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 Ahmad 27/03/2020 at 16:46

    Thank you for the great article,
    I’m a full-time employee in Berlin and want to start doing some freelance work besides my regular job which means I need to apply for the freelance tax number in the tex office.

    If I understand correctly, to apply for the freelance tax number I need:
    – Anmldung
    – House contract
    – Permanent residency
    – fill in the form

    Also regarding the form, I wonder if I need
    – to fill in all the pages or only until lines 25 and 26
    – check line 3 in the form (Line 3: Check this if you’re registering your freelance work or your small business (with a trade license application) – which is what we’re assuming for this blog post) as I wont to keep my full-time job and not switching to a full freelance work

  • Reply MO 25/03/2020 at 23:31

    Hello! Thank you for such an informative post! A question from my side: Would I be eligible to ALG1 after working in a company in Germany for 4,5 years and signing a mutual termination agreement (options were to sign or be fired)? If so, when should I inform the unemployment agency about it? Is 3 months before the official last date of employment enough? Or would Sperrzeit still apply in this case? Thank you in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/03/2020 at 21:01

      Hey MO. If it’s a mutual termination agreement motivated by economic reasons, there is usually not a Sperrzeit no. Registration & application stays otherwise the same, timing and all.

  • Reply Erin 18/03/2020 at 10:56

    Really useful article, thank you. I’ve been living in Germany for 2 years but working for an American company and earning US dollars. I’ve transferred USD to EUR and paid into the German tax system for the last 2 years. (Yearly rather than having it withheld from my paycheck)

    Thanks to Coronavirus, there’s a strong chance I’ll get laid off in the next week or so. Do you know if I can collect German Unemployment despite the fact that my income has been in USD from an American company?

    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/03/2020 at 21:50

      Hey Erin. Hard to say when i don’t know the setup you have with this company. Do you have a DATEV type German payslip? Do you pay into the system here? If no, then you probably can’t apply for ALG1.

  • Reply Diana 15/03/2020 at 07:38

    Hi, I haven been made redundant on the last day of my probation period (6months) due to Corona virus… Can I still claim benefits?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/03/2020 at 21:46

      Hey Diana. There is nothing set in stone for now. It is possible you can get support for these reasons, we don’t know in which form for now…

  • Reply Anastasia Chistyakova 13/03/2020 at 09:46

    Hello! I’m freelance tour guide in Berlin, recently due to coronavirus found myself without job…can I apply for some support at least for a couple of months?

  • Reply Hesrampaj 11/03/2020 at 23:53

    Hi, let’s say I’ve already found a job before the final day of termination but I would like to start, or the contract starts one month later, meaning I’d be one month without a job. Would this be fine with the Agentur für Arbeit and would I still be eligible for Arbeitslosengeld?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/03/2020 at 21:38

      Hey Hesrampaj. Yes, even if only for a month.

  • Reply Igor da Silva 05/03/2020 at 11:00

    Hello, i have worked the last 12 months straight in a company and now im not willing to renew the contract so I can persue another better oppurtunitie as a freelancer,
    first want to now if i choose to not renew my contract will make my chances harder?
    that if that and Being a EU citzen I wonder
    do i need a Passport or the my National Identity is enough?
    and since its about 3 weeks to end the contract is it to late to make the registration in Arbeitsagentur


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/03/2020 at 21:19

      Hey Igor. Your ID card with a Meldebescheinigung should be enough. As for the other questions, the answers are in the post.

  • Reply pierre 22/02/2020 at 16:51

    Hi, working in Germany since July, I would like to quite my current position in June in order to have worked in Germany for 12 months. My question will be, does one have to be fired/contract ending to have unemployment rights or if I give them my demission am I still entitled to some cash?

    Thank you for your help and sorry if the questions have already been asked.

    Looking forward.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2020 at 18:19

      Hey Pierre. This is quite literally written in the post. Please read it again.

  • Reply bahman 13/02/2020 at 14:34

    HI , I would simply know that is it applied to part time jobs or not ? I mean unemployment money 2 (sozialgeld2)

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/02/2020 at 20:50

      Hey Bahman. Do you mean ALG2/hartz4 now?

