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 Jileen Bauto 04/09/2019 at 10:25

    Hi there,

    I have only been here in Germany for 2 months. I am a not from EU but my husband is German. I’m finding it hard to apply for a job since I am a nurse by profession and I need atleast B2 for that. My husband is not earning much and he is taking care of all the bills and expenses. Is there any way I can get support from the Government? Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/09/2019 at 15:54

      Hey Jileen. You could probably find some German classes, and have the fees financed by the Arbeitsagentur, if you qualify. Have you looked at ALG2 as well?

  • Reply James 04/09/2019 at 00:08

    Hi Bastien,

    Great post, very helpful!
    I left a job 6 months ago and registered online as unemployed. However I left to go travelling before my contract ended so I did not register in person on my first day without a job. Is it still possible for me to claim now? Thanks 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/09/2019 at 15:42

      Hey James. Yes i suppose, but you probably will receive benefits late now.

  • Reply Sandra 26/08/2019 at 18:18


    If I understand correctly, this post states that if I am registering as seeking employment (not yet unemployed) I can do this procedure online and do not need to show up in person until I am actually unemployed. However on the website for Agentur für Arbeit it states this:
    In order not to miss the deadlines, you can also register as seeking employment online or by calling +49 (0)800 4 5555 00 (free phone number). A prerequisite for the effectiveness of your registration online or by phone is, however, that you make an appointment for personal registration as seeking employment at the employment agency. This saves you additional and unnecessary ways and waiting time.

    So do I need to go there in person in addition to registering online?
    Hopefully you can clarify this,

    Thanks 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/08/2019 at 09:27

      Hey Sandra. Thanks for correcting this. I genuinely think this is a new requirement. I will amend the post.

  • Reply OWINDI 26/08/2019 at 12:53

    Hi Bastien,
    Thanks a lot for great information. Currently am working since 2016 as a post doctoral researcher (it is a scholarship not a job contract) and my job will finish end of this year. I can apply for job seeking visa if I did not find a contract before that. Am I eligible for ALG? I have TK family insurance.
    Your response is highly appreciated.
    With best regards!

  • Reply David 25/08/2019 at 20:09

    I quit my job in August, there is 1 month notice period, so I will work there until end of September. I have already a new job lined up, but it starts in November, so I won’t work for whole October. Do I have to register somewhere for this 1 month? The health insurance should be covered (I have public insurance – TK), as far as I understood. Is there any other duty to fulfill?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/08/2019 at 09:23

      Hey David. You don’t have to register no, it’s not an obligation. Regarding insurance, my understanding is that you might have a little leeway for the inbetween situations like this. Call them directly to figure this out, they offer support in English (unofficially).

      • Reply David 29/08/2019 at 17:52

        Thanks for the reply. I can only add, that I asked my insurance company (TK) and they said that if I earn less than 5000/month, then one month is for free. So I have to pay nothing for October and insurance is covered.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/08/2019 at 09:41

          Cheers for the precision David.

  • Reply Eli 21/08/2019 at 21:33

    Hello, first of all, thank you for the article, I found it very helpful. My situation is this. I signed a contract with a company for 1 year in Berlin, that specific contract ended officially on the 01.05.2019. However they are a startup and as such quite chaotic and I kept on working there until now (they told me some kind of rollover contract kicked in but I have no idea about that). They just offered me a new contract but they are lowballing me and I’m quite frustrated and I want to refuse if they don’t adjust their offer. My question is this, if I refuse the new contract and go directly within 3 days time to the Arbeitsagentur to register as unemployed, will the three month waiting time apply to me?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/08/2019 at 23:27

      Hey Eli. I can’t really tell without looking at contracts. In my opinion, As a rule, if you are on limited contracts, it means that you are aware of its upcoming end. Then probably this situation applies best to you.

  • Reply Spiff 21/08/2019 at 10:28

    Hi there, quick question – when registering for ALG1 do you need to go to a specific Jobcenter (the one closest your Anmeldung address, for example)? Or can you go to any of them? I will be moving into a new flat soon after I apply to receive the benefits, so I won’t have the Ummeldung for the new address until weeks after I need apply. I think it would make sense to go to the office near to where I’ll be living soon.

    Thanks for your reply and for putting together such a great site!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/08/2019 at 23:19

      Hey Spiff, you need to go the one closest to your Anmeldung address, in the same Bezirk in big cities.

