG1 are laid out in this article. You might want to look into Hartz 4 (ALG 2) in your case.

  • Reply shinas 14/09/2018 at 11:41

    hi, I am not a European, I worked in Germany since 2015 I paid all my tax and everything correctly . recently I resigned from my job. I got a new job in Munich with a better salary but my job contract starting from November, that means I don’t have the job September and October. recently I got a small job in Berlin for two months. I don’t wanna take that job, instead of that I really wanna improve my German skill in this free time. is it possible? will auslanderberhorde allow? (i was employed until July 31)

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2018 at 09:09

      Hey Shinas. You have to check if you current permit allows it. This is almost case by case sometimes so i don’t want to give you any wrong information there. Sorry..

  • Reply BEATRICE 13/09/2018 at 20:30

    Dear Bastien,
    Yhank you for the article!
    I have made first steps to register as unemployed. However when i went to Agentur fur Arbeit I have not received any form to fill for Arbeotslosengeld. As i understood my next steps is to wait for a letter confirming a date with my personal consultant, and this meeting is going to be in first weeks when ill finish my work. Could i fill in the form for Arbeitslosengeld during this meeting? Will i receive the money from the day ill stop working even though the form will be fill in later? I would bd extremely thankful for reply.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2018 at 09:07

      Hey Beatrice. You are just half of the way, you will still need to fill-up the Antrag. I suppose your consultant could help you fill the form up, but that will delay the time with which you will receive money.

      • Reply BEATRICE 24/09/2018 at 20:32

        Dear Bastien, thank you for reply! i filled all forms and presented them, today i received a letter stating that in my application kundigung letter is still missing, im confused, i showed it on the first meeting i was registering unemployed, in later meetings when i was bringing filled forms nobody asked for it. Should i leave this documenf to Agentur, as i understood they are asking to send it by post? Another question would be if i could receive money later on aldo for the first days im going to be unemployement even though i have delyed to presend focuments?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/09/2018 at 22:25

          Hey Beatrice. Well, if they need a copy by post, then it’s probably a good idea to send it to them. I’m not sure i get your second question but i think the application date counts when it comes to receiving benefits.

  • Reply S 12/09/2018 at 09:09

    Dear Bastien,

    Thank you so much for putting such a useful information and I am very sure people are so happy and felt supported by also you answering on each question here.

    It has been a restructure at my company and I have been negotiating the agreement (Abwicklungsvertrag) and finally signed. The termination letter states my last day is within a month at the end of September. However, on the agreement, we settled that the last day will be at the end of December. I have already registered online as instructed on this page and put the last day as 31 December.

    Someone told me that if I signed the agreement (Abwicklungsvertrag) Arbeitsaim sees this as a benefit and they won’t give unemployment benefit. The fact is that I am just earning time but not necessarily being able to save up for coming months next year without any income or unemployment benefit. On top of that, I’ve been staying here with Blue Card which only allows me to stay 3 months after becoming unemployed.

    I have a good relationship with the company and they could perhaps iterate some of the documents. If you have any tip how I can make sure I will be supported by unemployment benefit under the circumstance, it would be tremendously helpful.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2018 at 09:01

      Hey S. Whatever you decide with your employer, the document needs to state that it was for economic reasons that you were fired (Betriebsbedingt is the right key word). This should avoid that you get the 3 months-lock period for the benefits.

  • Reply Hinna 05/09/2018 at 16:52

    Hi Bastien,

    Thanks again for your help… I have another 2(ish) questions. If I was to take ALG I only for 1 month out of the 1 year that I was granted… Could I receive the rest 11 months in the future if I already have found work and would leave ALG I? Or does one have to use the granted amount all in one run?

    Also, If I was to be given freelance work while receiving ALG 1, but it was for only 5 but continuous days in a month and amounted to 50 hours/month at about 10 h/day… even though it is under the 15 hours/week rule (60 hours/month), would they not allow it because it it’s more than 15 hours/week?

    Is there a maximum Euro amount one can earn per month?

