Applying for voluntary unemployment insurance Unfortunately this specification of service has not yet been completely translated.
If you are not compulsorily insured under the unemployment insurance scheme, you may apply for insurance on a voluntary basis under certain conditions.
You can take out voluntary unemployment insurance if:
- You are self-employed and work at least 15 hours a week.
- You work outside the EU, the EEA or Switzerland for at least 15 hours a week.
- You are on parental leave under Section 15 of the Federal Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act (BEEG). This concerns, in particular, parents of children from multiple births or children born in quick succession (resulting in the parental leave for one child overlapping with the end of parental leave for another child), or parents who adopt a child over 3, who foster a child, or with whom a child is provisionally placed for adoption.
- You are undergoing continuing vocational training that will enhance your career prospects, give you a professional qualification or enable you to change careers.
The monthly contribution rate currently lies between EUR 40.43 and EUR 91.35 (2018).
If you are self-employed:
In the first year of starting your business and in the following calendar year (known as the "start-up phase"), you will only pay half of the contribution rate, unless you repeatedly interrupt your self-employment, for example, for weather-related reasons. Once the start-up phase is over, you will pay the full contribution. The exact amount of your contribution will depend on the field in which you work.
If you give up your self-employment and have signed up for voluntary unemployment insurance, you must demonstrate your commitment to finding employment as soon as possible. Former self-employed persons must therefore be willing to take up salaried employment just like everyone else, meaning you will be expected to find a new job.
If you work abroad:
If you are working abroad on secondment, i.e. you are temporarily working in a foreign company on behalf of your German employer, the employment relationship continues to be subject to German social security legislation, meaning that you will not be able to take out voluntary unemployment insurance.
If, alongside your self-employment, you are employed outside Europe and have compulsory insurance there, then the compulsory insurance in that country takes precedence. Voluntary unemployment insurance under German law may therefore not be taken out in this case.
- ID card or Passport and registration certificate, residence permit, work permit
- Social security card
- Work certificate
- Termination letter / employment contract
Can I do it online? No
Do I need to do it in writing? Yes
Do I need to attend in person? No
- You were compulsorily insured for at least 12 months (either continuously or in aggregate through multiple jobs) in the 2 years prior to becoming self-employed, taking up employment abroad, or starting parental leave or continuing vocational training.
- You were entitled to income replacement benefits under the Social Code Book III (SGB III) immediately before becoming self-employed, taking up work abroad, or starting parental leave or continuing vocational training (e.g. unemployment benefits, but not unemployment benefit II, known as "Hartz 4").
Social Code Book III (SGB III)
Information on the voluntary unemployment insurance scheme (in German)
You can apply for the voluntary unemployment insurance scheme in writing using the appropriate form.
- Download and print the form.
- Complete the form and enclose the necessary supporting documents.
- Submit the application to the Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit).
- You will be notified of the decision by post. The letter will also contain your monthly contribution rate. The voluntary unemployment insurance scheme will begin on the date on which the requirements are first met (in some cases this may apply retroactively).
Responsible for the content
Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit)
Last update or date of publication