  • Reply John 18/08/2019 at 14:15

    Nice post!

    I am on ALG 1 and non – European. I would like to search for a job from my home country since I also need to do a therapy in my language while being close to my family. we also agreed this with my therapist in Germany. do you think it would be possible to search for a job from another country for this reason.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/08/2019 at 09:58

      Hey John. Discuss this with your counselor directly and maybe bring some sort of letter from your therapist here, to prove that it’s medically required or something.

  • Reply Ben 16/08/2019 at 13:35


    I went through the comments but can’t find an answer. I have received unemployment from previous month until now (july – august) but am wondering if you normally receive your unemployment at the beginning of the month or at the end?

    What do you do in case you are awaiting one payment? Your help is much appreciated.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/08/2019 at 09:50

      Hey Ben. It depends on when you applied in the first place.

  • Reply Mark 16/08/2019 at 08:56

    Hi, If I filled out the Antrag auf Arbeitslosengeld online, do I still need to go to the unemployment office in person asap or can I wait for the letter calling me in for an oppointment? Thanks.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/08/2019 at 09:49

      Hey Mark, as mentioned in the post, you will receive a letter at home within about 2 weeks.

  • Reply Leonardo 12/08/2019 at 04:39

    Hi! Very good information in the article!
    I have a question. What happens if I still haven´t found a job and my ALG 1 is about to expire? Would I have to pay the insurance by myself?
    I wouldn´t want to get ALG 2 (due to the bureaucracy and restrictions), so I guess it´s better to get any job (so then they pay half of the insurance) until I find a better job?
    Thanks in advance for the help!!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/08/2019 at 11:01

      Hey Leonardo, if you don’t want to apply for ALG2, then yes, getting a job is the best way.

  • Reply Ash 08/08/2019 at 16:16

    Hi Bastien,

    Great post!
    I have a question. I’m a non-EU citizen and I have a three year contract which will end soon. [An extension is being discussed but I don’t have this yet] On the day of my contract expiry (and residence permit expiry), I plan to be on holidays. Would I get a residence permit extension and unemployment benefits? Would I be able to travel? Or will I have to be in Germany until I find the next job?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/08/2019 at 16:59

      Hey Ash. In order to receive ALG1, you need to be able to actively search and apply for a new job, so it’s often hard to prove your commitment when you decide to go somewhere on holidays. It is possible to take some days off, after discussing it with your counsellor, but only a short stay is possible.

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/08/2019 at 09:56

        Hey John. I’m not sure i understood the meaning of your question. Would you rephrase please?

  • Reply Divya 08/08/2019 at 10:31

    Hello, I am shifting my jobs from one city to another in Germany. If I worked in my previous job for 6 years in ONE CITY and now move to another NEW CITY. At any time in this new job, if I dont like the job and resign. Can I still get arbeitlosgeld (keeping in mind I give 3 months notice to my employer and arbeitsamt ) in this NEW CITY where I have lived less than 1 year (although I have been working in germany for 7 years )?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/08/2019 at 16:34

      Hey Divya. Yes.

  • Reply Pi 07/08/2019 at 14:24

    Hi! This article was super helpful! I have a question, do you know what happens if the company I work for goes bankrupt?
    Should I wait for that to happen before going to the Arbeitsagentur? Because I received a termination agreement but I didn’t sign it and then they never asked me again so as long as I understand, that termination letter isn’t valid right now.

    Thank you so much!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/08/2019 at 16:30

      Hey Pi. Ask yourself the question if the end of your contract was forseeable or not. If it was foreseeable, you should go the Arbeitsagentur as soon as you know it.

  • Reply Sam 01/08/2019 at 16:21


    Thank you for the informative post! I had a quick question – in my situation I have worked in Germany for 2 years and I recently quit. I applied for ALG 1 and it was blocked for 3 months. I am thinking of going back to study in a 6 month music production diploma course (not at a university). Firstly, how does this affect me receiving ALG 1? Is there a chance that the state would pay for my studies? and do I have to continue searching for jobs through the Arbeit despite going back to study?

    Kind regards!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/08/2019 at 11:13

      Hey Sam. If you are going back to studying full time, you won’t be fulfilling one of the conditions for receiving ALG1: to be available to search and find a new job. So you probably can’t do both at the same time. You may apply for Bafög if you want to be supported financially during your studies, but that might be tough. Doing a training through the Arbeitsagentur is probably only possible for jobs that are in demand.