    Thanks for your help…

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/09/2018 at 10:47

      Hey Hinna. No, you don’t have to “consume” all your benefits in one go. Concerning the second point, i cannot tell you what to do, you seem to know what the limits are. Just ask yourself; how do they keep track of your working hours?

  • Reply Ali 30/08/2018 at 08:41


    Thanks for your article! I have a question, my boyfriend has to register to the Job Center and as we live together apparently I am supposed to register to the Job Center too, which I find weird because I do have a job. And also we are not married. Do have any informations about it ? Do you know if I really have to register ? Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/08/2018 at 10:32

      Hi Ali. I’m not familiar with that case but i have read somewhere that it might be related to being a freelance or something like that. Sorry i can’t help further.

  • Reply Eliara 29/08/2018 at 18:16

    Hi Bastien,
    Thanks for your great article full of information. I have a situation here where I don’t know if should I apply for unemployed or elterngeld. My contract will expire the end of October, my maternity leave starts 26 of October. My due date is in December. I don’t know what to do, I will have no salary after October. Do you know any case like mine and could give me any advice? Thanks in advance. ..

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/08/2018 at 10:42

      Hey Eliara. I would advise to do your own research but here is what i can quickly tell you. One condition to receive ALG 1 is to be available to take on a new job on the market, so in that prospect, you can ask yourself that question again. More info in German here.

  • Reply Ankit 29/08/2018 at 12:08

    Hi Bastien,

    Thanks for the article. I am a PhD student in Munich from a non EU country and receiving DAAD scholarship from the last 4 years. My PhD contract is going to end by the end of next month. I have been constantly applying for jobs after the time left from the PhD completion, but in vain, though I still have some interviews coming up. I have two questions,

    1. I had the knowledge of the contract getting over from about an year, but I didn’t register at Arbeitsagentur because of the lack of knowledge and also because I had the confidence to end up in some job. Although, I have registered on the website of Arbeitsagentur to search for jobs in June. Now that I have sent an email for the registration, is it considered a late registration?

    2. Some friends have advised me to empty my account balance before the registration, and also to keep a maximum of 300 Euros in the account. I have savings in my account equivalent to about 2 months of my present salary, which I did as I was afraid I won’t be able to find a job. Should I consider their advise?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/08/2018 at 10:37

      Hi Ankit. 1. I would tend to say yes, but the Arbeitsagentur might think otherwise. 2. Don’t know why they would advise you such a thing? Why?. The Arbeitsagentur doesn’t have access to your financial info and it won’t impact your application for ALG 1.

  • Reply reena kumari 28/08/2018 at 15:07

    i have moved to Berlin 8 months ago and did an ausbildung here really finding difficulty in finding job what can i do to get some help. i have an eu passport.

  • Reply Nacho 28/08/2018 at 06:46

    Your posts are amazing 🙂
    I was wondering if I could get some advice.
    So i moved to Germany in July and I came already employed, I registered, I got BKK, a bank account etc and by August I had decided I could not take it anymore ( depression related) so I quit and set my self in the career chance path, I will start studying a short private course in october.
    My question is:
    • Since I only worked one month, I am aware that I do not receive unemployment but I wonder if I should register as unemployed? I don’t really need help finding a job now because I will focus on studying.

    •What about health insurance? I told my employer to cancel BKK thinking I could get a private insurance…

    • Lastly, do i need to do something regarding my taxes? I only worked one month but I dont want them come to me asking for a whole year tax!
    I’m Spanish by the way.

    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/08/2018 at 10:24

      Hi Nacho. Glad you found the post helpful. To the best of my knowledge: No, you are not obligated to register as unemployed. Regarding health insurance; up to you but be aware that you might to have to pay it on your own now. Taxes; income tax was already taken automatically from the payslip by your employer, no worries there.

  • Reply Ali 23/08/2018 at 12:14

    What if someone gets fired within 6 months of their first job?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/08/2018 at 12:14

      Hi Ali. If you don’t gather all conditions to qualify for ALG1, then you don’t qualify.

  • Reply Sowmya 22/08/2018 at 11:53


    I am non EU Citizen living in Germany ( wiesbaden) from the last 7 years , i am an housewife from all the years and i used to work whsen i am in India for around 4 years. As i am taking care of my kids from all these years i did not look for a job though i am qualified and having previous work experience.

