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Member of an unemployment insurance fund (A-kasse)

Understanding whether to join an A-kasse or not

Understanding a-kasse is relatively simple but it’s important to know the primary rules and how they pertain to you as a non-Dane.

Joining an a-kasse ONLY makes sense if you will be able to gain benefit from paying the membership fee, i.e whether you will be eligible for Unemployment benefits.

Until recently (december 2018), this could be determined by checking if you met the general requirements and if you had a work permit, that allowed you to work full time in Denmark.
However, the danish Parliament adopted on December 20, 2018 a new rule, that sets a further condition for ALL persons (danish citizens, EU/EEA citizens, non EU citizens, graduates) for being eligible for unemployment benefits. From 1. of january 2019 only people who have stayed in Denmark, Greenland, Faroe Islands or another EU/EEA country in 7 out of the last 12 years can claim Unemployment benefits ("Dagpenge").

However the new rule will be phased in over 3 years, so in 2019 you only need to have stayed 5 out of the last 12 years in Denmark or another EU/EEA country.

So, in relation to whether you are entitled to unemployment benefit ("Dagpenge") after January 1, 2019 there can be difference depending on whether you are an EU/EEA or non-EU/EEA citizen, particulary in two ways:

  • requirement for stay in Denmark or another EU/EEA country for 7 out of the last 12 years (This will apply starting from 1 January 2019, however in 2019 the requirement is only 5 out of the last 12 years), and the
  • requirement for work-permit

Read more about the new rule from January 1, 2019
You can read more about this new requirement from january 1, 2019 in our special article addressing this.
You can also see our comprehensive Q&A-forum regarding this new rule.

Work permit

Joining an a-kasse ONLY makes sense if you are from an EU/EEA country/Switzerland or your right to reside in Denmark extends beyond your job contract.
If you are EU/EEA citizen you are always allowed to live and work full time in Denmark, this is a right you have according to the EU-legislation.
If you come from a non-EU/EEA country and your residency in Denmark is tied strictly to your work permit, it makes no sense to pay into an a-kasse as you will forfeit any rights to collect unemployment benefits if you have to leave the country right after losing your job.

Please note, that some work permits allow you to stay 3-6 months after losing your job in order to look for another job.
In this "job-search" period your permit does not allow you to work. This requires a new work-permit. However if you have applied for a new work-permit before the current one has expired, then you are allowed to work in Denmark in the waiting-period, in where your case is processed. If this is the case, then you also can get Unemployment benefits (assuming that you meet the general requirements).

If you come from a non-EU/EEA country, you need to be sure what your work permit states before you begin to invest in unemployment insurance. An Establishment Card or other residence permit may also allow you to stay in the country after losing a job – check and make sure!

How to apply?

Everything is done online. Follow these steps to sign up for membership of an A-kasse:
1. At the overview-page find the A-kasse you have chosen
2. Click on the button named "Sign Up here" to be directed to the A-kasse's website, where you can Sign Up online.
3. You will be directed to online-formular at the A-kasse's website. If you are not directed directly to online-formular, then at the A-kasse website choose menu often called "Bliv medlem".
4. After have filled out the formular you will receive mail-confirmation from the A-kasse.

You should follow the same process regardless of you are a first time member or you want to change from another A-kasse.
If you are currently a member in another A-kasse, and want to change to another, you just have to sign Up with the new one. You should NOT cancel membership in the old A-kasse, before you have got confirmation from the new A-kasse.
Your old A-kasse and the new A-kasse will cooperate to exchange all information about you, including your earned rights (membership and working periods).
In this way you will not lose your earned rights when changing A-kasse. And you will not pay double fee. The old A-kasse will return your prepaid fee for period after you change membership to the new.

The cost of membership varies depending on how much a-kassen have of expenses to administration.
Membership fees per moth is from DKK 438 (for the cheapest) to DKK 591 (for the most expensive).

It is important to know that you get exactly the same rights to unemployment benefits if you choose the cheapest A-kasse, as you do when choosing the more expensive.
It is because in Denmark you rights are secured and under control by the State and you also getting the unemployment payments from the Danish State.

You can become a member of an unemployment insurance fund if you are between 18 and until 2 years before you reach your old age pension age and reside in Denmark.
You can be full-time or part-time insured.

In addition, you must either:

1. Have paid work.
If you choose to join an "Open for everyone/multidisciplinary" A-kasse, see list here, then your profession is irrelevant as these A-kasser are open for everyone.
If you work within a profession covered by a special A-kasse, you can choose this but you are not obliged to.
Some of the specialised A-kasser are more expensive (some cheaper) than the multidisciplinary A-kasser.
Remember in Denmark you have exactly the same rights regarding getting unemployment benefits, no matter what A-kasse you choose to join.
As an employee, you cannot become a member of the insurance fund until the day that you commence working.

You can live (have your residence) in another EU/EEA country and still being eligible for membership of a Danish Unemployment Fund. Read more here about being comprised by the Danish social security rules.

2. Be a business-owner or help run your spouse's business.

3. Have completed an education of at least 18 months in duration and applied for membership of the unemployment insurance fund no later than two weeks after completion of your studies.
We provide a special guide for graduates.

4. Is studying in Denmark.
As a student you can have up to 5 years of FREE membership of an A-kasse.
We strongly advice you to join an A-kasse as soon as possible, because you will earn about DKK 13,489 (DKK 15,470 if you have dependent children) and get other benefits, see our special guide for students.

Source: International House North Denmark
You can read more about this subject in the brochure "Working in Denmark".