  • Reply Mana 10/02/2020 at 09:53

    Hello! I am from Italy and I work in Germany for a couple of months now and my husband will come and join me here in Germany. Is there any program for him? (e.x. to learn German, help him find job, etc) He has a university degree and he is a Software engineer. Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2020 at 09:43

      Hey Mana. As a software engineer, i’m sure he will have no trouble find a job here, even without German skills. Otherwise, i’m not sure what you mean with “program”?

  • Reply Margaux 09/02/2020 at 20:55

    Hi there ! I am considering not renewing my contract but I have a question regarding the calculation of the employment benefits. I work in sales so I have a fixed base salary, and provisions each month, that of course differ depending on performance. Is the Arbeitslosgeld calculated on your average FIXED salary in the last 12 months or does it also take into account any bonuses ? Thanks a LOT in advance 🙂


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2020 at 09:33

      Hey Margaux. Calculations are based on the salary. You can use this calculator when in doubt.

  • Reply Sevinc 02/02/2020 at 21:40

    I worked in Germany 3 years with a PhD contract. Then, to be able to extend my visa, I applied for a student visa. Because I am not allowed to stay in Germany without a student visa, it was told me in foreign office, when I applied for visa extension. On the other hand, although I am unemployment now, my ALG 1 application was rejected, because of having a Student visa. In this case, is it possible to apply for ALG II? Is there anyone experienced similar situation?

  • Reply Tanmay 30/01/2020 at 11:32


    I have worked in Germany for last 30 months. Last month, my company terminated my contract. I have registered with Arbeitsagentur and they said my Arbeitslosengeld will be given.

    My first question is – they have not provided any information as to how much will it come or when it will come into my account. Do I need to call the hotline number for this?

    My second question is – I am a non EU-citizen and is having a blue card till January 2021. My Blue card dependency on employer ended in the month of June 2019. Do i still need to notify the immigration authorities about my unemployment?

    It would be very helpful, if can give me your thoughts on my situation.

    Thanking you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/02/2020 at 21:14

      Hey Tanmay. How much and when you will get it: i have given some indidcations in the post but you may call them if you have any doubt. Yes i believe you need to notify the immigration authorities.

  • Reply Nick 29/01/2020 at 23:28

    I work in Berlin since 3 years and my salary increased progressively over time.
    Is the 60% benefit calculated on the last salary or on the average of the salaries since the beginning of the year or yet on the average of salaries of the last 12 months?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/02/2020 at 21:12

      Hey Nick. It is calculated on your average of the last 12 months probably, if it has changed a lot. You can use a ALG1 Rechner if you want to find out.

  • Reply Priyanka 24/01/2020 at 10:45


    I am on maternity leave and getting my Elterngeld. My Elterngelg period will get over in June 2020 and I got to know from my HR that my department is getting shut down from June 2020. Therefore, in the worst case that I cannot be fit into other departments of my company, I will be relieved. In this case, I will apply for ALG1. My question is- Because Elterngeld is lower than my actual net salary that I was receiving before the Elterngeld started. Will they calculation my amount as 67% of Elterngeld amount of 67% of my actual net salary amount which I was receiving before?
    Thanks in Advance for your answer.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/01/2020 at 14:31

      Hey Priyanka. ALG1 are calculated on your net salary and not on the amount of the Elterngeld. In doubt, you can use this calculator from the Arbeitsagentur:

  • Reply Edward 23/01/2020 at 11:05

    Hi, after 9 months working in Germany I lost my job and I’m applying for Unemployment benefits 2.
    The problem is that in 2 Months I will be out from germany for a month, is this a problem for the job center?
    I mean, I need to be in Germany yes or yes all the time?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/01/2020 at 17:38

      Hey Edward, i don’t have any experience with ALG2, sorry. You need to discuss this with your Berater/in directly probably.