    Now, as i am free again to work , i applied recently in Arbeitsamt. Can i now apply for any unemployment benefits?

    Please advice.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/08/2018 at 16:32

      Hi Sowmya. Probably not. If you need support while you find a job, you may apply for ALG 2 (Harz IV).

  • Reply Georgia Nikolaou 20/08/2018 at 10:45

    My name is Georgia and I am from Greece.
    I will move to Germany in one month and I would like to know if I am entitled to get the unemployment benefit from the German state.
    In Greece I have been working for 20 months in the last 2 years. Do I qualify as a European citizen the unemployment benefit from Germany, that is, the 60% salary I received in Greece? Thanks in advance for your time.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/08/2018 at 13:30

      Hey Georgia, you can read the post again. It says how to transfer your benefits from back home to Germany.

  • Reply Olga 20/08/2018 at 00:33

    Hi there. My husband had been working in Austria before for a number of years , and when we moved to Germany he became unemployed. Is it possible to get some allowance or at least insurance coverage in this case ? I read the FAQ but it talks only about the transfer of benefits when the person was already unemployed before coming to Germany, which is not our case. Thanks a lot in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/08/2018 at 13:32

      Hi Olga. I think the process requires that you are unemployed and receiving before you come to Germany but maybe check what the Austrian services say about this.

  • Reply Diana 12/08/2018 at 23:44

    Hi Bastien,
    I have a 1 year contract that ends soon and it might get renewed, however I would like to leave my job in order to learn German and apply for Uni.
    Do you know if it’s possible to get benefits when you did not receive a termination letter? as in there is a possibility for a contract renewal?
    Also, does the amt support in this period the self development approach, like allowing a language course instead of looking for another employment? As in , would I be forced to find a new job asap or will I be able to finish language first.
    Thank you very much 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/08/2018 at 21:55

      Hey Diana. They would support that approach, however the 3 months-rule would apply still probably.

  • Reply Iswarrya 02/08/2018 at 15:26

    Hi Batien,

    I have a query. My husband and myself both work in Germany. I currently have a one year contract. My question is on whether I will be eligible for unemployment benefits if my contract is not extended. Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/08/2018 at 22:10

      Hey Iswarrya. Conditions for eligibility are listed in the post. you can refer to them.

  • Reply Paul 01/08/2018 at 17:25

    Hi Bastian,
    I was employed in Germany from February 2017 through July 2018. Previously I was in the USA and came to Germany as an expat. My Visa specified the employer and position I came for. I applied for Unemployment monies in May when I found out that my contract was being canceled. The Arbeit now says that I can not receive money because I am only authorized to work for my old employer in my old position. The Alien office indicates that I can not change this visa status, unless I find a new employer to transfer my visa to. This makes sense, but why would I be ineligible for unemployment benefits? I have read elsewhere that since I paid into the unemployment insurance system for greater than 18 months (I did), then I should be eligible for 6-months of benefits? Do you think I should get an attorney to help?

    • Reply Paul 01/08/2018 at 17:31

      Hi Bastian,
      I used the word visa in my comment but I meant my work permit.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/08/2018 at 22:16

      Hi Paul. This is a strange situation indeed. It’b better to ask an expert directly yes, i’m afraid.

      • Reply PAUL 03/09/2018 at 12:53

        Just a quick follow-up. I did engage an attorney, and one letter later I am receiving my benefits. My take-away is to not be afraid to push back on the German authorities. It feels like they try with expats to take the easy route first in hope they will go away and they will thus save the money.

    • Reply Derek 13/08/2018 at 15:39

      Hi Paul,

      I actually have the same situation now, I’ve been working for an employer for more than 24month and am eligible to get the benefit, however, the arbeitamt said that I can’t get my money because my contract is over now. then can only pay me when my visa is changed to some permit that you can work here.
      My question was then If I change the permit to self-employment can I still get the benefit?
      let’s share the mutual experience to help each other. please email me Paul about your process.

