Unemployment benefits

In Denmark, you must apply for unemployment benefits if you become unemployed.
The first thing you must do is to register as a job seeker (unemployed) on your first day of unemployment.
You can do this at your local job centre or online on jobnet.dk.
Secondly you must fill out a document called "ledighedserklæring" in your A-kasse's online self-service (requires login).
You can also download the document and send it to the A-kasse.
In this way you have performed the first important steps to begin to receive "dagpenge".

You will get an answer from the A-kasse within few days, where they tell they have accepted your application for "dagpenge" or maybe need some extra information. You will be approved for "dagpenge" from the day you were registered as unemployed at Jobnet.dk

You must be actively seeking employment and willing to accept offers of employment when you are unemployed and receiving unemployment benefits.

Conditions for entitlement

  • You must have been member of an unemployment insurance fund (A-kasse) for at least one year.
  • You can take work with one day's notice. This requires that there are no factual or legal obstacles for you to legally take work.
    For foreign nationals, this means that the person must have the right to reside and work in Denmark. Read more about this below.
  • You must have earned/have had a gross income of at least DKK 243,996 (amount applicable in 2021) during the last 3 years (in total) for full-time insured or DKK 162,660 if you are part-time insured. This requirement is called "Indkomstkravet".

However about the last requirement - to have earned DKK 243,996 - you must be aware that only income obtained during membership periods of an A-kasse can be included.
And regardless of what your monthly income is, you can only count a maximum of DKK 20,333 per month.
This means that regardless of how high salary you have, you always need to have been working for at least 1 year for being eligible for Unemployment benefits ("Dagpenge"). 12x20,333=243,996.

If you earn less than DKK 20,333 in some months it means that it will take longer time for you to qualify for Unemployment benefits, because it will take more than 12 months to reach the income requirement of DKK 243,996.

The income requirement only affects first time unemployed. If you have been unemployed before and need to earn a new unemployment benefit period, the income requirement is replaced by an employment requirement (in danish: "Beskæftigelseskravet"), which means that you must work 1.924 hours before you can start a new 2 years period with benefits ("dagpenge").

Special rules for graduates

People who have just finished their education can use their degree to count as employment/income. 1 month of education is equivalent to meeting the income requirement for 1 month. This means that 1 month of education is equal to DKK 20,333.
Read more in our section for Graduates.
Thus, if you join immediately after finishing your education (or have been free member as a student, and now change status to graduate), you automatically meet the income criteria. As mentioned above, the normal "salaried" person who looses his/her job, must have had a minimum income during the last 3 years, for being eligible for Unemployment benefits. But this does not apply for graduates.

Benefits rates and duration

The rate - how much can you get?
Your Unemployment benefits ("Dagpenge") may not exceed 90 per cent of your previous salary and can never be higher than the maximum rate.
As of January 1, 2021 the maximum rate is DKK 19,322 per month for a full-time insured member.

The basis for calculating how much you can get in benefits is your best 12 months with income within the last 24 months.
If you have not had 12 months with income in the last 24 months, your A-kasse will calculate your benefits on basis of all months with income within the 24-month period.

The rate for graduates is a little lower, and also depending on whether the graduate has dependent children or not. See our special guide for graduates.

Period of unemployment benefits and possibility of extension of period
As a general rule, a member has a right to unemployment benefits for a maximum of two years in total within a 3 year period.

Benefits are paid according to a fixed number of hours. Unemployment benefits will be paid per calendar month and is granted for up to 160.33 hours a month.
You only use your unemployment benefits for the hours you are actually paid.

Since 2017 it is possible to extend the period for which you can get unemployment benefits up to 3 years. This is done by working.
Every 1 hour of work gives you 2 hours more of benefits in the last end. Or in other words - one month's work gives two extra months of unemployment benefit.
The A-kasse keeps track of your working hours in your employment account (in Danish "Beskæftigelsekontoen").
Your employment account should be available when you are logged in to either Jobnet.dk or your A-kasse's member pages.

Please note: no matter which A-kasse you join, you always get the same amount in unemployment benefits.

The right to unemployment benefits ceases two years before you are entitled to pension.

Reductions in dagpenge

Work will reduce your amount of benefits
The amount of dagpenge you receive is reduced if you pick up any freelance or other type of part-time employment while unemployed.
You should be aware that even volunteer work can in some circumstances result in reduction in the benefits (dagpenge) you receive.
However it is seen more often these days, when volunteer work has become so popular that the A-kasse will accept it and still pay you full benefits.
BUT you must check your A-kasse’s rules to find out these particular details.
And you should always tell your A-kasse about any kind of jobs you get, also volunteer work.

Reduction due to quarantine and extensive use of the unemployment benefit system
When you receive unemployment benefits, there is a risk of 1 day quarantine and 1 month shortening of the unemployment benefit period.