  • Reply kolja 21/01/2020 at 19:18

    how does it work if i have a one year contract that ends on a fixed date and i do not wish to prolong it? do i still get the arbeitslosengeld, do i have to prove somehow my employer does not want to keep me? thank you 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/01/2020 at 17:34

      Hey Kolja. It’s a good question. If you have fulfilled the other conditions, the type of contract you have at the moment plays no role in whether or not you get ALG1. However i’m not sure if there would “Sperrzeit” in your case. Getting a letter from the employer saying that the position is not prolonged would certainly help to not have it!

  • Reply TL 20/01/2020 at 15:17

    Hi Bastien,
    After registering as unemployed with the Arbeitsamt, I will receive job recommendations by post from them. However, what if the jobs they recommended does not seem suitable to my skills and experience and maybe the industry is not of my interest or aligned with my career goals? Can I opt for the option “I do not wish to apply because of XYZ?” Or will this option strip away my benefits with the Arbeitsamt? Alternatively, I can also send my counselor the jobs I’ve been applying for independently, to prove that I am actively applying for jobs, as I don’t want to give them the impression that I am not applying. What do you think? Thanks so much in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/01/2020 at 10:03

      Hey there. A quick research tells me that you can refuse to apply, up to a certain point. The letter will come with a notice to let you know of the consequences, if any. Source. Showing that you are proactive certainly helps to avoid any Sperrzeit.

      • Reply Preet 25/03/2020 at 19:45

        Hey , my employer just hand me termination letter because of this Corona virus situation. I worked for 12 months and I have working visa for 4 years. My question is will I get unemployment benefits ? And will my visa be change to 6 months ( means will I get only 6months to find the job ) ?

        Please reply if you can help on this. I am really worrying about my visa. In 6 months it’s very hard to find another job. ( Corona Virus situation made all work position shuts) :/

        Thanks in advance

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/03/2020 at 20:59

          Hey Preet. I’m working on a dedicated post about this whole business. Please bear with me while i prepare it.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/03/2020 at 23:19

          Hey Preet. you may want to check this page.

  • Reply Alan Legge 20/01/2020 at 11:46

    Good Morning ,
    Is it possible to have a 400Euro job and receive ALG 1…a little of my background..I have worked in the British Military for 45 years
    (as a civilian in Germany for 20 years) My contract with the military ended on 31 Dec 19, I have registered with the Arbeitsamt and received all
    the documents with all the details of the amount I will receive in the next two years…However is it possible to go and work part time in a 400 Euro
    job and still receive ALG1 ? as I really do not want to work full time again,..Thank you in advance..fond regards..Alan

  • Reply Lauri 17/01/2020 at 00:32

    Hi, i was working more than 2 years in my previous company then i quit as i got a high risk well paid freelance opportunity for 6 months. Now i got full time employment in switzerland with the same company. If the company goes bankrupt, lets say in 3 months. Am i still eligible for ALG1 of i come back to germany and will i have to wait three months or would it come immediately.

  • Reply Apurva 16/01/2020 at 10:36

    I lost my job and as soon as I had the termination document I went to job center to register myself as jobless. I need some documents from another EU country due my employment there in past. Will there be any problem, I am waiting for few documents to submit the application.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2020 at 09:15

      Hey Apurva. What is important is that you started the process in time.

  • Reply Grey 10/01/2020 at 09:11

    Hi Bastien,

    Huge thanks for the detailed guidelines. I have one question if you may know – I quitted my job and have 1 month in Germany before going back to my hometown permanently (without registered as unemployed). So within this month, is my health insurance paid as normal coverage or do I have to register myself as voluntary member and pay for it?
    Many thanks for your help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/01/2020 at 10:03

      Hey Grey. You may want to call your Krankenkasse directly to ask but i think there is 1 month or so where they can be flexible, when switching between 2 situations.

  • Reply Michael 09/01/2020 at 23:29

    I am a US citizen and have worked in Germany for 10 years and have a permanent residency. I have been let go from my job and would actually like to take a break for a while back in the States( up to 6 months with two trips back to Germany). Does anybody have any information about leaving the country (outside EU) and what that means in terms of my unemployment rights? Is it possible to leave Germany and defer my unemployment benefits to a later date when I return? if anyone has any tips or experience with this sort of thing that would be so helpful.