  • Reply Karru 31/07/2018 at 22:50

    Hi there my husband and I are both eu citizens- moved to Germany from the Uk- I am working full fine but my husband is unable to find work due to not speaking german- he has always worked back in the UK is he able to get some help towards the bills here?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/08/2018 at 09:52

      Hey Karru. Look at the FAQ on how to transfer rights from back home to Germany.

  • Reply Claire 30/07/2018 at 13:41

    Hello Bastien,
    Thanks for the article!
    I worked in Germany for two years then got unemployment benefits for 8 months and worked again for 14 months. For how many months can I get the benefits now? is it only based on my last job or does it also add the 4 months that remained from my previous job?
    thanks & best,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/07/2018 at 22:43

      Good question Claire. If you want to find out how much you will get, you can use this small calculator, provided by the Arbeitsamt here. But otherwise, it is calculated on what you earn the year you make the Antrag.

  • Reply Nikos 26/07/2018 at 17:08

    Hello Bastien, I was working for couple of years in Belgium but my origin is from Greece and I moved in Germany last June. I am afraid that my company will end my probationary period. Doni have also the same right as I worked in Germany ? If yes how should i prove my working life in Belgium?

    Thanks for the great job of this article

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/07/2018 at 22:45

      HI Nikos. If you want to transfer your rights from Belgium to Germany, you will need to research a little bit how it’s done from the Belgian side. More info here. Good luck !

  • Reply Vahid 25/07/2018 at 22:29


    I have been working in Germany for the past two years as non-EU citizen.

    I am planning to leave my job soon because of bullying at workplace.

    I want to take a three month break after leaving my job and travel to my homeland and then register for the unemployment benefits (ALG1) after coming back to Germany till I find a new job. Is this possible?

    Thanks in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/07/2018 at 22:50

      Hi Vahid. Yes, it could be possible.

  • Reply Octa 24/07/2018 at 11:27

    Hi, I am non EU with visa that is not restricted to the company. It is just said that I can work as BD Manager/Freelance and expiry date in March 2019. I received mixed information saying that I cant’t have ALG 1 because I am not on permanent resident visa. And that I have to change to job seeking visa for 6 months period. Changing to job seeking visa is difficult because 1. I can’t work straight away once I found BD Manager position 2. It takes 1-2months for appointment at ABH.

    My questions are:
    1. Is that true that I have to have permanent resident to get ALG 1? Some ABH Beamte said that it is not related to residence permit.
    2. Can I stay in Germany with the current visa that I have?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/07/2018 at 22:58

      Hey Octa. Sorry i can’t help: Visa-related issues are almost on a one-per-one basis, so i don’t want to give you false info. Good luck with your search,

  • Reply Javier 23/07/2018 at 17:29

    Hi Bastien,

    thank you for the information. I have a couple of questions regarding my situation. At the end of my current working contract, I’ll have been employed for 14 months in the last 2 years: 4 months employed + 10 months ALG 1 + 10 months employed. Although I comply the 12-months rule, I’m wondering whether there will be a problem if I received ALG 1 in between. And in the case I am entitled to ALG 1 again, would I receive it only by half of the time of my last employment or half of the time of the total 14 months? And last, would I receive 60% of the average of my salary of the last employment only, or the average of the total earnings in 14 months of employment?

    Thank you in advance!


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/07/2018 at 23:01

      Hi Javier. You get 60% of your last salary and you are entitled to ALG 1 yes.

  • Reply Hinna 20/07/2018 at 18:34

    Hi Bastien, thanks for all the info… When it says one has to have worked at least 12 months in the last 2 years…. Do those 12 months have to have been in a row AND do they have to have been with the same employer?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/07/2018 at 14:59

      H Hinna. No, and no. 🙂

  • Reply magda 19/07/2018 at 22:38

    Hey Bastian thanks for your article, was super useful! I have a doubt though… what happens if you are employed for more that 12 months but also registered as a freelancer (only working 1-2 shifts per year and earned not more than 500eur) and loose your job? Would you have to unregister as a freelancer before you loose your job to be able to access to the benefit?
    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/07/2018 at 14:59

      Hi Magda. No, you can still have a side gig but you can’t work more than 15 hours per week.

