Unemployment benefits when abroad


If you accept unemployment benefits you can job-seek in Europe and keep your per diem allowance. Then you will travel overseas with what is referred to as a U2 certificate, which entitles you to receive payments of unemployment benefits for up to three months (however for only so long as your entitlement to unemployment benefits allows) while you are job-seeking in an EEA state. Application forms for U2 certificates are available at the Directorate of Labour offices everywhere in Iceland as well as on the Directorate of Labour website.

The principal requirement for the issuing a U2 certificate is that you have be completely unemployed, that you have received benefits uninterruptedly for four weeks prior to departure and that you have not declined a job offer.

You need to apply for the certificate 3 weeks prior to departure. The certificate's period of validity is 3 months.

Applications for U2 shall be sent to the e-mail address uvottord@vmst.is. 

You must continue to confirm your job-search activities in the same way as before, between the 20th to the 25th day of each month on "My pages" through the Directorate of Labour's website.

Here you can get application forms for U2

U2 - certificate

U2- english

U2 - polish

Application shall be sent to uvottord@vmst.is

If you have applied for and then decided not to use the U2 certificate, you must right away contact the Directorate of Labour with an e-mail to uvottord@vmst.is and announce that you are not going to use the certificate.


  • Citizenship of an EEA state.
  • Entitlement to unemployment benefits in Iceland when leaving the country.
  • That the applicant has been registered continuously, has notified of his availability for employment and received unemployment benefits for at least four weeks prior to the date of departure.
  • That the applicant is completely unemployed.
  • The applicant intends to engage in active job-search abroad.
  • Deadline for the application is 3 weeks prior to the date of departure.


When you arrive in the country where you intend to search for work you must as soon as possible go to the next employment office and register as a job-seeker. In order to be able to receive per diem allowance from the beginning of the validity period of an issued certificate you must report to the employment office within 7 weekdays from the entry into force of the certificate. If you register after this period the result will be that you will only start to get the per diem allowance from the date of registration at the earliest. If you are unable to register on your first contact with the foreign employment agency it will be necessary to receive confirmation from the foreign authorities that you have contacted an employment agency attempting to register.

The employment agency in the country of residence confirms which day you registered for job-search abroad and it then sends the information to the Payment office.

The Directorate of Labour is not able to process complaints regarding decisions that have been made in other EEA states.


The Directorate of Labour will continue to pay unemployment benefits during the validity period of the certificate while you are searching for a job abroad, provided the requirements of the employment agency of the country in which the job-seeker is staying are met. The foreign labour authorities will also assess and send notification to the Directorate of Labour, whether the relevant job-seeker is actively seeking employment in the labour market.


The period during which you get paid unemployment benefits in the EEA state can not be extended.

You must remember to de-register with the employment agency in the country of residence before you return to Iceland. You can always quit your search for work abroad and return to Iceland within the period of validity of the certificate.

In order to be able to re-obtain your right to receive per diem allowance in Iceland you must return to Iceland before the period of validity of the certificate expires. Sub-item 2.2.1 shows you when the certificate expires. If that date is a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday, you can then return to Iceland the following weekday.

You have 7 weekdays following the expiration of the certificate to register after you return to Iceland, the same as when you left.. If you do not register with an employment agency in Iceland, according to the above you will lose your entitlement when you return to Iceland. You will only be able to begin receiving per diem allowance when you have worked in Iceland for at least three months in a job with at least a 25% full-time job ratio.

The Directorate of Labour may in special cases extend the time limit prior to your return to Iceland. The Directorate of Labour may e.g. allow you to register after your certificate expires, if you can prove that you are going to a job-interview based on a job application in another country. The time limit for the required return to Iceland may also be extended if you are able to show that you were indisposed due to illness, but in that case you need to present an attestation for this (medical certificate). It is necessary to apply for an exemption before the certificate expires.

The time limit for the return to Iceland will not be extended because of plans to continue to stay in another EEA state (longer than the period of validity of the certificate) for the purpose of waiting for per diem allowance payments or for an opportunity to return to Iceland.

Also, you are not entitled to receive per diem allowance if you leave on a holiday to another EEA state pursuant to the validity period of the certificate.

If you do not intend to take advantage of continued payments from the unemployment insurance fund you will nevertheless need to announce your return to the Directorate of Labour within 7 weekdays. Otherwise you will again have to earn the entitlement to unemployment benefits.


You can get a U2 certificate re-issued when 6 months have passed from the expiration of the earlier period and if you have been working in the domestic labour market during that time for at least 3 months and otherwise meet the provisions of Act No. 54/2006 on Unemployment Insurance.


If you get work in an EEA state you then cease to have unemployment insurance in Iceland but the work experience that you earn in the EEA state (if you had unemployment insurance there) you can transfer to Iceland if the foreign authorities confirm the insurance and work periods by a certificate that is titled U1. You can contact the relevant unemployment insurance authorities before you return to Iceland and ask them to issue the requisite certificate.

If you get a part-time job during the period of validity of the U2 certificate, the relevant unemployment insurance authorities in the EEA state are required to inform the Directorate of Labour about this and you will be able to receive payment of partial benefits during the period of validity concurrent with the part-time job.


If you intend to move to another EEA state it is possible for you to get a letter that certifies your right to unemployment benefits in Iceland. In that manner it becomes possible to transfer earned unemployment insurance rights between European countries. This is done by applying for a U1 certificate from the Directorate of Labour accompanied by attestations from all employers for whom you have worked during the past 3 years. Application forms for U1 certificates and forms for employment attestation can be obtained from the Directorate of Labour's service offices and on the website of the Directorate of Labour.

The U1 certificate is usually sent by post to the applicant at his or her address abroad. The U1 certificate is used if you get work in Europe and subsequently becomes unemployed. You may add to your entitlement in the country of residence by presenting the U1 certificate. The certificate can also be used if you have previously worked in the country of residence and you need to demonstrate that you have maintained your unemployment insurance by working in Iceland.

Attention is drawn to the fact that in several countries you need to lodge the certificate with the unemployment authorities within 8 weeks from moving to Iceland.

We encourage all those who travel abroad for job-seeking to look into the European health insurance card:http://www.sjukra.is/heilbrigdisthjonusta/rettindi-milli-landa/evropska-sjukratryggingakortid/

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