  • Reply paula 09/01/2020 at 14:10

    Hi, I have been working in Germany for the past 6 months and unfortunately, they are not renewing my contract. they gave me a month notice so my last day of work would be feb 4.

    I adition to this. I had holidays all payed and scheduled for March. Can I apply for any benefit beinf employed for 6 months¡?
    If so, what should I do about the holidays?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/01/2020 at 09:54

      Hey Paula. As mentioned in the post, you don’t qualify for ALG1 because of this.

  • Reply LT 07/01/2020 at 15:51

    Hi Bastien,
    A little about my situation: My working Visa expires on 31.01.2020 and I am getting a 3 months extended Visa (106 euros) with the immigration office.
    I had quit my job on 31.12.2019. I have just realized I could apply for unemployment, however I just read that the latest to register for unemployment is on the first day WITHOUT a job. It’s been 7 days, which means I am late for the application. Should I still try regardless? What do you think?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/01/2020 at 17:17

      Hey LT. In my opinion you can still try. As mentioned here, you will probably lose some money.

  • Reply Mehran Wahid 31/12/2019 at 13:34

    Thank you for this superb information almost tailor made for me. Question: I have worked for the same Company, pretty well paid which is closing down and after reading your information I realize I do not have a Sozialversicherungsausweis card. I do have the social Security number on some documents. Could it be because I am a foreigner that I don’t have this card? I have a 5-year Residence Permit and have got the Ausweis card.

    • Reply Mehran Wahid 31/12/2019 at 13:39

      …Sorry I forgot to mention I have lived here for nearly 9 years working for the same Company.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/01/2020 at 10:36

      Hey Mehran. You have this information somewhere, you should have received in the early days, after registering in Germany. If you have lost it, i’m sure you can ask for a new copy. Luckily if you have your reference number too, it should prove easy.

  • Reply K 10/12/2019 at 12:47

    Hi there!

    A huge thanks for all this valuable information 🙂

    Could you please tell me how I book my appointment? There doesn’t seem to be an option for me to do so online. Will I receive a phone call?

    Thanks so much!

  • Reply Priya 03/12/2019 at 16:28

    Thank you for great information I am international student on PhD work contract I wish to know do I need to go to Visa office and convert my Visa into job-search visa before applying for Arbeitsloss geld ? or vice versa ?
    Thanks alot

  • Reply Thomas Lawrence 28/11/2019 at 09:32

    Good Morning S.I.B,

    I have a question that has confused me slightly as i have been given different answers from different sources. I have been fired from my current job and will try to claim arbeitslosengeld 1. I have made my online profile on arbeitsagentur and have received my personal pin number. I have all my documents and paper work ready along with a plan to get back into a working position as quickly as possible. I have been told by one source that i should go to the arbeitsamt, but here i read i should go to the arbeitsagentur! I am told by one source if i go directly to the arbeitsagentur then i have to pay some money each month for something. Can you help me with this situation? I am trying super hard to follow all steps and get working ASAP. Thank you for the article.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/11/2019 at 09:31

      Hey Thomas. Arbeitsamt is another term people use for the Arbeitsagentur. I don’t know what this other source is talking about. It’s a bit vague.

  • Reply Dimitris 18/11/2019 at 14:45

    Great work Bastien, really thank you very much for this post.

    Do you know if I still need a termination letter for the first visit to the Arbeitsagentur if I have quit my job myself? I a working in a permanent contract, I quit last month, and I haven’t got anything from my employer yet that confirms that I have terminated my contract.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:25

      Hey Dimitris. You can get a Arbeitsbescheinigung from your former employer.

  • Reply Sm 17/11/2019 at 19:34


    Thank you for the information, they were really helpful. I have a question though. I resigned from my job (i was working there for 1 year and 3 months). I applied for ALG1, but as i resigned logically i am going to receive my money after three months. At the moment i have an offer for a minijob. Could i receive a normal minijob payment during these three months or will i gain 160 euro, which is the salary of a minijob when one receives ALG1?

