Applying for voluntary unemployment insurance

Service Description

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.

Source: Zuständigkeitsfinder Thüringen (Linie6PLus)

Competent Authority

Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA)

Regensburger Straße 104
90478 Nürnberg
0800 45555-00
Remark: Service hotline of the Federal Employment Agency (toll-free)