What do I do if I lose my job in Germany?

Some information and suggestions to help you prepare for a rainy day.

Dr. Paras Mehta
Dr. Paras Mehta

First of all, no worries. Due to the shortage of skilled workers in Germany, chances are high that you will quickly get a job again in the tech sector. But even if you don't have a new job immediately after your previous employment, you don't have to worry about the financial situation. In case of unemployment, foreigners are also entitled to unemployment benefits.

Will I receive unemployment benefits in Germany?

Yes, you will receive unemployment benefits if you were employed in Germany and were paying into the public unemployment insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung). Because unemployment benefit is paid from the unemployment insurance and basically it works like any other insurance. You probably only noticed that you automatically paid into this unemployment insurance if you carefully inspected your monthly payslips or your annual income tax certificate (Lohnsteuerbescheinigung). The amount is deducted from your salary before it is paid out. In order to receive unemployment benefits, it is therefore a prerequisite that you were previously employed. According to the law, you must have worked for at least 12 months in a 30-month period and have paid into the unemployment insurance.

How high is the unemployment benefit?

The amount of the unemployment benefit depends on the gross salary that you earned on average in the 12 months before you became unemployed. The employment agency (Arbeitsamt) calculates your average net salary and from this you receive 60 percent as unemployment benefit and if you have a child, 67 percent.

How long will I receive unemployment benefit?

The duration of the unemployment benefit depends on how long you were employed while paying into the unemployment insurance in the last 5 years before the unemployment. If you were employed for 12 months, you will receive 6 months of unemployment benefit. If you were employed for 2 years, you will receive 12 months unemployment benefit. However, you will not receive unemployment benefit for more than 12 months.

What do you have to do if you become unemployed?

Step 1: Register as a jobseeker (Arbeitssuchend)
You must first register as a jobseeker 3 months before the end of your employment. If you find out about the termination of your contract later, you must apply within 3 days after the termination of your contract. You can do this in different ways:

  • Personally at the employment agency in your place of residence
  • By telephone at the number
  • Online at this link

Note: If you do not meet these deadlines, this may reduce the duration of your unemployment benefit claim.

Step 2: Register yourself as unemployed (Arbeitslos)
After you have registered yourself as a jobseeker through the above mentioned channels, you still have to register yourself personally as unemployed at a local branch of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).

Step 3: Fill out the application for unemployment benefit
After you have personally registered yourself as unemployed, you can fill out the application for unemployment benefit on paper or online.

What happens to my work permit if I lose my job?

If you are a Blue Card holder, you are guaranteed a minimum of 3 months to look for another job. You could also think of switching to a Jobseeker Visa. You might need to show sufficient funds to support yourself during that period though. The decision on the duration of extension of the work permit lies in the hands of the foreigner's registration office (Ausländerbehörde).

CareerInsurance & Taxes

Dr. Paras Mehta

Software developer and data scientist PhD FU Berlin | Marie Curie and Erasmus Mundus fellow | BTech DTU | Visiting Researcher Cambridge

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