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Unemployment insurance

You are not automatically insured

In Denmark, insurance against unemployment is voluntary. If you want to be insured against unemployment, you must apply for admission into an unemployment insurance fund (a-kasse).

However, please read the following guide before you go ahead and sign up with an a-kasse. Especially non-EU citizens may have difficulty to use the unemployment insurance system, since you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Membership and requirements

How to become a member of an unemployment insurance fund

You sign up online by filling out a form on the website of the a-kasse you have chosen. If you are in doubt which a-kasse suits you best, you can have a look at this website, where you also find links for online signup forms of the different a-kasser.

Requirements for being eligible for benefits

  • You must have been member of an a-kasse for at least one year
  • You must have earned/have had an income of at least DKK  233,376 (in 2019) during the last 3 years (in total)

If you are entitled to benefits, you must do the following to get the benefits paid out:

  • Register as a job seeker on your first day of unemployment at your local job centre or on
  • Complete a declaration of unemployment with your a-kasse
  • As long as you receive benefits, you must be actively seeking employment and willing to accept offers of employment with one day's notice. This means that there must be no factual or legal obstacles for you to legally take work

For graduates the requirements are different. This is described in the guide for graduates 

Be aware! New residence requirement from January 2019

From January 1, 2019, you must have stayed in Denmark, Greenland or the Faroe Islands for 7 out of the last 12 years to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
The new requirement will be phased in over 3 years, therefore:

  • In 2019 the requirement is 5 out of the last 12 years
  • In 2020 the requirement is 6 out of the last 12 years
  • From 2021 the requirement is 7 out of the last 12 years


According to the EU-legislation, periods you have stayed in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland can be included in the 12 years.
The EU-legislation, however, only applies to EU nationals. Third-country nationals can thus not include residence in other EU/EEA countries.

Read more about the residence requirement on 

Citizens of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you may be entitled to unemployment benefits.
Because of EU-Regulation no. 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems, EU-citizens must be treated like Danish citizens when it comes to unemployment insurance.
Due to the EU cooperation in the field of social security, an EU-citizen can only be a member of an unemployment insurance (a-kasse) in one EU country at a time. The main rule is that you have to be covered by the unemployment insurance system of the country where you work.

What to be aware of as an EU/EEA-citizen

If you come from another EU/EEA country, you can retain earned rights (membership period and working period) from your home country's unemployment insurance scheme. 
This requires the following:

  • You must sign up with a Danish a-kasse no later than 8 weeks after you have given up your unemployment insurance in your home country.
  • Within the 8 weeks, you must begin work in Denmark of at least 296 hours, and the work must be completed within 3 months.

Read more about transferring periods of work and insurance from another EU/EEA Country in this article.
We recommend you to contact your home country's unemployment fund to ensure that everything is in order before you sign out of your home country's unemployment fund. 

PhD students from EU/EEA countries

If you have a PhD contract, you have two options to become a member of and receive benefits from an a-kasse:

  1. You can become member of an a-kasse like other salaried persons. You must pay the normal member fee, and you must fulfil the requirements 
  2. You can choose to sign up with an a-kasse as a graduate and take advantage of the special favourable requirements for being eligible for benefits. See a special guide for graduates.

Citizens of a non-EU/EEA country

For people from non-EU/EEA countries, unemployment insurance may not be relevant or even allowed depending on the type of residence and work permit you hold. Contact the IAS or Danish Immigration Authorities for further information.  

In general, you can say that unemployment insurance is only relevant if your residence permit gives you the right to stay beyond your job contract.

What to be aware of as a non EU/EEA-citizen

It is not possible for non-EU/EEA citizens to transfer earned rights from an unemployment insurance scheme from your own country.
Even if, before coming to Denmark, you have been living in another EU/EEA-country and have contributed to unemployment insurance in another EU-/EEA country, you cannot transfer your rights to the Danish unemployment insurance scheme.
This is because Denmark (together with United Kingdom) has a special rule saying that Denmark only accepts rights of unemployment benefits from EU-nationals. 

If you are coming from one of the Nordic countries, read more in the section Citizens who have lived in the Nordic countries

Employed researchers

Employed researchers with a subsequent job search period included in their residence and work permit can receive unemployment benefit during the job search period. However, if employed researchers lose their job before time, they also lose their right to stay in Denmark legally, and thus cannot benefit from unemployment benefit. 

PhD students from non-EU/EEA countries

As a PhD student you are not allowed to receive unemployment benefits during the job search period of your residence and work permit. 

However, as a foreign national who has completed a Danish PhD degree you can apply for a residence permit with the aim of establishing yourself in Denmark (an establishment card). If you have received a residence permit under the establishment card scheme, you can legally stay in Denmark and can accept offers of employment with one day's notice.
Therefore, it will be relevant for establishment cardholders to apply for membership of an a-kasse.

Citizens who have lived in the Nordic countries

The Nordic Countries - Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Island - has agreed to treat all people (EU/EAA or non EU/EAA) moving between the Nordic countries as EU-nationals in relation to unemployment insurance and other social security matters. This is according to the Nordic convention on social security (from 2014)

This means, among other things, that it is possible to transfer earned rights according to the unemployment insurance scheme between the Nordic countries.

The only requirement is that you have been covered by the social security rules in one of the Nordic Countries (have been subject to the legislation there).

Leaving Denmark

Upon leaving Denmark, you may transfer your periods of employment and unemployment insurance from Denmark to another EEA country. This will be possible if you have been employed and insured against unemployment in Denmark. You can read more about this here. 

What to be aware of as a non EU/EEA-citizen

If you have been working in Denmark and move to another EU country, it will not be possible to transfer earned rights from the Danish unemployment scheme.

However, if you move to one of the other Nordic countries, it will be possible to transfer earned rights from Denmark. 

Unemployment insurance funds and trade unions

Many unemployment insurance funds are affiliated with a trade union. It is not a prerequisite to be a member of the trade union in order to become a member of an unemployment insurance fund and vice versa. Some funds only accept membership of persons working in certain occupational fields while other funds are cross-sector. Read more on the Expat in Denmark website

Supplementary insurance

You can maximum get DKK 18,866 (in 2019) per month in unemployment benefits (dagpenge). This is regardless of your previous income.

It is, however, possible to buy additional wage insurance (L√łnsikring). Nearly all a-kasser in Denmark also offer this extra insurance.

In order to buy supplementary wage insurance through the a-kasse, you must be a member and pay the normal (basic) unemployment insurance. 

You can also buy a similar kind of wage insurance at traditional insurance companies. In this case membership of an a-kasse is not required. 

English guide to the most important aspects

To get an overview of the most important aspects concerning unemployment benefits in Denmark, we advise you to read this English guide by MA A-kasse. MA A-kasse is an unemployment insurance fund for academics.

Read more about unemployment funds and unions on the International Community website

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