    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:21

      Hey Sm. You can ask the Arbeitsagentur directly about this one. I’m not sure what the reply is here.

  • Reply Leo 16/11/2019 at 13:23

    Could you kindly please clarify this part mentioned above
    “ which resources you have at the moment “

    In the text part
    (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.)

    Does it mean resources or income or savings ?

    Many thanks in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:03

      Hey Leo. It means income sources yes.

  • Reply Leo 16/11/2019 at 13:12

    Thank you for this great useful forum and comments.
    I would appreciate it, if you could advise whether leaving the company on mutual agreement would be considered as being fired and entitles me for immediate ALG1 on unemployment?

    Thank your for your kind answer

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:02

      Hey Leo. That is only possible if that was due to poor economic performance of the company, in German: “Betriebsbedingt”.

  • Reply Nikhil 09/11/2019 at 12:10

    Really great article 🙂
    My situation is :
    I am a non-EU student and have worked fulltime for about 2 months. Well, I do not need unemployment benefits. But the company where I worked has sent me Arbeitsbescheinigung. I want to know that is it mandatory to submit the Arbeitsvescheinigung at the Agentur für Arbeit or not submitting would create a problem?

    Another Situation :
    While I was working in that company I wanted to leave the company before the contract duration because my semester started. So, as stated on the contract, I gave the resignation letter 2 weeks before I was leaving. After I left the company, I got a letter from the company that I should come back to work and I have not informed in advance. Then, I received another letter saying that my contract is terminated by the company because I stopped going to work without notice. But I gave the resignation letter in advance. So, when I called them about this issue, they said that maybe the letter is lost. So what should I do next?
    Will this create a problem in my future employment?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 11:38

      Hey Nikhil. No, you don’t need to submit the Bescheinigung. I cannot give you on the second situation, which has to do with with labor law. Sorry.

  • Reply Danila 08/11/2019 at 16:48

    Hi, I have a similar question to Rohan. I would like to resign from the job in agreement with my boss. I already found new job which will start after 3 months. I have worked for the same company for 2 years, and I’m a non-EU citizen. Do I have to notify the Arbeitsamt and Ausländerbehörde as well? My current residence permit (which is provided according to the current work contract) is still valid for 1 year, but I’m worried it would be canceled as soon as I terminate my contract with the current employer.

    Thank you very much for your help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2019 at 15:20

      Hey Danila. Hard to answer accurately on so little details. I guess you have to check if your permit is tied that employer/contract or not. You might have to renew your visa based on the new contract you will get.

  • Reply Yammy 07/11/2019 at 10:34

    Hi thanks for the explanation, I want to quit my job and do the the integration course but my wife is not working and she is not receiving any benefit from job center bcos of my pay is high. If I quit will jobcentre pay her and me?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2019 at 15:17

      Hey Yammy. I don’t know, depends on several parameters.

  • Reply Spyros 04/11/2019 at 23:43

    Hey Bastien,

    Firstly, congrats for creating this website. Since I moved here 2 years ago it has served me as an excellent source of information and advice.
    So, from the bottom of my heart thank you since it has saved my ass a number of times 🙂

    Secondly, I recently became unemployed and you can apply for the ALG I or II by the Agentur website. Their online services are really good and with some effort you can do most of the relevant applications online. You can even receive electronic copies of the documents issued by the authorities in their online platform.

    First you have to register in person, do an appointment with an employee and then you are free to use the poral and optimise it according to your nees and preferences (e.g. communications by post email, emails or both)

    Maybe its worth complementing the guide with this information? – or have a seperate page for it?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2019 at 15:13

      Hey Spyros. Thanks for the additional details. I will amend the post.

  • Reply Jose 25/10/2019 at 10:46

    In my case, I’m working for a German University as a researcher, and have to do some of my research abroad for 1 and a half year. I remain Steuerpfichtig during that time abroad. Does my time of contribution while living outside Germany also counts if I apply for the benefit, after my contract expires?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/10/2019 at 09:05

      Hey Jose. I would refer you to this. In doubt, you can also ask the Arbeitsagentur directly.

  • Reply Elisabet 22/10/2019 at 18:54

    Hello, thank you again for the helpful tips.