  • Reply Uziel 31/07/2019 at 12:28

    Hi Bastian. Thanks for this post
    Here is my situation: I have a work permit (18 Abs 4 S.1) since May-2017 until May-2020 (Not a BlueCard)
    The zusatzblatt says: “Beschäftigung nicht gestattet mit Ausnahme der Tätigkeit als Software Ingenieur. Selbständige Tätigkeit gestattet.” So no tied explicit to a company.

    I am thinking to quit my job in order to improve my german and look for some other work options
    (the start up does not have a very bright future…). I plan to study german for ~3 months.
    In your experience:

    1. Dou you think I should notify the AuslanderBehorde or the BundesAgentur fur Arbeit about this? Even though I understand I should be able to apply for Airbeitlosengeld (+2 years as an employee) I am not planning to do so. I have enough savings for several months.

    2 . Do you think this would impact a future application of Permanent Residence? (That is my goal and that is why I want to concentrate on getting the B1 german certificate).

  • Reply Clara 23/07/2019 at 18:14

    Not sure if this was answered before. I currently work part time at a company and do some hours as a freelancer. If I leave the part time job, would I be able to continue freelancing normally, considering I would not find another job in 3 months and would receive as unemployed, or would I have the limitation of 15 hours per week and 165 euros? Just as a note, I started freelancing 8 months ago. Thank you for clarifying.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/07/2019 at 20:46

      Hey Clara. The limitations stated in the post apply.

  • Reply Mithila 16/07/2019 at 10:44

    Hi All,
    I’m living in Germany and working. My job contract will be terminated in few month. My questions are :
    1. when is the perfect time to apply for ALG e.g. after job contract is over or before? /how many months before?
    2. can i still apply for the ALG if i already declared the tax return and got the money back for the last 2 years (2017-18)?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/07/2019 at 10:10

      Hey Mithila. 1. It is written in the post when to start the process. 2. Those 2 things aren’t related. It’s not relevant.

  • Reply Thomas 09/07/2019 at 15:06

    Hi Everyone,
    Went through many of the comments but did not find a similar topic.
    Does anyone know if you are eligible for the Arbeitslosengeld if one was fired, after 2 years of work, but at the same time owns some shared in an GmbH, where he is not a Managing Director, is not employed, and the company has no income?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/07/2019 at 21:46

      Hey Thomas. Yes, you are eligible.

  • Reply Rupali A. 08/07/2019 at 18:43


    I am in Germany on employment visa. My job was terminated in 3 months after joining (during probation period) as I have to move to The UK to my family. However, I am still living in Germany atleast for a month until my UK visa arrives. Can I opt for unemployment benefits in this case. Also, my health insurance was tied to my company, do I have to take private health insurance until I am in Germany?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/07/2019 at 21:45

      Hey there. Eligibility criteria and special conditions for people on working visa are listed in the article. The Arbeitsagentur can cover for your health insurance while on ALG1.

  • Reply Mike 05/07/2019 at 18:49

    Thanks so much for this information. I am currently on ALG1 as I search for a job and I have nearly a year of time still before ALG1 runs out. I have recently come into the possibility of a contract job which would be short term (estimated time of 3 months). I would like to take this as it offers potential future opportunities with this company. Once the contract job is over, however, I run the risk of returning back to an unemployed status. Is it possible to ‘pause’ unemployment for the length of the contract job, and then restart it after this contract work has ended if we let the Arbeitsagentur know this information in advance?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/07/2019 at 09:31

      Hey Mike. To my knowledge, you’d need to restart the above procedure from the start after the 3 months work is done. However, there is maybe something else. Talk to your counselor/Sacharbeiter about this.

  • Reply MapleNam 01/07/2019 at 07:38

    Thanks for taking the time to write this! It is very helpful.
    I was wondering if you know, after the 3 months of penalisation (since someone decides to quit plus register late as unemployed) when does someone will get the unemployment benefits? Is it on the first day after the 3 months or a few weeks later (since there was a late registration of unemployment?)
    Thanks again!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/07/2019 at 22:42

      Hey MapleNam, in this case, in the registration date that would count, if i understand your situation.