  • Reply Karina 14/07/2018 at 13:23

    Hey BASTIEN, always so thankful for your articles.
    I was let go with a 2 weeks notice on Friday, and I registered online on arbeitsagentur the day after. When you say register at the latest 3 days after you had knowledge of the decision, you mean online, or on site?
    Another question, are you allowed to go out of Germany for some weeks (visiting family back home etc.)?
    Thanks a million.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/07/2018 at 09:26

      Hi Karina. Either online or at the agency directly. Online is easier though. You are allowed some off-time when you are on ALG1 but it’s quite limited to only a few days and you need to justify why everytime to your contact person. You are supposed to find a job after all. Good luck.

  • Reply Ed Sherrington 11/07/2018 at 11:26

    Hi, my contract is up for extension in a few weeks. Would I need to register now in case they don’t extend or only as soon as I know that they won’t. I’m a bit confused about the 3 month deal.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/07/2018 at 11:27

      Hey Ed. As soon as you know.

  • Reply Joan 10/07/2018 at 22:39

    Hi Bastien, I didn’t see my comment. Just try it again and see if I didn’t anything wrong. Sorry about the inconvenience.

  • Reply Joan 10/07/2018 at 22:31

    Hi Bastien,

    I‘m a non EU citizen and have been working in Germany for more than two years (one year under a stipend). Since my contract finishes this year, I‘m planning to register for the unemployment.

    My question is whether there is way to register the unemployment in a different location from the address registeration place. I’m currently registered my address in Berlin. But I’ll move to my boyfriend‘s hometown Essen once my job is finished in Berlin. Since unemployment needs to register three months earlier, I’m wondering if in October I can register unemployment in Essen while my address is still registered in Berlin.

    Thank you so much.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/07/2018 at 11:37

      Good question Joan. It seems you need to first register in Berlin and let them know you will soon move to Essen. They will be able to “assign” you to your new Arbeitsagentur over there, which might occur additional administrative steps for you unfortunately. Source.

  • Reply Nehsel 06/07/2018 at 16:15

    Hi, thanks for your informative article!
    I just registered for unemployment and will receive the benefit after they process my application. I would like to know if I’m allowed to do part-time job during the time that I’m looking for the next full-time job (while being registered as unemployed)?
    Thanks in advance!
    Kind regards,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/07/2018 at 21:52

      Hi Nehsel. You are allowed to work maximum 15h per week while receiving ALG 1. More info this way

  • Reply Mitzie 05/07/2018 at 09:21

    Hi, thanks you so much for your
    Time. I’m Canadian citizen with working permit expires August next year. But my contract terminated 3 weeks ago. I live in a small town and speak a little German. I get different answers from the office itself. My question how long I’m allowed to stay I. Germany if I don’t want to file unemployment?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/07/2018 at 21:41

      Hi Mitzie. I don’t want to give you incorrect information and it might all be a case-per-case basis decision from the Amt so i won’t give you an answer on this one. Good luck in your search.

  • Reply Alberto 29/06/2018 at 19:25

    Hi! I have a quick question, on Wednesday i received the termination letter. With notice of 3 months. I understand that i have still to register in less than 3 days, is that correct? If so, I tried to do it today online. First I registered, but they have to send a PIN by post (1) (yeah). I assume that will take a few days, is that a problem? I can do some things in the website, but none of them is “Registrieren als Bewerber”.

    (1) Sie müssen Ihr Benutzerkonto durch Eingabe der PIN in Ihren persönlichen Daten freischalten. Solange Sie Ihr Benutzerkonto nicht freigeschaltet haben, können Sie Ihre Bewerberprofile nicht veröffentlichen und keine Bewerbungen über die JOBBÖRSE an Arbeitgeber versenden.

    • Reply Alberto 29/06/2018 at 19:26

      Note that in principle I dont want the money. I just want them to cover the insurance in case i dont find a job before the termination.

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/06/2018 at 11:08

        Hey Alberto. This PIN thing is related to your user account on their platform. What they say is that you can’t use it to send applications to employers on this platform as long as you haven’t confirmed the account with the PIN.

