Information about Brexit: Returnees from the United Kingdom

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Preliminary remarks

On 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union (EU) with a withdrawal agreement.

The withdrawal agreement fully protects the rights of EU citizens residing in the UK at the end of the transition period and the rights of British citizens residing in the EU at the end of the transition period.

On 31 December 2020, the transition period agreed in the withdrawal agreement ended. On 30 December 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom agreed on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which entered into force provisionally on 1 January 2021 and formally on May 1, 2021.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement governs the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom. In addition to provisions on a comprehensive economic partnership, it also contains, among other things, coordination rules on social security.

General Information

The questions and answers relate to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In order to keep the answers as brief as possible, the terms "United Kingdom" or "UK", "British citizens", "British people", "British" and " Britons" are used.

Please note that the answers are for your general information only and cannot provide an exhaustive description of all provisions.

General information on unemployment benefit is available on the website of the Federal Employment Agency under ''Unemployed and finding work'' .

Please note that if you are threatened with unemployment, you must register as unemployed at an early stage in order to avoid disadvantages (blocking period due to late job-search registration) regarding your entitlement to unemployment benefit.

In order to receive unemployment benefit, you must be available to the placement services of your local employment agency ("Agentur für Arbeit"), among others.

As a German or a citizen of another EU member state, you are generally allowed to work in Germany and can therefore generally meet the availability requirement.

Whether your British insurance periods can be taken into account for your German unemployment benefit entitlement depends, among other things, on whether you last worked as a frontier worker in the UK. You were a frontier worker if you commuted to your German place of residence at least once a week during your employment in the UK or had your main place of residence in Germany.

If you were not a frontier worker, your UK insurance periods can be taken into account for a claim to German unemployment benefit if you meet the general eligibility requirements for receiving unemployment benefit and were last subject to compulsory insurance in Germany before registering for unemployment and applying for German unemployment benefit, e.g. due to employment. Without the required German previous insurance period, it is not possible to take your British insurance periods into account. The legal basis for this is - depending on the case - either the Withdrawal Agreement or the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom.

If you last worked as a frontier worker in the United Kingdom, your British insurance periods can be taken into account for a German unemployment benefit claim if, in addition to the general eligibility requirements for receiving unemployment benefit, you meet the requirements of Article 30 of the Withdrawal Agreement. Then Regulations (EC) No. 883/04 and 987/09 on the coordination of social security systems apply to you in full extent

You fulfil the requirements of Articles 30 of the withdrawal agreement if you belong to one of the both following categories of cases:

  • Case group 1: You have been linked to the United Kingdom since 31.12.2020 at the latest. This reference may, in particular, be based on the fact that you have lived or worked in the United Kingdom or that you have been subject to UK social security legislation. The nature of your relationship with the UK may change, for example from living to working. However, it is important that you have been in a situation related to the UK for most of the time up to the date on which you applied for unemployment benefit.
  • Case group 2: You have been living in the UK since 31 December 2020 at the latest and have a right of residence in the UK under the withdrawal agreement ("settled status" or "pre-settled status"). It is important that your right of residence after your return to Germany remains valid until the unemployment benefit you have applied for. Settled status is maintained for up to five years' absence from the UK and pre-settled status for up to six months' absence from the UK per year.

For information on the right of residence in the United Kingdom, please contact the competent authorities in the United Kingdom (for example on the EU Settlement Scheme).

The counselling services offered by the Federal Employment Agency are basically still available to you. You can also contact us from abroad. For this purpose, the Virtual Welcome Centre at the Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit is available to you under the telephone number +49228/713-1313.

Yes, because the place where the work is actually carried out is decisive in determining which legislation applies.

If access to German unemployment insurance depends on the recognition of foreign employment/insurance periods, e.g. in the case of compulsory application insurance ("Antragspflichtversicherung") or compulsory insurance for raising children, the periods completed in the UK can only be taken into account under the same requirements as those applicable to the entitlement to German unemployment benefit.

German nationals returning to Germany from the United Kingdom are entitled to unemployment benefit II if the other requirements are met.

You are in need of help. This means that your financial situation is not sufficient for your livelihood. You are at least 15 years old and have not yet reached the standard retirement age. Your usual place of residence is in Germany and you are fit for work, i.e. you are not permanently unable to work at least 3 hours a day due to illness or disability. Further information on unemployment benefit II can also be found in the fact sheet in our download centre .