  • Reply Haithem 24/06/2019 at 14:22

    Hello All,

    i agreed with my employer to stop the contract next month. Currently i have the permanent residence. Will this permit be changed? My wife who come with me (Family Reunion) has to renewal soon her limited permit, she was asked for my arbeitsbescheinigung. Will her permit also be more limited? Thank you very much.

    Best regards

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/06/2019 at 20:27

      Hey Haithem. I’m not knowledgeable enough in immigration law to reply to you sorry.

  • Reply Sebas 20/06/2019 at 16:36

    Does anyone know if we will be entitle before the 3 months period in case we quit our job with a relevant reason? For example to much pressure or the company is blackmailing you to take responsibility that are beyond our contract duties?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/06/2019 at 09:18

      Hey Sebas. Then we dive into labor law territory, i should think. You’d probably need to prove that you quit because of unacceptable behavior from your management in my opinion. This proof would probably need to come from a third-party source such a labor court, a union representative, that kind of thing. Good luck with it all.

  • Reply N 14/06/2019 at 17:10

    Hi, thank you for the post!
    I’m one of many confused PhD students: I was employed as a wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter for the past 4 years. My contract ends soon, but I still need to defend the thesis. I’m not a EU citizen, so I had to ask for the visa extension and my new visa seems to be a “student” one.
    “Limited employment as well as spare-time student employment are permitted (section 16 subs. 3 of the Residence Act). That means that you are allowed to work for 120 full days or 240 half days in a year with your next visa.”
    Would I still be able to apply for the unemployment money/ insurance coverage in this case? I don’t have any uni courses and am registered as a PhD student only to defend.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/06/2019 at 10:40

      Hey N. Well yes, if you are eligible to the criteria mentioned in the post. If you had an employment contract the past 4 years, it should work right? Am i missing something?

    • Reply Ash 08/08/2019 at 16:03

      Hey N,

      I’m in the same situation. How did it work out for you in the end?


      • Reply N 01/09/2019 at 23:16

        Hi! Sorry for the late reply, I hope it still helps. I got my unemployment benefits in the end, will have my first check-up appointment soon, but I am receiving the money. However, for my colleague who is in the exactly same situation (we worked the same number of years, in the same place, analogous contracts etc.) it was unsuccessful. Her application was rejected based on her residence permit: “only 120 full days of work/ year are not enough to be eligible for the unemployment” her officer told her. I hope she will manage to argue her case…
        How is it going for you?

  • Reply Shimul 13/06/2019 at 11:37

    Hello all,

    I have been working at the University in Germany (full time) for more than 2 years and I also continue my Ph.D. degree at the same University. I am holding visa ‘Niederlassungserlaubnis 19a’. My contract with the University will be ended on July 7, 2019. Probably, I will receive a stipend from the University to complete my degree. Can I apply for unemployment benefits during the scholarship as it is not a Job? Thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/06/2019 at 10:58

      Hey Shimul. If you are working on finishing your degree, does this not mean that you won’t be available to work as well? In this case, it would be hard to apply for ALG1 as it’s one of the requirements.

  • Reply BA 08/06/2019 at 21:55

    Hi, I am working in company since August 2018 and my contract ends in August 2019 but has a chance for renew it(depends on employer) but they didn’t give me any info about if they are gonna renew it or not(They say information will be giving in July). Should I apply to Arbeitsamt ? If yes, After I apply to Arbeitsamt and my employer decide to renew it can I cancel it? Also since its less than 3 months but I don’t have any notice from my employer is my benefits will reduced too ? Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/06/2019 at 15:48

      Hey BA. The choice is yours: remember you can register yourself as “looking for a job” first before registering as “unemployed”. No need to go through with the second if the contract is not renewed.

  • Reply Aranka Keri 08/06/2019 at 13:26

    I am from Hungry. I am in berlin from almost 10 months. I have worked only 2 months with gap. Last month i got my 2nd new registration. I came berlin to do work. But due to low language skills most of employers do not hire me. I applied in jobcenter for benefits. They rejected my application. Anyone can tell me why they rejected my application and what is their eligibility criteria for me?
    I mean i will must have to work atleast 1 year?
    Or i should wait more 2.5 months after my 2 registration?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/06/2019 at 15:32

      Hey Aranka. This post is about ALG1 and the Arbeitsagentur. I can’t really help you with things that have to do with the Jobcenter (ALG2/HArtz 4).