  • Reply Marco 27/06/2018 at 13:51

    I am an EU citizen and was working in Germany on a fixed term contract for 14 months. I started collecting unemployment insurance, AGL1, following my employment ending but was told that I would only be entitled initially for 6 months unless I were to produce a U1 form documenting previous earnings/contributions in the member state I was previously residing in (This would entitle me to an additional 6 months of AGL1).

    Aside from the above mentioned sounding accurate my question is that I were to relocate out of Germany back to my home country both for financial motives and/or increased probability of employment opportunities (as I do not speak German) would I lose rights to continue receiving AGL1?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/06/2018 at 11:06

      Hi Marco. Yes, what they tell you is correct. You would not lose your rights to unemployment benefits if you were to move back home. You can ask to be transferred to your home system. Pretty much the other way around than the way suggested by the Amt actually. 🙂 . Good luck

      • Reply Marco 18/07/2018 at 17:55

        Hi Marco,
        Thanks very much for your feedback and this is very interesting (it might have sometime to do with the fact that communication between myself and my case worker is very limited because of the language)

        Might I bother you with another follow-up question? Should I decide to return to my home country I would imagine the registration process with them would need to be done by me and that the AMT doesn’t take care of this? Also would this mean that my home country would maintain the payments that I currently receive under the German system (monthly amount and duration) I ask because unemployment benefits by country vary so would I still be entitled to the same money and for the same amount of time? If you don’t know might you suggest someone that I can speak to on the matter?

        Many thanks for your guidance.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/07/2018 at 21:10

          Hey there. Yeah, i don’t think i can help you further. You can check what the bilateral agreement currently is between Germany and your country and it might give you a clue.

  • Reply Tom Boschma 20/06/2018 at 10:31

    Thanks for the article. Question _ Is there a MEANS TEST to pass before recieving unwmployment money in Germany. Ie i own a house but pay a mortgage on it. I was told I need to sell the house before qualifying for unemploymwnt benefit. Do I have to do this and then rent a house. Seems crazy. Can you confirm if this is correct?
    Many thanks,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 14:16

      Hi Tom. This is, in my opinion, unheard of. The only condition you need to qualify for is: have you worked in Germany and contributed to the welfare system at least 12 months in the past 2 years. It’s not related to income or your current assets.

  • Reply Maya Tueta 13/06/2018 at 14:14

    Hello –
    I am the mother of 3 minor children (16, 15, 9 years) single parent (divorced), all of us have German citizenship but do not live in the EU at the moment.
    In the country where we live not – I am self employed.
    We want to move to Germany or another European country. Are we entitled to acclimatization help? Are the children entitled to financial assistance to integrate into the school system? The older children want to continue higher education at university someday?
    And my intention is to work as soon as I can

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 14:04

      Hi Maya. I don’t know what you mean by acclimatization but your kids have every right to go to school and university and you will receive Elterngeld to help you financially.

  • Reply Shone 11/06/2018 at 20:10


    Many of you are asking about how long the period in which you can receive ALG is.
    My question is kind of opposite.
    I want to know what is the shortest period you need to work in order to be able to receive ALG?
    I will soon complete my first 3 months on the job. It is full time job and I am still on probation period.
    But unfortunatelly I belive I could get fired because of some reasons.
    So the question is, do I have any ALG rights after 3 months period??

    Thank you very much for answering my question.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 01:07

      Hi Shone. You need to work at least 1 year in the past 2 years to be entitled to ALG 1.

  • Reply Daido messina 31/05/2018 at 14:54

    Hello ,
    I dont have EUcitizenship. I completed probation time. My position is under the risk due to no task in the company. I have blue card and over 55000€ salary. I would like to know whether i can get unemployment payment in case firing up , if I complete 12 months. Should I have been stayed in germany since 5 years?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/05/2018 at 16:30

      Hi Daido. Being an EU citizen or not does not constitute a requirement for getting ALG 1. If you work long enough for that company, you are good.