    So I’ve registered and they have called me in for an official appointment. They told me I should bring a translator or an interpreter with me. Do you know if the interpreter has to be licensed or if I could just bring a German speaking friend?

    Regards, Elisabet

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/10/2019 at 08:56

      Hey Elisabet. you can bring a friend with you.

  • Reply Elsa 18/10/2019 at 22:48

    Hi there,

    In my situation I will quit my job in order to look for other opportunities. I live in Germany already more than 5 years.
    – How can I make sure I will get ALG 1 despite the Sperrzeit?
    – Can I make the Sperrzeit less than 3 months and how?
    – I had a lot of stress in my job and in the past I did get sick because of that. I am not sick now though. Can I use that in my favour? And if I ask my doctor to write a note for me, will my current employer find out? (–> that can lead to a bad recommendation letter)
    – When I apply for other jobs while getting ALG 1, am I allowed to apply for positions outside Germany?
    – Last but not least, should I apply for ALG 1 more than 3 months before my last day of employment?

    A million thanks,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/10/2019 at 21:53

      Hey Elsa. You will get ALG1, that’s your right, with some delay, that’s the condition. You can reduce the Sperrzeit unless i suppose you can prove you were abused in your job and HAD to quit, or if you had to quit because the business was shutting down (“betriebsbedingt”). You can apply to any position you want, regardless of location.

  • Reply Parbati 17/10/2019 at 19:25

    Hi, Thank you very much for this information. In spite of this, I would like to ask a question just to be sure. Now, I am working in Germany. I am working as research associate in Goethe University since December 2017 and my contract is until october 2020. I am now planning to stay here just few years more. After ending my contract I will obviously search for the new job but I don’t think I will get the job easily because I cannot speak good German. So, In this case Can I apply for arbeitlosengeld 1?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/10/2019 at 21:48

      Hey Parbati. Your language skills do not constitute a criteria to receive ALG1.

  • Reply Luke 16/10/2019 at 21:36

    I am about to quit my job to go travelling for 6 months after 15 years work. Do I need to let the Arbeitsamt know, I will not be looking for work in this time and would not expect any benefits.

    Upon my return I will be looking for work and therefore unemployed. Can you advise in this type if scenario?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/10/2019 at 21:44

      HEy Luke. No, you don’t need to let them know anything but you could let them know that you are unemployed if you wanted to, (but not looking for a job). That might speed up the process later.

  • Reply Ian Macfadyen 16/10/2019 at 17:52

    Hi Bastien,
    Thank you for taking the time to maintain this informative blog, if only more people were doing the same back here in the uk.
    I will keep my question to the basic; What is the average waiting time to receive benefits from first applying?
    Assuming all information is completed correctly.
    It’s five weeks at the moment here and I am comparing approximate policy in different countries.

    Kind Regards


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/10/2019 at 21:42

      Hey Ian. If the person qualify to receive ALG1 right away, you receive the money on the first business following the end of the month. So for October, you’d get the money on the first business day of November. So if your application is processed middle of the month, the waiting would be 2 weeks only.

    • Reply Angélique 30/10/2019 at 10:52

      Dear Bastien, I have a similar question than Luke. How can I let them know that I am unemployed but do not look for a job yet? I already signed up on line for ALG1 but I did not present myself in person in their office yet. I hope it is not too late then.
      Thanks for your great and so useful blog!

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2019 at 09:18

        Hey Angélique. Just complete step 2, as mentioned in this guide.

  • Reply Ian Macfadyen 15/10/2019 at 21:42

    Hi, great post. I am putting a seminar together for my Uni course to protest against the minimum 5 week waiting period to receive benefits. Could you make a guess as to how long from applying to receiving benefits in Germany. Thanks in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/10/2019 at 21:37

      Hey Ian. Is the question complete here?

  • Reply Rohan 11/10/2019 at 07:46

    Hi, I have resigned from the job and got 1 month notice period. I have already found new job which will start after 3 months. So for 2 months, I will be without work. Can I get Arbeitslosengeld for those 2 months?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2019 at 15:43

      Hey Rohan.Probaby no because you resigned. so there would be this waiting time anyway, after which you would already have found a job, thus not fulfilling requirements anymore.