  • Reply AntoineG 05/06/2019 at 10:13

    Hey there! Great article, it helps me so much with everything administrative already! I do have a question though. I just quit my job in Berlin (after 5 years). I would like to go back to France. You answered already this one “Can i transfer unemployment benefits earned back home to Germany?” but what about the other way around? Should I register first at the Arbeitsagentur in Berlin and then transfer my rights to France or how does it work when leaving to another EU country? Thanks a lot in advance, you’re a savior!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/06/2019 at 12:04

      Hey Antoine, you need to do a few things before you leave Germany. More info there.

  • Reply Samuel 30/05/2019 at 18:32

    great post, I’ve recently got my PR from Blau-Karte after 2 years working as a professional and next month I’m supposed to be fired. on the other hand I have enough bank saving to support myself more than 1 year.
    the question is: am I entitled to unemployment benefits?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/06/2019 at 09:57

      Hey Samuel. Eligibility conditions are listed in the post.

  • Reply Jonathan 30/05/2019 at 12:58

    Great info thanks.

    One question, if a contract ends and you have savings, do you have to inform the Arbeitsamt even if you don’t want to receive any payments ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/06/2019 at 15:03

      Hey John. Nope. it is not compulsory to register with the Arbeitsamt when you are jobless.

  • Reply Khoo Siao Jean 19/05/2019 at 21:37

    Hi Bastien,
    Currently, I am receiving the ALG1 (March-Aug 2019) and attending to German Integration course which is a daily basis (5hrs/day) (May-Jan 2020). My previous employer would like to hire me again from Jun to Dec 2019 as a part-time worker (20hrs/week). This means that I need to inform Agenture to stop my unemploy benefit if I accept the job offer. The question now is, after the part-time contract end, am I still eligible for ALG1 and how much I can get and how long? Thank you^^
    Best regards.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:55

      Hey Khoo. The rules don’t change: refer to the eligibility criteria mentioned in the post.

  • Reply Ivan 18/05/2019 at 20:04

    I have worked for more than 12 months in Germany but now in December 2019 I have to return to my non-eu state for 9 months, my plan is to return to Germany after these nine months (August 2020), so I want to ask you whether if I get a rejection of my new work,will my previous working period be counted or not? Certainly in these nine months I will withdraw of Germany and registered in my non-eu country, whether this can also be a problem?
    Best Regards

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:32

      Hey Ivan. You might want to check with the Arbeitsagentur directly because of possible bilateral agreements with your country, but since you were eligible as a resident here, and the rights are valid up to 2 years after last employment date, and you are gone less than a year. i’d say it should not be a problem. Source.

      • Reply Hannah 10/06/2019 at 14:08

        Hi there! This is a great article!
        I have a question that I am hoping you can help me with.
        If I resign voluntarily from my job and want to move abroad for a few months, can I still receive the unemployment benefits after 3 months or do I need to be in Germany to prove job seeking?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/06/2019 at 15:54

          Hey Hannah. You can do that but the better way would be to apply for benefits after you come back, since i assume you won’t be seeking new jobs from there. Not realistic for the Arbeitsagentur either.

          • Ana 08/08/2019 at 11:15

            Hi, thank you for a great article! I have a follow-up question to the one from Hannah. I am planning to leave my job and then travel for 2 months (but i have been working for more than 2years). When should I register in this case? I have a 3 months termination notice, so if I do it while I am still working does it mean that I have to be looking for a job while travelling? And if I register after I come back, would I still be eligible to receive unemployment for 9 months (12-3?). Thanks so much!

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/08/2019 at 16:36

            Hey Ana. To be able to receive ALG1, you need to able to actively search and apply for jobs. The Arbeitsagentur will probably consider you can’t do it while travelling abroad. You could already register as “looking for a job” and then register as “unemployed” when coming from your trip for example.

  • Reply MR 06/05/2019 at 19:53

    Hello, Thank you for the great article,
    Me and my wife were both working, but recently my wife got fired!
    She have done an internship for 6 months (she didn’t pay any kind of pension, unemployment insurance or taxes), and then got hired as a full-time employee for another 6 months before getting fired, is she eligible to get any kind of benefits?
    PS: I’m earning a high salary.
    All best.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/05/2019 at 10:18

      Hey there. Eligibility requirements are clearly listed in the post.