  • Reply Maith 30/05/2018 at 13:46

    Hi, thank you for sharing a very useful information
    I am a PhD student and at the same time I am an employment at the university, so I can register for Arbeitslosengeld. However, I went to Arbeitsamt and they said that my visa type is not accepted because it’s specific for only one job without any condition for looking for a new job. So, I need a new type of visa. Then, I asked the Ausländerbehörde and they said that if my work contract at the university will not be extended, I can only get a student visa. The question is ‘Can I get Arbeitslosengeld with the student visa?’.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 14:31

      Hi Maith. I am no specialist on visa situations. sorry. The only thing i can tell you is that you need to have worked and contributed at least 12 months in the past 2 years to qualify.

  • Reply noidea 25/05/2018 at 15:34

    Hi Bastien, many thanks for the info!

    Would you mind letting us know for those who quit their job by themselves? How would be the procedure?

    Besides, during the time you are receiving the ALG 1, will they force you to on jobs that do not match your profile etc?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/05/2018 at 22:24

      Hi there. I haven’t heard of this myself, i’d find it unlikely but i can’t say for sure. The procedure is otherwise the same if you quit your job.

  • Reply Ano Nymous 23/05/2018 at 14:31


    Thanks for the great article and replying to most comments in here! I have been working parttime (32 Hours) a week for the past 2 years in the same company. Would I be eligible for ALG1 after being laid off? I have heard some people mention its only for people working 40 hours a week, and doing so for a year long.

    thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/05/2018 at 22:37

      Hi there. I am not sure what they are referring to. Your ALG 1 will be 60% or 67% of your income for that time period. The number of hours are not relevant at all.

  • Reply Ken 22/05/2018 at 14:01


    Thanks for a good guide. I am non-European, but have been employed in Germany for 4 years. Thus, now I get the unemployment money.

    Once two months, I got 2 times job coaching meeting for 4 months. But I hear that German, who get the money, also have to attend some courses for a few weeks in addition to the job coaching. I like it, but why I did not have to do that? But maybe for non-European speaking only English, there are less mandatory missions?

    Second question is that do officers suddenly summon people getting the money by letters or phone calls? They told me the next meeting will be in a few months, but I am afraid that they ask me to show up suddenly.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply Ken 22/05/2018 at 14:04

      **2 times short job coaching meetings during 4 months

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 14:33

      Hi Ken. Sorry, i don’t have all the answers. You can both letters and phone calls from the responsible people at the Arbeitsamt.

  • Reply Emma 07/05/2018 at 17:26

    Hi Bastien,
    I am also a German citizen, but grew up in Australia. I am finishing up a 2 year contract in August and then moving home to Australia in November. Do you think I would qualify for ALG for this short 3 months? Thanks for the advice.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/05/2018 at 20:38

      Hi Emma. Yes, even if you soon leave the country, you can have ALG 1. But in theory, this is to find a job again in Germany, so be cautious with your approach.

  • Reply Jan 27/04/2018 at 15:17

    Hi, I used to work in Berlin for 3 years now the same job.
    Im now returning back to my country Czech republic
    and I will be jobless there for some time. Am I entitled to get
    some Jobcenter money? Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/04/2018 at 09:15

      Hi Jan. You should check if/how you can transfer your rights from Germany to Czech Republic.

  • Reply Matteo Lattuada 13/04/2018 at 16:34

    Hi Bastien,

    Is it possible to get the ALG1 when enrolled as student?

    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/04/2018 at 08:54

      Hi Matteo. Yes, it possible under certain conditions, like having worked enough time as an employee in the past & actively searching for a job (min 15 hours). More info here.

  • Reply Matteo Lattuada 12/04/2018 at 18:16

    Hi Bastien,

    Thank you for the useful article.
    I have a question: my contract will end in the August after 3 years, then I’ll apply for the ALG1. My question is: there is a small amount you can earn and still be supported by the ALG1? For example, if I’ll get a student job for 16 hours per week, I can still get the ALG1 or they will assume that I am employed, so they will stop the ALG1?

    Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/04/2018 at 18:22

      Hi Matteo, as mentioned here, the maximum amount of working time per week while on ALG 1 is 14h59min.

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