  • Reply Marie 02/10/2019 at 10:21

    Hello, I am receiving ALG I and have a 3 day freelance offer that is more than 15 hours long and more than 450 Euros. It was suggested to me to leave deregister and reregister from the ALG I for those days. This sounds really strange to me, is it really possible? I was working part time before, so I won’t be getting much money and could really use the extra income without having it deducted.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/10/2019 at 10:01

      Hey Marie. That’s a very specific case on which i have no answers on, sorry.

  • Reply Tal 25/09/2019 at 18:01


    thank you very much for the info, very useful
    i have a question , i hope you could answer me here.

    i have been working more then 2 years as a ballet dancer at the oprea house in nurnberg,
    i want to break my contract,
    can i still get the unemployment money?

    as well – im from tel- aviv,
    then i want to understad if i got it right,

    if i leave the EU union, (to israel ), i wint be able to get this money ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/09/2019 at 23:15

      Hey Tal. You’d be resigning from your current position. If you were employed there then yes, you would get ALG1 after the 3 months period, because you resigned.

  • Reply Ifie 18/09/2019 at 07:05

    Hi, very informative post! Great job. My question is this.
    I have been a working student in Berlin since 2017 and my new work contract expires October 2019 only because I have exhausted my work hours for the year as an international student
    in Berlin according to
    the German law. My employer pay taxes and health insurance from my salary from my knowledge and My
    employer however
    intends to extend my
    contract starting January 2020 but haven’t done so at the moment. I have been told about this but I haven’t signed any new contract yet. So technically I will be unemployed from October 2019 to January 2020 but only if I get an extension.
    Am I entitled for the unemployment
    benefit? Do I talk to my
    employer about it since I am not fired as they said they will extend my contract
    starting January 2020 and I don’t have any termination letter to go to Job center with or work contract be okay too for now?
    Can I claim unemployment benefits for 3 months till I start work again? Since technically I won’t be seeking any jobs if I get my contract extended.
    Please help with the best steps I should take. Thanks.

    • Reply Stacey 08/01/2020 at 19:39

      Hi! Great post!
      I have an Italian and Australian passport and have been working in Germany for 4 years.
      When my contract ends, do you know if the counsellor will allow me to be paid unemployment benefits if I am still living in Germany but only searching for a new job in Australia, so I can leave the country once I find work?
      Thanks 🙂

  • Reply Elena 12/09/2019 at 20:49

    Hello everyone !
    I have a question, I worked for a company for a year and then they fired me with a 2 weeks notice, and they gave me a papper with which I went to Arbeitsamt and asked for unemployment money.. the lady there completed something in her computer and sent me home. After 2 weeks i receive a letter with a mandatory meeting, which happened today… I didn’t understand much since my german is pretty bad and the lady refused to speak english, but she was speaking a lot of german classes,so she gave me some pappers and sent me home. While i tried to translate the pappers home, they say that I have to go to classes 4-5-6 hours daily from Monday to Friday ,otherwise I don t get unemployed money…. is this normal? I would like to search for a new job in that time and not waste it in classes since I don’t plan to stay here longer than 2 more years…. any information about this mandatory german classes would be great ! Thank you in advance !

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/09/2019 at 11:07

      Hey Elena. This is interesting. I can’t really tell what happened there with so little details, sorry.

  • Reply Melbin 05/09/2019 at 10:06

    My situation is:
    I worked for a company about 25 months.Since the salary was not fair enough I searched for a new job informing my boss.He terminated my jobs contract saying some false statements.And i have a notice period of 3 months and he agreed to pay for these 3 months without working for the company.Can I apply for a new job now or do i need to wait for notice period to complete?.Am I still considered the employee of the company till notice period ends?.I have registered in agentur for arbeit, since i will get salary for 3 months they said i need to apply for arbietlosengeld from November onwards. Since I got terminated, will that impact my job search? I have received a good arbeitzeugnis as well.

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