  • Reply Georgi 02/05/2019 at 20:11

    Dear Bastien,

    I have worked as a working student (werkstudent) from 03.2017 until 09.2018 and from 10.2018 until 31.05.2019 on a full-time position. My contract on the full-time position was terminated during the probation period, therefore I am not sure if I can receive arbeitslosengeld, because I have 8 Months of Full-time employee and before that I was Werkstudent (not paying anything from my Brutto salary besides Rentenversischerung).

    Do you think its possible to receive arbeitslosengeld in this case? I just learned today that probably its not going to be possible due to the 12 month rule of paying insurance for unemployment…

    Thank You!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/05/2019 at 12:46

      Hey Georgi. Yes, the requirements are stated in the post.

  • Reply Nat 30/04/2019 at 13:04

    Hey Bastien, I was wondering if you knew much about applying for educational financial assistance. I have worked full time for more than a year, and now currently work part-time. I would love to study again – for career advancement. The course fees are very high – but they will accept an educational voucher. Any direction is appreciated. (Love your site!) Thanks, Nat

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/05/2019 at 22:43

      Hey Nat. Unfortunately no, i don’t have experience with this. Sorry. Maybe something to improve on in the future. Have you checked this link?

      • Reply Nat 03/05/2019 at 09:48

        Thanks for your response. I have just started to have a look at this site, yea. I think I’ll just send them an email to check – it’s faster :0)

  • Reply Roger 26/04/2019 at 11:55

    Hello Bastien,
    First of All – Very Informative Post. Thanks a lot.
    Q1 – Is the 1 year period (minimum period) inclusive of Notice period ?- Reason for the question – say someone resigns in 11th month but still serves 3 months notice period – so at the last day, total job period is 14 months.
    Q2 – If i worked in Germany for 20 months, then go back to non-EU country for 4 months, to return in a different city and different company in Germany, Will the first 20 months be counted?
    Thanks in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/04/2019 at 12:53

      Hey Roger. Q1- At the point when you apply for ALG1, you should have worked a year. So it looks good.
      Q2- If this was less than 2 years ago, yes.

  • Reply Berlin guy 25/04/2019 at 14:49

    Hi there,

    I recently moved from Berlin to Hamburg but haven’t registered in hamburg since I’m in the probation period. It seems like I will have to end the contract soon.
    I’m still registered in Berlin and have my apartment in Berlin as well.
    Do I need to visit the office in Berlin or in hamburg?

    How do I find this above piece of important information.

    I might be terminated soon or I will quit myself since the Agency is not that great unfortunately.

    Please share some.advice on the process.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:25

      Hey Berlin guy. You’d need to talk to your Agentur at your place of residence.

  • Reply Caroline 25/04/2019 at 14:14

    Hi there,

    I have a question, I was unemployed last year for one year. But before I worked for 6 years straight. Now since September, I´m employed again but things are not working well in the company and I´m fearing they will want to get rid of me by an agreement but I´m not sure if I´m entitled to unemployment benefits again in the scenario that I will lose my job.

    Can you help?

    Thanks so much!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:24

      Hey Caro. You are entitled to ALG1 up to 2 years after the end of your last employment.

      • Reply caroline 29/04/2019 at 12:17

        Thank you!
        I forgot to mention I actually used ALG1 last year for one year. So that also makes me have unemployment rights in case I would lose my job?

  • Reply Rowena 24/04/2019 at 03:57

    Hello, I’m an interior designer but very hard to find a design job in Berlin – people love minimalism and Ikea here too much to hire a designer. Any way, long story short…I took on a nanny job where a lot of travel was necessary. I started working for my boss in oct 2018 cash in hand, salary officially started jan 22nd. Full time, 45 hours a week. I had to travel to LA for 18 days and worked really hard, it was incredibly hard, over worked and under-slept. Had the flu while away and a finger infection that almost required medical attention, I nearly went to the emergency room but my friend was able to ask her doctor for antibiotics and so I avoided going as I was worried my boss didn’t have travel health insurance for me. I found out while there that my boss didn’t actually have health coverage for me while I was in LA so couldn’t see a doctor. Infection got way worse. Worked my way through the pain etc. on the last day, my boss showed her true colours, our flight was missed due to her taking too long a time to get from a to b. She had a meltdown and shouted at me. Threatened to fire me in a heated moment. We went our separate ways at the airport. Any way, I don’t want to return to work now. She mistreated me and made me feel humiliated and dehumanized. I am almost certain she will beg me to return tomorrow.
    … my question is: after officially only working for 3 months, will I be entitled to any benefits. I was taxed 40 % of my salary, a crazy amount. My husbands thinks not. I was trying to do a year of this job so I could get maternity leave hoping myself and my husband could try to have a baby.
    Hope to hear from you, thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:15

      Hey Rowena. Sorry to hear about your issues. The conditions to qualify are stated in the post and haven’t changed.

