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Who is eligible for Danish unemployment benefits?

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
Who is eligible for Danish unemployment benefits?
One of the requirements to receive a payout from A-Kasse is to be registered as a jobseeker at your local job centre or Photo: Mathias Eis/Ritzau Scanpix

What are the rules for unemployment benefits if you lose your job in Denmark?


If you become unemployed in Denmark you may be eligible for unemployment benefits comprising up to 90 percent of your previous salary.

This benefit, known as dagpenge, comes from membership of a private association known as an A-kasse, short for arbejdsløshedskasse, and doesn't automatically apply if you lose your job. You have to fulfil some requirements first in order to be eligible.

What is an A-Kasse?

Unemployment insurance in Denmark is voluntary so employees in Denmark are not automatically insured against unemployment. Instead, unemployment benefits are administered by private unemployment insurance funds known as A-kasser.

A-kasser are private associations that have been authorised by the Danish state to administer unemployment benefits. There are more than 20 A-kasser in Denmark which have different membership fees, specialisations, internal rules and membership benefits. You can choose either full-time of part-time membership and members pay a tax-deductible monthly fee.

If you are not an A-kasse member and become unemployed, your income will rely on the much more basic state benefit kontanthjælp.


Who can join an A-kasse?

To join an A-kasse, you have to be at least 18 years of age (or have completed a vocational education of at least 18 months), have more than two years left before reaching retirement age, and reside in Denmark. 

Danish nationals, EU/EEA nationals and third country nationals are eligible to join an A-kasse.

It should be noted that a residence permit issued for the purpose of work is likely to be withdrawn if the person holding the residence permit no longer is employed. In that case, third country nationals can apply for a job search permit (jobsøgningstilladelse).

READ ALSO: How can a work permit holder stay in Denmark after losing a job?

A condition for a job search permit, which gives six months to stay and search for a job in Denmark, is that you have been out of work through no fault of your own (uforskyldt ledig). For others, you can still receive unemployment benefits if you quit your job.


What are the requirements to receive unemployment benefits through A-Kasse?

  • Be a member of an A-kasse for at least 12 months. 
  • Be registered as a jobseeker at your local job centre or from the first day you are able to work.
  • Have received a certain income for the past 3 years; at least 254,328 kroner (2023) if you are full-time insured, and at least 169,548 kroner (2023) if you are part-time insured.
  • Be available to start work immediately. 
  • Have a complete and approved CV no later than 2 weeks after you have registered as unemployed at the job centre.
  • In order to claim the highest amount under the new rules, you must have been an A-kasse member for 4 continuous years and have been in employment for a total of two of the last three years.
  • From May 1st 2023, graduates must have passed the Dansk 2 language test, completed 6th grade at a Danish elementary school or completed a degree in Danish. Otherwise the graduate must have worked 600 hours (400 for part-time insurance) spread across 12 months within the last two years.

How much can you get?

The amount you get is called dagpenge.

The benefit from the insurance is the same in every A-kasse and can amount to a maximum of 90 percent of your previous salary. That percentage is calculated based on the 12 months in which you had the highest income within the past 24 months.

You can receive a maximum of 19,728 kroner per month as full-time insured and 13,152 kroner per month as part-time insured (2023). However a new higher rate has recently been introduced, enabling some job-seekers to claim up to to 23,449 kroner per month for the first three months of their claim.

Lower rates of unemployment benefits may apply to recent graduates (explained below), conscripts, those under 25 years old and unemployed in vocational education and training.

READ ALSO: Dagpenge: How Danish unemployment benefit rules changed on May 1st 2023


Employed or self-employed people can claim:

  • A maximum of 23,449 kroner per month (as of May 1st) for the first three months, followed by the rate below thereafter.
  • A maximum of 19,728 kroner per month as full-time insured and 13,152 kroner per month as part-time insured (2023).
  • The period in which you can claim dagpenge is 2 years within a 3-year period. It is possible to extend the period of 3 years, for example if you have been ill or on maternity leave.
  • To receive the highest amount of 23,449 kroner per month for the first three months, you must have been a member of A-Kasse for 4 continuous years and have been employed for 2 years full time within the previous 3 years and 23,449 kroner must have been at least 90 percent of your previous monthly salary.
  • For people with high salaries above the maximum monthly payouts, it is possible to purchase salary insurance (lønforsikring). This allows members to insure up to 80 percent of their current salary. 

New graduates (who graduate after May 1st and then register as job-seeking), can claim:

  • First three months: 14,106 kroner, or 16,177 kroner for parents solely providing for children.
  • After three months: 9,700 kroner (under 30); 12,253 kroner (over 30), 16,177 (parents solely providing for children).
  • The period in which a new graduate can claim dagpenge is 1 year within a 2-year period.
  • You must also fulfil a language requirement. From May 1st 2023, graduates must have passed the Dansk 2 language test or completed 6th grade at a Danish elementary school or taken a degree in Danish
  • Those without the language level required must have worked 600 hours (400 for part-time insurance) spread across 12 months within the last two years.

Once six months have passed since graduation, the rate can be reassessed, potentially giving a better rate based on it being 90 percent of previous income. You must have worked for at least three months for an income assessment to be made.

As well as financial payments, an A-Kasse also provides help with your new job search, CV and offers career counselling.

READ ALSO: What you need to know if you lose your job in Denmark


What else do I need to know if I'm let go from my job?

If you are covered by the Salaried Employees Act (Funktionærloven), then you are entitled to certain notice periods before any significant change happens to the terms of your employment.

The amount of notice that you are entitled to depends how long you have been in employment and varies from one month's notice (0-6 months of employment) to 6 months' notice (more than 9 years of employment).

The Danish Salaried Employees Act also states that when you have worked at a company for 12 or more years, you are entitled to additional compensation (fratrædelsesgodtgørelse) which is 1 month’s salary after 12 years’ employment and 3 months’ salary after 17 years of employment.

A large proportion of people who work in Denmark are trade union members because work conditions are not protected by Danish law but instead collective bargaining agreements (overenskomster) between trade unions and employers or employer organisations. 

The particular collective agreement upon which your contract is based may be mentioned in your contract, and if it isn’t, you can ask your employer. 

Many unemployment insurance funds in Denmark are closely connected to a trade union and may even be located in the same office and share the same brand. 

Although you may be asked to sign up for a union when you join an A-kasse (or vice versa), it’s not a requirement to join an A-kasse associated with your union or vice versa. Joining both trade unions and unemployment insurance funds are voluntary; you can join one or the other, both, or neither.


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