Moving to Denmark? Here is the ultimate guide to unemployment insurance in Denmark – everything you need to know before moving.

In Denmark, unemployment insurance is your responsibility. Unlike other social benefits, you do not automatically receive unemployment benefits, and you must proactively acquire unemployment insurance before you are left without a job.

You obtain unemployment insurance by signing up with one of the 24 unemployment insurance funds that exist in Denmark. These unemployment insurance funds are called “a-kasser” in Danish.

Unemployment insurance funds are private organizations, but they all operate under the same regulations that are passed into law by the Danish state. Thus, the Danish state disburses unemployment benefits, but the private unemployment insurance funds manage the rules and regulations.

Overview of the guide

Who can sign up with an unemployment insurance fund in Denmark?

To become a member of an unemployment insurance fund in Denmark, you must be at least 18 years old and be at most two years younger than the retirement age. You also must have an address and reside in Denmark, or work in Denmark while residing in another European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) country.

This means you must be legally entitled to live and work in Denmark. Depending on your nationality, you may need to obtain a residence permit and a work permit.

You are automatically entitled to live and work in Denmark if you are a citizen of the Nordic countries, the EU, the EEA or Switzerland. Thus, you do not need to obtain residence and work permits before entering Denmark.

Residence and work permits for citizens from outside the Nordic region, the EU/EEA or Switzerland

If you are a citizen of a country outside the Nordic region, the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you must apply for a residence permit and a work permit before you enter Denmark. There are a number of different residence and work permit programs to apply for. Some you can apply for yourself, and some must be handled by your future employer.

For example, there is a pay limit program you can apply for if you have been offered a job in Denmark with a yearly wage of at least 417.793,60 Danish kroner. There is a positive list program that lists professions in Denmark with a shortage of qualified professionals and a start-up program if you want to start your own company based on an innovative business idea.

You can find a list of all the residence and work permit programs at nyidanmark.dk/You-want-to-apply (english version).

Remember that you also need to apply for a residence permit and a work permit if you plan on doing volunteer work in Denmark. The application process for residence and work permits in Denmark usually lasts from one to three months.

You can get more information and apply for a residence and work permit to Denmark at nyidanmark.dk (english version).

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Unemployment benefits

You are entitled to unemployment benefits in Denmark if you meet all the following requirements:

  • You are a member of an unemployment insurance fund.
  • You have been a member for at least one year.
  • You fulfill the employment or income requirement (see the next section).

Employment or income requirement

To be entitled to unemployment benefits, you must meet either the employment or income requirement. Which one you need to fulfill depends on whether you previously received unemployment benefits in Denmark.

If you are new to the unemployment benefit system in Denmark, you have to meet the income requirement. The income requirement states that within the last three years you must have had a registered income of at least 228.348 Danish kroner (as full-time insured) or 152.232 Danish kroner (as part-time insured). Otherwise, you are not entitled to unemployment benefits.

The income requirement also limits how much of your monthly salary you can register each month. Full-time insured members can register 19.029 Danish kroner per month. Part-time insured members can register 12.686 Danish kroner per month. This ensures that all individuals, regardless of how high their salary is, have to work for at least 12 months before they are entitled to unemployment benefits.

To requalify for unemployment benefits you have to meet the employment requirement. The employment requirement states that full-time insured members must register at least 1.924 hours of work within a period of three years. Part-time insured members must register at least 1.258 hours of work within three years.

Full-time or part-time insurance

When you register with an unemployment insurance fund, you need to decide if you want full-time or part-time insurance. Your decision will affect how much money you can obtain in unemployment benefits, how many hours of work you must apply for in case of unemployment, as well as how much you pay in membership fees each month.

If you are a full-time insured member, you must apply for full-time jobs if you become unemployed. In Denmark, this means jobs with a 37-hour work week. If you are a part-time insured member, you only have to apply for part-time jobs for up to 30 hours of work per week.

Your monthly membership fee for the unemployment insurance fund is higher with full-time insurance, but so is the unemployment benefit rate you can obtain in case of unemployment. The highest unemployment benefit rates for full-time and part-time insurance are listed later in this guide.