  • Reply John 23/04/2019 at 17:01

    Hi, There,
    My contract with current company is until end of May and I will have ALG1 from June (already finished registration)
    My question is about vacation things which Company give me 2.5 days per month.
    In end of May I have around 13 days and among this, already 5 days was used.
    What if I cannot use my leftover vacations(8 days) until May, What happens ?
    Thanks a lot in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:11

      Hey John. You should discuss this with your company directly. This belongs to company affairs.

  • Reply Wriju 23/04/2019 at 10:28


    Thank you for this very informative post. I have a doubt though.

    I have been working in Germany for the past three years. My contract is expiring soon and I will be applying for unemployment benefit, while looking for a new job. I am entitled to receive unemployment benefit for 1 year. My question is explained below – say I receive unemployment benefit for 2 months (out of the 12 months that I am entitled to) and in the mean time find a job outside Germany (in a different country). In that case, after completing the job in the new country, if I return back to Germany within 2 years and request for unemployment benefit again, will I receive it for the remaining 10 months that I did not require before?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:09

      Hey Wriju. I couldn’t find any source that is conclusive on the topic. I’d say yes but the best is to ask your Beamter at the Arbeitsagentur.

  • Reply Peter 21/04/2019 at 20:07


    I have an important question. I am a professional dancer, working in Germany since 4 years with contracts by theaters and companies.

    I recently received an offer from Israel. I would like to go for a year only and I want to be back after.

    Regarding this: I am wondering can I get my unemployement money or to get it, what do I have to do? In Israel I would get only a netto salary about 6000 shekels what is a bit more than 1500 euros, which is not much especially fr the prices there.

    Do I have to pay taxes to Germany or unemployement insurance or can I just freeze the unemployment benefit and start to receive it from the month I return to Germany?

    I would really appreaciate your answer and help.

    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/04/2019 at 20:19

      Hey Peter. There are multiple questions in your question that arent linked to ALG 1 directly. On that topic; if you are unemployed, you are not obligated to receive benefits no. You can decide to wait until next year to apply for that. They are yours for up to 2 years after the end of your last job in Germany.

  • Reply JH 16/04/2019 at 20:19

    Hello Bastien,
    I have 1 qestion that I cant find answer to anywhere.

    If my 2 year contract is finishing and a company offers me a new one and I reject it am I by the büro considered as a “fired” person or “resigned” person?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 09:31

      Hey JH. Good question, i would tend to think that you would be considered to have resigned, since there was a new opportunity from the same employer. They would ask about that.

  • Reply Frankie 16/04/2019 at 17:42

    Hi there,
    Firstly thank you for all you for all of the work you have done to maintain this site.
    I am in a situation where I will be leaving my job and then will need to claim ALG 1 after 3 months, I don’t think my savings will be sufficient to support me through the first 3 months if I have no new job lined up. If I undertake part time work or a mini job for that 3 month duration can I still claim ALG 1 after the 3 month window ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 09:32

      Hey Frankie. Yes but under some conditions, refer to the FAQs.

  • Reply Giulio Lambini 16/04/2019 at 14:59

    Hi there,
    extremely god and informative article, thank you.
    Could you please support me on the following questions?
    – Pension contribution is covered by the Government during the Unemployment Benefit?
    – The amount saved in a German Bank account as a result of savings made out of working are considered a blocker for the Unemployment Benefit?
    – With part of the money saved during my working activity, I’m planning to buy the 22% share of a small company in Italy with a shareholder role only (no monthly compensations). Is this a blocker for the Unemployment benefit or a decadence cause?
    Thanks in advance and all the best

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 09:36

      Hey Giulio.

        2- No
        3-This is not relevant for ALG1
      • Reply Giulio 18/04/2019 at 16:08

        Hi there,

        thanks a lot for the prompt and detailed reply.
        It’s rare to find such a professionalism, willingness and seriousness.