  • 1 day quarantine
    When you are unemployed, the A-kasse will investigate every 4 months how many working hours you have had during the past four months.
    If you have been working for 148 hours or less, you will get 1 day quarantine, which means that you will receive 7.4 hours less paid in the subsequent payment of unemployment benefits. The A-kasse must not count working hours from work with wage subsidies ("løntilskud") or business practice ("virksomhedspraktik").
  • 1 month shortening of unemployment benefit period
    From 1 July 2017, the member's unemployment benefit period will be shortened if the person concerned has received unemployment benefits for a total of 7,696 hours for full-time insured in the last 96 months. This is the same as 4 years with dagpenge within a period of 8 years.
    The shortening is done by 160.33 hours for a full-time insured.

Right to reside and work in Denmark

Nationals of an EEA country

Nationals of an EEA country and Switzerland are treated as nationals of an EU country.
So, if you are from another EEA country or Switzerland you have the same rights as Danish citizens, including the right to reside and work in Denmark.
As an EU national you generally don't need a work permit to work anywhere in the EU.

In relation to unemployment benefits:
As a migrant worker in the EU - employed or self-employed - you should register with the social security system in your host country.
You and your dependants will then be covered by that country's social security system. Your benefits related to sickness, family, unemployment, pensions, occupational accidents and diseases, early retirement and death will be determined by the local laws.

The A-kasse where you claim benefits must take into account all the periods you've worked and all the contributions you've paid to the unemployment insurance scheme in your own EU/EEA country.
However you must have applied for membership at a Danish Unemployment Insurance Fund (A-kasse) within 8 weeks after ceasing to have unemployment insurance in the other country.
Read more at the bottom of this page about transferring periods of employment and unemployment insurance between EEA countries.
You can also read more about this here: "Your Europe" (europe.eu).

Are You a cross-border commuter, posted worker or work in several EU-countries?
See guide here to find out if you are covered by the Danish social security rules.

NON-EU/EEA citizens

For NON-EU/EEA citizens it will in most cases be indicated in the person's residence card if he/she has a residence and work permit in Denmark.
Non-EU/EEA citizens should be aware that some residence-cards only give right to reside, not to work. In this case you will not be able to take job with one day notice, and therefore can not get unemployment benefits.

However other types of residence-cards include right to reside and work, including Asylum, Family reunification, Humanitarian stay, Greencard, Accompanying family for greencard holders, Establisment Card, Accompanying family for Establisment Card holders and Permanent residence permit.
If you have other kind of residence-basis here in Denmark, you must ask the authorities and A-kasse about your rights.
Especially if you have been granted your residence and working permit only for a specific job, you must be aware that if you want to take another job or stop working, you must seek for new residence and working permit.
If you have this kind of permit (only for a specific job) you will not be able to collect Unemployment benefits.
This applies because you can not stay in Denmark any longer, if you should lose your job, before the contract ends, and you can not expect to get a new work-permit from day to day if you find a new job. Therefore you do not meet the requirement of being able to take work with 1-days notice.

Job search stay
Please note, that some work permits (for example work-permits with a specific employer, based on a mimimum salary or fast-track scheme) allow you to stay 3-6 months after losing your job in order to look for another job. However in this "job-search" period your permit does normally not allow you to work, and therefore you can not claim unemployment benefits in the jobsearch period.
In general we recommend that you read your work-permit carefully and find out what it says about your right to work after your job ends.

If NON-EU/EEA citizens begins a job search stay and are covered by the "job change rule", they can start work as soon as they apply for a new work permit at SIRI.dk.

Read more about jobsearch-period in our Q&A-forum.

If you find another job
You must submit a new application for a residence and work permit if you find another place of work or if the content of your position changes.

If you take up or are offered new employment, you may remain in the country and continue to work until the Public Authority (SIRI) have decided whether they can issue a new permit to work with the new employer, provided you apply for a residence permit on the basis of the new offer of employment while your current residence permit is still valid.
If you are covered by the "job change rule" you can start in a new job before you have received a new residence and work permit. All you have to do is submit your new application on the same day as you are going to start your new job at the latest.

Transferring unemployment benefits

If you plan to travel to another EEA country to seek work, to work or while being unemployed, you must contact your unemployment insurance fund for information and guidance before you go.
You can only be covered by the unemployment insurance system in one EEA country (EEA countries = EU member countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) at a time. The main rule is that you have to be covered by the unemployment insurance system of the country in which you work.

Searching for a job within the EEA?
If you travel to a country within the EEA to search for work, you can still receive Danish unemployment benefits for up to three months. However, you must have been registered as unemployed with your Jobcenter four weeks prior to your departure.
You also need to get a special dokument ("PD-U2") from your A-kasse before you leave, but not earlier than four weeks before the scheduled departure date.
This document entitles you to take your benefits with you.

You can read more in our special article about transferring unemployment benefits in EU.

Transferring rights from another EEA country

As an EU/EEA citizen it is possible to transfer earned rights (working time, income and insurance periods) when you move between EU/EEA-countries. In this way you will keep your already obtained rights. We have made a special article dealing with this topic. You can find it here.

New to the unemployment benefit system? Guide to the most important aspects made by "MA A-kasse", 2020.


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