Transferring periods of insurance and employment from another country (only EU/EEA and Swiss citizens)

You can transfer periods of insurance and employment from your home country, if you are a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland. To transfer your seniority, you have to meet all the following requirements:

  • You must begin working and register with an unemployment insurance fund in Denmark, no later than eight weeks after you terminate your unemployment insurance in your home country
  • You must register 296 hours of work in Denmark, within a period of three months (148 hours for part-time insured members)

How to claim your unemployment benefits

You need to complete three steps before you can claim unemployment benefits:

  1. First day of unemployment: Create a profile on jobnet.dk, list yourself as unemployed, and indicate at least one job preference. You use your NEM ID to sign up.
  2. Every week: Log in to your profile and check your latest job listings. You must do this at least every seventh day.
  3. Two weeks after your first day of unemployment (no later): Upload your CV to your profile and make it accessible, so companies can find you. Your unemployment insurance fund will check and approve your CV.

In addition to these steps, there are additional requirements you must fulfill at all times. These requirements make certain that you are available to the Danish labor market. To be available to the Danish labor market, you must:

  • Actively apply for work*
  • Be a legal resident and remain in Denmark. You can leave the country only if you return the same day; otherwise, you must get approval beforehand from your job center
  • Be able to take a job with a day’s notice
  • Be able to appear at meetings and courses within a day’s notice of your call-in
  • Make your own appointments within specified deadlines. You will usually receive a text message with the deadline
  • Participate in courses and other offerings that increase your chances of employment

*You will make a plan with your unemployment insurance fund and your local job center for how many jobs you must apply for each week, as well as what kind of work you should apply for.

Unemployment benefit rates for 2018

Your personal unemployment benefit rate is calculated based on your income from the last 24 months. The 12 months in which you registered the highest salary will be used as the references.

You will receive 90 percent of your previous salary in unemployment benefits, but never more than the highest unemployment benefit rate. The highest unemployment benefit rate is determined by the Danish state and is regulated once a year at the beginning of the year. The highest unemployment benefit rates for 2018 are:

Full-time insurance: 18.633 Danish kroner per month before taxes
Part-time insurance: 12.422 Danish kroner per month before taxes

To obtain the highest unemployment benefit rate as a full-time insured member, you must have had a previous salary with a gross income of at least 22.505 Danish kroner per month.

Wage guarantee “lønsikring”

If you have a high monthly salary, it is likely that the highest unemployment benefit rate is not enough for you to maintain your daily life if you lose your job. You can purchase extra unemployment insurance if this is the case. This extra unemployment insurance is called “lønsikring” in Danish.

It is private insurance you obtain through your unemployment insurance fund, your bank or your regular insurance company. The rules and rates of the insurance depend on your provider, as this insurance is not regulated by the state. This means you can obtain a higher monthly payout in case of unemployment. Generally, you will receive between 80 to 90 percent of your previous salary, and the maximum rate is much higher than the highest unemployment benefit rate.

New residency requirement in 2019

In 2019, the Danish government will add a new residency requirement to the unemployment insurance system. The new residency requirement states that you must have been a resident in Denmark (or another EU/EEA country) for at least seven out of the last eight years, in order to be entitled to unemployment benefits.

This law will drastically limit the possibility of receiving unemployment benefits for foreigners. The exact details of the law are not yet known, but there will be a transition period lasting until 2021. As soon as the technicalities of the new requirements are available to the public, the information will be accessible on this page.

Unemployment insurance funds and unions in Denmark

Most of the unemployment insurance funds in Denmark are closely connected to a union. Often, the union and the unemployment insurance fund are housed under the same roof by the same brand. You will likely be asked to sign up with the union when you register with the unemployment insurance fund and vice versa, but it is important to remember that you are not obligated to do so.

In Denmark, you can freely choose if you want to be a member of a union, an unemployment insurance fund or both, and you can choose one union and a different unemployment insurance fund if you want. However, bear in mind that some unions restrict their admission based on your profession.

You should also be aware that in certain workplaces in Denmark unionized workers have a strong presence. This could mean that all your fellow employees are organized under the same union and that they will expect you to be the same. If this is the case, you will most likely be reminded by your coworkers when you begin your job.

Useful links

Work in Denmark – workindenmark.dk
New to Denmark – nyidanmark.dk
Denmark – Unemployment benefit – europa.eu
Unemployment benefit (Danish) – borger.dk
Law on unemployment insurance (Danish) – retsinformation.dk