        All the best and Happy Easter,

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/04/2019 at 20:12


      • Reply Benjamin 31/08/2019 at 17:21


        For unexpected reasons, I had to quit my job. Are you saying that I won’t be able to receive unemployment benefits in Germany for a period of 3 months after your registration at the Arbeitsagentur. So if I register on Monday 2/09 I wont get any money until 2/12?

        Do they offer an alternative?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/09/2019 at 09:41

          Yes, that’s the idea.

  • Reply Jonathan 13/04/2019 at 09:40

    Hi there, great post really,

    My question is simple. Am I eligible for ALG1 if I am founding my own business? I have a specific idea for which outside investment will be needed. If I am still eligible for the unemployment benefit, this would help greatly as I will need less outside investment. Under normal circumstances I would would be eligible, but I don’t know if I am encouraged or discouraged by the state when founding my own business. Obviously I would not want to apply for jobs as I will focus all my time on my new business. Neverthesless getting any real profit out will be difficult in year 1. What do you think?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 10:12

      Hey John. It is possible to apply for “Gründerzuschuss” under certain conditions, which is a way to let you work full time on your business while receiving ALG1. It depends on your situation and the assessment done by your Beamter at the Arbeitsagentur really. You need to talk to him/her about it.

  • Reply KH 03/04/2019 at 10:56

    Many thanks for this informative post. I am about to start collecting ALG1 benefits and am wondering if it’s possible to choose the amount/how long one wants to collect them for. I’ve been working for 4+ years straight, but my salary in the last year was significantly more than my previous one… Is it possible to choose to collect a higher ALG1 payment for only 6 months, rather than a lower one for 12 months?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/04/2019 at 21:58

      Hey KH. I don’t think so.

  • Reply William Taylor 01/04/2019 at 15:58

    Hi Bastien,

    You seem to be doing an amazing piece of public service here, thank you.

    I am getting very confused with my Arbeitsagentur.

    I have been working in Berlin for 12 months and the company has decided to close its offices here. I was working before this in the UK for a year or so and the Arbeitsagentur seem to want something from them to confirm that I was working there. But I’m not sure what form this needs to take.

    Do you know what i need to provide to them in this case when the work experience over the last two years is split over 2 countries in the EU?

    Your help is greatly appreciated,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/04/2019 at 21:34

      Hey William. Did you take a look at this?

  • Reply Massoud Rahimzadeh 01/04/2019 at 14:56

    Hello, I am in a tricky situation now. I have applied for freelancer residence permit and since I am going to become a freelancer still I don’t have sufficient income as a freelancer. I am currently an employee (full-time) and I showed my salary payslips and contract as my source of living expenses.
    When I received my residence permit as freelancer and I brought it to the HR of my company, they told me that I cannot continue working with then and they have to get approval from job agency but they do not think “Arbeitsamt” is going to verify my job at “Arvato”.
    Is there any possibility that I can use the unemployment benefit until I get on my feet as freelancer or find a professional job related to my academic degree?
    I really appreciate if you can give me some hints.
    Best Regards

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/04/2019 at 21:32

      Hey Massoud. Possible yes but refer to the FAQs for the limitations around getting benefits and working as a freelancer at the same time.

      • Reply Berlinbuddah 27/04/2019 at 01:16


        Great post. I have a couple follow up questions. You wrote in the text – “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.

        Did i understand you right that if it was the employees decision to quit he or she are still eligible to receive unemployment benefit? However that he or she will need 3 months of registration time before he or she will be able to use it?

        So to put this is context. My contract end in September. If I’d go to Arbeitsamt and register 3 months ahead, in June, and I quit at the end of my current contract “at my own will”. I would be able to get unemployment benefit directly after my contract is ends?


        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/04/2019 at 12:56

          Hey there. Yes, you understood it right: 3 months after you are effectively unemployed. So in your position no: it’s 3 months after your contract ends at the earliest. Be aware that you need to have given notice to your employer before you can register with the Arbeitsamt as “looking for a job”.

          • Sonia 19/08/2019 at 21:09

            Dear Bastien, Thank you for all those very helpful explanations.
            I’m in a similar situation,
            If I give my notice 3 month before being unemployed and therefore register at the Arbeitsamt the day I give my notice, will I not get unemployment benefits after those 3 month ? Or is it effective only 3 month after the first day of unemployment ?
            Sorry it’s so confusing
            Thank you so much !

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/08/2019 at 22:53

            Hey Sonia. You’d get money 3 months after your first day of unemployment.

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