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Returning from work abroad – how to claim unemployment benefit

I am returning from abroad – what to consider in advance

The number of Slovak citizens returning from abroad, mainly from European Union (EU) Member States, has increased recently. While looking for a job in Slovakia, they register with the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family and apply for unemployment benefit either at a Social Security Agency branch using the form ‘Application for unemployment benefit’ or with the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family as part of an application for registration as a jobseeker. This may cause a problem, namely, if someone has worked and paid contributions abroad, but applies for benefits in Slovakia, the Social Security Agency must request the following: 1/ proof of periods of insurance abroad, 2/ if the insured person provides proof, then there is a verification of the ‘centre of interests’. This effectively means that the insured person’s economic, family and social ties with Slovakia during their work and stay abroad are verified. If this cannot be verified, the Slovak State cannot grant unemployment benefit and insured persons must then apply in the country where they previously worked. This entails travel costs, takes time and causes additional inconvenience, and of course, it causes dissatisfaction among our citizens. The number of these cases is increasing as the number of returning citizens increases. Therefore, it is important to follow the right procedure when returning to Slovakia in order to avoid such problems.

Citizens working abroad should bear in mind, before deciding to return to Slovakia and applying for unemployment benefit, that they are subject to the social security legislation of the country where they are working. This means that, as concerns their obligations and entitlement to benefits, they are subject to the legislation of the country where they pay/have paid social security contributions. Therefore, they should apply for unemployment benefit in the country where they have been working before returning to Slovakia. Subsequently, once such an application for benefits is accepted, they can apply for the transfer of these benefits to Slovakia after a certain time interval. Then, while receiving the benefit, they can start looking for a new job in Slovakia.

In view of the mistakes that can be made when dealing with a move from one EU country to another, which often make life more difficult for our citizens, we recommend that, before taking this serious and long-term decision, they check the whole procedure with the Social Security Agency (see contact below).


Rules to make your life easier when you return

Slovak citizens who wish to stop working abroad and move back to Slovakia often want to receive unemployment benefit in the intermediate period when making arrangements and jobseeking. If they meet all the legal conditions in the EU country where they worked, they are entitled to it in that country. Remember that the basic requirement for entitlement to benefits is to have lived and worked in that country legally. If they wish to receive unemployment benefit after they finish working abroad (irrespective of whether or not they have ceased work of their own volition), they should respect the following rules:


Rule 1: Always apply for unemployment benefit in the EU country where you worked

This is due not only to the European legislation requiring this, but, above all, to the fact that it is faster and easier for claimants. This is mainly due to two factors: 1/ Their social security records are kept by the country where they worked and paid contributions. 2/ If applying for unemployment benefit in the country of last employment, there is no need to deal with the ‘centre of interests’ process, which is examined when an insured person who has worked abroad applies for benefits in Slovakia.


Rule 2: Stay in the country of work for at least 4 weeks or apply for a reduction to that time limit and then deal with the transfer of the benefits

Once you are entitled to unemployment benefit in the country where you were last employed, you should be available to the ‘employment services’, i.e. remain registered with the employment office in the EU country that pays you the benefits for at least 4 weeks. This is an important condition for allowing benefits to be transferred to another EU Member State later.

The 4-week time limit may be shortened if you request it. The institution in the other EU Member State may shorten this period and permit the transfer of the benefit earlier if there are specific reasons for doing so (these reasons are assessed individually by each institution).

Within the European Union (27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), you have the right to go to another EU country to look for work there while receiving unemployment benefit from the country where you became unemployed. The benefit can therefore also be transferred to Slovakia, where you are seeking a new job.

In this case, the relevant institution of the other Member State where you became entitled to unemployment benefit will validate the relevant form (PD U2) and allow the transfer of the unemployment benefit.

For the transfer of the employment benefit to be allowed, once you return to Slovakia, you must register with the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family within the time limit set by the relevant institution of the EU Member State where you gained entitlement to unemployment benefit. You then need to submit the PD U2 form to the Social Security Agency. The Social Security Agency will issue and send the relevant form confirming the date of entry in the jobseekers register and your address in Slovakia to the relevant institution of the Member State which you left and which authorised the transfer of unemployment benefit.

Unemployment benefit will continue to be paid by the Member State institution where you became entitled to unemployment benefit. However, you will have obligations towards the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family in Slovakia. Should any circumstances arise which might affect your entitlement to unemployment benefit, the relevant branch of the Social Security Agency will inform the institution of the Member State paying the unemployment benefit. Such circumstances include, for example, carrying out work as an employee, incapacity for work, etc. The effect of these circumstances on entitlement to benefit will be assessed by the institution paying the benefit.


Rule 3: Bring back all proof of work/social insurance periods abroad

It is equally important to retain proof of periods of work and thus periods of social insurance abroad. It may be difficult to prove work abroad at a later stage, in particular seasonal employment. It is therefore necessary to obtain individual confirmations of social insurance periods, which will make the position easier for citizens not only in relation to the Social Security Agency, but also other institutions of the EU Member States.

Supporting documents could be, for example, an E104 form (confirmation of a sickness insurance period), a PD U1 form (confirmation of an unemployment insurance period) or an employment contract. In the future, these documents will help you claim your individual benefits (sickness, unemployment, pension benefits) in Slovakia.


In the event of other questions and uncertainties, we recommend that citizens inform themselves in advance at a branch of the Social Security Agency, at the Information and Advice Centre by telephone on 0906 171 989 or 02 3247 1989, by email via the Question Form on the website or by searching for information on the Social Security Agency website (e.g. under the Unemployment benefit and the European Union section).