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Jobseeker's Allowance in EEA countries

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) has both a contribution-based and an income-based element. If you have paid enough Class 1 National Insurance (NI) contributions, you will get a personal rate of contribution-based JSA as long as you are both available for and actively seeking work. Contribution-based JSA may be paid to jobseekers in EEA countries and Switzerland as set out below..

If you do not qualify for contribution-based JSA, or it does not fully meet your needs, you may qualify for income-based JSA. Income-based JSA is normally only payable to jobseekers who have a right to reside and are habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, and is not covered by the rules in this section. For more information about the right to reside contact your local Jobcentre Plus office.

Nationals from Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia who have been working for less than 12 months have a right to reside while they are in work and registered under the Worker's Registration Scheme. Nationals from Bulgaria and Romania who have been working for less than 12 months have a right to reside if they are in work and registered under the Worker Authorisation Scheme. If they cease work their right to reside will usually depend on being self-sufficient and they are unlikely to qualify for income-related benefits. For more information contact your local Jobcentre Plus office.

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Export of contribution-based JSA

Contribution-based JSA is paid for a maximum of 6 months.

You may be able to have contribution-based JSA paid to you whilst you look for work in another EEA country or Switzerland for up to 3 months under the following conditions:

Jobseekers and Benefit Enhancement Section,
Room TC013,
International Pension Centre,
Tyneview Park,
Newcastle Upon Tyne,
England,
NE98 1BA.

Returning from an EEA country or Switzerland

If you have been looking for work and return to the UK before or on the date of the expiry of the period for which you are entitled to claim JSA abroad (3 months maximum), you will be able to continue to receive contribution-based JSA in the UK up to the 6 months’ maximum period. If however, you return to the UK after the expiry of the 3 months JSA claim period abroad, you will have to make a fresh claim.

If you have been working in one country and living in another (e.g. working in Ireland and living in the UK) and become unemployed, you will need to register with the Jobcentre Plus office where you live (i.e. the UK) and comply with their regulations, as they will pay you.

In addition, as well as registering and claiming JSA in the UK you may also register with the jobcentre in the country of former work (i.e. Ireland) as this would give you more opportunities to find a job. You will be able to access the services they offer, but they will not pay you any benefits. If you register in both countries, you will need to inform both jobcentres of this fact. The control procedures and job-seeking activities required by the UK Jobcentre Plus take precedence over those of the former country of work.

Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are not yet covered by these new rules, so this facility of dual registration would not apply in these countries.

Claiming benefit for unemployment after working in another EEA country or Switzerland

If you have been working in another EEA country or Switzerland and paying into their insurance scheme and you become unemployed there, you may be able to get unemployment benefit from that country. If so, and you decide to come to the UK to look for work, you may also be able to get their unemployment benefit in the UK. You need to ensure that you register for work and have all the information and documentation you need before you leave the country, otherwise you may lose benefit.

You may be able to register for JSA in the UK after your entitlement from the other country has expired.

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If you fall ill while you are looking for work in another EEA country or Switzerland

If you fall ill while you are looking for work abroad you may get contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, provided you satisfy the National Insurance contributions conditions and meet the other conditions for entitlement to benefit.

More information about claiming Employment Support Allowance is available on the Directgov website.

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Countries to which contribution-based JSA is exportable

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Looking for work in the UK

If you paid unemployment insurance while you were employed in another EEA country, this may enable you to get UK contribution-based JSA following your return to this country. But you must have: either

If either of these apply to you, you may need a record of your unemployment insurance from the authorities who run the unemployment insurance scheme in the other country. If you can, ask them for form E301/U1 before you return to the UK and keep it in case you need it. If you do claim contribution-based JSA, give form E301/U1 to the Jobcentre Plus office dealing with your claim. But note that form E301/U1 does not give you any automatic right to UK contribution-based JSA.

For further information, contact The Pension Service (Directgov). If you are coming to the UK, or coming back here to look for work, you may be able to carry on getting the other EEA country's unemployment benefit in the UK for up to six months. To get it, you must:

You can only be paid the other country's unemployment benefit for the time that you are registered, unless you fall sick. As long as you register before the end of seven days after you were last registered with the employment services of the other country, you may normally carry on getting your unemployment benefit without a break in your entitlement.

To get another EEA country's unemployment benefit in the UK, you will need form E303/U2. Ask for it in the country you are about to leave. Make sure that you do everything that you need to do to follow the rules before you leave. If you do not, you may lose benefit.

Give form U2 or the documentation the jobcentre in your country of former work has given you to the Jobcentre Plus office at which you wish to register for work claim benefit in the UK.