Unemployment insurance (UI) in the EEA Area and Switzerland

Status: June 1, 2012

Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 coming into force on May 1, 2010 applies to all persons having been employed in the EU Area and then drawing unemployment insurance benefits or looking for work in an EU country other than the one where they are receiving their payments while being subject to public unemployment insurance. This means that this Regulation applies to Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, the UK, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden and Spain as well as to the 'new EU accession countries', i.e. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania.The same rules have to be applied to Switzerland beginning on April 1, 2012, and to Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein beginning on June 1, 2012.

Drawing Austrian unemployment benefits while looking for work in the EEA Area and Switzerland
Depending on certain conditions, you may have the right to look for work in the EU area while continuing to draw Austrian unemployment benefits. Before moving abroad, however, you are required to reach an agreement regarding this matter with your regional Public Employment Service office which will also provide you with the necessary documents for the public employment authorities abroad.

To be eligible for such an exportation of benefits, you must have been officially available for public job placement in Austria for a minimum period of four weeks without finding employment and register with the competent public employment authorities in the country where you are looking for work within one week after the agreed date. As soon as the AMS is notified by the foreign public employment authorities that your registration has been accepted, your benefits will be released for payment. Any such exportation of benefits is limited to a maximum period of 3 months but may end at a correspondingly earlier date if your unemployment benefit entitlement period is less than 3 months ('maximum entitlement period').

Example:
You have been granted an unemployment entitlement for a period of 20 weeks. After having drawn unemployment benefits for 12 weeks, you decide to move to Germany to continue looking for work there. In this case, you are entitled to an exportation of 8 weeks of benefits while looking for work abroad.

If you do not find any employment in the country where you are looking for work, it is imperative that you return to Austria before the three-month period mentioned above (or
before your 'maximum entitlement period', as the case may be) expires; otherwise, you will lose any further entitlements. Your employment search period can only be extended again after your return. If you have exhausted your original three-month benefits exportation entitlement, you may be entitled an additional maximum period of three months (i.e. an overall maximum of six months) in a second Stage, always provided that certain conditions
are met.
While looking for work abroad, your benefits will continue to be paid by the Austrian AMS provided that the public employment authorities of the relevant country have notified the AMS on time of your registration with these authorities as a person looking for work.

Please note: It is imperative that you apply for any such exportation of Austrian entitlements in person at your regional Public Employment Service (AMS) office prior to moving abroad.

Drawing unemployment benefits from the EEA Area or Switzerland while looking for work in Austria
If you wish to continue to draw unemployment benefits from the EEA Area or from Switzerland while looking for work in Austria, it is the simplest and safest for you to be able to submit the so-called Portable Document U2 filled in and confirmed by the relevant foreign insurer when making an appointment with the competent regional Public Employment Service office in Austria. This document includes all data concerning registration as a person looking for work for the
relevant period of benefit importation into Austria as well as the deadline for registering with the regional Austrian Public Employment Service office. Foreign insurers will be notified by the AMS of any such registration without delay, enabling your insurer abroad to release your benefit payments to you.

Aggregation of insurance periods from EEA Area employment, or employment in Switzerland
Unemployment benefit eligibility requirements are always subject to national law. In order to determine eligibility and benefit periods, all insurance periods resulting from employment and completed within the EEA area or Switzerland will be added to the Austrian insurance periods provided that you have been employed in Austria for a minimum of one day while also being subject to mandatory public unemployment insurance.
If you were employed as a cross-border worker before applying for benefits, no minimum employment period for the country of residence will be required for such an aggregation of insurance periods from different EEA countries or Switzerland. When determining eligibility in Austria, periods of self-employment subject to mandatory public unemployment insurance will also be taken into consideration.
If you are planning to move to a country in the EEA area or Switzerland and require a document confirming insurance periods accumulated in Austria, you may request such an official confirmation electronically. Incidentally, please note that your entitlement will be determined in accordance with the relevant national regulations of the EEA countries or Switzerland in question.

Note: If you wish to apply for the exportation of an Austrian entitlement while looking for work in another EEA country or Switzerland, however, you are absolutely required to make an appointment with your regional Public Employment Service office prior to moving abroad.